Practicing good oral hygiene daily is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth and a confident smile. It can also protect your health in other valuable ways as well. Without it, however, gum disease can occur, and this can lead to several internal health issues throughout the body.
Today, in the United States alone, approximately 50% of adults show signs of developing gum disease. While it continues to be the leading cause of tooth loss, if left undetected or untreated, gum disease can also affect your overall health, including increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, affecting your respiratory function, and interfering with diabetes management.
What Is Gum Disease?
When plaque begins to build up more and more on your teeth, it can soon irritate your gums, causing swelling, soreness, bleeding, and eventually infection. A milder form of the gum disease called gingivitis is the result.
If left untreated, this gingivitis can advance, developing into the more severe periodontitis gum disease, which weakens the tissues and structures supporting your teeth. As the gums increasingly pull away from teeth, it creates exposed pockets that can become infected.
3 Ways Gum Disease Can Damage Your Health
Gum disease not only affects your teeth but can also play a role in developing health problems elsewhere in your body. These problems develop as a result of bacteria and inflammation.
Three ways, in particular, that gum disease can damage your health include the following.
Increases the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Inflammation resulting from gum disease can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and strokes. The build-up of bacteria in your mouth is introduced into the bloodstream and makes its way to the heart, causing long-term inflammation. Infection of the heart valve can also occur, called endocarditis.
Affects Your Respiratory Function
With a shared passageway between the mouth and lungs, the connection between gum disease and respiratory issues is understandable.
Bacteria in the gums and mouth can make their way into the lungs and cause inflammation that can affect your respiratory function. The tubes that carry breathed-in air into the lungs, once inflamed, narrow and, in turn, restrict that air that enters.
According to some studies, those with chronic gum disease are also at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
Interferes with Diabetes Management
There is a strong connection between worsening diabetes and gum disease. Diabetes has an effect on the functioning of the immune system and the body’s healing capacity. Because of this, as gum tissues break down with advancing gum disease, natural healing is slow or non-existent in diabetics.
As a result, gum disease can interfere with blood sugar levels and glucose regulation. This interference can create higher levels of difficulty in managing your diabetes.
What to Do About Gum Disease
Once you receive a diagnosis of gum disease, knowing what you can do about it is key to acting and preserving your overall health. If caught early, it has a high chance of being reversed. If not, your dentist can provide treatment solutions to help you keep it at bay and protect your health.
Here are the options for what to do about your gum disease.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
The early, mild forms of gum disease can be reversed and prevented by practicing good dental hygiene on a daily basis. Brushing twice per day, flossing, avoiding sugary foods and beverages, and scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings are key.
Once your gum disease progresses to Periodontitis, however, your dentist will need to provide a deep cleaning and remove the tartar that builds up in the tooth pockets. Afterward, you may need to take antibiotics or antimicrobial medications to combat the infection and return periodically for more cleanings to keep it in check. These medications are available in the form of pills, gels, or mouth rinses.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and Root Planing is a method for removing the infection-causing plaque from teeth and gums. Your dentist will conduct a deep clean, removing bacteria that builds up on the tooth root and along the gum line.
When medication and deep cleanings fail, surgery may be necessary. Flap surgery involves the lifting away of gum tissue as your dentist cleans underneath. The natural gum tissue is then sutured back into its original place.
Gum or Bone Grafts
For the most extreme cases, gum or bone grafts are available. Your dentist will graft bone or tissue from another part of the mouth onto the damaged parts of your jaw or gum.
Contact Stiles Dental Care Today for All Your Oral Health Needs
Whether you already know you have gum disease or need to schedule a cleaning and exam, Stiles Dental Care can take care of all your oral health needs. Dr. Stiles takes the time to thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and discuss treatment options should gum disease be found. To learn more information or schedule an appointment, contact our office today.