Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is not just a cosmetic issue. If left untreated, it can cause various dangerous health conditions – the state of your oral health affects your overall health. Yet, an alarming number of people have gum disease.
According to a CDC report, 47.2% of adults in the United States over 30 years old have some form of periodontal disease, while 70.1% of adults over 65 years old have it. Indeed, routine cleanings and checkups at Envision Dental could keep you out of this statistic. Our dental team is eager to help you keep your gums and teeth healthy!
Gum Disease and Its Causes
In its beginning stage, gum disease is called gingivitis. At this point, the gums are swollen, red and may bleed. As time goes on, without practicing proper oral hygiene, the gums surrounding and bone supporting your teeth become inflamed and infected.
When the condition becomes more serious, it is called periodontitis. At this point, the gums may pull away from your teeth, which can result in teeth loosening and falling out, and bone can be lost.
Bacteria in your mouth cause gum disease. If you do not floss and adequately brush your teeth, bacteria stay on the teeth, forming a film called plaque. Eventually, the plaque hardens, becoming tartar (calculus), which can build up and spread beneath the gum line, making it harder to clean the teeth. At this point, only a dentist can remove the tartar to stop the gum disease process.
Gum Disease Risks to Overall Health
Healthy gums act as a barrier, protecting your body from the bacteria in your mouth. However, a severe gum infection renders this barrier ineffective. It allows plaque and bacteria to enter the bloodstream, resulting in damaged blood vessels in the heart and brain over time.
Studies have found that periodontal disease may increase the risk of dementia, linking people with advanced gum disease to having memory problems. In addition, people with gum disease tend to have a family history of poor heart health.
Other health conditions linked to oral health problems like gum disease include kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, in one study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis saw a decrease in the effects of the condition after they treated their gum disease.
Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment
The first step to preventing, controlling and treating gingivitis is good oral hygiene (flossing your teeth and brushing them for a minimum of two minutes, twice daily) and professional cleaning twice a year. However, once gum disease advances to periodontitis, you can only resolve it with the help of a dentist. It requires more extensive treatment that can include medication or even corrective surgery.
If you have gum disease symptoms like receding, bleeding or swollen gums, make an appointment for a checkup as soon as possible to avoid losing teeth or developing health problems. Envision Dental’s comprehensive dental care covers gum disease prevention and treatment.