We all know the dental hygiene basics: brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss regularly.—but one factor of dental health that’s a little less known is gum disease. Millions of people suffer from the effects of gum disease, and its symptoms are problematic because they largely go unnoticed until you’re checked out by a dentist.
Your oral health plays an integral role in your health overall. Gum disease can be a gateway to future, life-threatening health complications. Here’s a brief look at gum disease and the complications that can arise when it goes untreated.
Gum Disease: How It Develops
Bacteria from tartar and plaque buildup are the earliest causes of gum disease because they release toxins, which infect your bone structure and gum tissues. This leads to chronic inflammation and tooth loss.
A few signs to look out for:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Receding gums
- Red or inflamed gums
- Loose or sensitive teeth
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammation of the gums due to infection that ultimately will require life-long care. Unfortunately, it can only be managed—not reversed. Here are a few health problems periodontal disease can trigger.
#1: Heart Disease
The American Heart Association has found that patients who have poor dental hygiene are three times more likely to develop heart disease. Gum disease has also been shown to affect the blood pressure of hypertensive patients and can hinder the effects of hypertension medication. However, the treatment of periodontal disease has shown to decrease the blood pressure of patients.
#2: Alzheimer’s Disease
Along with heart disease, gum disease has been shown to increase a patient’s risk for Alzheimer’s. The same bacteria found in gum disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis or P. gingivalis) is also found in the brains of patients with Alzheimers. The bacteria from gum disease can infiltrate the entire body, further emphasizing the importance of dental hygiene and preventing gum disease.
#3: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease share the same bacteria as well: Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. This bacteria triggers our body’s defense system’s inflammatory autoimmune response, causing the immune system proteins to be overactive, and leading to joint pain.
If your body has high glucose levels, they’re helping the bacteria propagate—fueling the germs to attack the gums and teeth and starting the process of gingivitis. Gum disease can also increase blood sugar levels which can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels become hard to control with the presence of gum disease because of its chronic inflammatory properties. In addition, diabetes makes it harder for the body to fight off gum disease and similar infections.
The American Thoracic Society has said that periodontal disease’s chronic inflammation triggers the body’s immune system to be on high alert, ensuring a body-wide inflammation which includes the lungs and airways. This inflammation can be a gateway for COPD, asthma, and pneumonia.
Like pneumonia, susceptibility to COVID-19 is increased in patients with gum disease due to its chronic inflammation. As we have seen over the past few months, COVID-19 can have some nasty effects on your body like difficulty breathing and body aches.
Schedule an appointment with your dentist today, so you can take care of your body tomorrow. Now that you’re aware of gum disease, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps in preventing it or managing it. Call LeCroy Dental today and we’ll take care of the rest.