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Gum disease is a condition that affects millions of people. According to the CDC 2012 study, almost half of American adults above 30 years of age are affected by gum disease. Its symptoms can go unnoticed until you visit a dentist for an oral exam.
Our oral health is only a part of a bigger system, and any problem associated with it can
affect our whole body. Neglecting it can lead to gum disease and progress into life-threatening health conditions. With a pandemic at hand, that’s the last thing you want to happen.
Here are the health conditions that will help you understand how maintaining your oral health can prevent you from having serious health conditions.
How does gum disease develop?
Plaque and tartar buildup starts the progression of gum disease. These bacteria release toxins that infect the gum tissues and bone structure resulting in tooth loss and chronic inflammation.
Young patients don’t usually show signs of gum disease because the beginning of infection can be painless. The symptoms only become more prevalent when an adult reaches the age of 30 to 40s.
Signs of a gum disease
● Bad breath
● Red or inflamed gums
● Bleeding gums
● Pain when chewing
● Loose teeth
● Sensitive teeth
● Receding gums
At first, it starts as gingivitis or inflammation of gums but it is already the onset of periodontal disease. Gum disease or Periodontal disease is a chronic gum inflammation due to infection that requires lifelong care. Sadly, it can only be managed but never reversed. What’s more is it can trigger other life-threatening conditions such as:
Chronic inflammation is our body’s enemy. It becomes a problem when the body starts to attack healthy cells. This is also the reason why gum disease is linked to heart disease.
● According to the American Heart Association, patients who have poor dental hygiene are three times more prone to heart disease.
● Gum disease negatively affects the blood pressure of hypertensive patients and disrupts the effects of hypertension medications.
● Researchers of the study Periodontitis and its Relation to Coronary Artery
Disease or PAROKRANK found that gum disease increases a patient’s risk for heart attack by 49%.
“Inflammation in your mouth is directly related to inflammation in your heart,” according to the cardiologist, the treatment for gum disease has shown a decrease in blood pressure of some patients .
Bacteria thrive in the presence of sugar. High glucose levels in the body help the bacteria propagate which fuels the germs to attack the teeth and gums, causing gingivitis. On the other hand, periodontal disease increases the blood sugar levels that can put you at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
How does gum disease increase blood sugar levels?
The bacteria that infect the gums will leak into the bloodstream and cause a stir on the body’s immune system. In defense, the body will trigger the rise in blood sugar levels to fight off the bacteria.
Since chronic inflammation is associated with gum disease, blood sugar levels can be hard to control with diabetic patients. Likewise, diabetes can also make it hard for the body to fight off infections such as gum disease.
The bacteria called Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans are found in both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis patients. It triggers the inflammatory autoimmune response of our body’s defense system that makes the immune system proteins overactive. Thus, causing joint inflammation.
Gum disease is also linked to an increase in a patient’s risk for Alzheimers. The bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) found in gum disease is also found in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, according to this study.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects 5 million Americans. It begins with memory loss and becomes worse over time. Experts have warned that to avoid complications like Alzheimer’s disease, prevention is paramount since the bacteria from gum disease have a lot of tendencies to infiltrate the body.
Pneumonia, COPD, and asthma are another set of health conditions affected by chronic inflammation with gum disease. According to the American Thoracic Society, the infection in the gums triggers the immune system to stay on high alert and ensures a body-wide inflammation, including the airways and lungs.
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