For some reason, your mouth is sometimes isolated from the rest of your body in many instances. Medical and dental insurances are separate, for example, and though periodontal disease (gum disease) affects over 80% of adults in America, people don’t often consider it a serious health issue. Nevertheless, the affliction is the number one cause of adult tooth loss, and when your gums or other oral tissues are diseased, the condition can have serious consequences for your physical wellbeing. Your Encinitas periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania, explores the mechanisms that allow periodontal disease to become a threat to your systemic health, also known as the oral-systemic connection.
The Devil’s in the Details
You may be aware that an early sign of gum disease is known as gingivitis. When dental plaque, comprised of a myriad of oral bacteria, settles along your gum line, the germs it contains release toxins that irritate your gum tissue, causing your gums to lose their grip on your teeth and pull away (gum recession). The resulting periodontal pockets allow more germs to gather out of your toothbrush’s reach, but of special note is the germ Porphyromonas gingivalis. To survive, P. gingivalis manipulates your body’s immune system, particularly its inflammatory response to harmful microbes. As a result, your gingival tissue, or gums, experience excessive inflammation, exacerbating gum recession and speeding the onset of gum disease.
Examining the Oral-Systemic Connection
When gum tissues become inflammed oral bacteria have a chance to enter your bloodstream through the weakened tissue and wreak havoc in other areas of your body. For instance, if P. gingivalis were allowed to reach your arteries, the resulting inflammation could significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease. Some studies have exemplified the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease in mouse models that, when exposed to P. gingivalis infection, showed a considerably increased risk of atherosclerosis; a disease of the arteries that often leads to heart attack or failure.
Excellent Periodontal Health & More in Encinitas
To learn more about the importance of preventing and treating periodontal disease, or for thorough periodontal care in the hands of an expert, contact Dr. Kania at our Encinitas periodontist’s office by calling (706) 642-0711. We serve patients from Encinitas, San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, La Costa, and the neighboring communities.