It’s a safe bet that everyone knows teeth can become decayed and need fillings. Not as many people understand the effects of gum disease and how seriously this problem can affect their overall health. In fact, gum disease can contribute to life-threatening health problems, so it’s worth the time to understand the subject.
What is Gum Disease?
The technical name for gum disease is periodontal disease. Periodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with all the supporting structures of your teeth. This means the gums, the ligaments that attach your teeth to the jawbone and the sockets of your teeth. Keeping your gums and other structures healthy is not hard, but it takes consistent care.
Have your gums ever bled when you brushed them? You may think nothing of this, but it is actually a sign of gum infection. If it’s left to develop further, your teeth could get loose and need to be extracted.
Keeping gums healthy means maintaining a regular schedule of at-home care (brushing and flossing every day) and regular appointments for cleanings, x-rays and exams at your dentist’s office. It’s important to keep your teeth from accumulating a sticky coating of bacteria (plaque) that turns into a hard, crusty coating on your teeth (tartar). Your dental hygienist removes both substances during your regular visits.
From time to time, your dentist will measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums to determine if empty pockets are developing that will harbor bacteria. The presence of these pockets may call for more intensive treatment.
Effects of Gum Disease
If you fail to keep your teeth cleaned at regular intervals and allow signs of gum infection to go untreated, here’s some of the adverse effects you may suffer:
Gum disease has been linked with an increased risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. If you already have heart disease, gum problems can worsen it. There’s a type of stroke that results from blocked arteries and the risk of this type of stroke is also increased.
Healthy gums are particularly important if you are pregnant. Women with unhealthy gums are more likely to deliver prematurely and their babies are more likely to suffer from low birth weight.
Bacteria from gum disease can easily reach the lungs and cause or worsen lung infections. It’s especially important for the elderly to maintain good gum health since they tend to be at greater risk for pneumonia.
For diabetic patients, it tends to be harder to control their blood sugar when the gums are unhealthy.
And, of course, if the supporting structures of your teeth stay infected over a period of time, your teeth will begin to loosen and you could lose them.
Your Dentist is Your Best Weapon Against Periodontal Disease
Your at-home care has a lot to do with your long-term periodontal health, but working with your dentist for your whole life has so much to do with keeping your teeth and gums healthy. That’s how you can maintain your beautiful smile for your whole life. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for at-home care and recommended schedule of office visits—and keep smiling!
If you’re not currently taking good care of your teeth, we hope this blog article inspires you. Please reach out to StarBrite Dental, the Office of Dr. Maryam Seifi, by calling (301) 770-1070 . Or you can fill out the form below.