When it comes to oral health, many people focus primarily on their teeth, overlooking the health of their gums. However, gum disease is a prevalent condition that should not be taken lightly. In fact, gum disease can have serious impacts on your overall health. Understanding the gravity of gum disease is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile and a healthier you.
The Basics of Gum Disease
Gum disease begins as redness or inflammation of the gum tissue. Someone with gum disease may also observe their gums bleeding while brushing their teeth. This process starts with the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, on the teeth and along the gumline.
If you don’t remove plaque, it will cause an infection of the soft tissues. Without prompt treatment, the disease can worsen. Advanced cases of gum disease can affect your body, not just your oral health.
Why Gum Disease is Serious
While mild gum disease has minor impacts on your health, advanced gum disease can wreak havoc on your body.
Untreated gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. As the infection progresses, it can damage the gum tissue and the underlying bone. This can lead to loose teeth that may eventually require extraction.
Gum disease can cause the gums to recede or pull away from the teeth, exposing the sensitive tooth roots. When your gums residue, you are more likely to experience tooth sensitivity. Additionally, this can make your teeth more susceptible to decay and damage.
The bacteria responsible for gum disease can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. Over time, this can result in significant bone loss, compromising the stability of the teeth and leading to further tooth loss.
Increased Risk of Systemic Health Issues
Many research studies suggest a strong association between gum disease and various systemic health conditions. The bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream and contribute to the developing or worsening of many medical issues.
- Heart Disease: Researchers link gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. One explanation for this lies in plaque. The plaque that builds on your teeth is the same plaque that can clog your arteries.
- Diabetes: Gum disease can make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels, potentially worsening diabetes symptoms.
- Respiratory Problems: It is possible to inhale the bacteria that cause gum disease. Unfortunately, this can contribute to respiratory infections, such as pneumonia.
- Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women with gum disease have a higher risk of preterm birth and low birth weight babies.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Studies suggest a possible connection between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, gum disease can potentially worsen arthritis symptoms.
Impact on Quality of Life
Finally, gum disease can cause persistent bad breath. While this may seem like a smaller issue, bad breath can create several problems in your life. Persistent bad breath can affect your confidence, ability to enjoy food and overall quality of life.