What Is the Connection between Periodontal Disease and Systemic Disease?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 March 2019
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The exact connection between periodontal disease and systemic disease is not entirely understood, but there are studies which may link gum disease to other illnesses that occur in various areas of the body. This may be primarily caused by inflammatory responses throughout the body, since gum disease and other illnesses, like diabetes, are all caused by inflammation. Other studies have shown that bacteria found in those with gum disease may contribute to heart disease.

Although it is unknown how significant the connection between periodontal disease and systemic disease is, those who have inflammation-related illnesses may be more likely to also have periodontal diseases. It is not entirely known whether this fact means that some other underlying connection exists, or that gum disease contributes to these illnesses. There are other factors which may also play a role in both types of diseases.

One additional factor is that those who don’t practice good oral hygiene, which causes gum disease, may also fail to practice other healthy habits. It's also true that those without access to dental and health care may be especially at risk. Both of these facts mean that lower income families may be at a higher risk since they are often more likely to eat high fat foods, and they often do not have health insurance for consistent health check-ups.


There is another link between periodontal disease and systemic disease. Some studies have shown that those with heart disease have oral bacteria in their bloodstream. This has been noted during bypass surgeries in patients who have already had heart attacks or other serious heart problems. Many believe that severe oral disease may eventually lead to heart disease. This probably occurs primarily in very severe cases, and most individuals with heart problems have additional environmental or genetic factors at play.

Although the link between periodontal disease and systemic disease is not completely understood, it is possible to prevent both common ailments in most cases. It is recommended that everyone brush their teeth two or more times per day, and floss at least once. Using an antiseptic mouthwash or peroxide solution may help to kill bacteria residing on the teeth and gums. Heart disease is primarily prevented through eating healthily and exercising regularly. Those with a family history of heart problems should be especially diligent.



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