Gum disease can do more than affecting just your gums. It can increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature delivery. The following is the conclusion arrived at a conference on periodontal disease, held at New York.
Participants at the conference highlighted the accumulating evidence regarding increased risk of serious illness in association with gum disease. They further reflected the need for a collaborative work between both dentists and medical health professionals.
Periodontal disease is a common public health problem, demanding a huge amount of the health resources. Nearly 80% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease (bacterial infection and inflammation of gums that surround the teeth) or other. It can be completely treated, if identified at an early stage and can subsequently reduce the risk of contracting other diseases.
Gingivitis is the more common and milder form of the disease and is associated with inflammation of tissue surrounding the teeth. Periodontitis is a more severe form, characterized by inflammation of connective tissue that supports the underlying bone and teeth.
The bacteria that infect the oral cavity, if left unattended can invade the blood stream, causing inflammation of other tissues present in the body. In addition, it can also elicit a drastic immune response that could affect other parts of the body. One surprising finding in this regard is that poor oral hygiene and health is associated with premature delivery.
The following conclusion was arrived at after a stringent monitoring of dental health of over 1000 pregnant women. The study participants were subjected to dental examination, both during early pregnancy and after delivery. 14% were documented to have serious to moderate periodontal disease. The risk of premature delivery was twice as high in this group compared to controls with healthy gums.
The risk was even higher with progressive worsening of the existing infection. Such mothers were 2.5 times more likely to experience a premature delivery, before 32 weeks of gestation. This could have disastrous consequences on the health of the baby, leading to disability and even death. The observation was found to be valid even when other factors such as the mother's age, prior history of premature delivery and socioeconomic differences were taken into consideration.
Gum disease in diabetics can complicate the clinical condition of patients and may even accelerate periodontal bone loss. It can even increase risk for cardiovascular disease. To conclude, taking into consideration the above findings, it is high time oral health receives the importance it long deserves.