Systemic Diseases Associated With Oral Health
The most serious complication associated with gum disease is not the loss of teeth, it is the increased likelihood of suffering from more aggressive systemic health conditions. Ultimately, many health concerns have been shown to have a direct correlation with the oral health status of a person. The more severe their oral health, the more severe their systemic health problem is likely to be, and vice versa.
Systemic Diseases Linked to Gum Disease
Cardiovascular Diseases – Bacterial plaque from the oral cavity can make its way into a person’s bloodstream through the open area of infection and blood flow just under the gumlines. The plaque then travels through the arterial system and can become lodged in arterial plaque or find its way into the heart. People that have suffered from heart attacks and strokes have been found to have oral bacteria present in the area where the blockage or attack took place.
Hormone induced gum inflammation in pregnancy:
Random gingival bleeding
Visible plaque or tartar on the teeth
Active gum disease during pregnancy:
Severe bleeding and gum tenderness during oral hygiene
Red or purple gum tissues
Symptoms of Oral Infections when Systemic Diseases are Present
When someone is actively battling a systemic health condition, his or her oral health is typically diminished from what it should be. Only when the condition is truly managed will the person possibly expect to have healthy gum tissues. Gingiva in a person with a compromised immune system may exhibit a combination of the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums – Elevated immune responses in the body send antibodies throughout the bloodstream to areas that are infected with bacterial infections. One of these areas is the gumlines in people with gingivitis or periodontal disease. It can be more difficult to gain control over bleeding, even when oral hygiene practices are adequate.
Normal gum tissue:
Soft, smooth texture
Coral in color
Swelling or excessive growth of gum tissue:
Drug induced tissue overgrowth
Fibrous, spongy appearance
Tissue seems harder and does not bleed
- Swelling or excessive growth of gum tissue – Inflammation of the gingiva may occur more frequently and be more difficult to manage when the body is strained by other coexisting conditions. Excess tissue growth may also be a side effect of medications taken for conditions like high blood pressure. While this fibrous tissue growth is not problematic, it can be unsightly and make oral hygiene more difficult.
- Bone loss – Degenerative bone diseases may predispose a person to bone loss in the jaw. Also, when advanced gum disease is difficult to manage due to poor health, unmanageable bacterial levels will result in bone loss around the teeth. Tooth mobility and loss are imminent when bone loss is severe.
- Pale gingiva – If anemia is present, gum tissue may lose its coral color and become pale in appearance, due to lack of red blood cells in the tissues.
Understanding the risk factors associated with your specific health condition allows you to be better aware of whether or not you are managing it effectively. The fact is that having a systemic health disease will in and of itself be a risk factor in developing gum infections like periodontal disease or other oral health problems.
A person’s risk factors will be directly linked to the conditions, symptoms, and current health status of the disease that they are attempting to manage, as those are the factors that will strain the body’s immune system as it attempts to help heal other coexisting infections.
Gum infections are a risk factor for your systemic health.
As mentioned above, having uncontrolled gum infections like periodontal disease are directly linked with the severity of systemic health problems. If a person does not attempt to manage the health of their gums, then they are increasing their likelihood of suffering complications associated with other health problems, even if an attempt is made to manage them.
Gum infections are a risk factor for your systemic health.
Treating gum disease in a person that has an active systemic disease condition can be extremely difficult. Due to the strain on the immune system from other health conditions, the body may not be able to fully fight off the effects of bacterial plaque in the mouth, allowing it to advance into a more severe disease state. Gaining control over gum disease can only be truly achieved when both the gum infection and the systemic conditions are addressed together.
Follow your primary care physician’s recommendations to manage or cure your systemic health problem.
Obviously, for some types of conditions it isn’t always possible to completely cure yourself. However, most conditions like obesity or diabetes, for example, require adhering to a strict diet and participating in regular exercise. If you decide you don’t want to even try developing healthier habits, then you’re not going to see improvement in those conditions or any of your others. See your care provider on a regular basis and take their recommendations to heart.
Take medication as directed.
Eliminating medication without advising your doctor may cause serious side effects. Some people space out medication due to convenience or budget, but that can allow rapid irregularities to occur, increasing the likelihood of complications or medical emergencies. Wean yourself from medications only as your physician sees that you can manage your condition in other ways such as diet and exercise. In the ideal situation, a person and their doctor can come up with a way to get off of some medications when healthy lifestyle choices become a normal part of everyday life.
See your dentist for routine preventive or therapeutic care.
Whether you need cleanings every 6 months, or gum disease treatments like deep cleanings, it’s important to see your dentist and hygienist regularly. Neglecting professional care when you have active systemic disease conditions can allow gum disease to progress very rapidly. Patients with a history of moderate to severe periodontitis may need to be seen as often as every 3 or 4 months for preventive cleanings.
Preventing Complications Between Gum Disease and Systemic Conditions
Practice the best daily oral hygiene possible.
If you have health problems, you have more of a reason to practice exceptional oral hygiene than other people. Brush twice each day for at least 2 minutes or longer, with the toothbrush angled toward the gumlines. Utilize blue light technology to effectively reverse gum disease including gingivitis, bleeding, swollen, and receding gums.