More people are becoming aware, but we’d like to continue spreading the message! Unfortunately gum disease is quite prevalent, and data collected by Statistics Canada between 2007 and 2009, shows that more than one fifth of the adult population who still have their teeth have had, or still have moderate to severe gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that is caused when bacteria in your mouth are allowed to colonize your gums. These bacteria promote an inflammatory response from your body as it will begin to produce antibodies to try to fight the infection. As a result your gums will become inflamed, and the inflammation will begin to destroy your gum tissue. One of the earliest signs is noticing your gums bleed whenever you brush or floss them. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and it’s highly curable, but if you leave it to progress then it develops into a far more serious condition called periodontal disease.
This can become chronic and may require extensive treatment to try to keep it under control. Periodontal disease will not only destroy the gums, but also the ligaments holding your teeth in place, and the bony sockets in which they are situated. It’s a very destructive disease, and is the main reason that teeth are lost. This is bad enough, but all the inflammation and infection creates open wounds in your mouth, and these allow the bacteria in your mouth to enter your bloodstream.
How Does Gum Disease Affect General Health?
Once the bacteria from your mouth are able to enter your bloodstream then they’ll be able to travel freely around your body. Your body will continue to try to fight the infection through producing more antibodies, creating new sites of inflammation.
Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease
Several scientific studies have shown a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Research indicates that periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart disease, even though the exact cause and effect isn’t yet known. Scientists think that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease may narrow the arteries, increasing the risk of blood clots, and the bacteria in the mouth have been found clumped in artery plaques. It is true that the connection between these two diseases has yet to be proven, and some dental experts believe that one disease cannot affect the other, but why take the risk?
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
Research has shown that diabetics are more susceptible towards developing severe gum disease, but it’s more complicated than that. It’s also thought that people who are more at risk of developing diabetes could see the disease progress more quickly, if they have periodontal disease.
Serious periodontal disease can affect the way the body is able to control blood sugar levels making it more difficult to control diabetes. Diabetics with poorly controlled blood sugar levels are more likely to have higher amounts of glucose in their saliva, and this can increase the risk of periodontal disease as the glucose provides the perfect fuel for bacteria in the mouth. Unfortunately diabetics are also less able to fight the bacterial infection, as this disease can cause the blood vessels to thicken, making it more difficult for the body to transport essential nutrients to the gums.
Gum disease has also been linked to numerous other health conditions, but it is easily preventable, simply by making sure you have regular check-ups with Tsawwassen Place Dental, and through making sure you have good oral care at home.
* Source: Health Canada