American Academy of Perio Newsletter

What Happens In Your Mouth Doesn’t Necessarily Stay in Your Mouth

What Happens in Your Mouth Doesn’t Necessarily Stay in Your Mouth

Tips for Healthy Teeth & Gums
From the American Academy of Periodontology


To the AAP’s Patient E-Newsletter

You signed up to receive this oral health newsletter when you visited the AAP Web site. We hope that the information you receive will prompt you to have a discussion with your periodontist or dental healthcare provider about the treatment needed to improve your overall health.

What Happens in Your Mouth Doesn’t Necessarily Stay in Your Mouth

Research has shown that there may bean association between periodontaldisease and other chronic inflammatoryconditions, such as cardiovasculardisease and diabetes, among others.Scientists believe that inflammationmay be the cause behind the linkbetween periodontal disease and otherchronic conditions. Inflammation, thebody’s reaction to fight off infection,guard against injury, or shield againstirritation, initially intends to have aprotective effect. Untreated chronicinflammation, on the other hand, canlead to the destruction of affectedtissues, which can lead to more serioushealth conditions.

If you think or know you have one ofthe inflammatory conditions listedbelow, it is important to talk with bothyour physician and a dental healthprofessional, such as a periodontist, tohelp reduce your risk of further diseaseprogression. Dental professionals andmedical professionals will often worktogether to manage their patients livingwith, or at risk for, the followingdiseases:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one ofthe leading killers of men and womeneach year. Research has shown thatinflammation is a major risk factor fordeveloping CVD, and that people withperiodontal disease may have anincreased risk for CVD. Though moreresearch is needed to betterunderstand the connection betweenperiodontal disease and CVD, don’t besurprised if your periodontist asks youabout your heart health or if yourcardiologist or physician asks you aboutyour periodontal health.


Periodontal disease can be acomplication of diabetes. Researchershave found that people with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes are morelikely to develop periodontal disease.However, the risk isn’t just one way;people with periodontal disease mayfind it more difficult to control theirblood sugar levels, which can increasethe risk for diabetic complications. Ifyou are living with diabetes, it is crucialthat you pay close attention to yourperiodontal health.

Pregnancy Complications

Studies have shown that women withperiodontal disease may be at anincreased risk of pregnancycomplications, such as delivering apreterm or low birth weight baby. Moreresearch is needed to determine theexact relationship, but expectantmothers should consider having aperiodontal evaluation to ensure thattheir periodontal health is at its best.

Respiratory Diseases

Research has suggested that bacteriafound in the mouth can be drawn intothe respiratory tract and cause aninflammatory response in the lungs,commonly known as pneumonia. Inaddition, periodontal disease may alsoworsen existing chronic lungconditions. Anyone with lung orrespiratory problems should consider acomplete oral health examination todetermine if gum disease is present.

Protect Yourself

Since periodontal disease has beenshown to have a connection with otherchronic diseases, you should try tokeep your teeth and gums healthy.First, be sure to brush your teeth atleast twice each day and floss yourteeth at least once each day.Additionally, you should receive acomprehensive periodontal exam eachyear from your general dentist or yourperiodontist. Doing so can help ensurethat your periodontal health is at itsbest, which can help keep your entirebody healthy.

Gum Disease Found to beUnderestimated in the U.S.

According to a 2010 study by theAmerican Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and theCenters for Disease Control(CDC), the prevalence ofperiodontal disease in the UnitedStates may have beenunderestimated by as much as 50percent. This means that moreAmericans may have periodontaldisease than previously thought,and therefore may be moresusceptible to other chronicinflammatory diseases such asCVD, diabetes, and respiratorydiseases. If you think you mayhave periodontal disease, talk to aperiodontist for more information.

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