According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontics is the 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 particular bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria accumulate in the mouth (especially near the gumline) when people fail to brush and floss regularly. The bacteria create a sticky film on teeth called plaque, and when plaque is not properly removed on a daily basis, it calcifies into tartar. Brushing and flossing are not enough to get rid of tartar once it has formed, as it requires specialized equipment available only at the dental office.
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 these 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, causing inflammation in the arteries, potentially resulting in a closing of the artery which can become a blockage. If the obstruction fully closes off the artery, this raises the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Diabetes is difficult to control when there is active 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 lead to more frequent and severe asthma attacks. The reason is that patients with allergies and asthma have a weakened immune system. Therefore, gum disease inflammation can trigger asthmatic episodes. Periodontal disease is also more common in people with Alzheimer’s Disease 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 treat. In addition, it is difficult to identify the early stages of oral cancer often because the patient cannot see the early warning signs within their mouth. Often the disease is painless.
Those worried about their gum health can begin to take steps toward keeping their oral bacteria in check. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day, stick to nutritious meals, and make sure to have your teeth cleaned and examined every six months by a dental professional.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Periodontics in San Luis Obispo, CA.