Cardiovascular (Heart Disease)
Studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without. Research shows that oral bacteria can affect the heart when the bacteria enters the bloodstream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation and clogged arteries. Periodontal disease also has been known to exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk may be required to take antibiotics prior to dental procedures.
Research indicates that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease because they are more susceptible to contracting infections than people without diabetes. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. Research is also showing that periodontal disease can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar level. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar level. Studies show that when periodontal infections are treated, the management of diabetes markedly improves.
Pulmonary Disease (Respiratory Disease)
Studies have shown that bacterial respiratory infections are often caused by inhaling fine droplets containing bacteria from the oral cavity and throat into the lungs. Aspirated bacteria can multiply within the lungs and cause infection and damage. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema have a diminished ability to clear their lungs. Patients who suffer from respiratory disease should have a periodontal evaluation and be maintained regularly by a periodontist.
Premature and Low Birth Weight Babies
Pregnant woman who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. It appears that periodontal disease triggers increased levels of biological fluids that induce labor. Periodontal disease is an infection and all infections are cause for concern during pregnancy because they pose a risk to the baby. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should consider having an evaluation with a periodontist as part of your prenatal care.