The Impact of Oral Health on your Body
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, does not only affect your mouth but also has a profound impact on other parts of your body. To some of you, this may come as a surprise but for others this may actually make logical sense. The reason for this is that the body comprises many organs and systems that are intrinsically related. Having a problem in one part of your body may affect another. There is only one part of the body where the inside and the outside are connected without the protecting barrier of some form of skin. That’s down the side of the tooth. So fluids and bacteria can pass through this junction, causing transfer of diseases from the mouth to the rest of the body.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease which is inflammation and bleeding of the gums due to plaque and tartar build-up at the base of the teeth. Periodontitis is a more severe form which may occur when gingivitis goes untreated. This causes dissolving of the bone around the teeth until they become loose and eventually fall out.
Recent medical evidence has shown that there is a link between gum disease and heart disease, brain abscesses, diabetes, respiratory disease and problems with pregnancy and birth. The inflammation and infection related to gum diseases has a compounding effect causing the other bodily diseases.
There is strong evidence linking gum disease with premature births of of low-weight babies. Heart diseases such as strokes and heart attacks have been shown to be associated with gum disease. There is emerging but yet unconfirmed evidence that gum disease is also associated with Alzeihmer’s disease as well as some cancers.
What are the risk factors of periodontal disease?
- Age – older people have the highest risk of developing gum disease
- Smoking/Tobacco use – this is the normal culprit for any kind of disease including gum disease
- Diabetes – this very common disease also causes gum disease
- Stress – stress makes it more difficult to fight infections
The good news is that periodontal disease can be prevented. Here are a few tips:
- Brush your teeth and gum margins regularly each day as well as your tongue.
- Remove plaque from in between your teeth using either floss or specially designed brushes
- Mouthwash may help but is no substitute for effective brushing and flossing
- Visit your dentist regularly for routine check-ups and to demonstrate the tooth-brushing technique that would be specifically designed for you and the shape of your teeth.
- Inevitably, you will leave some plaque behind, which will cause some tartar build-up. So make sure you visit your hygienist or dentist every 6 months to finish the job off for you.
Taking care of your gums will help take care of your body and help prevent life threatening diseases.