We have spoken at length about periodontal disease in this blog, but we have almost always limited ourselves to dealing with its consequences at a systemic level in the area that most concerns or occupies us, i.e. the oral area. However, several important scientific communities, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), have been warning of the direct relationship between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases.
After all, as we have come to know from advances in medicine, the human body is an organism designed to work together, and when one part of it suffers, so does the body as a whole. Of course, the same is true of oral health.
However, before establishing a relationship, let's start at the beginning:
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a very common disease in the population that affects the supporting tissues of the teeth (gums, periodontal ligament and jawbone) and whose first symptoms are inflammation and bleeding gums due to the bacterial infection responsible for the disease.
The first stage of the infection is known as gingivitis and its consequences are reversible. That is to say, with the correct treatment in a dental clinic, and following the advice and care recommended by both dentists and hygienists, the disease will leave no sequelae and we will once again enjoy a mouth and gums in a perfect state of health.
If, on the contrary, we ignore these initial symptoms, the disease will progress to its next stage, known as periodontitis. In this phase, the infection begins to cause irreversible damage to our oral cavity, and it is here that we talk about the fact that there is no cure, with nuances. Its progress causes the destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth, which will eventually lead to the premature loss of multiple and/or all teeth.
Periodontitis and its relation to diabetes
Numerous studies have shown that there is a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. Periodontitis impairs glycaemic control and diabetes in turn increases the risk of periodontitis due to the inflammatory reaction in body tissues.
Diabetes is a very common disease worldwide and in Spain approximately 14% of the population suffers from type II, according to the latest data, and it can produce very serious chronic complications and increase the risk of mortality.
Periodontitis and cardiovascular disorders
In a joint report between the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) and the Spanish Society of Periodontology and Osseointegration (SEPA) in 2015, pointed out the direct relationship between cardiovascular and periodontal health. According to the latest findings, periodontal bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream and reach any part of our body.
One of the major periodontal bacteria, the Porphyromona gingivalis, is frequently present in atheromatous plaques.
Atheroma plaques build up and clog the arteries, preventing proper blood flow and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It should be noted that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in adults, accounting for approximately 30% of deaths.
Periodontitis and Alzheimer's disease
Although much remains to be discovered and clarified, several modern studies point to some kind of link between periodontitis and the onset of early Alzheimer's disease. Research suggests that, as with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, this is a bidirectional relationship. The progression and severity of periodontal disease would increase the risk of suffering from the progressive cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer's disease.
To give some figures, some 800,000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer's in Spain, and it is the main cause of disability in the elderly and the most common type of dementia.
The importance of maintaining proper oral health, which is achieved by respecting a dental hygiene routine and following dental advice, as well as attending the relevant check-ups at our trusted dental clinic, is more than amply demonstrated by this relationship, among many other factors.
Remember, the body is not made up of a multitude of independent organisms, but is itself an organism, and what happens in one part of it affects the whole of the body as a whole.