The condition of your teeth impacts your overall health, with gum disease associated with many health issues. Periodontal or gum disease is an inflammatory infection of the gum tissue and bone that surrounds the teeth. When it develops, it starts as gingivitis when bacterial plaque toxins irritate the gum tissue which triggers bleeding and inflammation. Without treatment, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis.
Dangers of Gum Disease
In some people who are susceptible to the disease, the body may over-react to the bacteria around the gums and too much inflammation occurs. The inflammation does not clear up properly in other people. The intense gum inflammation impacts the bloodstream which may slowly damage the blood vessels of the brain and heart. That is why gum disease has been associated with heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. For more info, refer to this post.
Although plaque is the main cause of gum disease, the following factors can impact your gum health:
- Age. Many studies claim that periodontal disease is more common in older people than younger ones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70 percent of Americans who are at least 65 years old have periodontitis.
- Genetics. Studies have shown that some people might be genetically susceptible to periodontal disease. A genetic test can identify one’s susceptibility and is necessary to give early intervention which may help in keeping teeth forever.
- Tobacco use. Smoking tobacco is associated with a lot of serious illnesses like lung disease, cancer, and heart disease. Also, people who use tobacco are an increased risk of gum disease.
- Medications. Some medicines like anti-depressants, oral contraceptives, and some heart medicines can impact your oral health.
- Stress. Stress is also associated with many conditions like cancer and hypertension. But, research indicates that stress can make it harder for the body to combat infection including gum disease.
- Bruxism. This refers to teeth grinding or clenching which puts excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth. Also, this habit can accelerate the rate at which periodontal tissues are destroyed.
- Poor nutrition. A diet that is low in essential nutrients can compromise the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to combat infection. As gum disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can make it worse.
- Hormone fluctuations in women. Pregnancy and hormonal changes can cause an increased inflammatory response to bacterial plaque, which causes the gums to bleed. Pregnancy gingivitis can be experienced during pregnancy that can develop into periodontitis when left untreated.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Thoroughly brushing your teeth two times every time and flossing between teeth is the best way to reduce the harmful bacteria that cause gum disease. Also, it is important to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings to remove hard tartar. Dentists can recommend toothpaste that can help in controlling the buildup of tartar and antimicrobial mouthwashes to lessen mouth bacteria. Your dentist will reduce your vulnerability to periodontal disease, so talk to them about your risks and work with them to create a good dental health plan.