Many people think that brushing one’s teeth twice a day, flossing, using mouthwash or even chewing dental gum after a meal is a way to avoid embarrassing situations where you might suffer from bad breath or have food stuck in your teeth.
Although it is the goal of many people to have fresh breath and a dazzling bright smile, dental health extends way beyond that. The health of your mouth and in particular, your gums, can have a major impact on your entire body’s well being.
Bacteria, bacteria, bacteria.
The mouth is host to six billion bacteria and it is a big responsibility to keep them in check. This bacteria causes plague, a colourless film which builds up on teeth. If plaque is not removed regularly through brushing, it turns into tartar, which is a hard mass and can not be removed by normal brushing. At this stage the bacteria is able to infect your teeth and gums, causing gum disease.
However, this is not the end of the line. Gum disease can affect other areas of the body and even worsen pre-existing conditions.
Bacteria in the mouth can be drawn down into the lungs when breathing through the mouth and cause illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema.
Individuals with chronic gum disease are at a higher risk of heart attacks. This is due to the harmful bacteria in your mouth working its way into the bloodstream and attaching to blood vessels. These vessels increase clot formation in the blood and decrease the flow to the heart, which increases blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack.
The Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that individuals with chronic periodontal diseases, which include gum diseases and those that affect other tissue in the mouth, were at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. It was found that it was the protein levels in the saliva of those suffering from periodontal diseases that contributed to the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Pregnant women must also consider their dental health as particularly important before, during and after the pregnancy as they are at an increased risk of contracting periodontal diseases due to increased levels of progesterone in the body. Pregnant woman with gum disease are seven times more likely to give birth prematurely to babies with a low birth weight.
Persons who have diabetes are also at a greater risk of gum disease. There is also evidence that gum disease can impact blood glucose levels in the body and further the progression of diabetes.
Why should I worry?
Am I at risk of developing a periodontal disease? Research done by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show that men have a greater chance of developing periodontal disease (56.4%) than women (38.4%). This research also showed that 47.2% of adults who are 30 years of age and older do suffer from some form of periodontal disease. The risk of developing these diseases also increase with age, as 70.1% of adults that are 65 years of age and older have periodontal disease.
The symptoms and warning signs of gum disease include red and swollen gums, painful chewing, sensitive teeth and gums pulling away from the teeth.
Gum disease can be prevented with regular visits to the dentist and daily brushing and flossing. Treatment includes deep cleaning, medications to reverse the infection, and in the worst of cases, corrective surgery.
If you believe you have gum disease or if you require a dental cleaning to avoid plaque build up, contact Trevor Smith Dental or book an appointment online now.