Gum Disease Impacts More Than Just Your Oral Health

When you think of a healthy mouth, you probably look to your teeth. But oral health is about more than shiny, white teeth. Your gums play an important role in the health of your mouth. They act as a shield against bacteria and protect against oral inflammation.

It turns out, the protection gums provide extends beyond your mouth. The bacteria in your mouth can spread throughout your body, causing inflammation and a host of health problems. That’s why addressing gum disease quickly is so important for your overall health.

Amanda Darling, DDS, understands the need to keep your gums healthy. Here at Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri, Dr. Darling and the rest of our highly skilled team provide personalized dental treatment using the latest in dental technology to ensure your mouth and overall health are at their best.

To help you understand how gum disease impacts more than just your oral health, our team at Legacy Dental Care has put together this guide. Read on to learn how bacteria from gum disease can spread and affect your overall health. 

What is gum disease?

Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the soft tissue around your teeth. Poor brushing and flossing habits are usually the cause of this infection. When you don’t brush and floss properly, plaque, a bacteria that sticks to the teeth, builds up and hardens. 

As the disease progresses, gums bleed and become sore, and chewing becomes painful. In later stages, it can even lead to the loss of permanent teeth. But the consequences of gum disease include more than the health of your mouth.

Gum disease and diabetes

The connection between gum disease and diabetes is strong. Scientists have not identified a clear cause-and-effect relationship, but they hypothesize it works both ways. 

Research is ongoing, but recent studies indicate the inflammation caused by gum disease leads to difficulty in controlling blood sugar levels. 

At the same time, diabetes has repercussions on the immune system. This leaves diabetics more susceptible to bacterial infection, making it easier for gum disease to form. 

Gum disease and heart health

Recent studies demonstrate a strong link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Researchers theorize that inflammation from gum disease may be the reason for the association. 

What’s more? Gum disease can make pre-existing heart conditions worse. If you have a heart condition, talk to Dr. Darling before treatment to ensure the best care possible. 

Gum disease and brain disease

Researchers have learned that gum disease increases your risk of developing dementia and other cognitive impairments. In fact, studies found the bacteria associated with gum disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients. 

In addition, scientists discovered the same bacteria increased the production of amyloid-beta, a key ingredient in the brain plaque found in people with Alzheimer's. 

Researchers believe the bacteria from gum disease migrate through the bloodstream from the mouth to the brain, increasing your risk for developing cognitive diseases. 

Gum disease and pregnancy

Infertility, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and premature delivery are a few of the complications associated with gum disease and pregnancy.  Scientists believe the bacteria spread through the bloodstream and into the placenta, creating health problems for both mother and child. 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy put you at higher risk for developing gum disease. That’s why it’s more important than ever to maintain professional dental care when you’re expecting. 

If you’re pregnant and have bleeding gums or other signs of gum disease, call us at Legacy Dental Care today for an appointment with one of our providers.  

Gum disease and men’s health

A recent review of the scientific literature on gum disease and erectile dysfunction (ED) indicates there is a strong association between chronic periodontitis and ED. 

While more research is needed, scientists believe the prolonged, chronic inflammation damages blood vessels, including those in the genitals, contributing to ED. 

Gum disease and cancer

Multiple studies reveal a connection between gum disease and various forms of cancer. For example, a recent study demonstrated advanced gum disease was associated with a 2.5-fold increase in lung cancer in have-never-smoked participants. Another study linked the bacteria found in gum disease with esophageal cancer. 

How can I prevent gum disease?

You can keep your gums and teeth disease-free by:

To prevent or treat gum disease and maintain great overall health, call or click to book an appointment with Legacy Dental Care today.

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