Did You Know That Gum Disease May Be Linked To Other Serious Health Risks?

Dr. Allen Sun of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. Allen Sun, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

Gum or periodontal disease is a very real and potentially dangerous condition. Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in our bodies. Recent research has shown that there is a link between periodontal (gum) disease and other chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Gum disease is commonly caused by the buildup of plaque on and around the teeth that subsequently calcifies into tartar that releases bacteria which slowly destroys teeth and supporting tissue.

Graphic illustration showing the stages of periodontal disease.

The Stages of Gum Disease

Research also suggests that the bacteria that cause gum disease can pass through saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva between family members puts couples and children at risk for contracting gum disease from another family member who has the disease. Doctors generally agree that gum disease is directly related to how well one cares for their teeth and gums, although many cases can also be attributed to genetics, so concern is warranted if your parents or siblings suffer from the disease.

Periodic periodontal examinations by the dentist or a periodontist are important to assess your gum health, because by the age of 40, some 70% of the Canadian population appears to have some stage of periodontal disease. This disease is particularly dangerous because it can begin and progress without obvious symptoms or pain.

The only accurate way to determine the presence of the disease is to have a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and jawbones, measuring the depth of gum pockets and taking x-rays to determine bone levels. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy at home requires just a few basic steps. Brush gently and floss daily to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Remember though that brushing too hard can destroy gum tissue causing the gums to recede, making you more vulnerable to bacterial infection. Flossing removes bacteria and food particles from in-between teeth. Rinsing with certain mouthwashes also helps. Even rinsing the mouth with water after eating can reduce bacteria by as much as 30 percent.

“The good news is that gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and oral home care.”

In the initial stages of gum disease (known as gingivitis), the bacteria begin to weaken the fibers which hold the gums to the teeth. Gingivitis is characterized by a swelling, inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Advanced periodontal disease (known as periodontitis) is a much more serious condition with warning signs like: persistent bad taste, permanent teeth that are loose or separating; or changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

The good news is that gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and oral home care. Visit our hygienists twice a year to remove tartar from places brushing and flossing can miss. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and limit sweets. If you’re a smoker, quit.

Remember, regular dental examinations can help stem the advance of gum disease, protect your teeth, and keep you healthy and smiling.

Yours for better dental health,

Put Your Best Smile Forward!

Visit Laurentian Dental Today for Your Optimal Dental Health.