Have you been holding back on your oral care routine lately? It’s important to know that there is much more at stake than just your gums and teeth. In actual fact, your oral health, and the risk of gum disease can affect your entire body.
Evidence suggests that there is a strong association between gum disease and serious health problems such as stroke, pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease.
To ensure you are clued up on the effects, we’ve put together a guide that indicates exactly how gum disease can affect various aspects of your body, and the guards you can put in place to avoid developing gum disease to begin with.
First things first, let’s begin by discussing what gum disease is.
What is Gum Disease?
Just like your skin protects your bones, muscles, and major organs, your gums provide the same protection for your teeth. Gum disease begins with plaque, a build-up of bacteria, food particles and mucus which invades the space between your teeth and gums.
If plaque is left for long periods of time, your gums can become infected, which puts not only your teeth at risk but your overall health too. If gum disease worsens, it becomes increasingly painful, difficult, and expensive to treat.
Links between Gum Health and other Diseases
Below we consider some of the connections between gum disease and other health issues.
Oral Health and your Heart
It’s been suggested that the bacteria in your mouth can increase your risk of heart disease.
This is because the bacteria is said to enter the bloodstream, where it reaches the arteries and results in clots, which are one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases.
Research has suggested that those who suffer from gum disease have twice the risk of suffering from artery disease than those without gum disease.
Oral Health and Type 2 Diabetes
There is a strong link between type 2 diabetes and gum disease. Gum disease can result in an increase in your blood sugar levels which can, in turn, increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Or, if you already have diabetes, gum disease can make the control of blood sugars more difficult and problematic, which will only worsen the condition.
Oral Health and Rheumatoid Arthritis
According to the Arthritis Foundation, studies suggest that tooth loss – an indicator for gum disease – may predict rheumatoid arthritis and its level of severity.
The more teeth you lose, the greater the risk. Before gum disease becomes acute, one major indicator is the inflammation of the gums.
But, the good news is, that with regular dental checkups and attention to your health and oral care, you can prevent and treat gum disease quickly to avoid the development risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Oral Health and Pregnancy Complications
Some research has suggested that the contraction of gum disease can increase your risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia. It’s been suggested that gum disease can increase the risk of premature birth.
The unfortunate situation is that the hormonal fluctuations that are a natural result of pregnancy can increase your risk of gum disease as your body begins to change its response to plague and your immune system is easily targeted. Around 40% of pregnant women will develop gum disease at some stage during their pregnancy.
In order to try to avoid gum disease and pregnancy complications altogether, it’s very important that you don’t ignore your dental routine, and actually actively increase steps to improve it during pregnancy.
If you are planning on falling pregnant, it’s always best to visit your dentist before you try to conceive to rule out any risk of bacteria in your mouth entering the bloodstream or possible signs of gum disease which could affect the placenta.
Oral Disease and Cancer Risk
Gum disease is not only associated with the above medical problems, but also with cancers of the neck and head. A variety of studies have indicated that losing teeth as a result of gum disease could be linked to a variety of cancers.
Also, research has found that women who had reported a diagnosis of gum disease had an increased risk of 14 % of developing any type of cancer.
Spotting and Treating Gum Disease
How to Prevent Gum Disease
You can actively take steps to help reduce your risk of obtaining gum disease. These steps aren’t complicated and should be incorporated into your daily routine.
- Floss and brush your teeth twice daily at a minimum
- Use a mouthwash to remove plaque
- Attend the dentist for regular check-ups, every six months is advised, but this may increase or decrease depending on your overall oral health and your gum disease risks
- Allow your teeth to be professionally cleaned to remove hardened plaque
In addition to the above points, engaging in behaviours that are good for your overall health will also help decrease your risk of gum disease: This includes not smoking and eating a healthy diet that’s high on whole grains and low on sugar.
If you’re worried that you suffer from gum disease, then look out for these signs and indications.
Symptoms to Watch Out for
- Red or swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that bleed easily or generally tender
- Chronic bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Areas of gum that appear to be pulling back from the teeth
- Teeth that are loose
If you recognise any of the symptoms, then contact your dentist immediately.
A little extra attention to your gums can keep your smile and gums beautiful for many years.
Don’t give yourself any unnecessary risks to obtaining gum disease. Take all the preventative measures and ensure that you see your dentist regularly to make sure everything is okay. It’s clear that the condition of your gums and teeth are a big indication to other health factors in your life.
Avoid future health conditions by ensuring your gums are health. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, don’t worry, now it the time to change and schedule your first appointment today.