How does gum disease affect your Overall Health?

Find UK Dentists »

Many people take brushing and flossing for granted and are unaware just how important it is to properly care for your oral health. Recent studies have indicated that keeping your mouth in good shape is not only beneficial to your oral health but can potentially prevent some very serious medical issues which can occur in conjunction with certain types of gum disease.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, tends to be caused by the bacteria associated with a build up of dental plaque or calculus. However, it can also be caused by several other factors such as through the use of tobacco products (including 'smokeless' products like chewing tobacco), bruxism teeth grinding which is the clenching or grinding of the teeth, and certain types of medication. Gum disease starts out as Gingivitis, when the problem is at this stage it doesn't normally cause the sufferer many problems but you may notice tender, lightly inflamed or bleeding gums. Luckily, this stage of the disease is completely reversible if proper oral care is taken up. If left unchecked, gingivitis can often lead to Periodontitis, a much more serious problem. There are many different levels of periodontitis but most sufferers experience swollen or very inflamed gums and this can potentially progress to the loss of tissue and erosion of bone structures in the infected area. Other common symptoms include bad breath (halitosis), tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession, dental abscesses and tooth loss.

Along with being a terrible affliction in itself, gum disease can also contribute or act as a warning sign for several more serious conditions. Research indicates that gingivitis can often increase the risk of heart disease or strokes due to the exponential growth of bacteria in the affected area of the mouth. As the gum disease worsens, so does the risk of a cardiovascular problem. Gum disease often occurs in conjunction with diabetes. Scientists believe this is probably caused by a high blood glucose level so people with diabetes need to make sure their oral health is in top shape through proper oral care. Paying regular visits to your dentist is strongly advised.

Gum disease can be a very serious problem if it occurs in pregnant women. Studies have found that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease may be up to five times more likely to have their baby born preterm than women without gum disease.

Fortunately, gum disease is highly treatable in all its stages. For the earlier stages, simply improving your oral hygiene may be enough to combat the problem. If this is not the case then professional cleaning and removal of plaque and tartar through scaling is often recommended. In more serious cases, a range of medications can be prescribed to help eradicate the bacteria in your mouth including chlorheidine gluconate. In the most serious cases where bone and tissue loss has occurred, there is a surgical option to replace the bone that was lost during the infection.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »