How Gum Disease Interacts with the Body
Whether through motivational wall decals or directly from the dentist’s mouth, oral hygiene is a facet of human wellness that professionals will globally elevate to the utmost importance—and they do so with excellent reason. Studies in recent years have encouraged dental experts to progressively view mouth cleanliness as a significant factor in the whole of an individual’s health. Particularly, researchers have found that inflammation of the gums, a common condition dubbed periodontitis, can aggravate the immune system itself and exacerbate bodily conditions once thought unrelated.
Periodontitis, more commonly called gum disease, occurs as a result of excessive plaque build-up, which in turn invites bacteria to infect areas of the mouth. The inflammation that is trademark of this disease is derived from an immune response to eradicate these harmful bacteria. Our mouths are riddled with a complex system of blood vessels, and infections within the mouth leave those vessels vulnerable to infiltration; bacteria involved in gum disease is easily able to enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on the immune system as a whole.
Periodontitis and Existing Conditions
Physicians have linked the presence of periodontitis with prevalent conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. In the case of diabetes, inflammation in the mouth has been connected with a lack of control over the body’s blood sugar levels. Conversely, high blood sugar facilitates the growth of infections, and so the two ailments are intimately linked. As for heart disease, an overwhelming majority of patients with poor cardiovascular health also suffer from periodontitis. Physicians theorize that inflammations in the mouth can lead to analogous inflammation in the blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure overall. Similarly, periodontitis is thought to accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease through this very method of elevating hypertension.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Through these various connections between gum disease and other illnesses of the body, health specialists conclude that remedying periodontitis can promote significant improvement in a person’s health as a whole. Those suffering from chronic kidney disease, for example, are dramatically less at risk of developing heart problems when maintaining healthy gums. Even merely in and of itself, gum disease deteriorates bone tissue in the jaw, which removes anchorage for teeth and may lead to eventual loss of those teeth.
As such, oral hygiene is not exclusively a matter of obtaining a beautiful smile, as many might assume. Rather, it is crucial to health throughout the entirety of the body, and patients should be wary of tell-tale symptoms of periodontitis: swollen or reddened gums, tenderness within the mouth, oral bleeding when brushing or flossing, and excessive bad breath. Gum disease is not a condition which dissipates without the assistance of a professional, and if left untreated, can result in a need for surgical treatment. Working closely with a dental expert through regular check-ups and teeth cleanings is the surest method of preventing periodontitis before it begins.