Did you know that periodontal (gum) disease affects more than half of American adults in some form? As we learn more about the connection between periodontal health and overall health and well-being, we understand that it’s never been more important to take care of your oral health. Research has shown that the bacteria that causes gum disease can also contribute to the inflammation causing other health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of your soft tissues and bone, which are the main support system for your teeth. The infection is caused by excessive plaque and tartar buildup that separates the gums from the teeth and allows harmful bacteria below the gum line.
If it’s left untreated, gum disease will eventually destroy your bone and soft tissue, which will result in tooth loss. Did you know that gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults?
The Oral Systemic Connection
There is a growing body of research and evidence suggesting that infection and disease in the mouth may increase a person’s risk for heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. This is known as the oral systemic connection. Research seeking to better understand the correlation between periodontal disease, heart disease, and stroke is currently underway. In the meantime, Dr. Cradduck wants to help patients have better oral health for better overall health.
Periodontal Health and Cardiovascular Disease
When infected gums bleed, it creates a path for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and then move from the mouth to other sites in the body, including the heart.
Heart disease is most commonly related to thickening artery walls, a condition called “atherosclerosis.” Damage to the artery wall can cause inflammation, and this inflammation in combination with layering fat deposits can cause plaque buildup, or an “atheroma.” When plaque buildup makes the inside of an artery get smaller and smaller, blood clots can form and get clogged, thereby cutting off blood flow. Depending on the blockage location, this can result in a heart attack or stroke.
The Relationship Between Diabetes and Gum Disease
The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is often referred to as a two-way street. This is because individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal disease due to their poor glycemic control (high blood sugar levels) making them more susceptible to infections.
At the same time, gum disease makes metabolic or glycemic control (control of blood sugar levels) more complicated for diabetic patients because the bacteria in the gum pockets produces infection and causes inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation might increase insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, which makes it even more difficult to achieve and maintain glycemic control.
How to Avoid Gum Disease
Did you know that periodontal disease can actually be prevented? With consistent preventive appointments, you can maintain optimum oral health and ensure that you keep gum disease at bay. Dr. Cradduck screens you for gum disease at every checkup so we can help you detect it in its earliest stages because treating gingivitis is much more successful and less invasive than treating advanced gum disease.
Our team is also well equipped to help you successfully manage gum disease no matter which stage you may be facing.
Your health is too important to ignore! If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, give Hagerstown Family Dental a call today to schedule an appointment.