There is growing concern over the link between gum disease and other chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes and problems in pregnancy. It is estimated that over half of all adults in the UK have had gum disease at least once.
Gum disease begins with sticky bacteria commonly known as plaque, which build up around the teeth. This stage is known as gingivitis which causes inflammation and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated gingivitis can turn into gum disease otherwise known as periodontal disease. The gums will eventually shrink back from the root of the tooth creating pockets which gradually widen. Long term, if left untreated, the infection and inflammation attack the tissue and jaw bone which can cause the tooth to loosen.
The common link between gum disease and chronic health conditions is inflammation; the body’s natural response to an infection. The build up of inflammatory substances in the blood seems to worsen heart disease and other chronic infections. The same bacteria found in gum disease is also found in hardened arteries. As bacteria from bleeding gums enter the blood stream, they attach to fatty plaques in the heart blood vessels which can cause clots.
Causes of Gum Disease
- The most common cause is poor oral hygiene and not visiting the dentist and hygienist regularly for professional cleaning.
- reduction in the flow of saliva due to medication
- hormonal changes such as pregnancy
- diabetes can make it hard to control infections
- Genetics, although early preventative measures can counteract predisposed gene factors
Aging and Gum Disease
Studies have shown that older people have the highest rates of gum disease. The elderly also have a higher risk of heart disease. Gum disease and tooth loss are not a natural part of aging. With good oral hygiene and professional care tooth loss can be prevented at any age.
Signs of Gum Disease
- Swollen, red or sore gums
- Pus between teeth and gums
- bad breath
- brown deposits along the gum line
Prevention of Gum Disease
- Daily toothbrushing and flossing
- having teeth professionally cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist , above and below the gum line, a procedure known as scaling and root planning.
- See your dentist regularly for examinations
- Stop smoking
- Reduce sugar intake and sugary snacks