The Perio-Systemic Link

For the past several years, evidence has been accumulating which points toward a connection between periodontal health and one’s overall health. Correlations have been made between periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, pre-term low birthweight babies, and respiratory infections, to name a few.

The rationale behind all of the studies is based upon immunology. The pathogenic bacteria associated with periodontal disease, as well as the bacterial by-products, travel through the bloodstream and contribute to the digression of other organ systems. Furthermore, the body’s own immune system, in an attempt to combat the harmful toxins, releases antibodies and proteins which have been strongly linked to systemic disease.

It’s no surprise that the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, and science is merely confirming what many have suspected for decades. An important aspect to keep in mind is that all studies indicate a correlation, not a cause-and-effect relationship. So for instance, periodontal disease does not cause heart disease in itself; rather a significant number of individuals who exhibit severe periodontal disease also exhibit heart disease or the markers that predispose towards heart disease.

Regardless, the message is clear. The body is an interactive system, and maintaining excellent periodontal health is important for one’s overall health.