We want to spend as many years on this planet we call home as possible. To that end, we’re constantly searching for new methods of increasing personal longevity. Have you ever imagined that one could be something as simple as better brushing and flossing?
Oral health isn’t always a top priority – after all, you can always get cavities filled, right? Cavities are one story, but they’re not the only threat facing your mouth. Periodontal disease is a serious danger for patients’ teeth and gums, but it’s also a problem that many people overlook. If you’re not visiting the dentist regularly, gingivitis could have a chance to take hold, and to progress to full-blown periodontitis.
Contrary to its name, gum disease doesn’t just affect the soft tissues in your mouth. In fact, ongoing research is showing more and more support for the concept that healthy gums = a healthy heart. Confused about how this could be possible? Read on for a guide to gum disease’s whole-body ramifications, and what you can do to keep them from affecting your life.
Gum Disease Could Affect The Entire Body
Your mouth is one window to the rest of the body. What happens there can have a larger impact. Research suggests potential links between gum disease and
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Complications during pregnancy – During periods of hormonal fluctuation, your gums are far more likely to become inflamed. This leads to the potential for developing gums disease, and is especially dangerous for pregnant and menopausal women. Pregnancy gingivitis is a common problem, and can lead to issues with the mother’s and baby’s health.
Another recent study identified the mechanism that the bacterium often responsible for gum disease manipulates tissues in a sinister way. These bacteria shut off the immune system’s ability to kill it, while preserving its inflammatory response. Because the bacteria feed on byproducts of tissue inflammation, this allows them to thrive.
Why Does Periodontal Health Impact Systemic Health?
The answer to that heading isn’t entirely certain. As we mentioned earlier, research is still ongoing. The American Dental Association has yet to release a definitive statement as to the mouth-body connection. But experts have a few ideas on the reason behind the link:
- Increased bacterial presence – Gum disease boosts the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to a heightened chance of cross-infection. Other areas of the body could be harmed by bacteria entering through open wounds in the mouth. The bacteria may travel through the bloodstream to attach to plaque in the arteries (causing potential heart problems).
- Migratory inflammation – Your gums become inflamed and irritated during periodontal disease. This inflammation could affect plaque buildup in the arteries, and aggravate other problems like diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, and cancer.
Is Your Mouth At Risk? You May Need More Frequent Dental Exams
In order for your gums to have a positive impact on your long-term health, you’ll need to keep a close ye on them. Since gum disease can be aggressive (as well as tough to identify on your own), the best practice is to prevent it from ever taking hold. Some patients are in a higher-risk category for disease. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably need to visit the office more often than every six months. There could also be precautions to take at home.
Be up-front with us about your habits and health history, and we can make sure you get the proper level of care. We may recommend you schedule exams more often based on your
- Tobacco habit
- Stress/anxiety level
- Teeth grinding
Ready to arrange your next appointment, and keep gum disease at bay? Just get in touch!
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