You have probably heard that there is a connection between gum disease and health conditions such diabetes or heart disease. But, those aren’t the only conditions that affect the health of your gums. A few other chronic conditions or autoimmune disorders are also thought to affect the health of your gums and can contribute to gum disease. In some cases, it can help to work with your doctor and dentist or periodontist to make sure you are getting treatment that not only helps a condition you may have but that also helps keep your gums and teeth in the best shape possible.
When you have anemia, your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. There are a number of factors that can cause anemia, from losing a lot of blood to not getting enough of the nutrients that your body needs to make red blood cells, such as iron or folate, in your diet. Anemia can also be an inherited condition, meaning that you are born without the ability to produce an adequate amount of red blood cells.
Some signs of anemia include pale skin, cold hands and shortness of breath. The condition can also cause a number of symptoms in the mouth, such as a swollen, smooth tongue, known as glossitis, and pale gums, because there isn’t enough red blood cells to give the gums a healthy, pink color.
There is also thought to be a link between anemia and gum disease. It could be that having gum disease increases a person’s risk for developing anemia, due to the inflammation of the gums. There might be a link between the chemicals produced by the body when the gum tissue is inflamed and the reduction of hemoglobin in the blood.
Treatments for anemia typically depend on the cause of the condition. If caused by a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron, your doctor might give you diet advice or recommend taking a supplement to increase the amount of iron you get. If the condition is inherited, a doctor will most likely prescribe medication to increase the production of red blood cells.
It’s not so much hypertension, or high blood pressure, itself that is connected to gum disease, but rather some of the medications commonly prescribed to treat it. A certain type of hypertension medication, calcium antagonists, can cause overgrowth of the gums in some patients. The enlarged gums are difficult to clean properly, making a person more likely to experience inflammation and signs of gingivitis.
If a person is taking medication to treat high blood pressure that can lead to gum overgrowth, there are a few things he or she can do to minimize the problem or to prevent the overgrowth. The excess growth is more likely to occur when there is a lot of bacteria present, so adopting or sticking with a regular oral care routine can help minimize a person’s risk. Seeing a dentist for regular cleanings is also helpful.
If possible, a person can try switching medications to something that won’t potentially cause gum overgrowth. In cases where the growth is excessive, making it difficult to clean around or between the teeth, oral surgery might be needed to cut away the extra gum tissue.
Lupus, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own tissues, is often linked to a number of mouth and gum issues. The condition commonly causes a number of lesions to develop on a person’s gums, for example. Lupus is also called the great imitator, because many of its symptoms resemble those of another condition. For example, the gum lesions can be mistaken for oral cancer, until they are tested to rule out cancer.
The medications a person might take to control Lupus symptoms can also cause a number of issues in the mouth. Many medications cause dry mouth, or reduce saliva production enough that a person has a higher risk for cavities and tooth decay. Patients with lupus might want to see their dentist more often than twice a year to keep the mouth as clean as possible, to reduce the risk of developing cavities, and to detect any signs of inflammation or gum disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints. The condition is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling, which can damage and deform a person’s joints over time. The joints aren’t the only area affected by RA. A 2008 study suggested that patients with RA had higher rates of gum disease than those without the condition.
There are several reasons why RA can increase a person’s risk for gum disease. The inflammation in the joints on the hands can decrease manual dexterity, making it challenging for a person to brush her or his teeth or floss. Oral hygiene isn’t the only contributing factor, though. It’s thought that the inflammation caused by RA has some impact, as well. Treating either condition can potentially improve the other one.
Regular dental check-ups and visits to the periodontist become more important when you are dealing with a condition that can increase your risk for gum disease or other oral health issues. In Miami, periodontists Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas can evaluate your teeth and gums and work with your medical team if you have another condition. To schedule an appointment with the periodontists, call (305) 447-1447 today.