Gum Health Affects the Body, Too
When it comes to avoiding the risks of gum disease, brushing and flossing your teeth has never been more important. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease. What’s worse, it’s been linked to serious health complications beyond the teeth and gums. The good news is with a little care these complications are often avoidable.
What exactly is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. There are however other factors with the potential to cause gum disease, including:
- Tobacco use
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Certain medications
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible. Untreated gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, the next stage of gum disease. Once periodontitis becomes a factor, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition where the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.
Effects Beyond the Mouth
Recent studies suggest gum disease may also contribute to or be a warning sign of several potentially life threatening conditions as well.
- Heart Disease and Stroke – Gingivitis may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the high levels of bacteria found in infected areas of the mouth. As the level of periodontal disease increases, the risk of cardiovascular disease may increase with it.
- Diabetes – People with diabetes often have some form of gum disease, likely caused by high blood glucose, according to the CDC. It’s important they take extra care to ensure they use proper brushing and flossing techniques to prevent gum disease advancement.
- Chronic Kidney Disease – Some studies suggest that people without any natural teeth, known as edentulous, are more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CDK) than people with natural teeth. CDK contributes to kidney failure, affects bone health, and affects blood pressure potentially causing heart disease.
- Preterm Birth – Research indicates that women with periodontal disease are three to five times more likely to have a baby born preterm than women without any form of gum disease. Women are more susceptible to gingivitis when pregnant. They should follow their regular brushing habits and continue with dental cleanings and examinations.
How You Can Prevent Gum Disease
The easiest way to reduce and prevent gum disease is to brush and floss regularly. Cleanings with your dental hygienist or dentist may also be necessary to remove calculus and treat advanced gum disease.
If you have any questions or concerns about gum disease, we encourage you to speak to Dr. Perelmuter or Dr. Goldberg, or contact your dentist. When it comes to your health, never hesitate to ask!
(Story parts excerpted from www.dentistry.about.com)