According to a study conducted by the American Glaucoma Society, periodontal disease with recent tooth loss raises the risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG). Over the course of a 26-year study involving nearly 40,000 men, it was discovered that those who reported tooth loss and gum disease were 86% more likely to develop OAG.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve, resulting in irreversible vision loss and blindness. According to the CDC, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, open-angle glaucoma accounts for 90% of all cases of the disease. OAG develops when fluid drains from the eye too slowly, causing pressure to build up around the optic nerve. Like periodontal disease, it develops slowly; however, unlike periodontal disease, there are no early symptoms of glaucoma. By the time vision loss begins, the damage has already been done. Glaucoma must be detected and treated as soon as possible. This can only be achieved with a dilated eye exam.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Eyes?
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition affecting both the soft and hard tissues that support the teeth. Nearly half of American adults have mild to severe periodontal disease, according to the CDC. Plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, attracting harmful bacteria. Periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, chronic bad breath, and tooth loss if left untreated. Furthermore, it can also spread that bacteria throughout the body, causing a variety of other problems. Diabetes, dementia, and heart disease are all linked to gum disease. In the case of glaucoma, experts have theorized that infections in the mouth circulate through the nervous system to reach the eyes.