PERIODONTITIS is commonly called gum disease and is not something you want to have, mainly because it is an inflammation which creates circulating substances called proinflammatory cytokines, which the liver modifies into c-reactive protein (CRP), a very dangerous entity. CPR causes clotting and depending on where the clot occurs, can result in a heart attack, a stroke, a deep vein thrombosis in a leg, or even a pulmonary embolus. Since CRP level is increased, and since gum disease is a major producer of inflammation throughout the body, and therefore a major contributor of increased CRP levels in the majority of people, we need to focus our attention on total body inflammation to reduce those levels.
What’s so bad about gum disease? After all, most people who have it do not experience any pain whatsoever and so it seems not to be a bother at all. Well, hundreds of studies have looked at different aspects of the gum disease – systemic disease connection, and have found it can be a causative factor in a heart attack or stroke, two of the top three causes of death. Studies have shown that gum disease can increase the risk of a heart attack by 200 to 400 percent, as well as double the risk of stroke. Infant mortality is affected by gum disease sites, mothers can experience premature birth or low birth weight babies. Other studies have shown that gum disease can make arteriosclerosis and diabetes worse, and can even contribute to lung disease caused by breathing in (aspirating) pneumonia-causing organisms.
The medical profession is currently concluding that high CRP levels are as serious a threat to health as high cholesterol (an acknowledged cause of heart attacks and strokes), and doctors are beginning to screen for this blood element as part of regular health checkups. CRP has even made it into Readers’ Digest in a short piece stating that CRP testing “may be getting ready for prime time” because it is a highly predictive marker for signs of inflammation. Since CRP is produced in the liver, and this production is triggered by inflammation anywhere in the body, a high CRP reading would be the result of that person’s total cumulative inflammation. Someone with severe arthritis, prostate inflammation, and healthy gums could have high CRP reading, just as someone with severe periodontal disease and no arthritis or other inflammatory problems could. Regardless of the source, it all adds up, and high CRP is dangerous no matter what disease caused them. But, since gum disease is an inflammation-inducing condition that more people have than don’t, it has to be considered a primary culprit in many disease processes, including that of elevated CRP levels.
CRP levels are usually measured in milligrams per litre (mg/L) and, as reported in an article in the San Antonio Express-News, CRP levels of less than 1 mg/L indicate a low risk of heart disease, and reading between 1 and 3 mg/L represents an average risk. CRP levels greater than 3 mg/L are at least twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those in a low-risk group. The danger of gum disease to overall health is dose-related, which means the worse the gum disease, the greater the risk. Severe inflammation elsewhere in the body is serious as well.
It has been estimated that up to 400 specific types of microorganisms are commonly indigenous to the mouth, so with gum disease, there is the distinct likelihood that several types of those potentially hazardous microorganisms are circulating throughout the entire body, wherever the blood flow takes them. In a study reported in the October 2012 issue of Compendium, a postmortem examination of blood clots taken from arteries in the neck showed several types of disease-causing bacteria in the clots of 72 percent of the recently deceased test subjects (fifty clots from the carotid arteries were evacuated during these autopsies).
When the inflammation-inducedd nature of CRP is considered, other life-threatening aspects should be taken into account. When a person with moderate to severe periodontal disease and elevated CRP levels undergoes a deep cleaning (scaling and root planning), what happens to the CRP levels as the dentists tear the diseased tissues in their normal efforts to treat gum disease? Many unexpected results may occur in anyone undergoing periodontal procedures, perhaps even ones as innocuous as everyday scaling and root planing. Studies have shown that periodontal cleaning procedures alone can elevate the person’s baseline CRP readings by 300 percent. This rise can be truly life-threatening for anyone who has advanced gum disease since acute infection can elevate CRP levels to 500 to 1000 times already high normal limits.
Even extraordinarily high-risk levels can be prevented or controlled by a wide variety of inflammation-reducing substances. Yet very few people ever receive pretreatment protection from their dentists unless they have a known heart problem, such as mitral valve prolapsed, valvular damage from rheumatic fever, or some other condition, such as hip joint replacement, requiring pretreatment antibiotic coverage. So, gum disease is not a condition to be taken lightly because it can be fatal.
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle