Understanding the Risk of Gum Disease


You’ve heard of silent killers, right? We use that term a lot to discuss things like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. These conditions weaken the body over time until there’s not much that can be done. They sneak up silently and do their damage without drawing very much attention.

We have one major concern with each of those conditions: they are each linked with an infection that begins in the mouth. Gum disease has been linked to many life-threatening illnesses, which is very concerning for us because gum disease is highly preventable.

That’s right, the one infection that has ties to many serious health conditions is preventable! Yet research from the CDC shows that nearly half of all American adults over the age of 35 have gum disease! With this high of a number, we have to assume that patients don’t understand the risks, which is what we want to talk about today.

What’s at Stake?

Gum disease is nothing to mess around with. The infection itself begins very innocently as an unnoticeable nuisance in your mouth. With time, it transforms into an infection that will travel throughout your entire body wreaking havoc as it goes.

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to gum disease infections. It begins in your mouth, and it continues throughout. As we discuss these issues, please remember that they are long-term. Once you have a case of advanced gum disease, it is very difficult to be completely off the hook ever again.

Long-Term Effects on Your Mouth

Your mouth is the starting point for gum disease, and it will receive some of the biggest blows. Your infection will be most evident here when it affects your teeth, gums, and bone. Nothing escapes the infection, which means your smile will be changed forever.

Losing Teeth – Though gum disease doesn’t directly attack your teeth, you still risk losing them. The infection will weaken your gums and bone structure, which are the supports for your tooth. Once they are no longer functioning, you will lose your tooth/teeth.

Damaged Gums – Your gums will be swollen, tender, bleeding, and receding. It takes a lot of work to get gums back to health after advanced gum disease. Many patients end up requiring surgery.

Bone Loss – Once the infection has worked past the teeth and gums, it will hit bone. Gum disease will attack your healthy jaw bone and make it weaker. Not only will this cause you to lose your tooth, but it will make it really difficult for you to replace your missing tooth with a quality restoration, like a dental implant.

Long-Term Effects on Your Body

Your mouth will be forever changed by gum disease, as will the rest of your body. As we are discussing these very serious effects of gum disease, please remember that we do not understand the relationships between gum disease and these conditions. We simply know that time and time again, research shows undeniable links between periodontal disease and these more serious conditions.

Cancer Risk – For example, a recent study showed that men who had gum disease were nearly 70% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer later in life. That’s a huge number that is very frightening!

Heart Disease – We’ve long known the relationship between heart and gum disease exists. We don’t know the ins and outs, but we do know that the bacteria from the gum disease infection can get into the bloodstream and cause clots, which is likely what results in heart disease.

Diabetes – The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is a nightmare of a cycle! Diabetes makes gum disease more likely, which gum disease makes diabetes harder to control. The two work together to work against you!

Preventing Gum Disease Each Day

The good news is that gum disease is preventable. The things you do for your teeth each and every day are the things that will protect you from gum disease. Brush at least twice each day for two minutes at a time. Floss before your evening brushing. You might even consider adding an antiseptic rinse to your regimen.

Finally, come see us at least every six months for a cleaning and exam. That time in our office can catch an infection before it takes off, so don’t skip your appointment! In fact, call our office TODAY to set up your next cleaning. We can’t wait to see your smile very soon!

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