What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Plaque and tartar accumulates on teeth along the gum line and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone; while home care is imperative to good oral health, it takes professional intervention to get rid of the buildup. If left unchecked, the bacteria progressively moves under the gum, destroying soft tissue and attacking tooth roots along the way towards the jaw bone. Left alone, the infection continues to spread into the blood stream linking gum disease to several medical conditions — including diabetes and heart disease.
Medical Conditions Associated with Gum Disease
There are a variety of systemic diseases that can be linked to oral health factors including:
Diabetes — The correlation between gum disease and diabetes is two-fold. Not only does diabetes make some patients more likely to develop gum disease, gum disease can make diabetes more difficult to treat. One reason for this is because diabetics who don’t have their blood sugar under control are more likely to experience different types of infections — including gum disease. In addition, gum disease that’s severe can even cause a spike in blood sugar, which can be very dangerous for diabetics.
Heart Disease — You probably already know that heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, as well as around the world. But what you may not know is that heart disease and gum disease are connected. Current research suggests that the inflammation caused by gum disease can raise the risk of heart disease. For patients with existing heart disease, gum disease can be even more dangerous.
Stroke — Studies have shown a link between stroke and gum disease; patients who experienced a stroke were more likely to also suffer from gum disease.
Respiratory Disease — The bacteria associated with gum disease can reach the lungs through aspiration; this can lead to respiratory conditions such as pneumonia.
Osteoporosis — The loss of bone in the jaw is linked to osteoporosis; this in turn weakens the structure that supports the teeth and can lead to tooth loss.
Cancer — Research shows that males with gum disease are at a substantially higher risk for certain types of cancers.
It’s safe to say that healthy teeth and gums are an important part of overall health. If you suspect gum disease, it’s important to schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible.
Regular Checkups are Crucial
Routine checkups are an important part of good oral health. Dr. Lawrence Bauman and his friendly staff are highly experienced in both the treatment and prevention of gum disease. Regular checkups not only include thorough teeth cleaning but also routine screening for oral cancer and imaging studies when needed. Keep your teeth and gums healthy — and encourage better overall health — by scheduling your appointment today. Give us a call or use our appointment request form — we’re eager to provide you with the personalized, premium-quality dental care you deserve!