Our gums are the most overworked and often under appreciated part of the body. We always hear how important it is to brush our teeth, but what about our gums? They’re sole job is to hold our teeth in place and keep our mouth healthy. Our body’s overall health depends on healthy gums.
What is Gum Disease?
You’ve heard the term used many times, but what actually is gum disease? It is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t brush or floss properly, bacteria builds up around the gums. This buildup causes inflammation and irritation called gingivitis which is a mild form of gum disease. This is the bodies response to fighting the bacteria. Left untreated, the bacteria gets deeper in-between the gums and teeth. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, where the bacteria and body’s continual response can actually tear down the connection between the gums and teeth.
It’s been reported by the CDC that more than 47% of adults living in the United States have some form of gum disease. That’s nearly half of all adults live-in the the U.S. and you wonder why your dentist always reminds you to brush after every meal?
Gum disease has many evident symptoms that you can check for. Here are some of them:
- – Bad breath that you can’t get rid of
- – Painful gums that are red to the touch
- – Sensitive teeth
- – Loose teeth
- – Bleeding gums
- – Receding gums or loss of gums
How Does Gum Disease Affect Other Body Parts?
You can obviously lose your teeth due to severe gum disease, but it doesn’t stop there. Once your teeth rot, other body systems may be directly affected. Gum disease has been tied to other serious health concerns and can make existing conditions much worse.
Lung and respiratory System
Since your immune system is already fighting the infection in your mouth due to gum disease, the body becomes weaker. This makes it easier to contract respiratory illnesses not limited to pneumonia and bronchitis. This is especially fatal to patients that are elderly or young and should be monitored very closely.
Fertility and Pregnancy
There has been several identified factors common with gum disease that could effect a mother and her unborn baby. On average, it takes a mother with gum disease two to three months longer to conceive than women who don’t have any signs of gum disease.
Women who are pregnant are actually at a higher chance of developing gum disease believe it or not. Nearly 40% off all women who are pregnant will get gum disease at some point during their pregnancy. In many cases the gum disease will go away on its own but those who do not take proper care of their teeth and gums could be at a higher risk of having premature babies with a low birth weight.
Heart Disease and Stroke
Gum disease has been proven in many cases to be associated with heart disease and risk of stroke. More commonly, people with gum disease are also linked to smokers, genetics, have a presence of diabetes and more. Continued research is being done to show how bacteria and inflammation collected in the mouth might be connected with bacteria in the arteries which can cause certain types of heart disease.
How to Prevent Gum Disease in 3 Steps
If nearly half of all adults have some form of gum disease, should we just give up and expect to live with it? Absolutely not! Gum disease is treatable and most of the time can be fully cured. Your dentist can often detect the presence of gum disease or the signs it may be developing before you notice symptoms, so the best defense is a great offense.
- Brush your teeth every day to remove this bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, and to help avoid cavities.
- Floss each day in order to remove the bacteria from between your teeth and around the gum line. Mouth wash is also recommend and can keep bad breath under control.
- Regular checkups and professional cleanings by a dentist or hygienist will help to remove any plaque, build-up (calculus) and bacteria that we aren’t able to reach during your regular oral hygiene routine at home.