The Link Between Healthy Gums and Systemic Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of all adults in America over thirty have a form of advanced gum disease known as periodontitis. Prevention has become more critical in recent years due to researchers revealing the link between healthy gums and your overall health.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease includes a process that begins with gum inflammation and progresses to an infection of the gums and bone that support your teeth. The initial stage is called gingivitis, or gum inflammation, and typically begins without pain or any other symptom. However, after several days you may notice bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth. Eventually, the gums swell and turn red and tender. Gingivitis is reversible with professional teeth cleaning and improved home care.
If gingivitis is not treated and eliminated, it progresses to a more serious periodontal condition known as periodontitis. This is a gum infection caused by bacterial toxins that cause the gum to separate from the teeth. This separated gum tissue, or gum pocket, can harbor more bacteria and worsen and destroy the bone supporting your teeth. Without early intervention, the infection destroys bone, and the tooth begins to loosen and may eventually require extraction. Periodontitis is irreversible but can respond to treatment if begun before excessive bone loss.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
The primary cause of periodontal disease is the bacteria found in dental plaque that accumulates around teeth. Plaque that spreads below the gumline causes irritation and inflammation that begins the periodontal disease process. Other factors can increase your risk of periodontal disease, including:
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Non-surgical treatments for gum disease include professional teeth cleaning, scaling and root planing, and medications, such as antibiotics, placed in the periodontal pockets. These measures may eliminate gum disease in its early stages. However, more advanced gum infections may require periodontal surgery such as gingival grafts and periodontal pocket reduction surgery procedures.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Overall Health
Since the late 1980s, there has been an increasing number of studies examining possible links between periodontal disease and medical conditions that can affect your general health. Two possibilities have been proposed for this occurrence, direct and indirect mechanisms.
The direct mechanism suggests that the destruction caused by gum disease provides an opening for periodontal bacteria to enter the blood circulation. This allows harmful bacteria to spread to various organs and systems and cause complications.
The indirect mechanism offers the theory that periodontal disease supplies a source of inflammation that plays a role in the development of systemic diseases. The diseases that may be linked to periodontal disease include:
Preventing Gum Disease
Although gum disease is prevalent and possibly linked to several medical conditions, the good news is that it is preventable. By taking the following steps, you can avoid compromising your gum and general health.
Call us at 281-358-6330 today and set up an appointment for a periodontal evaluation and learn more about how we can help you maintain healthy gums and teeth.