Periodontitis (gum disease) should be given more attention, as this type of disease can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body via the blood, doctors said.
Chiayi City’s St Martin de Porres Hospital dentist Hsu Wei-kai (徐偉凱) said the hospital recently treated a 49-year-old female patient surnamed Huang (黃) who had a swollen neck, a sore throat and was having trouble breathing.
Huang originally thought that she had caught a cold, but the hospital determined that it was a deep-neck infection that was most probably due to Huang’s gum disease or from a diseased cavity, Hsu said.
The hospital drained Huang’s abscesses and put her on a course of antibiotics, Hsu said.
Hsu said that 80 percent of deep-neck infections originate in the mouth.
Periodontitis does not cause pain, but is a chronic condition that inflames gums, causes them to bleed and teeth to become loose, Hsu said, adding that because they feel no pain, patients often do not seek medical assistance.
Even after the infection has moved on to the throat and caused swelling, patients often think that they have caught a cold, Hsu said.
If periodontitis is not attended to swiftly, infection can spread throughout the body via the blood, Hsu said, adding that it can even affect the cardiovascular system and glucose levels.
In pregnant women, periodontitis can cause premature birth, or children to be born underweight, Hsu said.
The National Health Insurance Administration has has been running a program to treat gum diseases since 2010.
The service does not charge patients additional expenses and aims to cure patients’ gum disease, the administration said, adding that if the condition is severe enough, the program provides for surgery.
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