Gum disease linked with other Health Problems

Can gingivitis cause other health problems?

Gum disease is frequently associated with other diseases. It is found in people who also have one of the other diseases. But we don’t know which came first or how the diseases are related.

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A study about Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection last October 2000 shows that oral infection, especially periodontitis or gum disease, may affect the manner of development of a number of systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes mellitus and the like.

The link between gum disease and the systemic health conditions is inflammation. Our mouth is the receiver of food and when not properly cleaned, bacteria build-up will be present. The build-up of inflammatory particles in the blood can really worsen some chronic health conditions. This will prove that the noninvasive procedures and therapy may improve health outcomes for chronic conditions.

What is a Gum Disease? A brief description

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Gum disease (AKA periodontal disease) is responsible for more loss of teeth than any other factor (including tooth decay). Most of the time it doesn’t hurt – at least not until it’s too late. That’s part of why it can go undiagnosed for years. And for most people it’s preventable.  By its nature, gum disease is mediated by bacteria present on and in the pocket around teeth. Certain bacteria cause inflammation in the gums and eventually loss of the bone that supports teeth.

Generally, teeth won’t become loose until 80% of the bone is gone. And at that point, the disease process is quite advanced and the prognosis for the affected teeth is poor or hopeless.  

Periodontal disease, however, can be diagnosed by a dentist or hygienist with proper examination including x-rays (dental radiographs) and a thorough clinical exam (looking in your mouth to make certain measurements and observations).

Once diagnosed, it is generally considered irreversible.  The treatment for a Periodontal disease is aimed at halting the progression of the disease.  There are some instances in which tissue may be regenerated (with the intervention of a dentist) but 100% regeneration is most often not possible. It’s also fortunate that periodontal disease is preceded by gingivitis, a reversible inflammation of the gums.

Gingivitis is also easily diagnosed by a dentist or hygienist. And the treatment of Gingivitis much simpler.

Regular skilled dental cleanings and good home care are all you need. If you can prevent Gingivitis, you can prevent Periodontitis.

What are the Stages of Gum Disease?

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There are three stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis: this is often the earliest stage of gum illness, an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing don’t take away the plaque, it produces toxins (poisons) that may irritate the gum tissue, inflicting periodontal disease. You’ll probably notice some bleeding while you are brushing and flossing your teeth. At this stage, we can still reverse the damages in your teeth since the supporting bone and fibers are not yet damaged.
  • Periodontitis: At this certain point, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly broken. Your gums could have a recession or begin to make a pocket below the gumline. This easily traps food and plaque. Correct dental treatment and improved home care will effectively stop the additional damage.
  • Advanced Periodontitis: During this end stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are already destroyed. This might cause your teeth to shift or loosen from their socket. This will also have an effect on your bite and, if aggressive treatment cannot save them, tooth extraction might be the only solution.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gum Disease Symptoms

Gum disease does not usually have visible signs which means the symptoms might not appear till you reach a complicated stage of it. However, there are warning signs of gum disease that we can watch out for:

  • Redness around the gums, swollen or tender gums
  • Alternative pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing and flossing teeth, or consumption of hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pull off from the teeth, inflicting the teeth to appear longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Mouth sores which appear near the mouth and your lips
  • Halitosis or persistent bad breath

Millions of individuals do not know they need to pay attention to these symptoms which can lead to a serious infection that may result in tooth loss if not professionally treated.

Periodontal Disease is not just a Problem for Teeth

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Periodontal disease research is continually revealing more about the disease. 50 years ago, when a tooth becomes loose, the dentist pulled it. That’s just the way it was. Bad luck or bad genes, no one asked questions. Now we know most cases are preventable and other are manageable with proper treatment, home care and monitoring. But gum disease has also been linked to several other diseases including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, respiratory disease and certain cancers.

Systemic conditions with connections to oral health

Your mouth is the entry point of many bacteria.

Diabetes

Did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth? People with diabetes have a higher chance of having periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. Periodontal disease can lead to severe pain and bad breath that doesn’t go away. With periodontal disease, there will be chewing difficulties too and even tooth loss. Diabetes can also slow down the healing process. It interferes with the dental treatment of periodontal disease.

Heart Disease

Dental professionals and researchers do agree that there are solid reasons why dental health and heart wellness are connected. For instance, inflammation is a typical issue in the two illnesses, Bonow says. – An excerpt from WebMd’s Healthy Teeth Healthy Heart article.

There’s a strong component of inflammation in Arteriosclerosis. A great part of the movement of plaque [building up in the arteries] is really an inflammation.”

In spite of the fact that the connection between oral health and heart wellness isn’t totally clear, specialists say it’s very important to take care both.

Stroke

There are statements which say that poor oral health is specifically linked to ischemic strokes, which are the most prevalent. So what do you mean when you have an ischemic stroke? When a person has an ischemic stroke, the arteries of the brain are too narrow for blood to pass effectively – usually due to a clot or some other debris in the bloodstream that clogs the artery.

The specific culprit is a bacteria that can live in the mouth called Streptococcus mutans. That strain is present in only about 10 percent of people but is found in around 33 percent of all stroke victims.

Still can’t quite make the connection? After all, you don’t really have blood in your mouth, but bleeding gums is one of the initial signs of periodontal disease. The gum tissue and teeth require oxygenation just like any other part of your body. The oxygen comes via red blood cells that travel through tiny arteries in the gum and dental pulp. When the gum is irritated, it starts to bleed the same way a rash on your skin would bleed if you scratch too much. Bleeding creates an opening that allows the Streptococcus mutans bacteria into the blood. Once there, it is free to travel to other areas like the heart and brain. A decaying tooth is another problem spot when it comes to stroke. Left unchecked, the decay can reach down into the pulp of the tooth and the blood vessels there, opening the door to bacteria.

Breast Cancer

International Journal of Cancer Research has stated that women with poor dental health practices often get gum disease are more likely to be diagnosed as having breast cancer. The progressing risk in this is caused by gum disease for which the infected gums allows bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstreams. This will cause our body to become more vulnerable to other health threats. This will affect our immune system as our body also fights with other foreign invaders that can harm our health. It also adds into the abnormal cell changes which result in certain cancers – like breast cancer.

Having gum disease means having redness around the gums and also sore and inflamed gums.

If you know someone or if you observe these to your mouth, please never ignore these. The whole dental professionals around the world recommend that we all should see a dentist for the regular dental appointment for at least three months. This will help prevent gum disease especially if the patient already has cancer.

Dealing with cancer is stressful enough, but pre-existing or untreated gum disease further complicates the issue when inflammation and infection are present. Because some drugs suppress white blood cells, which normally protect against infection, deep cleanings and other invasive procedures should be done in advance of cancer treatments. While undergoing treatment, gentle oral hygiene is important to avoid further infection, which is particularly dangerous with a suppressed immune system. So it’s important to resolve dental problems before cancer treatment begins. In many cases, oncologists and dentists often work as a team to develop a treatment plan.

Our Recommendations:

“A clean mouth will always lead to a clean body”

To keep your mouth, teeth, gums, and body healthy, Dr. Ash Estafan and Dr. Stella Oh highly recommend the following:

  • Give your dentists a health history report and include any illnesses and the medications.
  • Regularly brush your teeth every day using the kinds of toothpaste with fluoride
  • Flossing will also help get the food debris in between your teeth. This will remove plaque – the sticky film of bacteria that is usually stuck between your teeth and even under your gums.
  • Regular checkup by setting an appointment with a dentist near your location and have professional teeth cleaning to prevent any gum and teeth problems and detect possible dental health issues before it gets worst. The mouth is usually the location used to diagnose various type of diseases.
  • Have a balanced diet. This will help you build a healthy and strong immune system, help prevent heart disease and slow down the progression of diabetes.
  • If you are a smoker, ask Madison Avenue Dentists doctors about the best options for quitting.