Bad Teeth are more than an eyesore: You May Need Perio Treatment
Have you ever noticed a person with what you would consider “Bad teeth?” If so what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many people this is considered as something of an aesthetic problem, and while stained or decayed teeth are obviously unattractive, did you know that they can be a tell tail sign of serious underlying health problems as well?
That’s right! In many ways your oral health can be both the key to maintaining your overall general health and conversely, if neglected can lead to serious problems that may impact your health in numerous ways. This of course includes not just your teeth, but your gums and surrounding areas, as all of which can be susceptible to this health concern known as Periodontal Disease.
Perio: Periodontal Disease
Periodontal Disease or sometimes known as Periodontitis, perio disease or gum disease. It is a progressive inflammatory disease that affects the teeth and surrounding tissue, and while this may sound relatively benign at first, don’t be fooled! Perio disease can in fact be a serious or even life-threatening condition that may result in a litany of additional health problems.
Although there are multiple factors that may contribute to the onset of periodontal disease, the primary cause is the buildup of excess bacteria in your mouth due to dental plaque. While early symptoms are seemingly minor nuisance such as swollen or bleeding gums, keep in mind that perio disease is a progressive infection and therefore will continue to get much worse if not treated. If further neglected, the infection will continue to spread throughout the mouth, thus damaging or ultimately destroying the teeth or jawbone.
While excess bacteria may be the primary culprit for the onset of perio disease, there are numerous risk factors that could contribute to the likelihood of developing periodontal disease as well.
These factors may include but are not limited to:
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Excess stress
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Hormonal imbalance
- Genetic disposition
It should also be noted that certain medications and poor dietary habits can also expedite the progression of periodontitis, as can other diseases or illnesses. This can prove to be a serious issue for those with other medical conditions (such as diabetes) as periodontitis may likely interact with or exacerbate such conditions, or even trigger additional illnesses.
The Domino Effect: What Perio Disease can lead to
While periodontal disease is certainly a nasty enemy in itself, what makes an enemy worse is an enemy with friends! As mentioned previously, the number of additional diseases or illnesses that can interact with or occur as a result of periodontal disease is staggering to say the least. As more research continues to be done on periodontal disease in recent years, numerous case studies continue to uncover links between periodontitis and other associated conditions.
Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the arteries of the heart become clogged, thereby hindering its ability to pump blood thought out the body. Meanwhile due to the increase in bacteria growth, periodontal disease can create something of a chain reaction by causing the spread of plaque instability and inflammation. This of course would put further stress on the already weakened heart by continuing to thicken the artery wall, essentially choking the heart.
Heart Disease: Like atherosclerosis, periodontitis can also heavily contribute to the occurrence of heart disease. As gum disease continues to produce excess bacteria, bacteria may be released into the bloodstream. Once these toxins have reached the heart, they form fatty plaques within the arteries thereby causing blood clots. This obviously is a serious issue as blood clots can block and cut off the flow of blood completely, thus causing a heart attack.
Related Article: Show Your Teeth Some Love: Gum Disease and Your Heart
Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes and gum disease have something of a combative relationship as both seem to directly affect one another, and therefore creating a compound issue. If left unchecked or poorly managed, diabetes will result in elevated levels of glucose or sugar to circulate throughout your body, including your mouth. With this heightened level of glucose, your mouth begins to build up an excessive amount of bacteria, thus creating the ideal setting for an infection like periodontal disease to develop. Conversely, like any serious infection, periodontitis can potentially affect the blood glucose level of those afflicted, thus making them increasingly difficult to control and ultimately cause the diabetes to exponentially progress.
Respiratory Disease/Pneumonia: As mentioned previously, if the buildup of bacteria caused by periodontal disease is able to spread throughout the body, the results could be devastating. This of course could certainly be the case if the bacteria from the mouth manages to infect the lungs, especially if the individual already has a preexisting lung condition. If the hazardous bacteria reaches the lungs the afflicted individual will likely develop a lung infection, however if the sufferer is elderly or has a preexisting condition this could result in a severe pneumonia, which could be potentially fatal.
Stroke: Individuals suffering from chronic infectious diseases are typically considered at an increased risk of suffering a stroke, and those with gum disease are certainly no exception. As explained earlier, the bacteria caused by periodontitis can wreak havoc on the heart by causing blood clots to block the arteries and reduce blood flow. If blood flow is reduced or restricted from flowing through certain sections of the body the results will certainly be serious. However, if blood flow is reduced or cut off from reaching the brain, the results are almost sure to be catastrophic. If the blood vessel delivering blood to the brain is blocked, this will often result in what’s called an Ischemic stroke, which may damage the brain cells and even result in death.
Avoid Perio Disease: Good health starts in the mouth!
As you can see, while having bad teeth and swollen gums may at first glance seem like little more than a cosmetic issue, the truth is that these unattractive features are only a small fraction of the major health crisis that is perio disease. So remember by practicing routine dental care and making those recommended six month dental appointments, you are not only taking the necessary steps in protecting the appearance of your teeth, but also in stopping a nightmare like periodontal disease dead in its tracks!
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek and his experienced, friendly team at GPS Dental offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the San Antonio, TX area. Our office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at (210) 633-3477 to make an appointment.