Smiling young woman receiving dental checkup

Gum Disease: Effects, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Most people take their dental health for granted and do not know the dangers of gum disease on physical and mental health. This can be serious, even life-threatening, yet many people are unaware of the risks. This article will explore the effects of gum disease, its causes, and how to prevent and treat it.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. It develops from plaque, a tacky layer of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Plaque can harden into calculus or tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.

If plaque is not removed, it can damage the gums and bones that support the teeth. Over time, this can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is usually painless in the early stages, so you may not know you have it.

Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder form and only affects the gums. Periodontitis is more severe and can damage the bones and tissues that support the teeth.

Gum Disease Causes Physical and Mental Health Issues

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of Americans aged 30 and over have gum disease. This is cause for concern because gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Tooth loss can have a significant impact on your life. It can make eating and speaking difficult and cause you to lose self-confidence. A low level of confidence can affect your job and your social life. It is, therefore, not surprising that the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey established a significant association between tooth loss and depression, anxiety, and combined depression and anxiety.

That is why immediate replacement of any lost teeth is essential. Getting dental implants is the best way to address the issue because they feel like natural teeth, function like natural teeth, and look like natural teeth. In addition to managing the loss of confidence, filling in the space left by lost teeth prevents the other teeth from moving and getting misaligned.

Gum disease can also cause other physical health issues such as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and pregnancy problems. Conversely, people with diabetes must be on guard because they are more vulnerable to gum disease. Other health issues also make people more susceptible to gum disease. These include HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and some types of cancer.

Researchers have found a link between gum disease and heart disease. One theory is that the bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the arteries. This can lead to plaque buildup, narrowing the arteries and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Gum disease can also cause respiratory problems such as pneumonia. The bacteria from the gum infection can enter the lungs and cause inflammation.

People with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. This is because diabetes lowers the body’s resistance to infection. In addition, people with diabetes often have other factors that contribute to gum disease, such as a dry mouth and poor circulation.

Preventing Gum Disease

Practicing good oral hygiene will prevent you from developing gum disease. You must brush your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride twice daily, and floss daily. You must also see your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

If you have diabetes, it is important to control your blood sugar levels. This will help reduce your risk of developing gum disease. If you have any of the other diseases that increase your risk of having gum disease, you must also ask your primary health provider for advice on how to mitigate this.

Treating Gum Disease

If you have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth and remove the tartar below the gum line. You will also be given a special toothpaste or mouth rinse to use at home.

If you have periodontitis, the more advanced stage of gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will also smooth out any rough spots on your tooth root where bacteria can grow. This will make it harder for the bacteria to attach to your teeth and cause infection. You may also need to take antibiotics to clear the infection. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage caused by gum disease.

Gum disease is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on your life. However, it is important to remember that it is preventable and treatable. By practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist or dental hygienist regularly, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum disease. If you do develop gum disease, there are a number of effective treatment options available and you must avail of what is best for your condition.

Villa Hope Content Team

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