Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Preventing it may save your life – or your child’s

Evidence of the association of periodontal disease, sometimes called “gum disease”,  with general health issues is overwhelming. Studies at the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), a division of the NIH (National Institute of Health), clearly delineate the association of gum disease with cardiovascular issues, diabetes and pregnancy:

“Robust evidence shows the association of periodontal diseases with systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Periodontal disease is likely to cause 19% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, and this increase in relative risk reaches to 44% among individuals aged 65 years and over. Type 2 diabetic individuals with severe form of periodontal disease have 3.2 times greater mortality risk compared with individuals with no or mild periodontitis. Periodontal therapy has been shown to improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetic subjects. Periodontitis is related to maternal infection, preterm birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia.” 

When reading any online medical information, law #1 is consider the source; are they selling anything?  The National Institute of Health, or NIH, is the “bible” of trustworthy online medical information, as they are a not-for-profit government institution. Public health is their sole mission.

Periodontal Disease: Affects nearly every human on earth at some point in life. Two stages: In the early stage, called gingivitis, bacteria are established in the soft tissue collars surrounding the teeth.  Once bacteria spread to the underlying bone, the disease is called periodontitis.  The bone is thus slowly resorbed, or “eaten away”, by the bacteria, and if neglected for 10-20 years will result in major tooth loss.  Modern dentistry can easily halt periodontal disease, but currently there is no method of restoring lost bone – it’s gone forever. Thus diagnosis at the gingivitis stage is critical. Please note gum disease can only be treated by a professional, there are no over the counter treatments. Antibiotics do little.

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