Your gums are important. They help hold your teeth in place, shield them from damage, and act as a skin to protect your mouth from bacteria. Recently, it has been discovered that your gums may also play a major factor in other parts of your health too.
Charlotte Progressive Dentistry knows that your gums are the gateway to the rest of your body. In today’s blog, we’ll be talking about the connection between gum health and overall physical wellness.
The Dangers Of Gum Inflammation
When bacteria builds up on your teeth, it can lead to infection, which in turn makes your gums more prone to inflammation. Left untreated, inflammation will begin to break down the tissue in your gums and eventually bring about gum disease, also known as periodontitis.
The past decade has seen a large body of research (much of it still ongoing) that points to periodontitis as a major factor in the human body’s ability to fight system-wide infection and general disease. The inflammatory agents of periodontitis may cause a “domino effect” by triggering further inflammation throughout the rest of your body. In those with already weakened immune systems, this reaction may eventually result in health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Premature birth
In addition, studies have shown a link between periodontitis and diabetes. Although most researchers will stop short of claiming that gum disease actually causes diabetes, there is wide agreement among them that periodontitis weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Those with diabetes generally have gum disease, and those with gum disease seem to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Future research will undoubtedly uncover even more vital information.
Gum Disease And Bacteria
Periodontitis is essentially caused by bacteria. When we don’t take proper care of our teeth, this allows bad bacteria to fester on our chompers and gums, which eventually leads to inflammation and then to gum disease. Not only can these bacteria destroy flesh and bone tissue in the mouth, but they can also cause tooth loss.
Even worse, mouth bacteria can invade the rest of the body by entering the bloodstream where they attack white blood cells, killing them and leaving dangerous toxins behind as a byproduct. With these kinds of effects, it’s no wonder modern science is finding connections between body health and gum health.
How The Body Fights Gum Disease
When a human’s immune system recognizes it has a case of bacterial infection in the mouth, it responds by “swelling” the gums in an effort to increase blood flow in the affected area. With more blood flow, the body can increase the amount of white blood cells, essentially turning your gums into a biological battleground where courageous cells face off against a horde of angry bacteria.
Swollen and painful gums are a result of this inflammation. Brushing and flossing near the inflamed areas causes bleeding, which is a warning sign that no person should ignore when it happens in their mouth. If your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth, go see a dentist and get some quality dental care immediately!
What You Can Do To Prevent Gum Disease
Now that we know more about gum disease and its potential effects on the human body, it should be more apparent than ever that taking good care of your teeth and gums is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent periodontitis:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily
- Floss after eating and before you go to bed
- If you use tobacco products, stop immediately
- Schedule regular dental exams with your local dentist
- Maintain a diet rich in minerals and vitamins
Also important in the fight against gum disease is knowing your family history — genetics can play a role in your chances to get periodontitis, so find out from family members if you may be predisposed to conditions like diabetes and obesity.
Need More Information? Contact Your Dentist
If you have any questions regarding your gums and how they may impact your oral and physical health, contact your dentist. The experts at Charlotte Progressive Dentistry, your local family dental care specialists, would be glad to hear from you if you need consultation in tooth care. In addition to advice you can trust, Charlotte Progressive Dentistry is staffed by experienced family dentists and oral surgeons, so they can handle anything from minor dental work to cosmetic dentistry, root canal therapy, and dental implants.