Think that your oral health has nothing to do with your overall health? You may want to reconsider that statement. Poor oral health can lead to gum disease, which is linked to serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. Before you skip your nightly brushing routine or postpone your six-month cleaning, you’ll want to read how your oral health affects overall health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is often caused by poor oral health habits, such as not brushing and flossing often, which causes plaque (a thick film of bacteria) to build up. Some other risk factors for gum disease include:
- Hormonal changes
There are different types of gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral care. When gingivitis goes untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis can result in attachment loss and bone destruction.
Oral Health and Overall Health
When you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, it can eventually lead to gum disease. Unhealthy gums can affect your overall health in several ways. Here are a few systemic diseases that are directly linked to gum disease.
Oral Health and Heart Disease
Multiple studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. According to Penn Medicine, “researchers suspect that bacteria present in gum disease can travel through the body, triggering inflammation in the heart’s vessels and infection in heart valves.”
Another study by Harvard Health proposed that the inflammation caused by gum disease may set off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
Oral Health and Diabetes
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing gum disease compared to people without diabetes. Research now indicates that gum disease may raise blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes.
The American Dental Association found that people with severe gum disease have higher long-term blood sugar levels, might be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and have a harder time controlling their type 2 diabetes.
Oral Health and Respiratory Disease
Gum disease is caused by bacteria growing on the gums and teeth over time. As long as the bacteria is living in the mouth, it will continue to grow and multiply. Some of these bacteria can even be inhaled into the lungs on tiny droplets of saliva.
Healthy lungs have a defensive system that protects the lungs and the rest of the respiratory tract against inhaled microorganisms. However, disease-damaged lungs may not be able to defend themselves, increasing the risk that the bacteria will cause infections or make lung problems worse.
Contact Abra Health
Reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions by practicing good oral hygiene daily. Our practice is a one-stop-dental shop for the entire family! Whether you need pediatric care, orthodontic services or oral surgery, we are ready to serve you. Schedule your appointment today!