Periodontitis is one of the most common diseases in Germany. In addition to the mouth, the inflammation can affect the whole body – and even lead to cardiovascular disease. What you should know about the silent disease.

The trend is rising: According to the current oral health study, 52 percent of people over the age of 35 are affected by periodontitis, and among seniors it is already 90 percent.

The chronic inflammation of the periodontium progresses in phases, destroys tissue and bones and thus leads to loosening and the loss of teeth in the long term – in both healthy and diseased ones. The problem: The triggering bacteria and inflammatory substances can get into the blood via the gums and thus trigger further diseases.

If periodontitis is left untreated, it can affect the entire body accordingly. For example, the first studies have already proven the connection between periodontal disease and the development of cardiovascular diseases. The disease increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

“Periodontitis, an inflammation of the periodontium, is a so-called silent disease that initially has no symptoms and can therefore do a lot of harm in secret,” explains Romy Ermler, Vice President of the German Dental Association. The disease is often neglected in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Accordingly, the Federal Association of Resident Cardiologists (BNK) and the Federal Dental Association (BZÄK) have started a cooperation – to better explain the connections.

A study from Sweden shows that people with periodontitis have an average 49 percent higher risk of heart attack or stroke over a six-year period than people without periodontosis. The more severe the gum disease, the higher the risk.

There is also an increased risk of high blood pressure. A British meta-analysis examining 81 international studies on the topic shows that the average systolic blood pressure of people with periodontitis is 4.5 mmHg higher than that of healthy people. Diastolic blood pressure was also 2 mmHg higher on average compared to people with healthy gums. An increase in blood pressure of 5 mmHg increases the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke by 25 percent.

The researchers assume that the periodontitis-causing bacteria in the bloodstream of those affected influence the function of the blood vessels. In addition, cardiovascular diseases and periodontal disease have similar risk factors. These include:

Due to the parallels, it is advisable to forward a periodontitis diagnosis to your family doctor or cardiologist.

“Early detection and treatment of periodontitis are important preventive measures to counteract general diseases, which in the worst case can lead to death, for example if the heart valves become severely inflamed,” summarizes Ermler. “In the patient consultation, the question of dental health can therefore provide an important impetus for clarifying possible periodontitis.”

The earlier periodontitis is detected, the easier it can be treated. Symptoms of the condition include: