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Gum Diseases

Gum disease and systemic inflammation



I sm a 66 year old male who has periodontal pockets in most parts of my mouth ranging from 3-6 mm in depth. I have had these for several years. Depth is roughly constant. I had root planing and scaling about 3 years ago, and this seemed to help, at least for a while. I hsve my teeth cleaned frequently, and my general oral self-care is pretty good.

Over the past month or two, though, I have been not been feeling well. Specifically, I tend to feel light-headed and weak, the lightheadedness being concentrated in my sinus area. I am not allergic. My recent EKG and blood work have been normal. My blood pressure has been running high, systolic being roughly 130-140 for the past year, though I have been taking low doses of a diuretic and an ACE inhibitor for this over the past few months, and the dosage has not recently changed.

My question is whether you think this general sick and weak feeling might be connected with the periodontitis I have. Would this be likely to be part of a more systemic inflammation? If so, what would be the best treatment option? I know gum surgery is possible, and while I am reluctant to embark on it given the cost and complication, I also want to protect my gums, teeth, heart, and overall health as best I can. Are there equal or better alternatives?

Any thoughts or reflections you have will be most welcome, even though I realize they could not be definitive. Many thanks.


Recent studies show a connection between severe periodontitis and chronic heart diseases. Severe periodontitis is defined as more than 5 mm attachment loss around a tooth. And this problem should affect more than 30% of the sites around your teeth in the oral cavity to be called a generalized form of the disease.

Depending on the severity of the periodontal disease, it may affect your overall health. You can obtain further information by going to the American Academy of Periodontology website. There are summary reports from recent studies in this website. 

We also know that eliminating chronic inflammation originated from the oral cavity may help control some systemic health problems such as diabetes. It sounds that you are getting some help for your heart conditions. I recommend you getting help for your chronic periodontal problem. Even repeating initial therapy that you received 3 years ago may help.

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Response by:

Binnaz   Leblebicioglu, DDS, MS, PhD Binnaz Leblebicioglu, DDS, MS, PhD
Associate Professor of Periodontology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University