In July of 1998, the American Academy of Periodontology launched an effort to educate the public about new findings which support what dental professionals had long suspected: Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.
Since July of 1998, evidence has continued to mount to support these links. While more research needs to be done to say definitively that people with periodontal disease are at higher risk for developing heart disease, stroke, uncontrolled diabetes, preterm births and respiratory disease, periodontists do know that periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and all infections are cause for concern.
Periodontal bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research is suggesting that this may:
- Contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death.
- Increase the risk of stroke.
- Increase a woman's risk of having a preterm, low birth weight baby.
- Pose a serious threat to people whose health is compromised by diabetes, respiratory diseases, or osteoporosis.
Don't Ignore Your Oral Health
If you value your oral as well as your overall health, a periodontal evaluation is a good idea. Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal disease is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if you:
- Notice any symptoms of periodontal disease.
- Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis.
- Are thinking of becoming pregnant.
- Have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
- Have a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks.