What are your resolutions for the new year? Maybe you’ve resolved to lose weight, get to the gym more often, or spend more time with your family. As your dental health professional, we urge you to add one more resolution to your list: to focus on gum health in 2018.
Disease-free gums are not only essential for good oral health. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, has been shown to make you more susceptible to a number of serious systemic issues. Indeed, taking care of your gums is a good thing for your entire body.
Especially since gum disease often does not exhibit symptoms in the early stages, regular dental checkups are important. Call 812-913-6093 to book an appointment at Kirchner Dental of Jeffersonville, IN.
Gum Disease Is Common
Gum disease is widespread in our society, afflicting almost half of Americans over the age of 30 and seventy percent of Americans over the age of 65 (according to the Centers for Disease Control).
Periodontal disease is inflammation of the gum tissues due to bacteria. There are two “types” of gum disease, but they are really two points on a continuum. Gum disease is progressive. It starts out as its less severe form, gingivitis. But left untreated, it will invariably advance to the more severe form, called periodontitis. Eventually, it can even affect the bones that support the teeth. Gum disease, not tooth decay, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Gum Disease Affects Your Entire Body
If you have gum disease, the consequences may be far more serious than a few lost teeth. Research has shown that the health of your gums may influence the health of your entire body.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
It’s long been known that people with diabetes are at more likely to develop gum disease, probably because they are more susceptible to infections in general. But the association seems to run both ways. Gum disease seems to make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar, putting them at an increased risk for diabetic complications.
Gum Disease and the Heart
A number of studies have shown that gum disease increases your chances of developing periodontal disease. The exact nature of the link has not been proven, but inflammation seems to be the key. Periodontal disease also appears to make existing heart conditions worse.
Research is ongoing. Recent studies have suggested links between gum disease and osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and even cancer. One thing is clear: healthy gums give you a much better chance for a healthy body.
Reduce Your Risk
Gum disease may strike anyone — men, women, and even children. That said, certain factors increase your risk. You don’t have control over all of these, but you do over some.
- The older you are, the more likely you are to have some form of gum disease.
- People who use tobacco are much more likely to have gum disease than the non-smoking population. Their gum disease also tends to be resistant to treatment.
- If gum disease runs in your family, you are much more likely to have it yourself.
- Stress makes it more difficult for your body to fight infections, including periodontal disease. If you can’t eliminate the sources of your stress, relaxation techniques may help.
- Certain medications may affect your oral health and state of your gums. Ask your doctor if you are concerned.
- Clenching or grinding your teeth may damage your gums and exacerbate periodontal disease.
- Obesity has been shown to increase your chances of gum disease. Also, people with diets low in nutrients are at a higher risk.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory disease may make you more susceptible to gum disease.
- Poor oral hygiene is a major risk factor. If you take meticulous care of your mouth — brush and floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months — you can counteract some of your other risk factors and keep those gums in great shape.
Watch Out for Symptoms
You may have early-stage gingivitis without any symptoms at all, which is why dental periodic checkups are so important. But if you notice any of the following, call Kirchner Dental right away.
- Tender, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Mouth pain or sensitivity
- A sudden change in your bite
At Kirchner Dental, we will help you prevent gum disease through our thorough cleanings and exams. If you already have signs of periodontal disease, we have treatments to restore your gums back to health.