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How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health

Most people understand the importance of keeping their teeth clean. The brushing and flossing routine has been drilled into us since we were children. You may even be familiar with the early signs of gum disease, like red, swollen, bleeding, receding gums, and the bad breath that comes from bacterial growth.

But hearing about the damage gum disease can do throughout the rest of your body often comes as a shock to most people. Our team of dental experts here at Brite Dental Spa in New York City sees every stage of gum disease from gingivitis to periodontitis. Unfortunately, we also see what happens when these conditions are ignored and allowed to progress.

Here, we explain some of the ways gum disease can impact your overall health so you can be well informed and take action to treat and reverse your gum disease before it gets out of hand.

Extensive oral health issues

The first place gum disease causes problems is in your mouth. It starts with tender, inflamed gums, then progresses to bleeding, receding, and painful gums. When the bacteria takes hold, it causes your gums to loosen and even destroy the bone that holds your teeth in place. Soon, your teeth become loose and may eventually fall out.

In addition to the discomfort, pain, and bleeding, gum disease can also cause cosmetic issues: teeth begin to decay and discolor, and lost teeth leave unsightly gaps. 

Heart disease

Studies have shown a connection between periodontal disease and heart health, but the exact cause and impact are not yet clear. While not all people with gum disease also suffer from heart disease and vice versa, there’s enough evidence to show if you do have gum disease, you’re up to three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. 

The key may lie in the body’s response to inflammation, which is one factor of gum disease. When you have inflammation anywhere in your body over a long period of time, it contributes to a number of health problems, one of which is atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in your arteries. This decreases or blocks your blood flow and can lead to cardiovascular problems.

Diabetes

Inflammation is also a culprit if you have diabetes, and it causes a cycle of problems. Gum disease can impact your ability to control blood sugar, and diabetes can make it difficult for your body to fight the bacterial infection. So, each condition exacerbates the other. This is why it’s so important to maintain impeccable oral health if you have diabetes.

Alzheimer’s disease

The link between gingivitis and Alzheimer’s disease is still under investigation, but some definite connections have been discovered. Research shows the main pathogen responsible for gingivitis called Porphyromonas gingivalis has been found in the brain tissue and spinal fluid of people with Alzheimer’s. This bacterium also produces toxins called gingipains, which is linked to Alzheimer’s as well. 

There’s not enough evidence yet to definitively say gum disease causes Alzheimer’s disease, but knowing there are similarities between those with both conditions is a good reason to pay attention to your oral health.

How to prevent gum disease from ruining your health

The good news is gum disease is preventable by maintaining a sound dental hygiene routine that includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and keeping your regular check-up and cleaning appointments.

If you do find yourself battling the beginning stage of gingivitis, don’t wait — come in and see us right away. Gingivitis is highly treatable, especially in its early phases.

To find out more about how you can prevent or treat gum disease and safeguard your overall health, contact us for an appointment or book one online today. We even have teledental appointments available for your convenience and safety. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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