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Dental Blog

Dangers of Untreated Gum Disease: Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Stroke

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the dangers associated with untreated gum disease. There are several ways untreated gum disease can progress into a far more significant and worrisome concern than where it begins, including not only oral health issues, but also overall health concerns that may arise.

At Trimble Dental, we offer a wide range of treatments and services to help prevent or treat gum disease, from periodontal care to general dentistry solutions and more. What are some of the other conditions you might be at higher risk for if you leave gum disease alone and do not treat it? Here's a primer.

dangers untreated gum disease

Alzheimer's Disease

Gum disease has been linked by several pieces of research to higher risks of Alzheimer's disease, and this is primarily due to the presence of a bacteria known as Porphyromonas gingivalis -- this bacteria is found in gum disease, and is also often present in the brains of those with Alzheimer's.

In fact, a study performed by the Center for Oral Health and The Ohio State University College of Dentistry yielded some very telling results: Over a third of the participants who had gum disease also had signs of Alzheimer's in their brains, whereas only 13% of those without gum disease showed any sign of Alzheimer's in their brains.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another bacteria, this one known as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, is found in both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and they are likely related. Researchers have found that those with RA have a far higher level of the specific bacterium that causes gum disease than those who do not have RA.

Moreover, studies have shown that when gum disease is treated, the symptoms of RA are often improved as well. This may be because treating gum disease helps to reduce inflammation in the body, which is a hallmark symptom of both diseases.

Pneumonia

Several respiratory conditions, including not only pneumonia but also COPD, asthma and others, are affected by chronic inflammation -- which is often caused by gum disease. In fact, one study showed that those who had untreated gum disease were almost 3 times as likely to develop pneumonia as those without gum disease. In addition, people with gum disease tend to have worse symptoms of respiratory conditions and also require more medication to control them.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Gum disease is closely tied with cardiovascular disease, and this is likely due to the presence of several factors: First, inflammation in the body (caused by gum disease) can increase your risk of heart disease; second, gum disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels; third, people who have untreated gum disease tend to develop higher levels of homocysteine, a protein that has been linked with heart disease and stroke.

For more on why untreated gum disease is a major risk and why you should not allow this to happen, or to learn about any of our dental services, speak to the team at Trimble Dental today.

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