Links to Medical Conditions

Link between Periodontal Diseases and Lung Infections

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Several studies have suggested an association among dental plaque, poor oral health, and respiratory disease. Many case studies have described bacteria normally found in the oral cavity to be associated with lung infections. In
addition, oral health status may contribute to pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The available evidence suggests that poor oral hygiene results in the formation of extensive plaque and promotes oral colonization by potential respiratory pathogens. Pneumonia is a very prevalent disease, causing 100,000 deaths in the United States each year. A significant proportion of the general population (~10%) and an even greater proportion of older people (~50%) have destructive periodontal disease. People with destructive periodontal disease are most affected by pneumonia.

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Link between Periodontitis and Cardiovascular Diseases

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Recently identified associations between periodontal disease and other systemic inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, have captured the attention of oral health professionals. Recent work in animal models suggests that there may be a cause-effect relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular lesions.

Proof-of-principle experiments involving animals have demonstrated that…
[certain naturally occurring compounds] were effective in preventing both periodontitis and cardiovascular lesions in the same animal.

These data suggest that a relationship exists between periodontitis and the initiation of atherosclerosis and that anti-inflammatory therapy… was effective in preventing the onset of both diseases.

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Periodontal Disease as a Risk Factor for Preterm Birth

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Preterm birth, resulting in babies born too little and too soon, is a major cause of morbidity. Evidence indicates that infections can be major risk factors in preterm birth. Case-control studies point to an association between periodontal infection and increased rates of preterm birth.

Evidence points to a possible role for periodontal pathogens in preterm birth. In a case-control study of 124 pregnant or post-partum mothers, those who delivered preterm or low birth-weight babies had significantly worse periodontal disease than mothers of normal birth-weight babies. Other case-control studies
show the risk of preterm birth was 3 to 8 times greater for mothers with periodontal disease.

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