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Mouth - Body Connection

Research studies have indicated that there is an evident tie between periodontal disease and other ongoing conditions such as pregnancy complications, heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Periodontal disease is demonstrated by the appearance of detrimental bacteria in the oral region, chronic inflammation of the gum tissue, and periodontal infection. Stopping the spread of periodontal disease and monitoring the oral hygiene standards will not only minimize the spread of bone loss and gum disease, but also minimizes the possibility of developing other serious illnesses.

Some cofactors associated with periodontal disease include:


A recent study has shown that patients with prior diabetic conditions are more likely to either be more susceptible to, or have, periodontal disease. Periodontal disease may elevate blood sugar levels which makes monitoring the levels of glucose in the blood difficult. This fact alone may elevate the danger of serious diabetic complications. On the other hand, diabetes enlarges blood vessels and can make it more difficult for the mouth to expel extra sugar. Too much sugar in the mouth makes for a breeding ground for the types of oral bacteria that lead to gum disease.

Heart Disease

There are several case studies which explain the link between periodontitis and heart disease. One such idea is that the strain of oral bacteria which worsens periodontal disease latch onto themselves to the coronary vessels as they enter the bloodstream. This in turn leads to both the clogging of the coronary arteries and blood clot formation, possibly leading to a heart attack.

A 2nd theory is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease leads to a major plaque accumulation. This can enlarge the arteries and worsen a heart condition. An article published by the American Academy of Periodontology states that patients whose bodies react to periodontal bacteria have an elevated risk of developing heart disease.

Pregnancy Complications

Women, as a rule, are at a much higher risk of developing periodontal disease because of hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, menopause, and puberty. Research has shown that pregnant women dealing with periodontal disease are at a much higher risk of preeclampsia and delivering low birth weight and premature babies.

Since levels of prostaglandin (a labor-inducing chemical) are much higher in women with periodontal disease, higher  levels of prostaglandin may bring increases in C-reactive proteins (which have previously been associated to heart disease). Increased amounts of these proteins can increase the inflammatory reaction of the body and amplify the chances of low birth weight babies and preeclampsia.

Respiratory Disease

Bacteria in the oral cavity associated with gum disease has been found to lead to or worsen conditions such as pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and emphysema. Oral bacteria may be taken into the lower respiratory tract during the course of normal breathing and rapidly increase in growth; causing bacterial infections. Research has demonstrated that continued infections which simulate COPD can be linked with periodontitis.

In addition to the risk of bacteria, infection in gum tissue may lead to rapid inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia. People who suffer from persistent and chronic respiratory issues may have reduced immunity. This means that bacteria can readily grow under the gum line with the body's immune system having no resistance.

If you have concerns or questions about periodontal disease and the mouth-body connection, please cpontact Dr. Braithwaite or a member of his staff.  We care about your smile and overall health!