The number one reason for tooth loss in older adults is periodontitis or gum disease. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that results in the destruction of the supporting structures of the teeth, which include the gums, bone and periodontal ligament that connects the tooth root to the jaw bone.
Periodontal disease that is moderate to severe is found in 14% of the older population (65-74) and increases to 21% after the age of 75. Most chronic inflammatory disease and conditions including periodontal disease, are cumulative and therefore are manifested later in life.
Poor oral health, especially poor periodontal health and tooth loss, may negatively impact your overall health by hindering your ability to eat properly. Recent studies confirm a link between poor chewing function and malnutrition in older adults.
Periodontal disease has been associated with systemic diseases such as diabetes, cerebral vascular disease (stroke) and cardiovascular disease. There is evidence that with severe periodontitis there is an increase in pro-inflammatory factors in the blood stream as well as bacteria that facilitates atheroma (clot) formation increasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.
Individuals with diabetes (both type I and II) show higher rates of severe or rapidly progressing forms of periodontitis than non-diabetic individuals. Treatment of periodontal disease can actually improve glycemic status, especially in individuals with type II diabetes.
Maintaining your oral health and particularly, treating and preventing periodontal disease, is important to leading a longer and healthier life. If you have any concerns regarding your gum status, please call and book a complete periodontal examination.