Gum Disease Can Be a Precursor to These Other, More Serious Diseases
White, sparkling teeth are just a part of what it takes to have a healthy mouth. Healthy gums are another important part of oral health. Your gums are a necessary barrier that helps prevent inflammation from wreaking havoc on your teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your periodontist in Los Angeles regularly are essential for good oral health, but did you know that the health of your mouth could also affect the health of your whole body? Research has provided a lot of evidence pointing towards a strong correlation between gum disease and other health problems like heart disease, diabetes, poor pregnancy outcomes, and other conditions.
For most people, as long as the teeth are bright and sparkling, little thought is given to the gums. This is what makes the disease so problematic – people can have gum disease with virtually no symptoms or tell-tale signs in the early stages. Gum disease, also known as “periodontal disease” currently affects one out of every two American adults over age 30, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by the presence of plaque (the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth) at the gum line. The good news is that with the gum disease specialists at the CENTER for Advanced Periodontal & Implant Therapy in Los Angeles, it’s possible to successfully treat periodontal disease before it can contribute to future health problems.
Understanding Periodontal Disease
An easy way to understand the importance of your gums is to compare them to your skin, which protects your muscles, bones, and major organs. The gums are designed to protect your teeth and the corresponding structures that hold them in place.
In the beginning, gum disease starts when plaque (which is made up of bacteria, mucus, and food particles) invades the small spaces between your gums and teeth. If left to its own devices, plaque can cause your gums to become infected by harmful bacteria. If left untreated, it becomes increasingly difficult, painful, and expensive to treat.
How Gum Disease Affects Your Health
While research is ongoing, experts in periodontology believe that oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and travel to other major organs, potentially contributing to a variety of health problems. Inflammation is most likely the culprit. Progressive dental decay is marked by inflammation that may, in turn, increase inflammation throughout the body.
Inflammation is an underlying issue present in certain conditions including the following:
Heart Disease: With heart disease, it is believed that periodontal disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and then attach to the fatty deposits in the heart blood vessels. As it progresses, this can lead to heart disease, possibly causing blood clots that may lead to heart attacks. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with untreated gingivitis or worse are almost twice as likely to also have heart disease.
Diabetes: New research from the University of Pennsylvania has found that Type 2 diabetes can cause periodontitis. Many kinds of bacteria, like those found in gum disease, thrive on sugars, including glucose — the sugar linked to diabetes. When a person’s blood sugar gets too high, it helps these germs grow, paving the way for gingivitis and gum disease.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes a hormonal upsurge and increased blood flow, which can lead to pregnancy periodontal disease. Moms-to-be may experience swollen, red, tender gums and the beginnings of gingivitis. What’s more, poor oral health has been linked to pre-term labor and low birth weight.
Additional Health Conditions: Research is ongoing linking periodontal disease and systemic diseases like lung disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis. While clear correlations haven’t been established, there are interesting discoveries that warrant further study.
Knowledge is power. Knowing about the connection between oral health and your overall health is just the first step. It’s important to know what an unhealthy mouth and periodontal disease look like in order to seek treatment with a periodontist if any of the following symptoms should occur.
What are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?
- Red, swollen gums
- Tenderness or painful gums
- Bleeding from gums while eating, brushing or flossing
- Any signs of infection such as pus, swelling, boils or ulcers around the gums and teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Receding gum line
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose or lost teeth
A healthy mouth is essential for a healthy body. It’s important to remain proactive about your oral health to protect yourself from gum disease and the systemic diseases that it can lead to. Consult with your Los Angeles periodontist if you notice any of these symptoms.
Learn more about gingivitis and periodontal disease at WebMD.com.
Contact the Best Gum Experts in Los Angeles
Keep your smile beautiful and your gums healthy! For more information on gum disease and potential treatment options, contact the CENTER for Advanced Periodontal & Implant Therapy today. Our Los Angeles periodontists are skilled at a wide range of advanced periodontal treatments to treat periodontal disease and correct the damage the disease may have caused, such as gum recession.