Untreated periodontal (gum) disease can quickly progress from gingivitis to a more advanced stage that may result in tooth loss. But the health risks of periodontal disease can extend far beyond your teeth and gums. For example, a bacterium found in patients with chronic periodontitis has been linked to diseases of the brain, heart, lungs, and other major organs. The good news is that periodontal maintenance can prevent the spread of disease and improve your overall health.
Links Between Periodontal Disease and Other Health Complications
Periodontitis – the most severe stage of periodontal disease – sets an inflammatory process in motion that begins with the bacteria found in plaque. The most common bacteria associated with periodontitis and linked to several other diseases is Porphyromonas gingivalis. Several studies have found a connection between P. gingivalis and other systemic diseases.
While scientists have been searching for the possible causes of Alzheimer’s Disease, they’ve seen that a tiny fragment of a brain protein called beta-amyloid is often found in patients with the disease. Curiously, they’ve also found P. gingivalis in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Another study indicated that P. gingivalis increases the production of beta-amyloid.
Many factors contribute to the development of coronary issues. Still, there’s speculation that the link between periodontitis and heart disease is the P. gingivalis bacterium, which is actually the most common bacterium in the coronary artery.
Bacteria sourced from your mouth can be aspirated into the lungs to cause several respiratory diseases like bacterial pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Once again, P. gingivalis plays a role.
One study showed that P. gingivalis stimulated the Influenza A virus H1N1 host cells to produce inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin (IL-6). IL-6 has also been a predictive factor for respiratory failure in those infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.
Research shows a correlation between periodontitis and pancreatic cancer. Individuals with high levels of P. gingivalis antibodies were twice as likely to have pancreatic cancer than those with lower antibody levels. The P. gingivalis bacteria was also an indicator of higher mortality risk from orodigestive cancers (cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, rectum, or anus).
Periodontal disease can lead to increased blood sugar, and that makes it more difficult to control diabetes. But the P. gingivalis bacteria may also play a role. In fact, a 2016 study concluded that insulin resistance was enhanced when mice were infected with P. gingivalis and two other pathogens linked to periodontitis.
How and Why Gum Disease Progresses
Here’s how a mild case of periodontal disease (gingivitis) can progress to a more advanced stage if you ignore periodontal maintenance:
- Poor or lax oral hygiene causes plaque to form and settle on your teeth. Unless you take good care of your teeth at home by brushing and flossing, the plaque will eventually harden.
- Hardened plaque (tartar) can get under your gum line and collect bacteria. A dental professional will need to remove the tartar with a special tool.
- If tartar remains under your gums for a long time, it will cause irritation and inflammation. As the disease progresses, you’ll be more susceptible to tooth loss and other health problems, and you’ll likely require periodontal surgery as a treatment.
Take Charge of Your Health with Periodontal Maintenance
Good at-home oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease, but periodontal cleaning and maintenance provide extra assurance that your gums remain healthy. The board-certified periodontists at Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester use advanced tools and techniques to remove all signs of plaque and tartar. And if the examination shows that you require additional treatment, they’ll make recommendations and explain everything you need to know. Schedule your cleaning appointment today and stop gum disease before it leads to other health problems. 585-685-2005
 Porphyromonas gingivalis induced inflammatory responses and promoted apoptosis in lung epithelial cells infected with H1N1 via the Bcl-2/Bax/Caspase-3 signaling pathway, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059728/#b20-mmr-18-01-0097
 Modulation of inflammasome activity by Porphyromonas gingivalis in periodontitis and associated systemic diseases, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/jom.v8.30385
 Determining the presence of periodontopathic virulence factors in short-term postmortem Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23666172/
Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors, https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3333
 Porphyromonas gingivalis is the most abundant species detected in coronary and femoral arteries, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5328378/
 Potential role of periodontal infection in respiratory diseases-a review, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3786481/
 Porphyromonas gingivalis induced inflammatory responses…, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059728/
 Plasma antibodies to oral bacteria and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large European prospective cohort study. Gut 2013;62:1764–70, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3815505/
 Porphyromonas gingivalis serum antibody levels and orodigestive cancer mortality. Carcinogenesis 2012;33:1055–8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22367402/
 Periodontitis induced by Porphyromonas gingivalis drives periodontal microbiota dysbiosis and insulin resistance via an impaired adaptive immune response, https://gut.bmj.com/content/66/5/872