Gum & Oral Health
HOW DOES GUM DISEASE AFFECT OVERALL HEALTH?
The state of your teeth and oral tissue affects your overall health. The body’s natural defenses and good hygiene control, such as daily brushing and flossing, can prevent gum disease and improve overall health. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Researchers have linked oral health problems such as gum disease to an increased risk of health conditions.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE LINKED TO ORAL HEALTH?
The link between oral disease and overall health is the fact that bacteria is responsible for gum disease. Bacteria can enter your bloodstream through gum tissue and may affect other parts of your body, where it can start new infections, trigger or exacerbate general inflammatory response. It is important to be aware that any infection in the mouth is as serious and important as an infection in the body.
Oral health might contribute to various medical conditions, viruses and diseases, including:
Cardiovascular disease: Some researchers have encountered that heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries might be linked to the inflammation and infections gum disease bacteria can cause.
Pneumonia: Bacteria from your oral cavity can travel to your lungs, causing lung infection and respiratory diseases.
Endocarditis: It is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves. It generally occurs when bacteria, fungi or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
Pregnancy: Gum disease has been linked to preterm birth, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine).
Diabetes: People with diabetes are more prone to infection and severe gum disease, because there’s a reduction in the body’s resistance to infections. Researches show that people who have gum disease find it harder to control blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients need to see the dental professional more frequently, regular cleanings can improve diabetes control.
HIV/AIDS: Painful mucosal lesions generally appear in patients who have HIV/AIDS.
Osteoporosis: This condition is related to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain medications used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of necrosis of jaw bone. It is important to tell your dentist the drugs you take, because some dental procedures are not indicated.
Atherosclerosis: Gum disease and atherosclerosis are generally linked. With the treatment for gum disease, both periodontal and systemic inflammation decreases.
Alzheimer’s disease: Dental hygiene is difficult in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
HOW CAN I MAINTAIN MY ORAL HEALTH?
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and replace toothbrush every 2 or 3 months.
- Floss daily.
- Use mouthwash after each meal. Ingredients of antimicrobial agents vary but can include chlorhexidine 0.05%, chlorine dioxide, and zinc chloride.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid tobacco.
WHEN TO VISIT YOUR DENTIST?
Be sure to see the dental professional at least twice a year for regular checkups. If you have risk factors that increase the chances of developing gum disease, you may need professional examinations more often. Also it is necessary to tell your dentist if you are under the care of a physician and provide the names and locations of your other healthcare providers so that your dentist can contact them for further information. Early intervention is important as soon as you see the first signs of gum swelling or bleeding. Tell your dentist about medications you take or changes in your overall health, especially any systemic disease or illness. Your dental professional can help prevent gum disease and maintain oral health in order to maintain your overall health.