When you hear commercials or see ads for any type of dental product, there are a few things you can count on. The product will say that it makes your teeth whiter, and the product will say that it prevents gingivitis. These are two of the most common concerns for consumers.
We want you to have a whiter smile if that’s what you want, but that’s a cosmetic concern. Gingivitis, on the other hand, is a very serious concern that we have for all of our patients. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of a periodontal disease infection, or gum disease.
The far-reaching effects of gum disease are not fully known yet, but new research is always painting the same picture: gum disease has a massive impact on your oral and overall health! We want to spend time discussing exactly what those impacts are and what you can do to prevent this type of infection from occurring in your own smile.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque along and below the gumline. The bacteria irritates your gums and continues to work down along your tooth until it reaches your jaw bone, where it attack the actual bone causing it to weaken.
The word periodontal literally means around (perio) the tooth (dont), and you can see that happening. The bacteria doesn’t attack the tooth itself, but it attacks the gums and bone that support the tooth. At the end of the day, your tooth is still at risk as are the other tissues supporting it!
What are the Risks to My Mouth?
Gum disease happens in your mouth, so it would make sense that your mouth is going to see the most damage. Gum disease is a progressive infection, which means that the beginning of the infection won’t do much damage. However, if the infection is allowed to progress, you will likely see the following problems.
Losing Your Teeth – Gum disease is the most common reason that someone would lose an adult tooth. Once the bone structure is weak, it cannot support the tooth, and the tooth is lost.
Losing Your Gums – Gums that are infected tend to recede and form deep pockets that fill with bacteria. Your gums will be tender and swollen. It’s tough for your gums to do their job of protecting and support the roots of your teeth when they are bombarded with infection!
Losing Your Bone – As we mentioned above, the bacteria will ultimately reach your jaw bone and will attack. The bone gets weak. In many cases, we see patients who are limited in restoration options because they lost so much bone to gum disease.
What are the Risks to My Body?
The risks to your mouth are serious, but they pale in comparison to the risks to your body. The bacteria that causes the gum disease infection will actually travel through the bloodstream and affect other areas of your body. The result is a lot of very serious conditions like those below.
Cancer – Gum disease is linked with several forms of cancer. One of the most concerning connections is with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is already one of the most deadly because it is so difficult to find until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. Research on gum disease found that men who had had an infection were then 64% more likely to also develop pancreatic cancer.
Heart Disease – If there’s one thing you want to keep healthy, it’s your heart, but gum disease bacteria floating through your bloodstream can wreak havoc. The bacteria forms clots which then cause heart disease and can even lead to a heart attack.
Diabetes – Uncontrolled diabetes leads to a weakened immune system, which is turn leads to a higher risk of gum disease. On the flip side, gum disease makes it really difficult to control blood sugar levels. The two work together to form a cycle that no one wants to be a part of!
How to Prevent Gum Disease
The good news is that gum disease is highly preventable. All it takes is good, old-fashioned dental hygiene habits! Brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and seeing us every six months will go a long way in preventing gum disease infections. Even if you have the beginning of an infection, we can help remove the harmful bacteria and give you tips to prevent further problems.
Make Your Appointment NOW!
Are you ready to take the steps needed to prevent gum disease infections? Contact our office today to set up an appointment. We are here to give you quality cleaning and care. We can’t wait to see your smile here in our office!