Gum Disease: More Than Just Dental Health

gum disease relation to health

It may come as a surprise to you that gum disease isn’t just linked to your dental health. In fact, it has been well documented that gum disease is linked to a plethora of other ailments that can seriously affect your health.

How is gum disease more than just an issue of dental health, and what steps can you take to ensure your overall wellness through preventative care? We explore this topic in-depth below.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an oral infection that typically emerges out of poor dental hygiene. When plaque is allowed to build up on your teeth and isn’t removed, it hardens into a calcified deposit known as tartar. Tartar is porous, making it an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed with a toothbrush – it can only be taken off with special tools at a dentist’s office. This causes your gums to become inflamed, as the tissue becomes infected.

When ignored, this inflammation becomes more intense, and the body overcompensates to fight off this infection. This affects the bloodstream, and over time, is believed to slowly damage the blood vessels in the heart and the brain. Medical professionals have strongly correlated the relationship between gum health and a variety of other diseases and ailments, including:

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Pregnancy complications

Thankfully, when properly taken care of, gum disease can be prevented and treated, mitigating the dangerous side effects of ignoring your dental health.

Can Gum Disease Be Cured?

The answer to this depends on how advanced your gum disease has become.

Gingivitis, the most common gum disease, starts with relatively mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are puffy or bleeding gums. Brushing your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes, flossing, and regular visits to a dentist can stave off these symptoms. Gingivitis can be cured.

However, when gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance beneath the gum line. This is known as periodontitis. Once gum disease has progressed to this point, pockets form underneath the gums that fill with bacteria, which cannot be reached by a toothbrush. Over time, this bacteria can cause tooth loss.

Periodontitis cannot be cured, and treatment may require root planing or other types of treatment. However, with proper care, periodontitis can be treated, delaying the onset of more serious symptoms.

For this reason, most dentists recommend visiting for a dental cleaning two times a year.

Health Complications that Emerge from Gum Disease

Gum disease doesn’t only increase your chances of being diagnosed with a chronic condition – it can also increase the severity of symptoms.

For instance, consider diabetes. A person with diabetes has difficulty controlling blood sugar levels in their body. When this is paired with periodontitis, the body has a more difficult time utilizing insulin due to infection in the gums, and the symptoms of diabetes become more intense and less manageable. Conversely, high blood sugar provides the periodontitis with ideal conditions to grow.

Thankfully, this two-way relationship goes both ways. By managing either of these independently, the symptoms of the other will diminish.

The relationship between periodontitis and other diseases exists, but the reasoning behind this remains unclear. People with gum disease are two to three times more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke, but the relationship between the two is somewhat unclear. Some medical professionals believe that this has to do with the habits that cause tartar to form.

Once gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, it cannot be cured. However, it can be treated, ensuring your overall health.

Preventing Gum Disease Helps Your Overall Wellness

Gum disease, when left untreated, can become a serious problem that affects your entire body, not just your teeth. However, by making the proper lifestyle choices, gum disease doesn’t have to define your life.

Knowing the risk factors for gum disease can help you make decisions that will prevent or manage the symptoms of this disease. This includes:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history
  • Diet
  • Age

Globally, over 20% of the world’s population suffers from periodontal disease. Thankfully, with early preventative care, it can be treated before it becomes a problem.

Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry provides world-class service out of our location in Frankfurt, Illinois. Our team specializes in periodontal treatment, and can help you take the reins over your gum disease. Reach out to us today to learn more.