Inflammation is the body’s instinctive reaction to fight off infection, guard against injury or shield against irritation. Inflammation is often characterized by swelling, redness, heat and pain around the affected area. While inflammation initially intends to heal the body, over time, chronic inflammation can lead to dysfunction of the infected tissues, and therefore more severe health complications.
Periodontal disease is a textbook example of an inflammatory disorder: “For many years, dental professionals believed that gum disease was solely the result of a bacterial infection caused by a build-up of plaque between the teeth and under the gums. While plaque accumulation is still a factor in the development and progression of gum disease, researchers now suspect that the more severe symptoms, namely swollen, bleeding gums; recession around the gum line, and loss of the bone that holds the teeth in place, may be caused by the chronic inflammatory response to the bacterial infection, rather than the bacteria itself.”
Dr. Wolf and his periodontal colleagues, trained in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease, hypothesize that this inflammatory response to bacteria in the mouth is the cause behind the periodontal-systemic health link. Many of the diseases associated with periodontal disease are also considered to be systemic inflammatory disorders, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease and even certain forms of cancer, suggesting that inflammation itself may be the basis for the connection.
More research is needed to pinpoint the precise biological mechanisms responsible for the relationship between gum disease and other disease states. However, previous findings have indicated that gum disease sufferers are at a higher risk for other diseases, making it more critical than ever to maintain periodontal health in order to achieve overall health.” As research supporting the mouth-body connection continues to emerge, the more vital it becomes that both Periodontists and Physicians work together to ensure the most comprehensive wellbeing for their patients.
To incorporate new concepts into patient care Dr. Wolf keeps a close eye on advances in research. While he recommends treatment that is evidence based, rest assured that as the understanding of host modulation factors, anti-infective agents and tissue engineering grow, the benefits of these treatments will become available to you.