What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is serious and is an inflammation of the gums. Most people don’t realise they have a problem with their gums because the earliest stage starts off as painless. But, once established, it leads to severe dental and other health problems. Here’s the damage an inflamed mouth can do and why getting a check-up with a dental hygienist twice a year is important for your healthy gums.
How Does Gum Disease Develop?
Gum disease develops when old foods and bacteria collect around the teeth as they have not been cleaned properly. As a result, a sticky film known as dental plaque forms, and when that builds up, it causes tartar to form. Tartar irritates the gums, causing them to become inflamed and bleed. When cells and tissues become inflamed, they can impact other areas of the body.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
Initially, many people don’t realise they have a problem with oral health or their gums as it starts off as painless. However, that can change as the condition worsens, especially where there is poor dental hygiene. Common signs are bleeding gums when brushing your teeth or eating, sensitive teeth, and painful, inflamed gums. Loose teeth are also common. The gums can also wear away, exposing the teeth to decay and damage. In advanced gum disease, the damage is so significant there is lasting damage to the teeth and the jaw.
Complications of Untreated Gum Disease
If you have gum disease, one of the most common complications is chronic bad breath. Halitosis is caused by bacteria accumulating around the gums and teeth when gum disease is present. When old food mixes with bacteria, an unpleasant odour is released, leading to bad breath. If you eat spicy food such as onions or garlic, the smell is worse.
Gum disease can lead to tooth loss. When the gums become inflamed, they retract from the tooth, leaving part of the enamel exposed to decay. Receding gums are serious and lead to further damage. The teeth are also loosened as there is no protective layer, and some people experience damage to the jawbone. If you lose your teeth, it can affect you in several ways, apart from body image. Having no teeth affects the way you speak and what you eat, for example.
Another common complication of gum disease is diabetes. Bacteria love sugar. If you have high glucose levels in the blood, bacteria thrive on this and will multiply, worsening any gum disorder. In addition, if you have periodontal disease, the raised blood sugar places you at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Bacteria that infect the gums leaks into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory reaction. To fight the infection, the body begins spiking blood sugar.
If you have diabetes, fighting infections such as gum inflammation can be challenging due to fluctuating blood sugar levels that are hard to control.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s Disease is also connected to gum infections. Research identifies that the bacteria associated with untreated gum disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis) is also found in people with Alzheimer’s disease’s brain cells. Although Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative one, there are opportunities to prevent the illness and minimise the risk of developing symptoms. Examples of preventive interventions include maintaining a healthy diet, keeping blood pressure within normal limits, and avoiding gum disease by getting regular dental checks and any problems treated promptly.
Several research studies have documented the connection between gum infections and heart disease. The common factor between these conditions is inflammation. Once chronic inflammation is established in the body, it attacks healthy cells, causing damage to their structure and can even lead to a heart attack. The inflammation from serious gum disease raises blood pressure and makes blood vessels more susceptible to clots. In fact, gum disease can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease significantly. The evidence demonstrates why it is vital to include regular dental care in your healthy lifestyle plans along with regular exercise and eating nutritious food. Although the focus of dental hygiene is on brushing teeth, people can be completely unaware of the consequences of gum infections and inflammation on other organs in the body.
Gum disease causes significantly more problems than you think and goes way beyond a loose tooth or sore mouth. Establishing healthy lifestyle habits are critical, including a dental hygiene routine at home with flossing, cleaning, and avoiding high sugar content. A twice-yearly check-up with your dentist and hygienist will help identify early signs of gum disease and keep plaque and tartar development under control. Make your appointment today, so you keep your mouth and teeth as healthy as possible.