People often assume that the health of their mouth is somehow disconnected from their general health but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your mouth is a gateway to your body and keeping it healthy protects your general health.
Understanding Gum Disease a Little Better
Your mouth contains many different bacteria, some of which are benign while others aren’t so friendly. In a healthy mouth, this isn’t a problem but it may become an issue if you develop periodontal disease (gum disease). Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection and can develop when bacteria in the mouth are allowed to build up, often as a result of inattention to oral hygiene, prompting your immune system to try to fight back. As it does so, it creates inflammation which can be incredibly destructive.
During the early stages of this disease, you might find your your gums will frequently bleed when you brush or floss, or will bleed at other times. As the disease worsens, you may notice your teeth begin to look longer than before as the gums separate from your teeth, creating deep pockets that will harbor even more bacteria. Eventually this infection will begin to destroy the periodontal ligaments holding your teeth in their sockets and the alveolar bone surrounding teeth. Ultimately it can result in tooth loss.
How Oral Health Affects General Health
Healthy gums fit snugly around the teeth, but with gum disease this seal is broken and as the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and to bleed, bacteria from the mouth can soon enter the bloodstream. This is why gum disease is able to affect your general health as once the bacteria get into the bloodstream they can go anywhere in the body.
Periodontal Disease and Serious Health Conditions
There has been an extensive amount of research carried out into the way these bacteria affect overall health and it’s thought the link lies in the way the inflammation caused by these bacteria is able to increase the risk of developing other inflammatory conditions or could exacerbate any health conditions already present. Diabetes is a prime example and diabetics are particularly at risk of developing gum disease. One of the problems with being diabetic is that you tend to have more glucose in your saliva which is the perfect fuel for bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of developing gum disease. Once the bacteria get into the bloodstream then they make it harder for a diabetic to successfully control blood sugar levels. Gum disease has also been linked to a number of other health conditions which include cardiovascular disease and stroke and rheumatoid arthritis as well as some cancers.
Gaining and Maintaining Good Gum Health
Good periodontal care can help tremendously, particularly if you think your gums may be infected. It’s a great idea to have a regular periodontal evaluation by a periodontist as this is a dental specialist who has chosen to carry out advanced training into treating conditions that affect the gums.
The periodontists at D & D Periodontal Associates, P.C. can thoroughly check the health of your gums and if necessary will recommend suitable treatments for any signs of gum disease. You don’t need a referral from your general dentist as you can simply contact us to book an appointment.