Have you ever discovered blood in the sink after brushing or flossing? Maybe you think it’s not a big deal. You might just take it as a sign that you need to brush and floss more. While that may be true, bleeding gums is a symptom of gum disease, a condition that should not be ignored. Gum disease can actually lead to several other health problems. Let’s look at gum disease in more detail and examine 3 diseases that have been linked to it.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Not all cases of gingivitis progress to periodontitis, especially if the condition is caught early. The first stage of gum disease is caused by the buildup of bacteria in plaque, usually as a result of poor dental hygiene. This accumulation of bacteria causes the gums to become red, inflamed, and easily irritated.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis, which makes gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. They grant bacteria easy access to your bloodstream, where they can infect the rest of your body and cause disease. Eventually, these pockets can grow and grow until your teeth become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Catching gum disease early makes it easier to treat. Call your dentist right away if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Tender, swollen, or red gums
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away
What Other Health Problems Can Gum Disease Cause?
The bacteria and inflammation characteristic of gum disease can spread through the body and wreak havoc on your overall health. Here are 3 diseases linked to oral bacteria:
1. Heart Disease
Studies have shown that people with gum disease are more likely to have poor heart health. It is believed that bacteria can set off a chain reaction of inflammation that starts in the mouth and can end up in your heart. This can cause hardened arteries, which put you more at risk for stroke.
People with diabetes are much more likely to contract infections in general, and that includes gum disease. If your diabetes is not well-managed, you are even more at risk. Research has shown that people who regulate their blood sugar well are less likely to get gum disease. Similarly, diabetics with gum disease were able to lessen the symptoms by gaining control over their blood sugar.
Gum disease has been linked to a higher risk of dementia later in life. Some researchers have theorized that those with memory problems have more trouble doing daily activities such as brushing their teeth. In a recent study, participants with gum disease scored the worst on calculation and memory tests.
To prevent yourself from contracting gum disease, stay on top of your oral health. This means brushing and flossing every day and visiting your dentist at least every six months. Protect your health in general by taking care of your mouth!
About the Author
Dr. Shelly Strohman has been providing quality dental care in Wichita Falls, TX for more than 13 years. Her goal is to preserve your natural and beautiful smile for as long as possible, and the best way to do that is by scheduling regular checkups and cleanings at least twice a year. Dr. Strohman will treat your teeth as conservatively and comfortably as possible. For more info on how she can help you maintain healthy gums, click here or give her a call at (940)-613-0299.