Periodontal diseases are increasingly being linked to a number of serious illnesses.
Why do people visit the dentists? It seems an obvious answer, doesn’t it? to make sure that their teeth are healthy and they don’t get decay or toothache. This approach has been the basic standard for many years, but, with advanced knowledge, and a wider range of treatments now available, people actually go to see their dentist for a number of reasons.
The one that we have covered most often in our blogs, as an addition to general oral health care, is to see what Mike Allen’s Dental Practice can do to help them to have a more attractive smile. Procedures such as dental implants, veneers and teeth whitening mean that an attractive smile is now achievable for more and more patients.
Health comes first
Although the cosmetic dental procedures noted above can make significant improvements to someone’s appearance, and quite often to their confidence too, it is the health aspect of oral care which takes priority. Whiter teeth are, quite frankly, pointless if you have serious gum disease that may cause them to become loose or even fall out in the not so distant future.
Healthy teeth and strong enamel are very important to help our Burton patients keep their smile in good condition well into their later years. Few though, may be aware of how significant their gum health is, not only so that they can keep their teeth, but also the negative effect that poor gum health can have upon the heart.
Increasingly, a number of studies are indicating that there is a link between periodontal diseases and the health of your heart. Cardiovascular diseases and strokes may well be the consequence if you don’t take enough care to keep your gums healthy.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease
Before we look at how gum disease can have an impact on the health of your heart, it is worth a quick reminder of what gum disease is and some of the potential symptoms.
Essentially, there are two main stages of gum disease; gingivitis and periodontitis. Whilst gingivitis can often be treated with routine scale and polish procedures at our Burton Upon Trent practice, periodontitis is much more serious and can also cause the jawbone to be affected. Both of these types of gum disease have a number of possible symptoms in common, and these include:
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Sore or inflamed gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Discomfort when biting
It is important to remember though, that you may still have gum disease even if these symptoms are not present, and you should have your gum health checked regularly at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice.
How does it affect your heart?
As we have noted, studies are now showing that strokes, heart disease etc can be contributed to by gum disease, but how does this happen? Whilst research is still in the ‘discovery’ stage, a number of potential reasons have been put forward by those doing the research.
There is a belief that the bacteria that contribute to gum disease also travel along blood vessels to other areas of the body. This has been backed up by the fact that oral bacteria have been found in areas in other parts of the body and not just in the mouth. These can cause blood vessel inflammation and may cause blockages, leading to strokes and heart attacks. Another theory is that it is not the bacteria which is the main problem, but that our immune system responds by causing inflammation and this has an effect on important parts of the body, including the heart and brain.
Some researchers have also put forward the theory that it is not actually gum disease that leads to these medical issues, but the contributing factors that they have in common. A good example of this is that gum disease is very likely to occur in people who smoke regularly, and, people who smoke regularly, as we know, are at a much higher risk of heart diseases caused by the smoking. This risk factor is therefore, common to both those suffering from gum disease and those suffering from heart problems.
Not just the heart however
It may be tempting to dismiss the direct link between gum disease and heart problems, given the final piece of information above. To do so though would be to ignore a number of other health issues that it has been linked to. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and even some incidences of pancreatic cancer. As none of these have, as yet, been linked to smoking, it would appear that it pays to take the risk of a direct link seriously and to do what we can to prevent these problems.
There are many good reasons to stop smoking, as we have mentioned in previous blogs, but even if we don’t smoke, we are still vulnerable to periodontal diseases if we don’t look after our gums properly.
If you are unsure about how to keep your gums healthy, we thoroughly recommend that you arrange to have a consultation with our dental hygienist. Not only are they able to give your teeth a professional clean, but can spend time talking to you about how you can make improvements in looking after your gums. They will also show you how to use dental floss, something that some people find quite difficult.
To make sure that your gums, and potentially your heart, have the best chance of good health, why not arrange an appointment to see the hygienist at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice by calling us on 01283 845345.Google+