We’re always talking about how you should be treating your mouth. But knowing the “what” to do is just as important as knowing the “why” behind those actions. For this reason, today we’re talking gum disease. Inflamed, infected gums aren’t just a problem for your smile and oral health – they’re stepping stone to larger-scale concerns.
With constantly-emerging research regarding the gum health/systemic health connection, there are always new reasons to protect this under-appreciated part of your smile. Don’t forget about your gums: your whole body will thank you.
The Mouth-Body Connection
As you probably suspect, your mouth isn’t an isolated part of the body. The things that happen to your teeth and gums play a role in your entire well-being. The problem is, many patients forget this. They don’t think that skipping flossing will have any real effect on their health. Unfortunately, slacking on oral hygiene can give rise to gum disease – which then hampers systemic health.
Gum Disease’s Complications
As we mentioned earlier, research into the gum-body connection is still ongoing, and the ADA has not released any definitive statement on the matter. But the number of studies that show gum disease taking a toll on other parts of the body are enough to warrant attention, and preventive action. Periodontal disease can affect health problems ranging from diabetes and heart disease to osteoporosis and cancer.
Why is this, exactly? Experts have a few theories:
- Increased bacteria – When afflicted with gum disease, the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth increases. If the disease advances, there may be bleeding from open wounds in the mouth. Through these channels, the harmful bacteria may be able to enter the blood stream, and then migrate to other areas of the body. They could then attach to plaque in the coronary arteries, leading to clots and heart problems.
- Contagious inflammation – Because of the increased bacterial presence during gum disease, the gums become inflamed and irritated. This inflammation could increase plaque buildup in the arteries, and may also aggravate other inflammatory problems like diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, and some cancers.
Our Denver Dentist Advises: Avoid Gingivitis To Preserve Your Smile
Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily – there are simple ways to boost your gum health and disease prevention. A few of these include:
- Careful, consistent flossing – Flossing is your first defense against gum disease. It specifically targets bacteria and plaque that have gathered at the gum line, in spots that a toothbrush can’t always reach. If you’re flossing for the first time in a while and notice bleeding, keep going – it’s due to a lack of flossing, and will stop within a week of renewed flossing.
- Mouthwash – Antibacterial mouthwash will kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking on your tongue or gums. If this is your first time using mouthwash, ask Dr. Robin for a product recommendation specific to your needs.
- Paying close attention to your mouth – You’re the first one to see dental problems. While your dentist does her best, we only have the opportunity to examine your mouth twice a year. If you think something is wrong, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- Regular dental exams – Twice-yearly exams allow Dr. Robin to notice problems in their earliest stages, and take action right away. Hoping to preserve your smile? Visiting regularly will keep cavities and gum disease from causing serious problems.
Schedule your next dental exam today to continue the fight against disease!