Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. The main cause of the disease is a film containing millions of bugs known as ‘plaque’. Presence of plaque next to the gum line leads to gum inflammation. Persistent gum inflammation (gingivitis) can lead to loss of attachment of the gum from the tooth surface and subsequently loss of bone that supports the teeth in the jaw bone (periodontitis). This can lead to gum infections, teeth becoming loose, moving and even falling out. Periodontitis is a common disease worldwide, usually affecting adults over 30 years of age. However, some people are more susceptible to the disease than others. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 5-20% of the population is affected by severe periodontitis which leads to the loss of one or more teeth. Habits such as smoking also increase our susceptibility to the disease.
Several research studies have suggested that periodontal disease is associated with a variety of other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. However, saying that two conditions are associated does not mean that one causes the other. Inflammation is the key link between the association of gum and general health. Bacteria in the mouth can be transferred to the rest of the body via the bloodstream. Areas of gum inflammation can affect inflammation throughout the body and vice versa. Furthermore, all the above diseases share common risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, high calorie (fats and sugars) diet and lack of exercise.
Research has indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. The inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for this risk.
A two-way relationship has been found between gum diseases and periodontitis. Diabetics present with more severe gingivitis and periodontitis and periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Those who have poorly controlled diabetes are especially at risk. On the other hand, severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar levels. There is some evidence that indicates that periodontal treatment, (treatment for gum disease) can improve glycaemic control (control of blood sugar levels).
A strong association between periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis has been suggested – again this is possibly due to the inflammatory response.
Research has suggested an association between obesity and periodontitis. It seems that obese or overweight individuals are at a higher risk of getting affected by periodontitis or of their gum disease getting worse.
Weak associations between periodontitis and osteoporosis, respiratory diseases, cancer, stress and depression have been proposed but more research is required.
Suffering from any of the above diseases puts our gums and oral health at risk. On the other hand, poor oral health and excessive gingival inflammation can affect our general health. We need to keep in mind that our oral health is the mirror of our general health and well-being. Regular dental visits, hygiene treatment and assessment of our gum health is essential along with daily effective oral hygiene habits.
At The Dee Shapland Dental Surgery, we are dedicated to providing our patients with a thorough oral health assessment and to help patients achieve high levels of oral cleanliness.
Smoking is a habit that affects our general and oral health, increasing the risk of gum disease, oral cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and so on. We are proud to have a free smoking cessation service to help you to STOP smoking to increase your chance of achieving a healthy lifestyle and healthy smile.
This article was written by Anastasios Plessas Associate Dentist – Dee Shapland Dental Surgery
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Dee Shapland Dental will be reopening on Monday 15 June.
Thank you for your patience whilst we finalise the huge amount of compliance and training in order to provide you with safe and effective care.
We will be contacting our patients who have had a dental emergency or problems initially and we ask that if you have a dental emergency in the meantime please call: 07778059518 to speak to Nick or Anastasios who will endeavour to help you.
Please click on the link below to read our latest blogs describing our return to practice and your ‘new dental journey’. If you visit our Facebook page, Anastasios has made a short video to help you plan for your next visit.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Nick, Anastasios & All the Dee Shapland Dental team