Live Oak Dental Group

4 Unexpected Ways that Gum Disease Impacts Other Body Parts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly half of adults suffer from some form of periodontal (gum) disease. Considering the prevalence of periodontal disease, you may be curious about what triggers it. Gum disease is a bacterial infection typically caused by poor oral hygiene. When films of bacteria (plaque) accumulate and harden (tartar), gingival tissues can become inflamed.

Untreated, periodontal disease ignites a detrimental immune response that elevates an inflammatory response throughout the body. Here, we discuss six medical conditions that can contribute to the progression of periodontal disease (and vice versa).

1.   Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Generally speaking, abnormal glucose levels can weaken the immune system. People who have had diabetes for an extended period struggle with fighting infections. High blood sugar levels can damage peripheral nerves and reduce blood flow to the extremities. Raised blood sugar levels in blood cells and tissues foster bacterial growth, aggravating infections.

2.   Stroke

Even though strokes are largely preventable, they are one of the leading causes of death in this country. The CDC estimates that in the United States, someone:

  • Has a stroke every 40 seconds
  • Dies of a stroke every 4 minutes

Strokes are widely feared because of their debilitating aftermath, leading to life-altering consequences, such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Aphasia (losing the ability to communicate and understand language)
  • A decline in mental health and self-efficacy

Recently, researchers discovered that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have a stroke. Inflammation and infection can increase the blood’s likelihood to coagulate (clot), resulting in an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes are attributable to the disruption of blood flow due to a blood clot.

When people prioritize healthy gums, they eliminate at least one risk factor contributing to developing a stroke later in life.

3.   Cancer

Did you know that the bacteria campout between the teeth and gums may increase your risk for cancer? While the exact correlation is not understood yet, periodontic researchers discovered that men with gum disease are:

  • 30% more likely to develop blood cancers
  • 49% more probable to develop kidney cancer
  • 54% more conceivable to develop pancreatic cancer

4.   Female and Male Reproductive Problems

Infertility can be an unexpected obstacle that affects up to 10% of couples and can add stress to a romantic relationship. If you and your partner struggle to get pregnant and have ruled out all other options, consider gum disease. Many do not realize that infertility and inflammation go hand-in-hand–inflammation can prevent ovulation and embryo implantation.

If you are lucky enough to conceive, periodontal pathogens produce metabolic waste, which can cross the placenta and directly affect the fetus. Fetal toxicity can result in preterm birth and low birth rates.

Finally, Take Control of Oral-Systemic Health

Scientists have discovered that the mouth can be a breeding ground for hundreds of species of bacteria. Coincidentally, the mouth is the entry point in the body and is linked to systems throughout. As microbes and inflammation increase, the immune system weakens.

Using current, scientifically-proven knowledge, Dr. Hardt’s professional oral health team focuses on optimizing oral health to improve overall wellness for patients in Porterville, CA directly. Want to learn more about our wide range of services to enhance oral-systemic health? Request a free consultation by calling 559-784-6523 or conveniently messaging us online.