Dentists aren’t only concerned with the health of your teeth. Your gums play an important role in your overall oral health as well as your health in general. When you have a dentist appointment, your dental hygienist and dentist will each inspect and identify any potential health problems relating to your gums. It’s important to take proactive steps to ensure your gum health to prevent gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a serious condition that is progressive. In other words, with regular dentist appointments and proper oral hygiene, you never have to get gum disease. Generally speaking, gum disease is identified as an inflammation of the gums that occurs near the gum line, or beneath it. Gum disease can be controlled, but if left untreated, it will progress in stages, which are explained below.
What Are the Three Stages of Gum Disease?
- The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up along the gum line. Symptoms of gingivitis include swollen or red gums, tender gums, and gums that bleed spontaneously, or when you are brushing or flossing.
- The second stage of gum disease is periodontitis. If your gum disease reaches this point, damage to the connective tissue and bone is irreversible. There will be pockets between the teeth and the gums, which exacerbates the problem of plaque buildup. Treatments are available to stop the progression of periodontitis.
- The final stage of gum disease is referred to as advanced periodontitis. At this point, your teeth and connective tissues are irreparably destroyed. You may be experiencing shifting or loose teeth, or you may have already lost a permanent tooth. Your bite may have altered, and you may not be able to eat or speak as you once did. At this advanced stage, restorative surgery may be your only remaining option.
Potential Problems That Stem From Gum Disease
Gum disease isn’t just a matter of looks. Of course, you want to have a healthy smile, and taking care of your teeth and gums is the way to achieve that. But there are much more serious problems that can arise through unhealthy gums. They include:
Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Persons with gum disease are at an increased risk of heart failure. The bacteria in the mouth travels through the bloodstream where it can ultimately damage the heart muscle tissue. Also, this condition of the gums can lead to atherosclerosis, which is commonly called hardening of the arteries.
Onset of Dementia
There is evidence that shows a link between poor oral health and Alzheimer’s disease. The oral bacteria enter the brain through nerves and negatively affects cognitive function.
Increased Susceptibility to Respiratory Infections
Gum disease influences your chances of developing respiratory infections, according to the Journal of Periodontology. It’s thought that the bacteria in the mouth are inhaled and enter the respiratory system.
All of these conditions can be avoided with proper oral hygiene, paying close attention to gum health as well as the condition of the teeth. To schedule an appointment for a gum checkup, contact Banker Dental today.