And How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bones that support your teeth. The condition is mainly caused by poor brushing and flossing habits. As food and bacteria build up on your teeth, these substances harden, forming a layer of plaque. Your body produces an inflammatory response in your gums to fight off the plaque, which over time can lead to gum recession, bone damage and tooth loss.
While periodontal disease is preventable, it can affect your overall health in numerous ways. As your body’s inflammatory response revs up, it can take a systemic toll on the rest of your body. When we speak with our patients, many are surprised to learn about the links between periodontal disease and other conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and pregnancy.
What Are the Stages of Gum Disease?
Early stages of gum disease include gingivitis – an inflammation of gums around your teeth. This condition typically begins with the buildup of plaque and bacteria around your teeth that irritate the soft tissue of the gums. Over time, gums become red, puffy and painful, and patients often notice they have bad breath and bleeding gums.
Periodontal disease is gum disease that’s worsened over time. By this point, the soft tissue and bones around your teeth may have been damaged. Left untreated, it can lead to bone decay and tooth loss.
How Is Gum Disease Linked to Diabetes?
Your gum health affects the rest of your body. In the case of diabetes, research has shown that periodontal disease can increase blood sugar when germs from infected gums leak into the bloodstream. This causes a reaction in the body that raises blood sugar levels, which can cause diabetes.
For patients already suffering from diabetes, gum disease makes it much more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
How Can Periodontal Disease Impact Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Recent studies suggest a link between chronic periodontitis and dementia, the most common form known as Alzheimer’s. According to Medical News Today, scientists believe bacteria enter the bloodstream through infected gums, triggering inflammation that could be responsible for producing toxic proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s.
Inflamed gums may also promote a “systemic inflammatory state” in the body. This inflammation could affect the brain and result in the same toxic protein buildup associated with dementia.
Since patients suffering from Alzheimer’s may struggle to keep up with personal hygiene as they become more confused and forgetful, it’s especially important to watch for signs of periodontal disease in your loved ones affected by dementia.
What Are the Effects of Gum Disease on Pregnancy?
Pregnant women with gum disease run the risk of premature labor. When bacteria from the mother’s mouth enters her bloodstream, it can travel to her uterus and trigger the production of prostaglandins – the chemicals believed to induce labor.
Babies born at a lower birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) or more than three weeks before their due date have a greater risk of developmental delays, learning disabilities and complications associated with their respiratory systems, vision, hearing and digestion.
Simply being pregnant also makes women more prone to certain conditions due to the hormonal changes in their bodies. Pregnancy gingivitis is common, with bleeding gums as the most noticeable symptom. Also, vomiting from morning sickness can weaken tooth enamel and increase the chance of cavities. And since expecting moms tend to eat more (a healthy thing!), the increased contact between food and your teeth can ramp up bacteria and plaque production, putting you at a higher risk of gum disease. And while smoking is unhealthy during pregnancy for many other reasons, it can also worsen gum disease.
Keeping up with good nutrition and basic periodontal care during your pregnancy will help ensure you and your baby stay healthy.
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How Can You Prevent Periodontal Disease?
There’s a lot you can do right at home to prevent periodontal disease.
- Brush your teeth. Brush two to three minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily. This is one of the most important things you can do to remove the plaque and food particles that build up and lead to gum disease.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
- Swish with mouthwash.
- Participate in preventative care.
Shopping tip: Choose products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Periodontal Maintenance at Coastal
Our team at Coastal Periodontics in Lake Jackson offers periodontal maintenance services and expertise that will keep your teeth and gums healthy and pain-free. Our philosophy centers on prevention, whether or not you’ve already been treated for periodontal disease.
Regular checkups and professional cleanings are the best way to keep your teeth and gums free of the plaque that causes periodontal disease. We also offer specialized periodontal treatment including advanced technology and implants. Why not invest a small amount of time in your oral health now? The health benefits will go far beyond your mouth.
Contact us today to schedule your appointment. We look forward to seeing you!
Treat Tooth Decay and Gum Disease Naturally
Ozone therapy is a natural, comfortable treatment for minor to average tooth decay and periodontal infection. It uses ozone gas to destroy bacteria around your teeth and gums and create an environment in which it cannot flourish.
New Patient Special: Support the Charity of Your Choice
Get a complete exam, X-rays and 3D CT scan all for $175. We’ll create a personalized care plan for the treatment that is best for you, whether the revolutionary Pinhole Technique for gum recession, laser assisted treatment for gum disease, and a variety of implant procedures to replace missing teeth or support dentures. Plus, you’re supporting your community – 30% of your payment will go to the charity of your choice.