The relationship between gum disease and a wide assortment of systemic diseases and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pre-term low birth-weight babies is an area of very active scientific interest. A connection between these diseases and conditions is inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to an infection, injury, or irritant. The purpose of inflammation is to protect the body by removing the cause and beginning the healing process. If the original condition isn’t taken care of, the bodies inflammatory response can stay turned on for a long period of time. This system designed to cure now turns into a system that can cause serious damage.
While the effects of gum disease may appear to be limited to the mouth, the level of inflammation in the whole body is elevated when gum disease is severe, and treatment that resolves the inflammation of moderate to severe periodontitis can result in less inflammation in the whole body. Another possibly important finding is that bacteria associated with gum disease has been found in harmful deposits stuck to the walls of certain blood vessels. Whether or not treating succesfully treating gum disease can effect the risk for or outcomes of these other medical conditions is an area of ongoing study. No matter what the eventual findings, having overall health and well being requires having healthy teeth and gums.