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Link between periodontal inflammation and retinal degeneration

As researchers continue to look at how gum disease affects overall health, they continue to find more dangers of it. Now it has been seen that it can impact your vision in a negative way – possibly being able to cause you to lose your eye and rob you of vision completely.

Why Gum Disease Is a Problem

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that occur naturally in your mouth. The gums will normally keep bacteria out as long as they remain healthy. While most of the bacteria in your mouth are relatively harmless, some of it produces acid whenever it comes in contact with sugar.

The acid is what causes cavities and gum disease. It irritates the gums, which triggers an immune system response. As the various aspects of the immune system respond to the irritation, the gums become swollen and will begin to recede. As they do so, it enables more bacteria to get into the gums and the inflammation spreads.

Before long, the immune system starts attacking not only the bacteria but also healthy tissue. It starts destroying the gums, the ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone. Before long, your teeth may start to become loose, and may even fall out if allowed to continue without dental treatment.

The Study

A study was conducted by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at the Harvard Medical School. It involved almost 40,000 men who were all at least 40 years old. None of them had glaucoma at the start of the study. Every two years the researchers collected information from the men about lost teeth and periodontitis that resulted in bone loss. The study continued for 26 years and resulted in 483 cases of open-angle glaucoma.

After sorting the data, the researchers concluded that the risk of getting open-angle glaucoma and tooth loss is 43 percent higher when one or more teeth are lost. With the addition of periodontitis, the risk level is raised to an amazing 83 percent higher level of risk.

The Eye Connection

When inflammation of the gums occurs, the inflammation can spread through the blood vessels. It gains access to your body once it is in your gums. Researchers now know that inflammation can cause many major illnesses as it and the oral bacteria spread throughout the body. Possible health problems it can cause include cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, dementia, several types of cancer, and more.

It can also affect the eyes. Two inflammatory factors, Interleukin-6, and Tumor Necrosis Factor, can affect the optic nerve. They can even do this after the initial inflammation has been removed and cause vision loss.

Keeping Periodontitis Under Control

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. It is mild and you can usually eliminate it at this stage easily. All you need to do is to brush twice a day and floss.

Once you develop periodontitis, which means that gingivitis has progressed to the next stage, you will not be able to stop it without dental intervention. The plaque that builds up on your teeth and been left there, has become hard – called tartar. A toothbrush cannot remove it. It has since become filled with the harmful bacteria above and below the gum line, causing more serious inflammation.

Dental Intervention

Once periodontitis has started, you need the dentist to help remove it. The longer you wait, the worse it becomes. The dentist can help you with various gum disease treatments. Non-surgical methods include a deep cleaning of your gums, called scaling and root planing, and the use of antibiotics.

Protecting your eyes is important. Seeing a dentist for a checkup can help determine if you have gum disease, but if your gums are inflamed and bleed when you brush or floss, you most likely have it.

Steps to Prevent Periodontitis

  • Control Your Blood Sugar Levels – If you have diabetes and periodontitis, it is very important that you try to control your blood sugar levels. They affect each other and you cannot control the one without controlling the other. Reducing your periodontitis will help bring down your sugar levels.

  • Reduce Stress – Stress can also affect your vision. If you have periodontal disease, you do not want to add the harmful effects of stress to a possible eye problem.

  • Brush and Floss Daily – Brushing and flossing your teeth daily will help you to keep your gums and teeth healthy. Getting regular dental checkups can help spot the start of gum disease. It will also give the dentist the opportunity to apply corrective measures to eliminate problems and help you keep your healthy smile.

If you have gum disease and are concerned about preventing vision loss, you can get gum inflammation treatment from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He can provide treatment for oral inflammation to help prevent vision problems. His offices are located in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental treatment for better dental health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.