There is a condition that we aren’t hearing enough people talk about. We hear a lot about things going on around the world and illnesses that affect a small percentage of Glen Ellyn’s population, but we don’t hear much about gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.
Now, maybe you’re not sure why this would bother us. Sure, we’re a dental office, but this should bother you, too, because there’s a good likelihood that gum disease will affect you at some point, if it isn’t already!
A study done by the CDC found that about 50% of adults over the age of 35 are living with gum disease. The ADA has done studies that found that number to be even higher! That’s a lot of people walking around with an infection that has been linked to the major killers of our society: heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Today, we want to take a look at how gum disease relates to those concerns and what exactly can be done about it.
Discovering the Infection
Ordinarily, gum disease is discovered by the hygienist when you go in for your routine cleaning and exam. It’s not usually something that you discover on your own because the first stage is hardly noticeable! By the time you become aware of the swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of your gums, the infection has advanced into full-blown periodontal disease.
We can still treat the advanced forms of gum disease infections. There is no limit to our treatment, but there are some new effects that you are now at risk for. Let’s begin by looking at the risks for your mouth before moving on to the risks for your entire body!
Lifetime Effects on Your Mouth
We are talking about perio (around) dontal (tooth) disease. This means, quite literally, a disease that happens around the tooth. Gum disease affects your gums and the bone that supports your teeth, not the teeth themselves, but the teeth can still end up at risk. Your entire mouth can be changed from a bout of periodontal disease. Here’s what that looks like:
Teeth – The disease will attack all of the structures that support your teeth, which means that while your teeth are not being infected, they may still be lost because there is nothing left to support them.
Gums – The soft tissue of your gums will be hard-hit during a periodontal disease infection. You will see your gums swell, become tender. bleed, and recede away from your teeth as the bacteria attacks and weakens your gum tissue.
Bone – Bacteria will work deep along your teeth to the bone supporting the roots of your teeth. It doesn’t take long for that bone to become weak and unable to support your teeth. This is why gum disease is the number one cause of lost adult teeth in the USA.
Lifetime Effects on Your Body
The scary part is that gum disease doesn’t stop at your mouth. Your gums, teeth, and bone will be bothered, but the rest of your body will also deal with consequences from this infection. Research about the relationship between gum disease and overall health is ongoing, but it is all very clear: the bacteria that causes gum disease is also linked with many life-threatening illnesses like those listed below.
Cancer – Gum disease is linked with many forms of cancer. There is a frightening connection with pancreatic cancer in men, which is made even more scary by the fact that pancreatic cancer is generally caught late and difficult to treat.
Heart Disease – Gum disease bacteria travelling through your body can cause clots to form, which will ultimately lead to heart disease and possibly even a heart attack. It all begins when that gum disease infection gets in the bloodstream!
Diabetes – Diabetics are warned to take excellent care of their teeth because gum disease can make it really difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control! Once the levels are out of whack, the immune system goes down, which allows gum disease to spread.
Use Every Day to Prevent Gum Disease
The effects listed above are just a few of many, many systemic health concerns linked with gum disease. The best way to avoid these concerns is to prevent gum disease in the first place! Brush and floss routinely, and come into our office for a cleaning every six months. These simple, routine things can be enough to prevent periodontal disease and all of the things that come with it!
Learn More Today
Are you ready to learn more about gum disease and how it can affect your entire life? Contact our office today to set up an appointment or consultation. We would love to see you soon so that we can help you have a happier, healthier smile!