Periodontal Science Update

Healthy gums insure a bright smile. But, gum disease can lead to heart problems. Research shows the risk of heart disease increases dramatically with gum disease. The American Heart Association says studies reveal a possible link between diseased gums and the heart. According to one study, people with advanced periodontal disease, or gum disease, were four times more likely to suffer from heart ailments including strokes. Another study shows that having any level of gum disease raised the risk of heart disease by 50%. One of the factors that can explain this link between gums and the heart is bacteremia – bacteria in the bloodstream. This can lead to bacterial endocarditis – inflammation of the heart membranes. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream through ordinary activities such as brushing or “picking” your teeth when gums are infected and bleed. It can happen during dental procedures or oral surgery, even though the bacteria rarely last more than 15 minutes in the bloodstream. Frankly, antibiotics are not enough to kill infectious bacteria in gum disease. One way to minimize the risk of heart damage is to use lasers to treat gum disease.

The effects of gum disease extend beyond the heart. The effects may increase a woman’s risk of having a low- birth-weight baby because of the bacterial toxins in the bloodstream, which interfere with fetal development. A study at the University of North Carolina and Meharry Medical Center College found that women with gum disease had eight times greater risk of having low-birth-weight babies.

If you have gum disease, but are afraid of the knife and stitches, give us a call. We will make an appointment to see if laser dentistry can help you.