Periodontal disease can lead to more serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, strokes and even premature labor. Dr. Alex Farnoosh provides information.
Beverly Hills, California (March, 2009) – More than 10 years ago, the ADA launched educational efforts to increase awareness about the health risks associated with oral infections. While most people are aware that such infections can cause pain in the gums and mouth, few understand the damage isn’t localized to the mouth and can jeopardize their overall health.
“According to the US FDA, more than 75% of adults over the age of 35 suffer from some type of periodontal (gum) disease which can unknowingly put their health at risk,” says Beverly Hills periodontist Dr. Alex Farnoosh.
In the earliest stage of periodontal disease, patients’ gums are prone to swelling and bleeding. As periodontal disease progresses, the connective gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place are destroyed, ultimately leading to tooth loss. Many patients believe that periodontal disease only puts their teeth at risk.
“When I tell my patients about some of the additional health risks associated with periodontal disease, they are shocked,” says Dr. Farnoosh. “Most of them had no idea they were putting the rest of their body at risk.”
Dr. Farnoosh explains to patients that among the risks now being associated with periodontal disease are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, strokes, respiratory problems, and premature birth. The bacteria from oral infections and the plaque build-up on the teeth may also be connected to greater risks of heart disease. Recent studies have also shown periodontal disease is significantly associated with an increased risk of lung, kidney, pancreatic and hematological (blood) cancers.
One study of patients who had recently had a stroke found that a large percentage of them also suffered from some type of oral infection at the time of the stroke. For pregnant women certain types of oral bacteria caused by infection are known to stimulate premature labor. Respiratory problems can also increase when the bacteria in the mouth is inhaled into the lungs.
“Dental patients also need to be aware of their increased risk for developing periodontal disease if they suffer from other types of chronic illnesses,” adds Dr. Farnoosh. Diabetes is a leading risk factor, especially when blood sugar is uncontrolled. Unfortunately, periodontal disease also increases blood sugar levels which could lead to a destructive health cycle in the body. Osteoporosis can also be a culprit because of increased bone loss in the jaw which can weaken teeth, cause pain, and lead to tooth loss or compromise the longevity of dental implants.
Dr. Farnoosh believes the best method for preventing these problems, especially for individuals at high risk of developing periodontal disease, is good oral hygiene and periodic examination by a periodontist. “Some of my patients have said they were afraid of visiting a dentist in Los Angeles, and I tell them I would be more afraid of what might happen if I didn’t visit them,” explains Dr. Farnoosh. He recommends that people have regular checkups for signs of periodontal disease, especially if they suspect an infection, are planning on becoming pregnant, or have chronic health problems that increase their risk.
Dr. Alex Farnoosh offers cosmetic dentistry procedures for Beverly Hills and Los Angeles residents. Request a consultation with Dr. Farnoosh or call his office at 310-657-0503 to find out more.