The Systemic Link of Periodontal Disease

By Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan

The number one killer of Americans is cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke and 25% of people will not survive their first event.

We now have great science that says that the cause of cardiovascular disease is arterial inflammation. A source of arterial inflammation is infection in the mouth. The most recent study coming out implies that up to 50% or more of acute heart attacks are triggered by oral infection, including periodontal disease and abscesses, and that’s huge.

75% of adults over age 65 have periodontal disease. Periodontal bacterial produce endotoxins that cause the inflammatory process to begin. Untreated periodontal disease causes constant chronic inflammation in your body and its the chronic inflammation that gets people in trouble. Inflammation is part of your body’s immune response to an injury. When you have a wound or an infection, inflammation helps fight off bacteria and facilitates healing, and then the process is supposed to stop. When there is inflammation is in your blood vessels all the time, there is a concept called inflammatory burden when you get more inflammation in your system, the accumulation of that will have a tipping point where you will have inflammatory disease. Inflammatory diseases are heart attack, strokes, insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, various cancers, muscular sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive diminishment and the list goes on and on.

Periodontal disease is treatable. If you control your periodontal disease, you help to control the inflammation in your body that helps prevent cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases. Treating periodontal disease involved removing the calculus or tartar that accumulates below your gum line which is the source of the inflammation, and then maintaining it with proper oral hygiene and more frequent professional periodontal cleanings.

A sign that you have periodontal disease includes inflamed gum tissues that are swollen, tender and bleed or pus comes out when brushing and flossing. There may also be an odor to your breath that you can’t brush away. Please call our office today to set up an appointment if you feel you may have periodontal disease and desire optimal systemic health.

Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan is a licensed dentist and the founder of Dental Perfections in Whitewater, WI. If you'd like to ask her a question, please visit the Ask Dr. Cheryl section of our Web site.