Periodontal Disease Can Have a Serious Impact on More Than Just Your Oral Health

Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a major health problem in the U.S., affecting about half of all adults, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, gum disease is so rampant, it’s the number one cause of tooth loss among men and women in this country. But as serious as periodontal disease is for your oral health, it has major implications for your overall health as well. In fact, several studies have linked gum disease with acute and chronic medical conditions, including serious long-term health issues.

How gum disease affects your health

Gum disease is caused by bacteria found on the surfaces of your teeth. These bacteria are always present, even if you don’t have gum disease, and they tend to “hide” in sticky plaque film and hard tartar deposits between your teeth and along your gum line. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxic solutions that irritate your gum tissue, causing your gums to shrink away or recede from the surfaces of the teeth where the bacteria reside. When the gum tissue shrinks, it forms tiny openings or pockets that allow the bacteria to move farther down the tooth surface. Over time and without dental treatment, the cycle continues until the bacteria reach the tooth root, where they cause infection and inflammation.

For many years, researchers thought the primary link between gum disease and systemic diseases was caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream, and that may, in fact, play a role. But today, research indicates that inflammatory effects associated with advanced gum disease (or periodontitis) probably play a bigger role in causing disease.

Gum disease and overall health risks

Research into the link between gum disease and overall health problems has increased in recent years. Here’s just a sampling of what scientists have found:

Diabetes

Periodontal disease can increase your blood sugar levels, making it more difficult to control your diabetes. Plus, diabetes makes it more likely you’ll have gum disease.

Heart disease

This study from Harvard found that people with gum disease are twice to three times as likely to have heart disease as those who don’t have gum disease.

Stroke

Researchers found that people with periodontal disease are two to three times as likely to have a stroke. They also found that people who had routine cleanings and preventive care had a lower risk of strokes compared to people who delay their oral health treatment.

Respiratory disease

Other studies show that gum disease makes some respiratory diseases like obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia more likely, possibly because the bacteria that cause periodontal disease are frequently inhaled into the airways and lungs.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Research conducted at Johns Hopkins University shows the same bacteria that causes periodontal disease also causes the joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, they say gum disease may be the trigger for the abnormal immune response responsible for RA.

Cancer

Studies show that gum disease may also be linked with oral cancer as well as cancers of the lungs and pancreas.

Take the first step toward preventing gum disease

Lots of factors can contribute to the development of gum disease, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, and even genetics. Some people with chronic diseases like diabetes are also more prone to gum disease. No matter what causes the disease, the key to preventing serious side effects like tooth loss or medical complications is to have routine dental checkups. During your checkup, your gums will be carefully evaluated for signs of gum disease so you can get the care you need to prevent it or to treat it in its earliest stages.

At Celebrity Smile Spa, we offer comprehensive care for gum disease, including important preventive treatments and treatments for gum disease in all its stages. Delaying routine dental treatment is a primary cause of gum disease. If it’s been a while since your last dental checkup and cleaning, now is an ideal time to take action. Book your appointment online today.

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