When asked about how to take care of your body and improve your health, things like eating healthy food, getting more exercise, and having enough sleep are often what come to mind. Although it’s true, people often disregard taking better care of their teeth and gums as part of the list, which should not be the case. Dental and medical professionals and our very own Periodontist, Dr. Hamelburg, all agree that preventing gum disease is important not just for your mouth, but for your whole body.
What is Gum disease?
Gum disease is caused when the sticky film of plaque that forms after eating hardens into tartar along the gum line, irritating the soft tissue and causing inflammation and infection. It is one of the most common oral health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 47.2% of adults in America suffer from some form of gum disease.
How does it affect your overall health?
If left untreated, gum disease can have severe consequences for your oral and general health. It is linked to several serious conditions, including:
- Heart Disease- Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Diabetes- Infections from untreated periodontal disease can also increase blood sugars, making it more difficult to control diabetes.
- Stroke- A new study of fatty deposits lodged in the carotid arteries of stroke sufferers shows that up to 40% of the bacteria that cause the fatty deposits come from the mouth if the gums are inflamed.
- Pulmonary disease- Dental plaque retains a lot of respiratory pathogens that can be breathed in and leave you more susceptible to pneumonia, emphysema, and chronic obstructive lung disease.
What are the symptoms?
The common symptoms of gum disease are as follows:
- Bleeding gums when brushing your teeth
- Receding gums
- Sore and painful gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
How to prevent gum disease?
Although professional dental care can usually stop its progression, severe gum disease cannot be reversed. Therefore, it’s better to prevent the problem in the first place. Here are simple things you can do to care for your teeth and gums:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a balanced diet
- Limit or eliminate alcohol use
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth daily
- See your dentist regularly