How Gum Disease Betrays Your Health
Gum disease is not just something that the other person has. Almost 50 percent of adults in the U.S. have gum disease, and they have a more serious form called periodontitis. Besides possibly making your teeth fall out, this gum disease also helps your body create many other serious possible health problems.
About Gum Disease
This common oral problem is caused by bacteria that have grown out of control. It is naturally in your mouth and it will produce acid whenever it comes in contact with sugar. Over time, the acid will cause cavities and irritate the gums. The early signs of gum disease are bleeding gums when you brush your teeth and red or inflamed gums. At this stage, it is called gingivitis. By brushing twice a day and flossing, you can usually get rid of it.
The next stage is periodontitis. This will occur if you do not get rid of it while you can. Once it moves to this stage, you will not be able to remove it on your own.
The stuff that forms on your teeth every day is called plaque. It is easily removed with a toothbrush as long as you do it daily. If you do not, it will eventually harden and become tartar. The bacteria that cause gum disease love to hide in it because tartar forms above and below the gum line. This causes more irritation and an immune reaction.
The Symptoms of Gum Disease
Even though gum disease is a gum infection, it is unlikely that you are going to feel much pain from it until it reaches the later stages. When you have periodontitis, you will notice some of the following:
- Gums that bleed easier
- More inflammation
- Receding gums
- Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
- Pockets forming on the gums
- Spaces developing between your teeth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Teeth that are falling out.
The Danger of Inflammation
As the bacteria get into your gums in increasing numbers because they are pulling away from your teeth, they also get access to your bloodstream. This step is where the trouble throughout your body begins.
Your immune system, which has already been fighting the infection in your gums, now moves into high gear. It attacks your gums, the ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone. With the bacteria and inflammation now going throughout your body, more trouble begins. Everywhere the bacteria in your mouth travels, it activates the immune system in that part of your body to defeat it.
Complications of Periodontitis
Researchers have known for some time that inflammation is behind the development of many serious diseases and health conditions. Everywhere the bacteria go, inflammation will soon follow. This will damage your organs and blood vessels. The conditions it can cause include such health problems as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, premature birth, and many more. Connections have now been made between 120 different medical conditions and inflammation.
Over time, the risk of having untreated periodontitis has been calculated in terms of certain diseases. If it becomes severe enough to cause tooth loss, for every five teeth lost, the following results can be expected:
- Cardiovascular death – 17 percent higher risk
- Stroke – 14 percent high risk
- All-causes of death – 16 percent high risk.
- Breast cancer risk increases for women that are postmenopausal.
Even though the exact process is not yet understood, this certainly is a very good reason to seek periodontal treatment and have it removed as soon as possible – if you want to live longer. In addition to dentists, many doctors now realize the connection and will ask patients about gum disease. Patients with serious gum disease are known to have a 40 percent greater likelihood of developing a chronic condition.
When a person has gum disease, their risk of getting diabetes is greatly increased. The two health problems interact because diabetes places extra sugar in the blood, and this causes the bacteria to multiply and produce more acid. Recent studies have found that if periodontitis is treated and brought under control, then diabetes symptoms are also reduced.
Conditions That Promote Gum Disease
Several conditions promote gum disease. They include:
- A diet high in sugar (sodas, specialty coffees, candy, desserts, etc.)
- Dry mouth – Saliva helps to control the bacteria and acid
- Hormone changes in women
- The use of tobacco
- A poor diet – Eating healthy helps strengthen your immune system to fight gum disease.
Seek Treatment Early
When you notice gum disease symptoms, it is important to seek dental treatment for it as soon as possible. Gum disease can destroy your smile and teeth. The longer you wait the more expensive the treatment will be. Regular dental visits can help you avoid the problem.
If you suspect that you have gum disease – or know that you do – you can get gum disease treatment for it. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, MS, MBA, FDSRCS, a Board Certified Periodontist, provides gum treatment for periodontal disease in his Carrollton, Cedar hill, Mockingbird/SMU, and Grapevine, TX offices. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a Free consultation or to get more information about gum treatment or gum surgery, you can contact his ToothHQ office