It wasn’t long ago that the connection between oral health and overall health seemed distantly related at best. Today, we know this is not the case. There are strong connections between the health of the mouth and the rest of the body. Stop and think about how you’re taking care of yourself from top to bottom.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one example of an oral health problem that can affect the whole body. Think of it as a silent health assassin. Without regular checkups at a dentist, you may not even know you have periodontal disease, but it could be impacting your overall health nonetheless.
Periodontal disease is often considered a painless condition until it worsens. Then, it becomes painful, damaging, and can result in tooth loss.
Gum Disease and Overall Health Problems
Periodontal disease has been linked to other overall health issues like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory complications, and cancer. In some instances, a cause-and-effect response within your body exists. If you’re diabetic, you are more susceptible to periodontal disease. In others, like with heart disease, the inflammation in your mouth is considered a potential cause of inflammation elsewhere. This inflammation elevates the risk the risk of a blockage-related emergency such as a heart attack or stroke by two-to-three times.
Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of dementia later in life, too. Researchers discovered that periodontal problems may also be associated with mild cognitive impairment, such as memory problems.
Illness in your mouth can affect your whole body. The health of your mouth and smile are not something to be taken lightly.
How to Identify Periodontal Disease
Visit your dentist – Regular visits to your dentist—twice a year—are the best way to prevent and/or identify periodontal disease. They’ll investigate whether you have a clean bill of oral health, or if you’re are showing signs of gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early form of periodontal disease. Your dentist will also help by cleaning your teeth and gums, effectively removing the plaque that causes gum disease in the first place.
Consider the symptoms – Do you have pain when chewing? Are you experiencing bad breath? Do your gums bleed after brushing your teeth or feel tender or puffy? You may have periodontal disease.
Paying attention to any changes in your mouth, like sudden pain when eating or a newly discovered loose tooth will help you gauge the state of your oral health. If you start to notice one or more of these symptoms persisting, it’s time to see your dentist.
Know your habits – People who rarely maintain their teeth and gums, those who smoke or chew tobacco, women who are pregnant, folks on certain medications, and many who have specific conditions like those mentioned above are at risk for periodontal disease. If you fall into one of these risk categories, you’ll have to be more diligent about preventative measures.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Take care of your mouth – Regular visits to the dentist, a proper oral care routine, and paying attention to your body are all that is required of you. You can keep periodontal disease at bay with a small amount of work, and your body will thank you for it.
People who have dental coverage are more likely to visit their dentist on time. They’re also more likely to avoid dental problems in the future. To find a provider in your area, use our handy search tool.
Looking for more oral health information? Check out Restorative Care vs Dentures | Impact of Dentures on Health.