In this article, we will focus on the risks and overall health repercussions of periodontal disease. These diseases affect the gums.
What are periodontal diseases?
Periodontal lesions are produced by the accumulation of microorganisms that alter the health of the gums. If not done in time, they progress slowly and can cause tooth loss as well as other pathologies in the rest of the body.
For periodontal diseases we mean gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums that causes bleeding when brushing, and periodontitis, which in addition to inflammation and bleeding, causes the tooth to fall out.
It is very important to raise awareness among the population in order to prevent these diseases. Likewise, correct basic hygiene measures and risk factors must be explained and disseminated.
Risk factors for periodontal diseases
Periodontal diseases can be caused by several factors, among which we find:
- Poor hygiene, which causes plaque and bacteria to build up in the gum line.
- Hormonal imbalances, especially during adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, which affect the periodontium, especially in conjunction with pre-existing gingival inflammation.
- Systemic diseases (Down syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, among others).
- Trauma from occlusion.
- Smoking is a major risk factor, as it increases the likelihood of suffering from periodontitis and impairs the healing ability of tissues.
- Lifestyle can become a risk factor for periodontal disease due to the consumption of inappropriate foods, alcohol and other substances, as well as a lack of exercise.
Risks and consequences of periodontal diseases
Both gingivitis and periodontitis can affect overall health and cause or worsen previous illnesses.
Several studies have linked periodontal disease to vascular disorders. This relationship is due to the passage of bacteria from the oral cavity into the bloodstream.
Periodontal disease microorganisms inflame the endocardium and adhere to heart valves and previously damaged heart tissues. As a result, they can provoke such diseases as:
- Bacterial endocarditis.
- Heart attack.
- Heart disease.
- Coronary insufficiency.
- Varicose veins.
Periodontal diseases and arteriosclerosis
A narrowing of blood vessels occurs due to the adhesion of cholesterol plaques on their walls. Scientific studies on the aforementioned plaques have shown the presence of bacteria linked to periodontal diseases.
Likewise, these bacteria have been shown to help form lipopolysaccharides, which are responsible for the aggregation of cholesterol.
When we breathe, the bacteria in the mouth pass through the airways and reach the lungs. They can therefore cause the following diseases:
- Bacterial pneumonia.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
- Lung abscesses.
Periodontal diseases and diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is another disease related to periodontal problems. The main evidence supporting this theory is that blood glucose stabilizes after periodontal treatment ; in turn, untreated periodontal disease alters blood glucose levels.
Gum disease is also associated with kidney disease, cerebrovascular disorders, premature birth, and low birth weight.
How can we treat periodontal diseases?
Periodic check-ups by the dentist are essential for diagnosing the disease.
- Both the cleaning of the teeth and the scaling and root planing techniques, commonly called curettage, are the basic treatments to solve the problem.
- If the disease is in its initial phase, it is necessary to eliminate the bacteria accumulated through professional prophylaxis.
- In the case of periodontitis, treatment usually involves two stages. In the basic phase, the organisms responsible for the infection are eliminated by scaling and root planing.
In the most severe and advanced stages, periodontal surgery will need to be performed to access the gum pocket.
In conclusion, poor oral health can affect overall health. Therefore, it is very important to keep it under control through periodic checks.
By anticipating and controlling periodontal disease, we also make sure to prevent cardiovascular disease and other ailments