You know that brushing and flossing your teeth is vital for oral health, but you may not know that periodontitis – an advanced gum disease – can be linked with other serious health conditions. Recent research has shown a link between periodontitis and diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. If you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, it is important to seek treatment right away to help protect your overall health.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
The strongest connection is between gum disease and diabetes.
Periodontal disease happens when your gums detach from your teeth, forming tiny pockets. The pockets can get clogged with bits of food, and germs in your mouth can produce toxins that irritate your gums and cause discomfort. Without dental intervention, the bones and tissues supporting teeth will start to deteriorate.
The amount of glucose-linked hemoglobin in the blood may be higher in individuals with severe periodontitis to measure how well their diabetes is controlled. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the connection between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways: Periodontitis might affect blood glucose control, and people with diabetes are more likely to acquire a bacterial infection, resulting in gum disease.
It’s critical for persons with diabetes to pay close attention to their teeth. Oral health maintenance, along with regular check-ups and visits to the dentist every six months, can aid in the prevention of diabetic dental issues. Nonemergency dentistry, however, should be postponed if your blood sugar levels are not stable.
Gum Disease and Your Heart
Much research exists linking periodontal disease and heart disease, but more studies are needed to provide a definitive answer.
The link may be caused by inflammatory items such as c-reactive protein (CRP), a protein found in blood plasma. CRP is in higher amounts in the bloodstreams of individuals with periodontal disease, and its level may rise owing to inflammation throughout the body.
There are a few theories about how periodontitis contributes to cardiovascular disease. One is that the bacteria enter through open wounds in gums and travel via the bloodstream to other parts of the body, causing inflammation. In 2010, researchers found strong evidence linking systemic inflammation caused by oral bacteria to atherosclerosis.
Gum disease and heart disease have many of the same risk factors, such as smoking and weight, which may help explain why they may occur simultaneously.
Gum disease treatment can reduce the long-term adverse effects of heart disease and other chronic diseases, according to a 2014 study. Dental plaque bacteria were linked in a 2012 study to blood clot formation, suggesting that gum disease may be involved in stroke development.
Protecting Yourself from Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is by practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing once daily, and using mouthwash.
It’s also important to visit your dentist or periodontist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to keep up with your dental appointments and care for your teeth and gums.
If you already have gum disease, several treatments are available depending on the severity of the condition. These include:
- Scaling and root planing: A deep cleaning that removes tartar (hardened plaque) from below the gum line
- Antibiotics: To help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation
- Surgery: In cases of severe gum disease, surgery may be necessary to restore damaged tissue
No matter what stage of gum disease you are in, it’s essential to seek treatment to help protect your overall health. Gum disease has been linked to many serious health conditions, so keeping your gums healthy is crucial for overall health.
Early Detection Is Key
While there is still no evidence that dental health causes diabetes or heart disease, maintaining excellent oral health should be a priority in your healthcare.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing once a day, and visiting the dentist twice a year for a comprehensive examination and professional cleaning.