It is certainly no secret that good oral health is important for a beautiful smile. We want to dazzle when we flash our pearly whites so we make sure to brush and floss every day. We pour money into orthodontics and teeth-whitening; anything to give us a perfect grin. But how often do we think about what’s going on behind the scenes in our mouths, especially where our gums are concerned? It may be surprising to learn that poor gum health can lead to a myriad of problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications. There is also continuing research that connects gum disease with osteoporosis, obesity, and even menstrual issues.
Something to Think About
When it comes to the cause of the majority of adult tooth loss in the United States, the blame can be squarely placed on gum disease. And while the threat of losing your teeth should be enough to schedule an appointment for an oral pathology exam, it definitely shouldn’t be the only reason. A thorough examination will assist in identifying various diseases of the mouth, including oral cancer. It can help your dental provider lay out a path of treatment that can stop the progression of the disease and get you back on the track to excellent oral health.
How Can Gum Disease Affect The Whole Body?
Here is where the phrase “a little goes a long way” really proves itself to be true. Our mouths, no matter what, are always teeming with germs. These germs are generally innocuous if our gums are healthy. The problem starts when gums become diseased and those germs wiggle into any infected area they can find. The bacteria hit the fast track directly into the bloodstream and begin to circulate throughout the body. Think of the bloodstream as an interstate highway and your various body systems as exits on that interstate. The toxins that were released into the body through the gums are now hopping off at your heart, your kidneys, and even your brain. They set up residence and in their new homes and begin causing a whole host of problems.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
The answer is a very long list that includes everything from diabetes to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Periodontitis does not discriminate when choosing what parts of the body to wreak havoc on. Let’s start with the heart. Gum disease can cause atherogenesis, which is when plaque forms in the arteries. This condition can, in turn, lead to coronary artery disease. People with gum disease, in fact, double their risk of having heart disease. They are also at a significantly increased risk of having a stroke as a result of developing atherosclerotic plaques.
Another reason to schedule an oral pathology exam is to help ward off kidney disease. Gum disease has been associated with chronic kidney disease, affecting blood pressure and potentially leading to renal failure. This risk is believed to be even higher in adults that have lost most or all of their teeth.
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the brain that causes dementia and still has no definitive known cause. However, research has discovered that people who experience inflammation, like the kind caused by chronic gum disease, in their early years are four times more likely to develop this incapacitating condition later in life.
Poor oral health doesn’t just affect you; it can also affect your unborn child. Just as important to a healthy pregnancy as excellent prenatal care is regular dental care. The American Academy of Periodontology has discovered that the danger of delivering a pre-term baby with a low birth weight is increased in women with gum disease. This risk is even higher in pregnant women with diabetes as they are more likely to develop gum inflammation and more severe periodontal disease.
I Haven’t Been as Proactive as I Could Have Been. What Can I Do?
Getting regular dental care is imperative to keeping not only your mouth healthy but your entire body, as well. Of course, you should be doing your part by brushing, flossing, keeping your sugar intake in check and not smoking. Having an oral pathology exam will assist your dental provider in pinpointing any potential issues and treating them before they become worse. Keeping an open line of communication with your dentist about any health issues you have is important. It is equally as important to keep them informed of the medications that you are taking as some medicines can increase the risk of periodontal disease.
Imagine Dental is here to help you get on and stay on the track to optimum dental health. With two locations for your convenience, we look forward to providing you with the comprehensive care you deserve. Contact our Ahwatukee or Phoenix location and schedule your appointment today.