Beyond Dental Health: Complications of Severe Gum Disease

From infections to receding gumlines to tooth loss, gum disease profoundly impacts your oral health. However, the complications of severe gum disease aren’t confined to your mouth.

Researchers have linked gum disease to a plethora of other health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. 

Whether you’re just now noticing the first signs of gum disease or you’ve been battling more advanced gum disease, Dr. David Blaustein at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics in New York City offers periodontal maintenance to support your oral ㅡ and overall ㅡ health.

Below, Dr. Blaustein discusses how the complications of severe gum disease extend beyond dental health.

How (and why) gum disease contributes to other health problems

Research has linked oral health problems to over 120 conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. 

How does gum disease affect so many other parts of your body? Experts believe that once bacteria from your mouth enter the blood system, it can travel throughout your body and cause inflammation. Inflammation plays a significant role in the development of many health conditions. 

Severe gum disease has been linked to:

Heart disease and stroke

The body-wide inflammation that develops as a result of severe gum disease can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 

Inflammation is a contributing factor when it comes to atherosclerosis ㅡ the clogged arteries that lead to heart attack and stroke. People with severe gum disease are 2-3 times more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke

Alzheimer’s disease

According to a 2020 study, oral infections and periodontitis increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This is because bacteria, which create inflammatory molecules, travel from your mouth to your bloodstream and eventually to your brain.

Certain cancers

Advanced gum disease also increases your risk of developing certain cancers, namely lung cancer and colorectal cancer. The biggest increase was among people who had the most severe forms of gum disease and had lost teeth due to the progression of the disease.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is characterized by a weakening of bones, reduced bone density, and increased risk of fractures. 

Periodontitis and osteoporosis are both characterized by bone resorption, and these conditions have many shared risk factors. However, inflammation (such as the inflammation caused by gum disease) can further exacerbate these conditions, according to a 2016 study.

Treating gum disease

The good news: Just because you have gum disease doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop other conditions. Gum disease treatments go a long way in improving your oral health and reducing the risk of unwanted complications. 

Here at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics, we offer nonsurgical periodontal therapy, including scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing is sometimes called a deep clean, but it’s much more than a routine cleaning. 

During a scaling and root planing, we thoroughly use hand instruments and electronic ultrasonic scalers to eliminate tartar and calculus from your gum pockets. During this procedure, we also clear out the harmful toxins produced by inflammation-causing bacteria.

We perform this nonsurgical procedure under local anesthetic so that you remain comfortable throughout. 

If you’re concerned about gum disease — or suspect you have it already — call our Manhattan office at 917-633-7312. You can also request your appointment online.

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