Periodontal Disease and the Body

Despite periodontal disease affecting as many as 80% of Slovenian men and women, we still underestimate the extent of this pathological condition.

MedicalHealth clinic, for a long, healthy, and balancedlife

Periodontal disease is not solely an oral cavity disease but has a significant impact on the entire body. This connection stems from the fact that teeth grow from the jawbone, meaning they are anchored in the upper and lower jaws by their roots. Compared to the profound chronic infection’s implications for overall health, tooth loss resulting from periodontal disease is the least of our concerns. Periodontal disease has multiple stages. Mouths with moderate periodontal disease harbor an infected and inflamed purulent wound the size of both palms, already eroding the bone.

Can you imagine having such a wound on your hand, visible to your eyes every day? In the mouth, this dangerous infected wound remains concealed, causing only bad breath and bleeding during brushing. Throughout the course of infection and bacterial proliferation, extremely aggressive bacteria and substances resulting from our immune system’s response enter the bloodstream.

Impacts of periodontal disease on the entire body:

– Inflammation can spread from periodontal tissues directly to the surrounding and deeper tissues, particularly the bone.
– The transit of microorganisms and their products into the bloodstream causes inflammation in remote organs (heart, brain, liver, lungs, etc.).
– Harmful substances produced in inflamed areas of the mouth can also enter the bloodstream and affect distant tissues (atherosclerosis), and they can also alter the mucous membranes of the respiratory or digestive tracts, creating conditions for inflammation in remote organs (pneumonia).

Periodontal disease can significantly worsen and affect the development of existing physical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. It is particularly dangerous for individuals over 55 years of age and people who are overweight.

How does periodontal disease develop?

Around each tooth in the mouth, there is a periodontal pocket, which measures one to three millimeters in depth and surrounds the tooth, including the interdental space. More than 600 different species of bacteria are present in the pockets and on the teeth. Let’s see what happens with a healthy and clean tooth surface when regular oral hygiene is neglected.

Throughout the day, substances from saliva, food, beverages, etc., deposit and bind on the tooth surface, forming soft dental plaque. These deposits tend to accumulate at the gumline, both on exposed surfaces and in the interdental spaces. The gumline is where bacteria obtain necessary nutrients from the tooth pockets. As a result, bacteria multiply and initially cause gum inflammation, which later progresses to periodontal disease without exception.

If we don’t remove the soft plaque at least once a day, bacteria in the periodontal pocket have a constant supply of nutrients, and the protective environment of the pocket provides ideal conditions for their uninterrupted proliferation. Due to saliva being an ionic solution, uncleaned soft plaque gradually “hardens” and forms dental calculus. Because of its porous structure, dental calculus serves as a refuge for food debris and bacteria, allowing them to thrive beyond the periodontal pocket as well. Gum inflammation occurs within 48 hours of neglecting oral hygiene. The consequence of inflamed gums is bleeding. During cleaning, the gums bleed, they may also be painful, and due to the increased number of bacteria, they exhibit characteristic signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, pain, etc. Healthy gums are pink, never reddish-purple, and do not bleed during cleaning.

If we neglect oral hygiene and allow dental deposits to persist on our tooth surfaces for an extended period, the inflammation from the gums also spreads to the bone in which our tooth is “anchored.” Over time, the periodontal pocket deepens to four mill

imeters or more due to bone loss. At this point, we can start talking about different stages of periodontal disease.

The bone is crucial for tooth stability. In the case of inflammation, the bone decays, and teeth lose support. This doesn’t happen overnight but is a chronic process that unfolds over ten or more years. Teeth gradually become loose, severe pain and swelling can occur, which are the result of periodontal abscess or pus, and ultimately, due to the disappearance of bone, even completely healthy teeth can be lost. Fortunately, today we have a much better understanding of periodontal disease than in the past.

Most vulnerable groups of people:

Individuals with cardiovascular diseases, those living under severe stress, smokers, individuals over fifty years old, those with arthritis, individuals who are overweight, as well as pregnant women and diabetes patients, are particularly sensitive to the negative effects of periodontal disease on the body. In high-risk groups, this chronic infection with aggressive bacteria usually progresses in more severe forms. Research shows that moderate to advanced periodontal disease can increase the likelihood of heart or brain stroke two to threefold, seven times higher chance of premature birth and low birth weight, and diabetic patients have fifteen times greater likelihood of losing their teeth.

Accurate diagnosis leads to the right treatment

Despite the disease being highly prevalent in the population, periodontal disease and its progression can be prevented through timely detection and appropriate treatment. The main problem with periodontal disease is that it occurs hidden and slowly, so it’s essential to look for signs of the condition and not wait for symptoms that usually occur late when significant damage has already been done.

Because it is crucial to detect pathological changes in the mouth as early as possible, do not postpone the examination of periodontal tissues, where we can precisely determine the sites and degree of involvement and take appropriate measures. At the same time, we can teach you proper oral care to prevent further development or recurrence of the disease. By doing so, you will help your body achieve better health and strengthen the immune system, as it will no longer constantly fight bacteria that penetrate the bloodstream and reproduce uncontrollably.