Gum Disease and The Importance of Periodontal Care
A major concern for dentists and other healthcare professionals is reduced access to dental care during the coronavirus pandemic. The soft tissues in our mouths are intricately connected with other systems in the body so it is not just our teeth and gums at risk, but our bodies at large. By understanding the links between oral health and overall health, and taking measures to protect our gums, we can ensure that gum disease does not lead to other health problems later in life.
The Link Between Gum Health and Overall Health
There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate the theory that the bacteria in the mouth which cause periodontal disease also cause other systemic outcomes in the body . Periodontal disease is increasingly associated with a host of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, complications with pregnancy, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia.
A recently published study in the medical journal, the American Academy of Neurology, found a link between periodontal disease and the development of mild cognitive impairment or dementia 20 years later. The study looked at people’s oral health over a period of 20 years and found that, for people with gum disease at the start of the study, the risk for mild cognitive impairment or dementia had nearly doubled 20 years later.
“People with more advanced periodontal disease have been found to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, pregnancy complications and dementia.” – Ryan Demmer, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis
The 3 Stages of Gum Disease:
- Gingivitis – red, swollen, sensitive and irritated gums, possible bleeding during oral care.
- Early Periodontal Disease – tartar, plaque and bacteria accumulate in pockets around the teeth and gum lines causing inflammation, tooth decay, pain, and risk of permanent damage or loss to the jaw bone.
- Advanced Periodontitis – as the above symptoms worsen, the risk of tooth loss and irreversible damage to the structure of the jaw and supportive bone increases .
As gum disease progresses, your risk for other health problems increases.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which is quite common and treatable—although it can be prevented altogether with good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings. If gingivitis is not addressed and progresses into early or advanced gum disease, the risk to your overall health increases. Preventing gingivitis is the best way to avoid gum disease and reduce your risk for developing other serious health problems later in life.
5 Steps to Gingivitis Prevention
Until you can see your dentist next, here’s what you can do to steer clear of gingivitis and keep your gums healthy:
- Floss daily.
- Brush your teeth 2-3 times daily.
- Reduce your exposure to sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
- Eat a balanced diet with lots of raw vegetables and other mineral-and-nutrient rich foods.
- Rinse well with water or mouthwash after each meal.
Taking extra care of your gums now leads to good health in the future.
In many places across the globe, routine oral health exams and cleanings have been paused to prevent the spread of infectious disease. It is imperative that we ensure we are maintaining our oral health while these services are paused in order to avoid both the immediate and long-term consequences of gum disease. As science continues to help us understand the links between oral health and overall health, it becomes easier for us to grasp the necessity of routine oral home care —especially during periods of reduced access to professional dental care. If we take good care of our gums now, we can significantly reduce our risk of developing serious chronic conditions later.
Here at NEESH dental in Saskatoon, your periodontal health is treated with as much importance just as the health of your pearly whites. Since reopening after an eight-week covid-closure, we are pleased to be able to continue offering dental exams and cleanings with increased safety protocols and procedures—click here to read more about the measures we have taken in our clinic to make safe dental treatments possible during covid-19. Call us to book your appointment!