It might be a startling statistic, but 70% of adult tooth loss can be contributed to gum disease. An even higher percentage (80%) of adults don’t even know they have it! If your gums appear red, puffy or tend to bleed when you brush or floss, you can officially consider yourself a part of the 20% who know about their gum disease. While you may think it’s not a big deal, not only does it affect your oral health, but it can have a serious impact on your overall health, too. Find out just how important it is to maintain healthy gums and what you can do to prevent gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease, can be caused by a variety of factors including plaque and tartar buildup, pregnancy, genetics, and even lifestyle habits. Dentists find that most cases of gum disease are caused by a plaque buildup around the gum line. Produced by bacteria that emits toxins that break down your gums, preventing them from bonding to your teeth, the plaque eventually spreads beneath the gum line and creates pockets. When this happens, bacteria grows and begins to destroy your teeth and gums.
At this point, periodontitis, which is a more advanced stage of gum disease, sets in and you begin to experience bone and tooth loss. While all of this is happening, the bacteria swirling in your mouth that is causing these oral problems will also begin to take its toll on your overall health.
How Can Gum Disease Cause Problems for My Heart?
If you know anything about hardened arteries, you know it can cause heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. If you’re wondering why we’re discussing hardened arteries and gum disease in the same article, here’s why.
When you develop gum disease, the bacteria in your mouth is ingested and enters your bloodstream. Combined with inflammation, which occurs when gum disease develops, the two can cause plaque to build on your arteries, making them harden. This leads to problems with adequate blood flow to your heart, which, in turn, can cause a blockage and ultimately, a heart attack.
In the most serious and severe cases, you can develop endocarditis, which is an infection of the lining of the heart, and it can be fatal.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease from Forming?
The first step to preventing gum disease is making sure you are practicing good oral habits at home. Second, keep your regular dental appointments with your dentist. This will ensure you receive a full examination and thorough cleaning twice a year. Other ways to maintain healthy gums include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day.
- Avoiding tobacco products and smoking.
- Eating healthier food options, opting for nutrient-rich foods.
- Using a fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwash to eliminate and protect against tooth decay.
- Limiting or avoiding sugar in your diet, as this makes it easier for bacteria to breed and create cavities or gum disease.
If you want to keep your heart in tip-top shape, then make sure to keep brushing and flossing. While your mouth isn’t always the sole reason for health-related problems, it can play a role. If you think you may have gum disease, talk to your dentist as soon as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Drew Vanderbrook, DDS, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and a minor in Business from Texas A&M University before enrolling at Baylor College of Dentistry and achieving his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Dr. Vanderbrook and his team at Vanderbrook Family Dentistry want to keep your oral health in check, which means offering preventive care to all his patients. Since gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss among adults, he can detect, treat, and reverse gum disease in its early stages. For questions about our services, visit our website or call (214) 821-5200.