More people are becoming aware of the connection, but many are still blissfully unaware. It is easy to think of your mouth as somehow not affecting your overall health, but as scientists have discovered this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dental disease, in particular gum disease, can have a huge impact
Why Does Gum Disease Affect General Health?
One of the reasons gum disease is so dangerous for general health is the way the condition enables bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream. Once they have got that far they have the freedom to travel anywhere in your body. These bacteria are able to get into your blood due to the way gum disease affects your gum tissues. Gum disease bacteria cause the gum tissues to become infected. Your body’s reaction is to produce antibodies to fight the infection, resulting in the tissues becoming inflamed. As a consequence the gums begin to bleed and will start to pull away from your teeth. When this happens bacteria from your mouth can enter the bloodstream through your bleeding gums causing your overall health to be poor as well.
As the bacteria travel around your body they can create new sites of inflammation. This is especially bad news for diabetics, as this condition often results in poor circulation, and diabetics find it harder to fight off infections. Unfortunately diabetics are more likely to develop gum disease, due to their reduced ability to fight disease, and because of the way the condition works. Diabetics have too much glucose in their blood as they cannot produce sufficient insulin to regulate it. As a result the levels of glucose can also be higher in their saliva, increasing the overall risk of developing gum disease and cavities.
The link between gum disease and heart disease is also very evident. People with oral problems are more at risk of having problems with their arteries. When oral bacteria get into the bloodstream they can attach themselves to the fatty plaques in the arteries, increasing the risk of blood clots. In addition, the inflammation caused by gum disease bacteria causes the body to produce more of a particular protein that is associated with heart disease.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bone tissue to lose density. Gum disease can also lead to bone loss, and it has been found that people with osteoporosis and gum disease are more likely to lose bone, which could lead to tooth loss.
As research continues, it is likely scientists will find even more compelling connections between oral health and overall health. This is one of the reasons why Midtown Dentistry stresses the importance of good preventative dental care. We urge all our patients to book regular checkups with Dr. Jonathan Penchas or with another of our highly qualified and experienced dentists. It is by far the cheapest and easiest way to prevent gum disease, or to catch it in its early stages when it is far more treatable. It is also the best way to keep your smile looking beautiful and healthy, every single day.