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 Learn About Health and Periodontal Disease in Belmont, MA

Research studies show strong associations between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and respiratory disease. At Belmont Dental Group’s office in Belmont, MA, we work hard to provide both preventative care and treatment for gum disease because it’s important for your overall health—not just oral health.

Periodontal disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of gum tissue, periodontal infection below the gum line, and a presence of disease-causing bacteria in the oral region. Halting the progression of periodontal disease and maintaining excellent standards of oral hygiene will not only reduce the risk of gum disease and bone loss, but also reduce the chances of developing other serious illnesses. To learn more about periodontal disease, including risk factors, symptoms, and treatments, please visit the about periodontal Disease page on our website.

Here are Some of the More Common Co-factors Associated With Periodontal Disease:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Complications with pregnancy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Respiratory disease

Learn more about these associations and related dental treatment processes below, and contact us for additional information or assistance.

Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke

People suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or who are at risk for a stroke can address part of their overall treatment by seeing a dentist or periodontist for help. Here’s a closer look at why your oral health should be addressed alongside other treatment approaches.


Periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes, especially when the diabetes is not under proper control. The two conditions can actually make each other worse. There are several factors that cause problems for those with both diabetes and periodontal disease, such as high blood sugar, blood vessel thickening, poor oral hygiene, and smoking.

People with diabetes should see a dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups. Studies have shown that simple nonsurgical periodontal treatments can lower the HbA1c (hemoglobin molecule blood test) count by as much as 20% in a six-month period. Dentists can also recommend appropriate home care methods for the person’s individual needs and situation.

Respiratory Disease

There are a number of different respiratory diseases linked to periodontal disease. Pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and bronchitis are among the most common. Generally, bacterial respiratory infections occur due to the inhalation of fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs. COPD is a leading cause of death and should be taken very seriously. Some of the reasons for this link include bacterial spread, low immunity, inflammation, and smoking. If both conditions are found, the oral care received by a dentist or periodontist will support overall health. Deep cleaning, antibiotics, and other treatments can arrest the progress of the disease and improve the person’s condition.

Pregnancy Complications

Researchers have shown that periodontal disease in expectant mothers actually exposes their unborn child to many different risks, particularly if they also happen to be diabetes sufferers. Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes that increase the risk of the expectant mother to develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and periodontal disease. These oral problems have been linked in many research studies to preeclampsia, low birth weight of the baby, and premature birth. Expectant women should seek immediate treatment for periodontal disease in order to reduce the risk of prenatal and postnatal complications. Several factors may be involved in the link between these two things, including elevated levels of prostaglandin and C-reactive protein and bacteria spread.

If diagnosed, expectant mothers should be treated for periodontal disease to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Home care methods, professional deep cleanings, and other treatments recommended by a dentist can help reduce risks by as much as 50%.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Researchers have found that gum disease sufferers are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease and have also discovered that oral infection is a risk factor for stroke.

Some research indicates oral bacteria might affect the heart, while others point to inflammation and susceptibility to infection as possible factors. Whatever the reason, the link between the two seems clear.

Treatment is available in the form of deep cleanings and possibly antibiotics, depending on the patient’s current state of gum health.

Osteoporosis, Respiratory Disease, and Pregnancy Complications

In addition to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, there are several other health conditions that share a link to oral health and warrant possible treatment by a dentist or periodontist.


A study conducted at the University of New York at Buffalo in 1995 concluded that postmenopausal women who suffered from osteoporosis were 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease. Two main factors are thought to have a hand in this connection—estrogen deficiency and low mineral bone density.

Those at risk for osteoporosis may want to monitor their oral health a bit more carefully with the help of their dentist. X-ray screenings can be helpful in checking for bone loss. Estrogen supplements may also be something to consider.

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