Most people understand that good oral hygiene helps keep the teeth and gums healthy. However, gum disease puts a lot more at stake than some people realize. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can affect your overall health and may be associated with serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.
Understanding Gum Disease
The human mouth contains a plethora of bacteria, and proper oral hygiene helps keep bacteria levels under control. Failure to keep bacteria levels sufficiently low can lead to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene as well as tobacco use, stress, poor diet, and genetics can all cause gum disease. More advanced cases of gum disease allow toxins to penetrate the gum line and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in the body. The body then begins to destroy the gum tissue and bone, potentially leading to permanent tooth loss.
The Connection to Your Overall Health
Scientific research has discovered multiple associations between gum disease and various health conditions. Periodontitis can begin at a young age due to conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease. Other forms of gum disease are associated with HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, immunosuppression, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart), cardiovascular disease, premature birth in pregnant women, and more. Some of these conditions have a circular effect, meaning that as the medical condition contributes to gum disease, gum disease contributes to the condition, and both health issues feed into each other. An example of this connection is gum disease and diabetes, in which gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetic patients to control their blood sugar.
Keeping Your Health Under Control
It is important to note that the germs that cause gum disease can penetrate the highly vascular gum line and slip into the bloodstream, leading to adverse health conditions. While previous research indicated that bacteria was the chief cause linking periodontal disease to other diseases in the body, recent research has suggested that inflammation may be the culprit. Therefore, treating inflammation in the body may help manage both gum disease and other chronic inflammatory health conditions.
Patients can also protect their overall health by maintaining good oral hygiene with daily brushing, flossing, eating healthy meals, limiting snacks, replacing their toothbrush every three months, avoiding tobacco use, and scheduling regular dental cleanings and dental examinations. Let’s keep those mouths healthy to help keep our bodies healthy!
Preventing gum disease could protect your overall health. If you have a personal or family history of gum disease or if you believe you may have gum disease, schedule your consultation with Dr. Jamie Sands. Call our office at (818) 306-5153, or fill out our online contact form to request your appointment today.