Chronic and Acute Conditions Caused by Gum Disease

Victor Terrnaova, DDS discusses the effect of periodontal disease on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, , the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and respiratory Disease.


Research has shown that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions listed below.

Diabetes Mellitus

Research has shown that individuals with a pre-existing diabetic condition are more likely to either have, or be more susceptible to periodontal disease. The presence of periodontal disease can cause an increase in the blood sugar levels. This can affect the ability to control the amount of glucose in the blood and therefore can lead to insulin resistance reducing metabolic control significantly. Periodontal diseases have the potential to cause a chronic systemic inflammatory state in patients with diabetes mellitus.

It has been found in a study that diabetic patients that have periodontitis are 6 times greater risk for worsening of glycemic control over time than patients without periodontitis. This was found to be due to increased insulin resistance.

The issue with glycemic control alone can increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Another issue which exacerbates periodontitis in diabetic patients is that diabetes thickens blood vessels therefore making it hard for the mouth to rid itself of excess sugar.The presence of excess sugar in the mouth creates a perfect breeding ground for types of oral bacteria that cause gum disease.

Heart Disease

There are two theories propounded by the dental community that explain the link between periodontitis and heart disease. Many dentists believe that strains of oral bacteria that exacerbate periodontal disease can become attached to coronary arteries when entering the bloodstream. The result is that it lends itself to blood clot formation and can narrow the coronary arteries, eventually causing a heart attack.

The second theory is that the presence of periodontal disease causes inflammation and plaque build up. This can cause arteries to swell and can exacerbate pre-existing cardiac conditions. An article by the AAP claims that patients who have a negative reaction in their bodies to the presence of periodontal bacteria will have an increased risk of developing heart disease.


Pregnancy Complications

A woman's body due to the extreme fluctuations in hormones from puberty to menopause and pregnancy put them at greater risk of developing periodontal disease. During pregnancy a woman suffering from periodontal disease is at an increased risk of preeclampsia and has increased chances of delivering an underweight premature child. This is due to the increased level of prostaglandin which is a labor inducing chemical. Periodontal disease also elevates C-Reactive proteins that have been linked to heart disease. These heightened protein levels can amplify the inflammation levels in the body, increasing the chances of preeclampsia and low birth weight babies.


Respiratory Disease

The presence of oral bacteria that is linked with gum disease has been found to exacerbate conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia and COPD. This bacteria is drawn down into the respiratory tract during inhalation and can cause bacterial infections. It has been shown that repeated infections which have the characteristics of COPD could be linked to periodontitis. In addition to this bacterial risk having inflammation in the gum tissue can lead to the patient getting severe inflammation in the lining of the lungs - this can aggravate pneumonia. Unfortunately a patient suffering from chronic or respiratory problems will have low immunity. This means that bacteria can easily form below the gum line due to an already weakened immune system.

If you have one of the above diseases and you are worried about periodontal disease then make an appointment to come and see Dr Victor Terranova.
Call us on 718-626-1050.

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