Did you know that periodontal disease (gum disease) affects 70.1% of Americans over the age of 65? While this disease is highly preventable, it can have serious health effects if left untreated. Not only does this oral health issue impact your gums, teeth, and supporting structures, but it has also been linked to serious chronic conditions. Here are a few ways that gum disease may put your overall health at risk.
If you have a pre-existing diabetic condition, maintaining your oral health could be even more important. Studies have shown that this chronic condition can make you more susceptible to periodontal disease. Additionally, periodontitis can increase blood sugar levels, increasing the likelihood of serious diabetic complications, as it is difficult for your body to control glucose in the blood. Therefore, if you have diabetes, be certain to take extra dental hygiene precautions to avoid this damaging oral health issue.
Unfortunately, pregnant women are at greater risk for gum disease, as hormone fluctuations can lead to “pregnancy gingivitis”—an infection of the gums. Periodontitis can increase a pregnant woman’s risk of preeclampsia and premature delivery. If you are pregnant, it is highly recommended that you schedule a visit with your dentist during the second trimester. Be sure to tell your dentist immediately that you are pregnant so they can adjust their care accordingly.
Studies have shown that those with gum disease are at increased risk for heart disease. However, the cause of this is still unknown. Some scientists believe that the inflammation generally associated with gum disease can also lead to the swelling of the arteries. Others hypothesize that the oral bacteria that worsen gum disease also enters the bloodstream and attack coronary arteries.
Certain oral bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract when you breathe. This allows them to colonize and cause bacterial infections and possibly worsen conditions like pneumonia, emphysema, and COPD. If you have a compromised immune system due to respiratory conditions, this can also make you more susceptible to bacteria that might colonize in the lungs. Gum disease can also cause inflammation, which inflames the gums and the lining of the lungs, exacerbating chronic respiratory issues.
As you can see, protecting your oral health is a significant step toward protecting your overall well-being. Thankfully, this disease can be easily treated when caught in its earliest stages—so be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a routine check-up!
To make sure your gums are in good condition, schedule your next dentist appointment today! Call Steger Smiles in Steger, IL to book your visit.