You might know the ways in which gum disease can affect your oral health, but did you know it can affect your overall wellbeing too? Whilst many perceive dental health as isolated from the rest of the body, emerging research has highlighted profound connections between gum disease and general health.
At Ten Dental, we always want our patients to be informed about their oral health. By understanding how gum disease affects you and how to prevent it, you’ll not only future-proof your smile but ward off disease too.
In this blog, we will unravel the hidden links that tie the health of your gums to your entire body, and help you understand how to keep gum disease at bay.
Your mouth is the gateway to your body
The human body is a complex web of interconnected systems, and your mouth is where it all starts. It’s where the food that keeps you alive enters your body, but it can also be the entry point for bacteria and pathogens too.
The state of your gums offers valuable insights into the condition of your body as a whole. One of the most prevalent oral health issues, gum disease, has been increasingly linked to a range of systemic health problems.
Gum disease: the basics
Before we delve into the broader connections, let’s understand the basics of gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, it is an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. The primary culprit is the accumulation of plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – on the teeth.
If not adequately removed through proper oral hygiene practices, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to inflammation of the gums and, ultimately, gum disease.
The heart-gum connection
One of the most intriguing discoveries in recent years is the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. Research suggests that the inflammation caused by gum disease might contribute to the development of heart disease.
The same bacteria found in the gums has been detected in the plaques that clog arteries, potentially increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Moreover, chronic inflammation, a common feature of gum disease, may play a role in the hardening of arteries; a condition known as atherosclerosis. By addressing gum health, we may not only be safeguarding our smiles but also nurturing our cardiovascular well-being.
Diabetes and gum health
For individuals with diabetes, maintaining optimal gum health is of paramount importance. Diabetes and gum disease share a bidirectional relationship; poorly controlled diabetes can exacerbate gum disease, and conversely, gum disease can make it challenging to manage blood sugar levels.
When gum disease is present, the body’s ability to utilise insulin effectively can be compromised, leading to difficulties in blood sugar control.
Conversely, high blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes can create an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria in the mouth, escalating the risk of gum disease. It’s a delicate dance, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to health that considers both oral and systemic wellbeing.
Respiratory health and gum disease
The respiratory system, too, may be influenced by the health of your gums. Aspiration of bacteria from the oral cavity into the lungs can contribute to respiratory infections, especially in individuals with compromised immune systems.
This emphasises the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, particularly in those vulnerable to respiratory issues.
Pregnancy complications and gum health
For expectant mothers, paying attention to gum health is crucial not just for themselves but also for the well-being of their unborn children. Research has suggested a potential link between gum disease and premature birth and low birth weight.
The inflammation associated with gum disease may trigger an inflammatory response elsewhere in the body, possibly affecting the developing foetus. As such, pregnant individuals are encouraged to prioritise their oral health to promote a healthy pregnancy.
How can you prevent gum disease?
Preventing gum disease is essential for maintaining optimal oral health, and at Ten Dental, we’re passionate about empowering our patients to take proactive steps towards gum health. Here are ten tips to help you prevent gum disease:
- Establish a consistent oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and use dental floss or interdental brushes to clean between your teeth to remove plaque.
- Choose the right tools. Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid causing damage to your gums, and consider using an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash as a supplementary measure.
- Book regular examinations at Ten Dental. Schedule routine visits to allow our team to monitor your oral health, identify early signs of gum disease, and provide professional cleaning.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease. Quitting not only improves your oral health but also benefits your overall well-being.
- Eat a balanced diet. Maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins while limiting sugary and acidic foods, as they can contribute to the development of gum disease.
- Stay hydrated. Water is essential for a healthy mouth. It helps rinse away food particles, bacteria, and acids, reducing the risk of gum disease.
- Manage stress. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to gum disease. Incorporate stress-reducing activities like exercise or meditation into your routine.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking in moderation is key, as excessive alcohol intake can contribute to the development and progression of gum disease.
- Protect your teeth. If you’re engaged in contact sports, consider wearing a mouthguard to prevent trauma to your teeth and gums, reducing the risk of gum disease.
- Address teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, known as bruxism, talk to your dentist about preventive measures, such as a custom night guard, to protect your gums from excessive pressure.
By integrating these tips into your daily life, you can significantly reduce the risk of gum disease and, subsequently, prevent other diseases too.
Book an examination and hygiene appointment
From the heart to the lungs, and even to pregnancy, the health of your gums plays a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being. At Ten Dental, we emphasise a comprehensive approach to oral health, recognising its integral connection to your body’s broader systems.
We recommend booking a dental examination and hygiene appointment every six months, unless you’ve been advised otherwise by your dentist. If it’s been a while since your last visit, get in touch with our friendly team to book an appointment today.
Remember, we offer specialist periodontal services for the treatment of gum disease, and hygiene appointments to keep your teeth as clean as possible, removing the plaque and tartar deposits that brushing cannot. Book an appointment here.