Last December, after a brief stay in a Chicago hospital, Scott died. He was 41 years old. The doctors identified the cause of his death as a bacterial infection of the heart which they believed stemmed from untreated periodontal disease. The same bacteria found in his heart was found in the inflamed tissue of his gums. Scott had some lifestyle, and possibly some congenital, issues that weakened his heart, but doctors believe his early death was totally avoidable. Although Scott was not his patient, we discussed this sad case with Dr. Taylor.
Periodontitis is Alarmingly Prevalent in America
Dr. Taylor explained that untreated periodontal disease is alarmingly prevalent in America. Many people are at risk, but have zero awareness how serious, even deadly, periodontitis can be. In fact, Dr. Taylor shared that 50% of Americans over the age of 30 suffer from varying levels of periodontal disease, 10% of those have severe periodontitis. These numbers are staggering!
Don’t Miss the Warning Signs
Because periodontal disease can be slow to develop, for many people it’s out of sight, out of mind. Symptoms that indicate there is a problem, like gums that bleed while brushing or flossing, are often overlooked or just ignored as normal. There is never a case where bleeding gums is normal or okay. It is always literally a red flag something is wrong. Be sure you make regular visits to your dentist every six months for routine cleaning and dental checks.
Stopping Progression of the Disease
In cases of periodontitis , the only way to stop the progression of the disease is regular deep cleanings done by a dental professional. Once pockets have formed under the gumline and there has been bone loss, even excellent home oral hygiene must be coupled with professional deep cleanings. There is simply no physical way to reach and clean the areas prone to further bacterial growth without special tools and procedures provided by your dentist. Although the damage done cannot be reversed, further damage can definitely be stopped and the bacterial growth can be held in check.
A Definite Correlation Between Periodontitis and Heart Issues
Statistically, officials are not ready to confirm that there is a direct link between periodontitis and heart disease, but they definitely notice a strong correlation. Dr. Taylor explains that periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that can can affect the whole body, but the correlation between periodontitis and heart disease, strokes and other vascular issues are the strongest.
Could You Have Periodontitis?
Even if you do not have pain and have good home dental hygiene, you could have periodontitis. If your gums are bleeding or are tender, it is definitely time to see a dentist. Again, although damage cannot be reversed, periodontal disease can be halted. If you suspect you have periodontal disease, do not put it off, make an appointment with Dr. Taylor or Dr. Martin today!