It’s common to assume that oral health problems are confined to the mouth, but it’s simply not true. Your mouth, and the bacteria that cause problems in it, are tied to your body just as much as any other part, if not more so. Gum disease, one of the most common oral health problems in the world, can do some absolutely devastating things to your overall health.
We see plenty of cases of gum disease at our Oregon City office. With over 60 percent of people experiencing some kind of gum disease in their lives it’s one of the things that keep us pretty busy, and when we detect it early treatment is usually completely successful. Treating gum disease is important not only for the health of your mouth, but for your body as well. You don’t want to end up dealing with the consequences of untreated gum disease!
What Is Gum Disease?
The bacteria in your mouth is a constant threat. Whenever you eat foods containing sugar bacteria metabolizes it into acid that eats away at your teeth, which leads to tooth decay. That same bacteria and its acid also irritates your gums, and prolonged irritation can help it sneak under your gumline.
Once bacteria has made it below your gumline it’s able to start spreading like wildfire. Without your brushing and flossing to control it you’ll quickly end up with infected gums, which are easily detected by their redness, puffiness, sensitivity, and bleeding. Long-term gum disease results in gum recession and even tooth loss, but it doesn’t need to get anywhere nearly that bad for it to start causing problems to the rest of your body.
How Gum Disease Affects The Body
It all starts with bacteria finding a pathway to your bloodstream, which is easy when you have gum disease. Bleeding gums are one of the earliest signs of gum disease, and the act of brushing and flossing creates easy paths for infection to spread wherever it wants.
As bacteria travels throughout your body it causes a number of different problems. From illness to chronic health problems to deadly disease, oral bacteria is responsible for it all. Here is a list of just some of the ways that oral bacteria can destroy your health:
- Chronic inflammation caused by gum disease increases the amount of proteins called “inflammatory markers” in your blood. Those same markers are tied to the development of heart disease. Patients who have heart attacks have much higher rates of gum disease than those that are healthy.
- Streptococcus mutans, a common oral bacteria, likes to bind to weak blood vessels in the brain. When it does it’s able to reproduce, further weakening the bond and leading to hemorrhagic strokes.
- Kidney disease patients who have gum disease have much higher mortality rates than those with healthy mouths. This is due to the weakened immune system that kidney disease causes, which in turn spreads gum disease and bacteria faster.
- Pancreatic cancer patients have been found to carry unique strains of bacteria. While those strains can be present in patients without pancreatic cancer there seems to be a link between those strains causing gum disease and leading to cancer.
- Esophageal cancer cells have high concentrations of oral bacteria in them. Nearby healthy cells contain far less, which suggests that oral bacteria latches onto cancer cells and aggravates their growth.
- Breast cancer patients with gum disease have much higher mortality rates than those with healthy mouths.
- Alzheimer’s patients with gum disease experience much faster mental decline than those without it. In some cases the speed with which the mind is lost can be nearly double.
Keep in mind that this list is partial at best. Oral bacteria can cause a number of conditions that aren’t on this list, and more links are being discovered every day.
How To Prevent Gum Disease
Treatment for gum disease can work, but there’s a much better way to prevent these serious health problems: don’t let gum disease form in the first place. Yes, 60 percent of the population will get it, but you can stay out of that group by brushing twice a day, flossing nightly, and seeing us at Pioneer Dental Group twice a year for cleanings and exams.
Regular preventive dental care is essential for good oral – and bodily – health, and we want to help you maintain that health. Don’t hesitate to call us and schedule an appointment today. You can reach our Oregon City office by calling 503-388-4691, or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!