A healthy smile is not just about your teeth. In fact, without your gums to keep your teeth in place, your smile would be, well, toothless. Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) affects not only your oral health but your overall health, and research increasingly shows that the two are linked.
Look for Signs
You can fall prey to this health concern if oral bacteria – more commonly referred to as dental plaque – builds up in areas between the teeth and gums. While you can’t really see it, you can likely feel this bacterial film when you run your tongue across your teeth. It is slightly sticky, colorless and consists of oral bacteria. As plaque sticks to teeth and gums, it can irritate or inflame the gum tissue.
In the early stage of periodontal disease or gingivitis, the gums can become inflamed, swell and bleed easily and look redder than usual. Since gingivitis is fairly painless at this stage, you might not even notice it unless you are looking at your gums. Many times, gingivitis at this stage is a result of poor oral hygiene. The good news is it is also reversible this early on, which usually means a professional deep cleaning and stepping up your oral hygiene is in order. Pretty easy, right?
Now that’s the good news. The bad news is if you don’t take action at this stage of the disease, gingivitis will only progress. This is not the time to ignore these signs, particularly if you have other illnesses or conditions. These can contribute to or make it worse. If gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress into periodontal disease and affect more than just your gums.
Progression of Gum Disease
As the bacteria reproduce quickly, the produced toxins create a chronic inflammatory response in the body, breaking down the tissues and the bone holding the teeth in place, eventually destroying them. If this continues unchecked, the gums will recede, or pull away from the teeth, leaving a space or pocket between the gums and the teeth. As these pockets inflame and become infected, they grow deeper into the gum tissue, and supportive bone can then deteriorate. When it progresses to the point where teeth loosen, they may need to be taken out altogether.
Periodontal disease is usually only known for affecting your oral health, but it can also influence other parts of your body. This infection can enter into your bloodstream through the gums. Bacteria can stick to fatty plaques, build up and create blockages in the bloodstream, which in turn triggers an inflammatory response. Blood vessels swell because of this response, increasing the likelihood of blood clots and reducing blood flow throughout the body.
By taking care of your oral health, you give your body a better chance of battling gum disease and preventing overall health issues. To learn more, feel free to give us a call for more information. We’ll be happy to help you in your path to better overall health today!