When most people think about oral health, they usually think about teeth. However, the health of your gums is also vitally important to not only the health of your mouth, but also to your overall health. You already know that maintaining your oral health is important, or else you wouldn’t brush your teeth every day! But did you know just how important it is, or what the consequences might be?
Gum disease usually is caused by poor oral hygiene habits, which cause a build-up of plaque on the teeth. In turn, the gums can become inflamed and infected, causing harmful bacteria to proliferate in the mouth and travel to other parts of the body.
When the infection becomes chronic, as is the case with gum disease, the body’s infection fighting reaction becomes habit. This can create a state of chronic inflammation. When the harmful bacteria from the chronic infection travel to other parts of the body, it can facilitate a widely-spread chronic infection, paving the way for problems such as diabetes, heart diseases and respiratory issues, among others.
Gum disease is also a leading cause of tooth loss and other oral problems. Gum disease (left untreated) has be linked to:
Inflammation is the body’s first response when attempting to fight off bad bacteria. That is why you may experience swelling around the teeth when the gums are diseased. The harmful bacteria that cause gum disease can travel to other parts of the body and cause infection in places like the lining of the heart.
Bad oral bacteria can also trigger an inflammatory response in the body, causing the blood vessels to swell and reducing the blood flow. In turn, this can cause blood clots.
Oral bacteria can also stick to fatty plaques in the bloodstream, directly contributing to blockages. This means that blood flow is restricted to the heart and can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Gum disease is an infection. The harmful oral bacteria produce toxins that can affect the body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates. This can also increase insulin resistance and the body’s glucose levels.
People with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease. This is because bacteria thrive on glucose, and people with poor glucose control are more susceptible to bacterial infections. Gum disease can also increase blood glucose levels further, contributing to increased time with high blood sugar.
Severe gum disease is the result of a significant number of harmful bacteria proliferating in the mouth. The mouth is an entryway to the rest of the internal body, and a high number of bacteria there increases the chance of some of these being inhaled into the lungs. This can lead to infection and illness.
The mouth is not an isolated ecosystem, but a vital part of the body’s overall immune system. Any disease, infection or inflammation of the mouth and gums can have significant knock-on effects throughout the rest of the body and it is important to have it treated.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot fully be cured, so it is critically important to ensure that you are taking good care of your oral health every day. It can, however, be treated and usually responds well. With the care of an experienced periodontist, it may be enough to halt the disease, but it has the ability to return if you aren’t’ employing proper oral hygiene habits, and making regular visits to your dentist.
To find out more about gum disease, or to make an appointment, contact our friendly team today.