Lindsay Whitlock RDH
The oral cavity is recognized as a portal of entry for many infections that affect overall health; including both physical health and emotional health. Among these infections are two leading widespread dental diseases: caries (decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease). The consequences of decay in the oral cavity and periodontal diseases are profound and often times underestimated in context of their negative impact on one’s physical health. More studies are needed but some researchers suspect that bacteria and inflammation linked to periodontal disease play a role in some systemic diseases and or conditions. Research suggests that although periodontal disease starts as a local infection in the mouth, it is generally accepted that associated bacteria and toxins gain access to the body’s blood supply and travel throughout the body. This creates a systemic inflammatory response, which may increase the risk for: heart disease, pneumonia, and complications of diabetes and pregnancy. Although periodontal disease may contribute to these health conditions, it is critical to understand that just because two conditions occur at the same time does not necessarily mean one condition is the cause for another. Researchers are continuing to work hard to examine the affects of when periodontal disease is treated within individuals suffering with these various health problems.
Periodontal Disease – What You Should Know
Periodontal disease is a chronic infection within the oral cavity caused by bacteria. It begins when specific bacteria in dental plaque produce harmful toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums. An inflammatory response occurs if dental plaque is not removed on a daily basis. Plaque that remains on teeth over a short period of time can irritate the gums making them red and likely to become tender and bleed. This condition is called gingivitis, which can lead to more serious types of periodontal diseases. Gingivitis can be reversed and gums kept healthy by removing dental plaque daily with oral hygiene routine as well as having your teeth professionally cleaned.
If gingivitis is allowed to persist, it can progress to periodontitis (periodontal disease), a chronic disease in the pockets around the teeth. Inflammation that results may be painless however, it can damage the attachment method of gum tissue and bone to the teeth. Consequently advanced periodontitis is linked with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stoke and bacterial pneumonia. Left untreated, teeth may eventually become mobile, fall out, or require removal by a dentist.
Given the link between periodontal disease and the systemic health problems, prevention is a critical step in maintaining overall health.
1. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
2. Clean between teeth with floss or another type of interdental cleaner once a day.
3. Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks.
4. Schedule regular dental checkups as recommended by your dental hygienist or dentist.
5. Tell your dentist about changes in your overall health.
Click this link that is presented by Listerine and Reach to watch a video further explaining the link between periodontal disease and our bodies.