Intended for healthcare professionals


Periodontal disease and poor health outcomes

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 17 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2735
  1. Peter N Galgut, clinical periodontist
  1. 1Lotus Clinic, London NW11 7PE
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    Clinicians must recognise the risks and refer patients for periodontal care

    Periodontal diseases are localised gingival infections that affect most adults at some time in their lives. They are broadly divided into two groups. Gingivitis is related to dental plaque and manifests as superficial redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. Periodontitis occurs when the infection spreads into the deeper tissues surrounding the roots of the teeth, and it causes breakdown of the gingival tissues and alveolar bone resorption.

    Evidence shows that periodontal diseases can have systemic effects.1 2 3 Oral infection can result in the formation of sites that favour colonisation by blood borne microbes—a locus minoris resistentiae. A well known example of this phenomenon is heart valves that are damaged by rheumatic fever, which are more susceptible to bacterial infection from blood borne bacteria.

    In the linked survey (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2451), de …

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