You most likely know that if you neglect your teeth, you increase your risk for developing a cavity. But did you know that if you have gum disease, you’re putting yourself at risk for harming your systemic health, too? Unfortunately, gum disease doesn’t just affect your oral health.
Gum disease is a progressive condition that begins when bacteria-releasing plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth irritate the gum tissue ad cause inflammation. Once the infected gums pull away from the teeth and create pockets, the protective seal is broken, and bacteria are free to enter the bloodstream.
Gum disease causes tender gums that bleed easily, sensitive teeth, and receding gums. In more advanced cases, bacterial toxins that cause the gums to pull away from the teeth can destroy the jawbone. Teeth can become loose and shift out of place, making it difficult and painful to eat. Without proper nutrients from a variety of healthy foods, overall health can quickly decline. Gum disease can also aggravate systemic conditions or increase your risk for their development.
The strongest link between gum disease and systemic conditions is diabetes. People who are diabetic have a compromised immune system and generally experience slower, poorer healing from infection as well as being more susceptible to it. Similarly, gum disease can affect blood glucose levels, make it more difficult to control diabetes.
Gum disease has also been linked to cardiovascular conditions like heart disease. Both these diseases share multiple risk factors, including obesity and smoking, which may be one of the reasons they’re linked. Research has also found that oral bacteria cause inflammation in other parts of the body, including the plaque that blocks arteries. Other studies have also found links between gum disease, blood clots, and stroke.
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Your oral health plays a big role in your overall health. Don’t neglect your smile or skip your dental appointments! Your whole body will thank you for maintaining the health of your smile. Schedule your appointment today to have our dentist evaluate your oral health.