Neglecting your oral health can lead to drastic medical consequences. Your oral health directly affects the rest of your body as a small component in a bigger system. One of the most common types of poor oral health that Americans face today is gum disease.
According to a 2012 study by the CDC, nearly 50% of American adults above the age of 30 are affected by gum disease. Unless you have regular oral exams by your dentist, its symptoms can go largely unnoticed.
Here are a few examples of what happens when unnoticed (or ignored) gum disease goes untreated.
Gum disease increases your blood sugar levels by way of the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria infecting your gums leaks into the bloodstream, igniting your immune system. Your body will react to these bacteria by increasing your blood sugar levels to fight them off.
Bacteria love sugar. When your body has high glucose levels, this helps the bacteria propagate, fueling the germs to attack the gums and teeth, causing gingivitis. Also, periodontal disease can increase the blood sugar levels in your body, putting you at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Compounding the situation is the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease. The inflammation makes the blood sugar levels in the body of diabetic patients hard to control. Diabetes will also make your body less effective in fighting off other infections.
Another illness linked to gum disease is Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects around 5 million Americans. It starts as memory loss and steadily becomes worse over time. The best way to avoid Alzheimer’s, experts say, is to prevent bacteria build-up in your mouth and gums. Patients who have gum disease are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, making oral health all the more important.
Like diabetes, gum disease is linked to heart disease due to the chronic inflammation it causes. The American Heart Association has said that patients who have poor dental hygiene are three times more prone to heart disease.
Gum disease has also been shown to negatively affect the blood pressure of hypertensive patients and disrupt the effects of hypertension medications. One research study showed that gum disease increases a patient’s risk for a heart attack by a staggering 49%.
Take Care of Your Oral Health
The moral of the story is that if you don’t take care of your oral health, you may end up with more serious problems down the road. Your oral health is directly linked to several key factors affecting your overall health. Stop avoiding the dentist and ignoring gum disease. Contact LeCroy Dental today to set up an appointment for an oral exam. We promise you’ll be glad you did!