Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: January, 2013

By The Office of Dr Holly Scott-Hetchler
January 22, 2013
Category: Dental Education
Tags: Untagged

The Periodontal and Systemic Connection: A Healthy Mouth Protects Your Body

    As research continues, we learn more and more about the connection between the health of your mouth and overall health. With these advancements in dentistry, Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler strives to educate you about the periodontal and systemic connection.  Over the years, many people believed that bacteria were the factor that linked periodontal disease to other infections in the body.  However, more recent research indicates that inflammation may link periodontal disease to other chronic conditions as well.  According to recent research, there is a clear connection between periodontal diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  By treating inflammation, not only will it help manage periodontal diseases, but it may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions. 

What is Periodontal Disease?

    Periodontal (Gum) disease is a threat to your oral health, and can range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.  If periodontal disease progresses, teeth can be lost. Our mouths are full of bacteria, which constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth.  Regular brushing and flossing help to get rid of the plaque, but when plaque is not removed it can harden, forming bacteria-harboring tartar that brushing cannot clean.  Only a professional cleaning by your dentist in Lansing can remove the tartar in this case. 

The risk factors that increase your risk of developing periodontal disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes in girls/women
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Illnesses
  • Genetic susceptibility


Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

    Diabetes makes you more susceptible to infection – any infection – including periodontal disease.  With increased research, there is now more evidence that people with diabetes have more periodontal disease.  Having an infection, such as periodontal disease, can impair the body’s ability to process and/or use insulin.  By controlling the infection, it might be easier to control blood sugar levels.  The many oral health complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes include, but are not limited to, gingivitis, periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral and fungal infections, caries, periapical abscesses, loss of teeth, loss of taste, and burning mouth syndrome.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

    With recent advancements in research, it is indicated that chronic gum disease may contribute to the development of heart disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of death in both men and women.  Gum disease is a bacterial infection that can affect conditions outside your mouth.  In heart disease, one theory is that gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream where they attach to the fatty deposits in the heart blood vessels.  This condition can cause blood clots and may lead to heart attacks. 

    Chronic gum disease can lead to the development of heart disease because your mouth is the pathway to the rest of your body.  Studies have shown that oral health can provide warning signs for other diseases or conditions, including heart disease, which can be identified through a visit to your dentist.   According to the Academy of General Dentistry, 80 percent of Americans suffer from gum disease. 

    By understanding the connection between your oral health and overall health you can help to ensure that your mouth and your body are healthy.  Talk to Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler today for more information on this connection, and to find out the best way to care for your oral health 

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Holly A. Scott-Hetchler DDS, PC 919 Chester RdLansing, MI 48912