Periodontitis is a disease affecting the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria and their toxins attaching and growing on the tooth’s surfaces combined with an aggressive immune response against them. The gum infection with bone loss creates deep pockets that a patient can’t clean anymore. Due to inability to clean the pockets more bacteria and toxins attach and grow creating a vicious cycle that becomes a chronic problem. Crowded teeth or impacted wisdom teeth can also make it difficult for patients to properly remove bacteria from their teeth by interdental or regular brushing. This can lead to the development of locally or generalized gum diseas and/or periodontitis.
Relationship periodontitis with overall health: heartdisease – diabetes – low birth weight
Studies have shown that people with periodontitis have a highly activated immune system both locally and throughout the body with high availability of free calcium, hydrogen peroxide and free radicals due to oxidative stress and continuous presence of an acidic cellular environment. This has been indicated by the finding that periodontitis patient have raised levels of C-reactive protein and Interleukin-6. Therefore these patients have been shown to have an increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, and atherosclerosis. In a recent study it was also found that certain types of intraoral bacteria from dental infection sites were present in patients with a prosthetic hartvalve indicating the ability of these bacteris to travel to other organ sites.
Chronic periodontal inflammatory reponses combined with the constant presence of oxidative stress is not only toxic for oral tissues but also for the body as a whole. Therefore, contributing to impairments in memory and calculation abilities; development of joint problems and muscle pains.
Individuals with impaired fasting glucose and diabetes mellitus have a higher degree of periodonitis, and often have difficulties with balancing their blood glucose level owing to the constant systemic inflammatory state. The inability of adequate glucose uptake by the cells also enables higher glucose concentrations in the dental pocket and oral tissues making bacteria overgrowth possible and therefore contributing to the exacerbation of the periodontal disease.
Studies have also shown that mothers with severe periodontitis have an increased risk for preeclamsia and of giving birth to babies that are underweight. Due to the increase of prostaglandines levels, which are produced when there is a constant systemic inflammatory state, pregnant women with dental inflammation such as periodontitis are at risk of early delivery at the end of the second trimester with all of it corresponding consequences. That’s why it’s important to schedule dental checkups for screening prior and during pregnancy.