According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease. When periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) develops, usually because of poor oral hygiene practices, the harm is not just to your gums but also to your general health. Continue reading to learn more about gum disease and how it affects your overall health.
An overview of gum disease and periodontics
Tooth decay and gum disease have many things in common; both are caused by bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria accumulate in the mouth (especially near the gumline) when patients fail to brush and floss regularly. The bacteria create a sticky film on teeth called plaque, and when plaque is not removed by a dental professional regularly, it calcifies into tartar. Brushing and flossing are not enough to get rid of tartar as they require specialized equipment available at the dental office.
The following are some of the ways in which periodontal disease can affect your general health.
Periodontal disease and its effect on overall health
Gum disease has been linked to several significant health issues. If left untreated, gum disease can potentially worsen various health issues.
Patients are more likely to develop coronary artery disease if they have untreated gum disease. Bacteria release toxins in the gums. The toxins can move through the bloodstream, cause inflammation in the arteries, resulting in a blockage. This obstruction raises the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Diabetes can also be exacerbated by periodontal disease. The reason is that diabetes already compromises one’s immune system. As a result, when the body tries to combat gum disease, it causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate, making it more challenging to manage diabetes. Furthermore, since the body does not fight infection as efficiently when diabetes is present, the chronic condition might accelerate the progression of gum disease.
Hormones in a pregnant woman’s body make gum inflammation more likely, which increases the risk of gum disease. Pregnant women with periodontal disease are at higher risk of giving birth to preterm or underweight children. Underweight or preterm children often have compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to illnesses like colds, flu, and respiratory infections.
How gum disease affects other illnesses
Gum disease can worsen asthma. The explanation is that patients with allergies and asthma have a weak immune system. Therefore, gum disease inflammation can trigger asthma episodes. Periodontal disease is also more common in people with Alzheimer’s, and it may hasten the disease’s progression.
Another major issue with periodontal disease is that it makes oral cancer more difficult to diagnose and cure. In addition, it is difficult to identify the early stages of oral cancer, mainly because the patient cannot see within their mouth, and the disease is painless.
Those worried about their gum health can begin to take steps toward keeping their teeth and gums bacteria-free. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day and stick to nutritious meals, and make sure to have your teeth cleaned and examined every six months by a dentist.
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