Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and the bones that hold your teeth in place. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. The more severe form of the disease is periodontitis, involving the tissues and the bone.
Gum inflammation and bone destruction are largely painless. Unfortunately, people erroneously think that is normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. If your skin bled when you washed it, you would be concerned!
In recent years, gum disease has been linked to a number of health problems. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums and travel to the heart and other organs. Researchers are studying possible connections between gum disease and:
- Heart Disease - Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke caused by blocked arteries.
- Stroke - gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke caused by blocked arteries.
- Diabetes - People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
- Premature Births - A woman who has gum disease during pregnancy may be more likely to have premature labor and the infant may be more likely to be of low birth weight. One study showed that up to 18 percent of premature births might be linked to maternal gum disease.
The American Dental Association website lists several factors that increase the risk of developing periodontal disease including:
- Crooked teeth
- Crooked teeth are harder to clean - toothbrushes cannot reach crevices between crowded teeth making proper oral hygiene more difficult.
- Toxic bacteria - Studies have shown that the bacteria living in the gums around crowded teeth are much more toxic than the normal bacteria found in mouths. By straightening and aligning the teeth, these toxic bacteria will be replaced by normal, healthy species.
- See your dentist! Have regular checkups and professional cleanings every 3 to 6 months. Regular cleanings make you feel good, look good, and could be a lifesaver!
- Brush and floss daily.
- Straighten your teeth.
- Aligner therapy, such as Invisalign, can eliminate crowding without metal brackets and wires.
American Dental Association Website
Academy of General Dentistry Website
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Website
For more information, please call (239) 732-9000.
You can read the original article about periodontal disease and its link to heart attack and stroke here.