Many people are aware that brushing their teeth helps to keep gum disease and cavities at bay, but did you know that your oral hygiene regime can also help to reduce the risk of serious general health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and strokes?
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an oral disease, which affects the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. The warning signs of gum disease include bleeding, which usually occurs during or after brushing, swollen and red gums and soreness. Mild gum disease (gingivitis) is treatable with good oral hygiene, but if it is left untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease. This can cause permanent damage to the gums and may even result in tooth loss. Gum disease is the most common cause of premature tooth loss in adults in the UK.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky white substance, which is made from bacteria and food debris. If plaque is not removed by brushing or flossing, it collects and starts to irritate the gums, causing inflammation and pain. Additional risk factors for gum disease include smoking, a poor diet, stress and hormonal changes.
Gum disease is extremely common, affecting around 80 per cent of people at some point in their lives.
What should I do if I have symptoms of gum disease?
If your gums are swollen, sore or red and you notice blood when you brush your teeth, see your dentist as soon as possible; it is important to treat gum disease early to prevent it from developing into a long-term condition. Other symptoms of gum disease include pain when you bite down on food and increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. Symptoms of advanced gum disease include unpleasant smelling breath and loose tooth.
Gum disease can cause complications during labour and childbirth and it is particularly important for pregnant women to see their dentist for regular check-ups.
What are the health implications of gum disease?
Numerous studies conducted in countries all over the world have implied that gum disease has wider health implications, including an increased risk of heart disease and strokes, both of which are life-threatening conditions. Gum disease affects general health because harmful bacteria from the mouth can travel to other parts of the body and researchers believe that in some cases, the bacteria can contribute to narrowing of the arteries (known as atherosclerosis), which may reduce the efficiency of blood flow around the body and the formation of blood clots, which may block blood flow, resulting in a heart attack (when blood flow to the heart is blocked) or stroke (when blood flow to the brain is disrupted). Contact the team at Dublin18 Dental Care near Seapoint for more information