Content Dam Rdh Print Articles Volume37 Issue4 1704rdh C1

The Critical Role of the Oral-Systemic Link In Clinical Practice

April 1, 2017

A Peer-Reviewed Publication Written by Kathryn Gilliam, RDH, BA


The associations between periodontal disease and systemic diseases are widely accepted. The term “the oral-systemic link” refers to the connections between the two. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease process resulting from the interaction between bacterial attack and the host inflammatory response. Periodontal disease has been shown to result in inflammation in parts of the body beyond the oral cavity. It is this inflammation and the causative periodontal pathogens that have been implicated as contributing factors, through a variety of pathways, in a multitude of systemic diseases and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, hypertension, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy complications, and a variety of cancers. Research is ongoing to determine the exact mechanisms interconnecting systemic diseases to periodontal disease and the strength of the various interconnections.

Educational Objectives

At the conclusion of this educational activity participants will be able to:

1. Recognize the relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other systemic diseases.
2. Identify the pathways through which the mouth can be a potential source of pathology affecting other systems and organs.
3. Differentiate the various types of associations by which periodontal disease may be linked to systemic diseases.
4. Describe the barriers that prevent medical professionals from acting on information regarding the connection between oral and systemic disease.

To view the entire course, click here.