727-799-6733 28469 US 19 N #401, Clearwater, FL 33761

Periodontal Disease, Churney PerioAn estimated 60 million Americans have periodontal disease.

Over the past decade, an increasing amount of scientific evidence has shown an association between periodontal disease – along with the bacteria that cause it – and systemic diseases affecting other areas of the body, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and preterm low birth weight babies. Linking what happens in the mouth to what occurs throughout the rest of the body is a similar inflammatory response.

However, it is important to note that the development of gingival inflammation or symptoms of periodontal disease does not mean a person will definitely develop a systemic condition. There are many other factors that contribute to the onset of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc.

What Are the Oral-Systemic Associations?

Driving the link between oral disease and systemic conditions is the fact that periodontal bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, where it can initiate new infections, trigger or exacerbate an inflammatory response. It's important to understand that an infection in the mouth is an infection in the body – and like any infection, it can spread. Additionally, as a result of infection, the body produces certain proteins that circulate in the blood, known as C-Reactive Protein (CRP). These proteins can cause an irritation to blood vessel walls that ultimately leads to artery narrowing. This can subsequently lead to heart attack or stroke. Systemic medical conditions affected by periodontal disease and oral bacteria include the following:

Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease. Periodontal disease and atherosclerosis frequently coexist in the same person. Studies have shown that with the treatment of gum disease, both the periodontal inflammation and systemic inflammation may decrease. Since atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease, periodontal treatment may benefit the cardiovascular system. In fact, scientists have shown that intensive periodontal treatments have led to improvements in arterial health. Just like cholesterol, testing for CRP has become part of blood testing for cardiac risk factors.

Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes. The presence of periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to preterm births, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (a sudden rise in blood pressure late in pregnancy), delivery of low birth weight babies and fetal loss. However, researchers have found a reduction in the number of preterm births among women who received periodontal treatment during pregnancy compared to those who waited until after delivery to receive treatment. Pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. Women considering pregnancy are advised to undergo a complete periodontal examination.

Pneumonia. Periodontal infections can travel into the neck and chest, as well as lodge in the lungs. In fact, research has shown that periodontal bacteria and pathogens are aspirated (breathed in) into the airway of people with severe gum disease, but that regular tooth and gum cleanings may help prevent pneumonia.

Diabetes. Periodontal inflammation is a complication of diabetes. People with diabetes are more prone to infection and severe periodontal disease, meaning they may need to see their dentist more frequently for routine cleanings. Reducing gum infections with antibiotics has been shown to improve diabetes control.

Heart Disease. People with periodontitis, particularly infections causing a high concentration of pathogens in the blood, are at greater risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). What's more, the use of antibiotic treatment has long been recommended for patients with certain heart conditions when they undergo periodontal therapy. In addition, research has connected periodontal disease and related bacteria to cardiovascular disease, stroke, infective endocarditis and other heart conditions.

Authored By: Allison DiMatteo / Reviewed by: W. Peter Nordland, DMD



Causes of Periodontal Disease, Churney PerioThe main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque.

Bacterial plaque is a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. However, factors like the following also affect the health of your gums.


Smoking/Tobacco Use

As you probably already know, tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.



Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.


Pregnancy and Puberty

As a woman, you know that your health needs are unique. You know that brushing and flossing daily, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are all important to help you stay in shape. You also know that at specific times in your life, you need to take extra care of yourself. Times when you mature and change, for example, puberty or menopause, and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy. During these particular times, your body experiences hormonal changes.

These changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease. Additionally, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies.



As you probably already know, stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.



Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.


Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth at night? Is your jaw sore from clenching your teeth when you're taking a test or solving a problem at work? Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.



Diabetes is a disease that causes altered levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes develops from either a deficiency in insulin production (a hormone that is the key component in the body's ability to use blood sugars) or the body's inability to use insulin correctly. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes; however, more than half have not been diagnosed with this disease. If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause your diabetes to be more difficult to control and your infection to be more severe than a non-diabetic.


Poor Nutrition

As you may already know, a diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body's immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.


Other Systemic Diseases

Diseases that interfere with the body's immune system may worsen the condition of the gums. Healthy gums for healthy lives - it's a two way street.



Symptoms of Gum Disease, Churney PerioYou may have gum disease and not even know it!


Often, there is no pain and periodontal diseases may not exhibit symptoms until serious bone loss has taken place. However, it is important to see your dentist or periodontist at the first sign of these common symptoms of periodontal disease:


  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that pull away from teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Change in your bite (occlusion) and/or fit of removable dentures


Patients Role, Churney PerioUltimately your role is most important in periodontal treatment.

No matter how successful the periodontal treatment has been, for maximum results, the patient must accept this role as a "co-therapist". You must take "ownership" in achieving long-term success.

Step 1
The first responsibility is to eliminate factors that increase susceptibility to periodontal disease. Some of these include smoking, diabetes and excessive use of alcohol.

Step 2
Secondly, it is important to maintain daily plaque control. This is achieved through brushing and using other homecare aids such as floss, interdental brushes and rubber tips. Most periodontal disease begins between the teeth, therefore, we will recommend hygiene aids for your oral hygiene routine.

Step 3
Lastly, you are responsible for scheduling regular periodontal maintenance. The frequency of these visits will be determined by the level of your periodontal health. Most patients with moderate to advanced cases or patients who may be susceptible to periodontal disease should have periodontal maintenance appointments every three to four months for their lifetime. Maintaining this schedule is very important to controlling periodontal disease.
Keep Up to Date

Not sure when you last had an appointment? That's ok, you can always call Dr. Churney's Periodontal office and ask. If you haven't had one recently, then it's quick and easy to make one that works with your schedule.




Oral Hygiene, Churney PerioThe American Academy of Periodontology seeks to educate the public about research findings which support what dental professionals have long suspected:


Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.

For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other infections in the body; however, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may link periodontal disease to other chronic conditions.

Research has shown, and experts agree, that there is an association between periodontal diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

When an inflammatory condition is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to consult with both a general physician and a dental health professional, such as a periodontist. Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal diseases is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if you:

  • Have a high risk for periodontal diseases.
  • Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis, or are thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • Have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
  • Have a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks.

(Source: Perio.org)



Churney Periodontics Office Location

Take US 19 South. Go 1.25 miles after the Curlew intersection and MAKE A U-TURN at Republic Dr./Hammock Pine Blvd. RIGHT TURN into Auctioneer driveway. Follow drive around to back — Suite #401
Take US 19 North. Go past Countryside Mall. The next light will be Republic Drive/Hammock Pines Blvd. Travel .25 miles north. TURN RIGHT into Auctioneer driveway after Bob’s Carpet Mart. (Look for the orange roof.) Follow drive around to back — Suite #401
Churney Periodontics Dental Service 28469 US 19 North Suite 401
Clearwater, FL 33761