Link Between Gum Disease and Systemic Conditions

Post by: Gerarda on 11 Jan 2022

Many of the patients who sit in our chair suffer from some form of gum disease. Some of those patients may also have an increased risk for developing, or may already have a systemic condition. A systemic condition is one that affects the entire body and not just a particular organ or body part. For example, systemic conditions can be high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, kidney disease, anemia or bleeding disorders to name a few. Most likely patients are unaware that there is a link between gum disease and systemic conditions and this article will address this.

Gum disease is prevalent among many adult patients. The World Health Organization Europe (WHO) has found that severe periodontal (gum) disease can be found in 5–20% of middle-aged (35–44 years) adults and up to 40% of older individuals (65–74 years). Gum disease is also a major contributor to the loss of natural teeth. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the U.S. approx. 47% of adults over 30 years old have gum disease, as well as 70% of adults over the age of 65. It is not just a European phenomenon.

For more than 20 years, the U.S. Surgeon General has recognized the link between periodontal disease and other systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes; additionally, it found an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Research conducted by The American Dental Association (ADA) likewise found a link between gum disease and serious systemic health conditions. They say their data is clear and suggests two possible explanations1:

  1. Chronic inflammation in the oral cavity could increase bloodstream inflammatory markers that affect the patient’s immune response or increase the patient’s burden of inflammation.
  2. The oral cavity collects pathogenic bacteria that infiltrate the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body or systemic pathologies.

The American Dental Association (ADA) also suggests that gum disease and other conditions share common factors such as poor diet and smoking that increase the risk for disease. To date though no research has provided a direct link to the cause between gum disease and systemic health conditions. Neither have they proven that if a person receives treatment for gum disease that it will avert any health condition or prevent any progression of systemic conditions.2

The importance of good oral hygiene at home cannot be understated, but in conjunction with ending your smoking habit, exercising on a daily basis along with a balanced diet. This will not only keep your teeth healthy, but could have a major impact on your body as a whole.

 

References

  1. Eke PI, Dye BA, Wei L, Thornton-Evans GO, Genco RJ. Prevalence of periodontitis in adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010. J Dent Res. 2012;91(10):914 -920. doi:10.1177/00220345124573732.
  2. Oral-systemic health. American Dental Association. September 23, 2019. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/oral-systemic-health

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