According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums. Many people will have some form of gum disease during their lifetime. In fact, the CDC also states that just over 70% of adults over 65 have gum disease.
Gum disease can cause redness or irritation of the gums. In addition, the gums can bleed and swell in the first stages of periodontal disease. This first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis– a highly treatable condition. As the disease progresses, the gums will recede and expose the bone. Unfortunately, this can lead to tooth loss and bone deterioration.
It is important to treat gum disease as soon as you begin showing symptoms. Gum disease affects more areas than just your mouth. In fact, gum disease can affect other major organ systems and worsen certain medical conditions.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Many risks can develop into gum disease. However, the leading cause is from lack of proper oral health. When you don’t brush or floss your teeth properly, plaque can build on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky white substance that houses bacteria. If the plaque doesn’t get brushed away, it will continue to build, and the bacteria will thrive.
Eventually, the plaque will cement and turn into tartar. Only a dental professional can remove tartar from your teeth. Over time, the plaque and tartar will continue to build, and it will cause the gums to recede. Receding gums will disrupt the foundation of your teeth and cause them to loosen. Advanced gum disease will result in missing teeth and bone loss.
Effects on the Body
Naturally, gum disease affects the gums and the surrounding teeth. The soft tissues will begin to decay, and teeth can loosen and fall out. However, gum disease can have a much more significant effect on the entire body.
Studies have shown that patients with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease. This is because the same plaque that builds on your teeth is the same plaque that can form in your arteries.
Additionally, gum disease can worsen chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. With chronic conditions, your immune system is always on defense. Your immune system protects you from illnesses and aids your ability to recover from surgeries, sickness, etc.
However, constant battling weakens your immune system if you have a chronic condition. For example, with diabetes, patients have trouble managing their blood sugar levels, which is made worse with excess mouth bacteria. With asthma, you breathe in the bacteria, aggravating asthma symptoms. Bacteria impair your immune system and worsen chronic conditions.
The bacteria doesn’t stay in your mouth. Instead, it can move to other parts of your body through your bloodstream and by breathing. This is why medical professionals can link gum disease to respiratory illnesses, coronary artery disease, and difficulty controlling blood sugar levels.