Gum Disease Affects More Than Just Your Mouth!
It is well established that gum disease can be devastating to the mouth and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss and other oral problems. What is less well-known is that gum disease can also have negative impact on other parts of the body.
Gum disease is typically caused by bacteria and other particles that have formed a biofilm called plaque which covers all the surfaces of your teeth. When plaque is not removed, it can form tartar which cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing. Gum disease or periodontal disease is a silent and persistent bacterial infection around the bones and gums that support your teeth.
Signs of Gum Disease:
- Pain/tenderness in gums while chewing
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, tender and swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Gums that bleed after brushing or flossing
- Sensitive teeth
How does gum disease affect your entire body?
The mouth is not an isolated ecosystem, but an integral part of the immune system. The mouth is intimately connected to many other parts of the body and a bacterial imbalance or gum disease in the mouth can create immune problems and inflammation in other parts of the body as well. The reason the negative impact of gum disease goes beyond the mouth is gum disease is an active bacterial infection that has access to the whole body via the bloodstream!
Respiratory Infections: Studies have found that when bacteria from the mouth and throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract, they can cause infection or make existing conditions – such as pneumonia and bronchitis – worse.
Heart Disease: When these bacteria enter the blood stream, they settle on existing coronary artery plaques and help form clots in the arteries or the chemical signals given by the bacteria could directly increase atherosclerotic plaque buildup.
Pregnancy Complications: The increase of progesterone and estrogen levels during pregnancy causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria in plaque. This reaction causes redness, swelling, bleeding or tenderness in the gum tissue. Some studies also show that periodontal disease leads to premature births.
Diabetes: The presence of periodontal diseases can have a significant impact on the metabolic state in diabetes. The presence of periodontal disease may adversely affect glycemic control in diabetes, and may increase the risk for other diabetic complications.
Oral Cancer: Studies have been conducted which underline the possible link between periodontal disease and carcinogenesis of lung, pancreas, kidney, etc.