What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that breaks down the connective tissues that hold the teeth, gums, and bones together. As the disease progresses, pockets begin to form in the gums as they begin to recede and pull away from the teeth. If the disease is left unchecked, it can eventually lead to tooth loss.
If you have red, swollen gums or experience bleeding when brushing or flossing, you may have some form of gum disease.
Why the health of your gums is vital to your overall wellbeing
Treating gum disease isn’t just about keeping your mouth healthy. There are a number of serious health conditions that have been connected with periodontal disease, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory disease such as pneumonia, and some forms of cancer.
Though experts are still exploring the details, it’s becoming clear that your oral health has a significant impact on the health of your entire body. Treating inflammation of the gums can help with inflammatory conditions elsewhere. The infographic below highlights some of the known connections between gum disease and these conditions.
Can You Die From Periodontitis?
The link between the health of the mouth and the overall health of the body is not something to be overlooked. Researchers have uncovered significant relationships between the health of the mouth and diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Types of bacteria found in the mouth can affect respiratory problems, also.
A 3-month study was performed in Germany that followed patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The study discovered that patients with periodontal disease had a significantly greater chance of life-threatening respiratory failure than those who had healthy mouths.
This respiratory condition is likely caused by IL-6 (interleukin), a harmful protein that is produced by periodontitis. Interleukin moves from the gum tissue to the lungs where it can cause respiratory issues.
According to Shervin Molayem, DDS, founder of the UCLA Dental Research Journal, “Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19.”
He continued with, “what shocked us was the discovery of the protein’s devastating, life-threatening impact on patients once they’re hospitalized. One tiny, inflammatory protein robbed them of their ability to breathe.”
The California Dental Association has released an article called The Mouth-COVID Connection in which you can learn more about these findings.
Now, more than ever, having good oral health is critical. Make sure you have your six-month exam and cleaning scheduled and contact us if you notice any of the signs of gum disease.
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Regular visits with Dr. Williams to assess and maintain your oral health is likely more important to your health than you may have thought.