The Signposts of Gum Disease:
• Blood on your toothbrush after brushing
• Blood on your floss after flossing your teeth
• Sore, inflamed or swollen gum tissue
• Wobbly and/or loose teeth
• Gums receding around the teeth
• Untreatable offensive breath (halitosis)
• Pus at the gum line
• Pain when chewing or biting
• Noticeable changes in your bite
• New spaces between your teeth
• Food getting lodged up in your gums
Gum disease is the most common ongoing infectious disease in the world, even more common than the everyday head cold. Research studies completed in the United States show that half of Americans have gingivitis and almost a third have periodontitis.
Gum disease is an insidious infection that silently eats away at the gums and bone that support teeth. Periodontal disease can compromise a single tooth or the majority of your teeth. It begins when more than 500 different species of bacteria and plaque (that sticky, colorless layer that constantly forms on your teeth) make your gums become inflamed.
This might seem like something out of science fiction, however, the infectious germs in your gums can move throughout your system showing up in other organs, such as your heart, digestive system, and lungs. The logical conclusion of this evidence is that gum disease may be a far more serious risk factor to one’s health than we thought before. Therefore, if you want to live longer, don’t put off having regular cleanings and periodontal therapy.
In addition to gum disease’s negative effect on your body’s internal systems, it may also negatively affect any medicine you are receiving for any medical condition.
Doctors Are Now Advise Saying, “Ahhh” To Stop Heart Disease
By having regular cleanings and periodontal therapy to treat your gum disease, you are saying, “No” to developing cardiovascular problems.
It’s been discovered that the way that gum disease affects your circulatory system is that periodontal disease launches a chain of chemical events that encourage an inflammatory response across the entire body. When plaque lining the arteries causes the arteries to become inflamed, blood clots can form, bringing about heart attack or stroke. Plus, the oral bacteria can also stick to the inner lining of the heart, thereby causing infective endocarditis.
For the past decade, recurring studies have found that there is a proven connection between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One result of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When gum disease gets bad enough, your teeth will fall out.
Finnish researchers began to investigate the connection between the number of missing teeth in a person and the rate of diagnosed heart disease in the group. They looked at 1,384 men between the ages of 45 and 64. What they discovered was that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from chronic periodontal disease also had a greater likelihood of having heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the likelihood of having a stroke by a factor of 10.
Diabetes Encouraged By Gum Disease
Over the years researchers knew that diabetics are more likely to also contract periodontal disease. Recent research is now showing that it may work both ways: people with chronic gum infections are more likely to get diabetes. Researchers analyzed numbers from a large ongoing national health survey and uncovered the fact that when the survey started twenty years ago, those who already had periodontal disease were highly likely to have contracted diabetes.
This study appears to prove the conclusion that patients with chronic gum disease are more likely to eventually suffer from diabetes.
Finally, did you know:
• The American Diabetes Association avows that periodontal disease causes diabetes.
• Family members with periodontal disease are twice more likely to have insulin resistance.
• Type II diabetics have a seven times greater mortality rate when they have severe periodontal disease.
With Gum Disease, Each Breath Can Be A Risk To Your Lungs
Inflammatory bacteria living in diseased gums can also enter your saliva. When you breathe, your saliva is taken into the air in little droplets to sustain the humidity in your lungs. To see this for yourself, hold a mirror about two inches from your mouth and slowly breathe out. The mirror will fog up a little. Those little drops of your saliva are being drawn deeply into your lungs where they, and their cargo of bacteria, fall upon the mucosal lining.
This warm, moist paradise is where the micro-organisms set up shop and induce inflammation and swelling that leads to the next round of lung diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even worse, for the person already being treated for any of these diseases, the oral bacteria can sabotage the effectiveness of any medication you’re taking.
What This All Means To Dentists
Previously, dental practice teams committed to saving your teeth through regular dental care. In the future, there is a broader dimension to dental care. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, you are more at risk for more serious systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. In the future, as we manage the health of your teeth, we’re not just saving your teeth, which in itself is an admirable objective, we could also be protecting your life as well.
Dr. Baer and Dr. Smith conclude, “It is not enough anymore to just be aware of suspicious spots in the gum tissue. Rather, eradicating gum disease will be an important part of preserving and improving our patients’ overall health and their enjoyment of life. To be exact, our patients will not be totally healthy unless they are periodontally healthy.”
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