Knowledgeable dentist in Fort Worth, TX explains how gum disease affects your health
Your gums serve more than a few essential functions. This soft tissue protects the roots that anchor your teeth in the jaw. Gum tissue also protects the bone that supports your teeth.
Teeth play a vital role in your overall well-being and quality of life; notably, difficult or painful chewing can affect diet. Deficiencies in vital nutrients like iron, Vitamin A, B vitamins, and calcium can give rise to many health problems ranging from memory loss and skin disorders, to muscle weakness and osteoporosis. In addition to this “domino effect” of unfortunate events, Dr. Vidya Suri, your trusted dentist in Fort Worth explains how gum disease affects your health in even more direct and surprising ways.
Oral health: A window into overall wellness
If your gums aren’t at their best, your teeth can’t be at their best. Accordingly, research indicates that dental issues can put you at heightened risk of developing seemingly unrelated conditions. Bacteria and inflammation are at the root of damaging, progressive periodontal or gum disease.
You can’t avoid bacteria. It’s estimated 500 to 650 different bacterial species live on the teeth, tongue, and inside the cheeks and mouth. Most of the time, bacteria don’t cause any problems and, certainly, not all bacteria are created equal. Some “good” bacteria are thought to improve digestion and stimulate the saliva production that helps to keep bad breath and tooth decay at bay. Other bacterial species, however, are associated with tooth decay and periodontal disease. For example, T. denticola and P. gingivalis disrupt the healthy, harmonious balance among cultures of mouth bacteria. Since they don’t need oxygen to survive, these bacteria can creep under the gumline where they flourish, breaking down bone and connective tissues.
Consistent, thorough brushing and flossing combined with professional cleanings at Sycamore Dental help to reduce the number of bacteria that build up along the gumline and between teeth. If harmful bacteria aren’t removed with good hygiene, or healthy bacteria are killed due to destructive habits like smoking and tobacco use, oral infections arise. As a protective measure, your body’s immune system responds by attacking these infections. Consequently, the tissues in your mouth become inflamed.
Inflammation (and chemicals released as a result) eat away at soft and hard tissues, which causes teeth to shift and become loose. These are signs that gum disease has progressed from its earlier, inflamed gingivitis stage to more advanced periodontitis.
The problem with periodontitis
This aggressive stage of gum disease has been at the center of innumerable studies, which link it to a whole host of medical conditions. The bacteria in your mouth don’t simply “stay put.” When it flows from unhealthy gums to the bloodstream, harmful bacteria can go just about anywhere in your body! They may travel to your lungs, heart, and other organs. In fact, some studies suggest around 90 percent of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. Mouth inflammation is also thought to produce inflammation in the blood vessels, which increases your risk of having a heart attack. When fatty plaque breaks away from the wall of a blood vessel, it may travel to the heart or brain.
Conditions such as heart disease and periodontitis are linked in still other ways; many risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, and obesity are shared. Studies have also found a link between poor oral health and conditions such as:
- Pregnancy-related complications
- Poor diabetes control
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Advanced gum disease can also aggravate existing conditions, such as respiratory infections like COPD and pneumonia.
Get whole-body healthy; visit Dr. Suri
If a beautiful smile and comfortable chewing aren’t reason enough to keep your six-month check-ups and diligent home care, know that protecting your mouth from disease may also prevent many serious medical conditions and add quality years to your life. During an examination, the experienced, knowledgeable Sycamore Dental team will check for signs of oral cancer, autoimmune disorders like lupus and Crohn’s, and eating disorders. All these conditions can affect overall wellness, produce oral health symptoms, and must be resolved for you to be your best self.
Don’t wait until your teeth hurt or your gums bleed to schedule an appointment to get the proactive care you need to stay healthy, or the gentle treatment required to restore well-being. Call (817) 438-1828 . We look forward to seeing you!