Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, causes inflamed and bleeding gums but it threatens more than just your dental health. A growing body of research shows that bacteria and inflammation are linked to other problems, such as heart attack and dementia.
This means gum disease can seriously jeopardise your health. To date, scientists have found links between periodontal disease and a number of other problems, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia and rheumatoid arthritis.
What’s behind the links? Experts can’t say for sure, but they believe that oral bacteria can escape into the bloodstream and injure major organs. And if there’s a common denominator, it’s inflammation.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Numerous studies over the years have shown that people with gum disease are generally likely to also have poor heart health, including heart attacks.
You may wonder, why your cardiologist asks you about gum disease problems, but they know exactly what they’re doing: the link between heart and gum diseases has been all but established.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, you’re also more likely to suffer from gum disease. And for that, inflammation may be partly to blame.
Those with diabetes are also more likely to contract infections, including gum disease. And if your diabetes is not under control, the risk of gum disease may be even higher.
Gum Disease and Dementia
Later in life, gum disease has also been found to increase the risk of dementia.
Other researchers have found a possibility, that periodontitis may also be linked to milder cognitive impairment, such as memory problems. In a recent study, participants with the worst gum disease scored the worst on memory tests and calculations.
Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease marked by inflammation and painful joints. People with RA are more likely to have periodontal disease, and one study found that they had more missing teeth than people who don’t have RA.
Chronic inflammation is common to both conditions. Although scientists haven’t found evidence that one condition causes the other, a 2009 study found that people with a severe form of RA had less pain, swelling, and morning stiffness after their periodontal disease was treated.
Minimizing the Dangers of Plaque & Gingivitis
To keep plaque under control, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Use an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the bacteria in your mouth.
Also, ask your dentist about the best cleaning schedule for you and follow it. And, perhaps most importantly, come and see us for regular check-ups.