How gum disease can affect your health
The state of your teeth affects your overall health, with gum disease linked to many health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and lung disease etc. However, firstly…
What is gum disease?
Gum disease a condition where the gums become swollen, sore and infected, due to a build-up of plaque that has not been removed by brushing and flossing your teeth. Often symptoms of an early stage of gum disease (gingivitis) can be bleeding gums, bad breath and red or swollen gums. However, when it’s not treated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, which can affect the bone in your jaw, small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth and your teeth may even fall out.
What’s the damage?
Heart disease and stroke
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease than people without gum disease. This is because the bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream, which can affect the heart. Gum disease has also been shown to increase the risk of stroke as sometimes inflammation and infection can make the blood more likely to clot, causing a stroke.
People with Type 2 diabetes are around three times more likely to develop dental problems than people who don’t have diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes are also more at risk. If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed and treated, as it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight.
It is thought that gum disease may raise the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour, however treating gum disease properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
Bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs, which can cause infections, such as pneumonia. People with gum disease have more bacteria in their mouths and may therefore be more likely to get chest infections. This particularly affects frail, elderly people who may die from pneumonia caused by breathing in bacteria from their mouth. Good oral hygiene for this group of people is therefore particularly important.
Preventing the problem
For most patients, the early signs of gum disease can be treated by improving their oral hygiene routine and ensuring plaque is effectively removed daily by brushing and flossing.
However, when plaque is left on the teeth it will eventually turn into tartar, which can be removed with regular cleans with our hygienist. Furthermore, if your gum disease is more advanced and very severe, you will need more proactive treatment and we may refer you to see our in-house periodontist, Dr Tay. She is an experienced expert in the field and will advise you accordingly on what the best treatment is depending on your case. Some treatments may include deep cleaning under the gums (non-surgical periodontal therapy), gum and bone surgery (surgical treatment), reduction of gum recession, implants to help replace missing teeth that have been lost due to gum disease and improving your smile after the treatment of gum disease.
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