Historic studies linking periodontal infection with heart disease
The first modern studies to connect periodontal infection with heart disease appeared in the mid 1990’s and were amplified by a surgeon general’s report published in 2000. Initially these reports were thought to be a rehash of the old “focal theory of infection”. The focal theory was described in a journal article in 1891, and purported that severe periodontal infection, termed Smutz Pyorrhea, was the source of many systemic conditions. This theory was popular until after WWII and was the rationale for thousands of full-mouth extractions of teeth.
Oral – Systemic Connection Today: The correlation between periodontal disease with many chronic systemic conditions
Studies conducted in the last 15 years have shown a definite correlation between deep periodontal pockets and generalized periodontal infections with many chronic systemic conditions. These include: cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-term/low birth weight babies, and respiratory infections. This does not mean that periodontitis causes heart attacks. Many factors such as age, genetic profile and family history, diet, living and working conditions, stress and habits also contribute and ultimately determine your overall health. The fact is that gum disease can be another risk factor, increasing your chances of a bad outcome with the above conditions.
The bottom line: Why take the chance?
Brushing, flossing and a couple of cleanings a year are cheap and painless insurance that could lower your risk of heart, lung and systemic problems. The most risky conditions are isolated deep pockets which harbor gram-negative motile pathogens and generalized moderate to deep pockets often associated with red, swollen, tender gums and bad breath odor. New laser procedures can effectively and painlessly treat the isolated conditions and the Perio Protect Trays are an excellent guard when the condition is more generalized.
If you know you have significant periodontal problems or want an evaluation to see if you do have such a condition, contact us to set up an appointment for a check-up.