Periodontal Medicine – Connections to Other Health Concerns

Gum Disease & Heart Health

Recent evidence has brought to light the connection between periodontal disease and other health concerns. For example, periodontal disease can lead to a significant risk of cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. Those with gum disease are far more at risk of heart disease and twice more likely to have a fatal heart attack than people without periodontal disease. The bacteria of gum disease can cause small blood clots, contributing to clogged arteries and buildup of fatty deposits within heart arteries. The clots may cause strokes or heart attacks.

A Link to Alzheimer’s, Prostate Cancer & Other Health Concerns

Periodontal disease is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer, along with many other inflammatory problems. Gum disease has even been shown to be a serious risk for babies born prematurely or with low birth weight. Having a baby prematurely or with low birth weight is 7 times more likely in mothers with periodontal disease than mothers without the disease.


Periodontal disease is also interrelated with diabetes. Symptoms including bleeding gums, bone loss, and an increase in pocket depths may be an early indication of diabetes. Those with diabetes are far more susceptible to periodontal disease, and can require more care and treatment than non-diabetic individuals. The level of control of a diabetic patient’s blood sugar is often associated directly with their periodontal disease activity.

Smoking & Periodontal Disease

Smoking can cause periodontal disease. It can reduce the blood supply that surrounds the bone of the tooth. The heat and toxins produced when smoking affect the bacterial composition of your mouth and body’s immune response to periodontal bacteria. It can reduce the effects of periodontal therapy no matter how often you practise oral hygiene. Patients who smoke require the expertise of a certified periodontist to maintain their teeth’s health for as long as possible.

Why a periodontal specialist?

In these times of economic distress, we must remember the complicating systemic effects of periodontal disease. It is no longer the Standard of Practice to keep patients in your practice who have periodontal issues. Systemic health depends on the proper diagnosis and care of a specialist in periodontology.

We will work closely with your patients to educate them, manage their periodontal disease, and, where possible, share the responsibility for continued maintenance with your hygiene department to provide better dental and systemic heath.