Gum Health and How It Affects Your General Health

Gum Health and How it Affects Your General HealthIf somebody wants to enjoy general good health, then it’s important to look after their dental health because a mouth is a window to the body. One of the main things that can affect general health is gum disease, a common condition that affects the gum tissues and which in advanced cases can affect the structures holding your teeth in place. Unfortunately around half the adult population in the United States will develop some degree of gum disease during their lifetime, and not everyone is yet aware of the link between a healthy mouth and a healthy body. Over the past few years several studies have connected gum disease as being a risk factor for other serious health conditions that include:

  • Diabetes and its control
  • Heart disease, including the risk of heart attacks and stroke
  • Respiratory diseases, including pneumonia
  • Premature or low birthweight babies

So What Is Gum Disease and How Can It Impact General Health?

Gum disease is an infectious condition caused by a buildup of bacteria in the soft and hard tissues in your mouth. In most cases, gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene, but some people are definitely more susceptible than others towards developing this condition. During the early stages of gingivitis, the gum tissues become red and inflamed due to the presence of infection and they may begin to bleed slightly during brushing and flossing. Any bleeding or the presence of open wounds in the mouth is a problem for general health because bacteria in the mouth can get straight into the bloodstream through these wounds or sores, and from then on can travel freely around the body. These infectious bacteria go on to create new sites of inflammation around the body, potentially affecting the general health. The problem becomes even worse as gum disease develops into periodontitis, an advanced form of this disease and where the gum tissues will pull back from the teeth, creating deep pockets that can harbor even more bacteria. By this stage, the infection is often very difficult to control as the body is unable to fight the presence of so many bacteria.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes

The connection between these two diseases is one of the strongest yet to be found, with the presence of gum disease worsening or increasing the risk of diabetes while being diabetic increases the risk of developing gum disease. One of the main problems faced by diabetics is controlling blood sugar levels, and when they aren’t properly controlled, then saliva can contain more glucose which is the perfect fuel for disease-causing bacteria. This makes it even easier for bacteria to build up and infect the gums, and once the bacteria enter the body through bleeding gums, then the problem becomes even worse. This is because the presence of these bacteria will make it even harder to control blood sugar levels, which is why it’s so vital for diabetics to look after their gum health.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

The connection between these diseases has also been extensively studied, and poor gum health is been found to be related to the development of heart disease and an increased risk of heart attacks or stroke. It’s thought that gum disease can promote atherosclerosis where the arteries begin to narrow and which is a major cause of coronary heart disease. Gum disease can do this by triggering an inflammatory response, or it can directly infect heart tissues causing a condition called endocarditis. Having healthy gums could potentially lower the risk of developing heart disease, while if the person already has some form of heart disease, then it’s very important to take care of the gum health.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Respiratory Diseases

It’s thought that people with advanced gum disease or periodontitis may aspirate bacteria from the mouth into the lungs. Gum disease can be a major risk factor for respiratory infections and could potentially worsen any existing respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Someone with periodontitis may be at twice the risk of suffering from decreased lung function due to COPD compared to someone with healthy gums. Older patients with respiratory problems should try to maintain healthy gums to prevent problems from worsening.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes hormonal levels to change considerably, which in turn can increase gum sensitivity towards the presence of disease-causing bacteria. As a result, pregnant women are more at risk of developing a condition called pregnancy gingivitis and where the gums will readily bleed and may look swollen and red. Pregnant women who already have some form of gum disease should take extra care during their pregnancy and may need more frequent periodontal cleanings to keep their gums strong and healthy. This is particularly important for anyone with periodontitis as this condition has been linked to preterm deliveries and low birth weight babies, with the risk increased by up to 7 times compared to women with healthy gums.

How a Good Periodontist Can Help You

A periodontist is a doctor that specifically treats issues affecting the gums and the bones of the mouth.As a good specialist, he is the best for treating periodontal disease. Periodontists always try to make sure their patients understand the close connection between healthy gums and general good health. They have advanced training in treating gum conditions, and if someone even suspects they might have gum disease, it’s well worth seeing a specialist. It can be a great idea to book annual periodontal evaluations, particularly if the person already have health conditions that could be affected by gum disease. By regularly keeping an eye on the condition of gums, periodontists can suggest the most suitable treatments for the gums strong and healthy through a regular periodontal maintenance plan. This might be as simple as having regular periodontal cleanings or a more advanced deep cleaning called scaling and root planing.

By choosing a specialist dental care, it’s a very best chance of keeping the gums strong and healthy while protecting the general health, and at the same time, people are far more likely to enjoy lower dental and medical bills in the longer term.

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