Can Gum Disease Affect My Overall Health?

Bleeding gums, bad breath, and periodontal pockets are just a few of the symptoms you’ll notice when you’re dealing with gum disease. While these symptoms should raise a red flag for your oral health, you’re certainly not alone in the fight against periodontal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease.

Think about it! Nearly half of our adult population is dealing with poor gum health. Dr. Devang Shah and his talented staff here at Dental Smiles at Dacula believe that proper gum care isn’t just important for the aesthetics of your smile; Gum health can be tied to all facets of your overall health. Investing more time and care into your periodontal health can improve your overall bodily health and quality of life.

The Connection Between the Gums and Body

This month is National Gum Care Month and is a great time to start paying special attention to your periodontal health. Consider the mouth to be a window to the rest of the body — your oral health sets the stage for the rest of your bodily wellness. In fact, there have been countless studies that have tied dental health problems like gum disease to other systemic health problems.

How is gum disease related to other areas of health? In most instances, periodontal disease is related to overall health because of inflammation. With gum disease, accumulated plaque will release toxins that cause the gums to become swollen and inflamed. The effects of chronically inflamed gums can trickle down to affect other areas of the body.

Poor periodontal health is also related to overall health problems because there are several common risk factors that can lead to gum disease and systemic diseases. Some of the risk factors include:

Diet: The foods and beverages that we consume are meant to nourish our bodies and aid with proper bodily function. Unfortunately, many individuals have a diet lacking necessary nutrients that are filled with excess sugar. Poor dietary habits can contribute to gum disease, obesity, and a long list of other overall systemic conditions.

Tobacco Use: It goes without saying that smoking is horrible for your health. The oral consequences of smoking include bad breath, tooth discoloration, and increased risk of periodontal disease. The overall health risks of smoking include stroke, coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and more.

Stress: Stress is also another factor that can influence your oral and overall health. Being in a stressed state for an extended amount of time will have a physical impact on the body. Adrenaline and stress hormones, like cortisol, is known to be a contributing risk factor for cardiovascular disease and gum disease.

Hygiene: Poor personal hygiene, including poor oral hygiene habits, will increase your risk for inflammatory conditions and infections.

Overall Conditions Associated With Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease isn’t just destructive for your smile. It can also be damaging for your overall wellness. Researchers have found that periodontal disease and inflammation of the gums can be a contributing factor to systemic conditions. Some of the overall health problems associated with periodontal disease include:

Diabetes: Individuals diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease or poor gum health. The likelihood of developing gum disease is higher because these individuals are more susceptible to infection. Individuals with diabetes should also pay close attention to their gum health because periodontal disease is known to be the sixth most common complication of diabetes.

Patients should also be aware of their blood glucose levels and how they can be affected by their oral health and habits. For example, the inflammatory response from gum disease is linked to chronic hyperglycemia, which is linked to diabetes complications.

Heart Disease: Although researchers don’t fully understand the relationship between gum disease and heart disease, they do know that periodontal disease is a risk factor associated with heart disease. Once again, inflammation is the key component related to heart disease and periodontal disease.

Patients with heart disease and patients with periodontal disease typically have high levels of C-reactive proteins, which are associated with inflammation. Treatment of periodontal disease can help lower these inflammatory proteins, but researchers are unsure if this has an effect on cardiovascular events.

This affects the heart because inflammatory proteins and bacteria from the gum tissue enter the blood and impact the cardiovascular system. The bacteria can then thicken the blood vessels, which will negatively impact the heart and increase blood pressure.

Respiratory Disease: Most patients wouldn’t connect healthy gums with healthy lungs, but researchers tell us that good periodontal health is a contributing factor to a properly functioning respiratory system. Research published in the Journal of Periodontology found that patients with respiratory disease also had significantly poorer periodontal health. The study found that instances of poor gum health, gingival inflammation, and deep periodontal pockets were more common in individuals with respiratory disease.

Researchers believe these two conditions are connected because the oral pathogens associated with gum disease can increase your risk of developing respiratory disease.

Improve Your Gum Health — Contact Dental Smiles at Dacula

If you’ve disregarded your gum health throughout the years, don’t hesitate to make a change now! Paying closer attention to your periodontal health can improve your oral health and overall wellness. If you’re currently dealing with a systemic disease, taking the steps to care for your gums can even help minimize the negative effects oral health can have on your condition.

Here at Dental Smiles at Dacula, we believe that taking care of your smile is a great first step to improving your health, confidence, and quality of life. We offer a variety of services to best help treat your specific dental concerns. To learn more about our dental services, contact our office today at (678) 495-9500 to schedule your consultation.

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