Let’s face it–not all of us are regular brushers and flossers. If you forget a couple of times, that’s no big deal, right? Like many parts of your body, your teeth need constant, consistent care in order to function their best. If you aren’t practicing good oral hygiene, it’s time to start. That’s because without proper brushing and flossing, periodontal disease can set in, and cause real damage–not only to your gums, but to your overall health. Keep reading to find out more information about periodontal disease and the impacts it can have on your body.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease and tooth decay are related. The bacteria in your mouth causes both. Those bacteria are always present in your mouth, and they actually aid in breaking down your food for digestion. However, too much bacteria in your mouth can cause problems. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria builds up in your mouth, especially at the gumline. It can form tartar. You cannot remove tartar with brushing and flossing alone. You have to have special tools in order to remove it. Bacteria can cause infection at the gumline. These infections in your mouth can cause serious problems.
Understanding gum disease means two things. First, you begin treating periodontal disease, (or gum disease) when you have an infection in your gums, before it can do real damage. Second, treating gum disease means that you prevent it as much as possible. The more bacteria you can keep out of your mouth, the better.
How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
There are three stages of gum disease. The first stage, called gingivitis, is easily treated by a periodontist. You may notice in stage one that your gums look red and swollen. They may also be sensitive, and may even bleed when you brush or floss. Treating gum disease in stage one is fairly simple. You need a better brushing and flossing routine, and your gingivitis will resolve itself once your dental hygiene improves.
In Stage Two and Three of periodontal disease, there are other signs you have a problem. The tartar on your teeth and gums begins to push the gum away from the tooth root, creating a space or pocket for an infection. These spaces between your teeth and gums are really hard to clean, and food as well as infection, can become trapped there. Periodontitis (stages two and three) is also treatable by a periodontist to work to heal the infection. However, it will require a lot of care and maintenance, because once the disease gets to stage two, the infection can be treated, but not completely cured.
Treating Periodontal Disease in Stages Two and Three
In order to treat the disease, your teeth and gums require a deep cleaning and tartar removal. Once the area goes through deep cleaning, you may need antibiotics to help with the infection. You will also have to have more regular cleanings by a periodontist. This will help keep gum disease manageable and prevent further damage to your mouth. If you don’t begin to manage your periodontal disease, you will begin to lose gum tissue, and your teeth may begin to fall out. Treating gum disease in Chicago is vital to you maintaining your dental health.
While all of this sounds horrible, gum disease can actually cause more damage to your body and overall health.
Gum Disease Can Lead to Many Issues
Lots of research studies have been done on gum disease and its effects on your overall health. There is a link between gum disease and other serious health conditions. Researchers link gum disease may worsen other health conditions you have because it is a bacterial infection that will spread without treatment.
If you have gum disease, especially if it is untreated, you are at a greater risk for developing coronary artery disease. Bacteria from your gums release toxins. Those toxins can travel in your bloodstream. The toxins can cause inflammation in your arteries, and can create a blockage there. This blockage increases the chance you might suffer a stroke or a heart attack.
Periodontal disease can also make diabetes worse. Researchers think this is because diabetes already causes problems with your immune system. When your body tries to fight the gum disease, it messes up your blood sugar levels, and makes diabetes more difficult to manage. Also, because your body does not fight infection as well when you have diabetes, the chronic condition can make gum disease worse more quickly than if you don’t have diabetes.
If you are pregnant, it is very important that you get treatment for periodontal disease. Hormones in a pregnant woman’s body increase the likelihood your gums will become inflamed, which makes it more likely you will get gum disease. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to deliver premature babies, or babies that are underweight. If your baby is underweight or premature, their immune systems may not work as well, and they may be prone to catching other diseases, such as colds, flu, and respiratory diseases.
Gum Disease Impacts Other Ailments
Bacteria from gum disease can also make asthma worse. Researchers think that is because people with allergies and asthma have immune systems that are always on the defense, which weakens the immune system overall. Inflammation from gum disease can cause asthma attacks. Periodontal disease is also seen more often in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and may help the disease spread more quickly.
One large red flag that researchers have noticed with regard to periodontal disease is that if you have periodontal disease, it makes oral cancer more difficult to see and also to treat. At the early stages of oral cancer, it is difficult to see, especially since the patient can’t see inside their own mouth, and the cancer is painless. If oral cancer is caught early, it is easily treated, and the patient usually makes a full recovery.
If you are worried about gum disease, there are things you can do right now to help your teeth and gums stay free of bacteria. You can brush and floss twice a day, every day. This is the best way to prevent periodontal disease–by regularly brushing and flossing. You can also help keep your mouth healthy by eating a healthy diet. Too much sugar in your mouth is the same as ringing the dinner bell for bacteria. You also need to go and see a dentist or periodontist every six months to have your teeth cleaned and checked. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to have a healthy mouth that is free of gum disease.