Gum health has an impact that goes far beyond just having a nice smile. Here is some information on how it affects you beyond your teeth.
As we learn more about dental health, the link with overall health is becoming clearer, especially gum health. A bacterial infection called gum disease (periodontal disease) is very common, and many people will develop this condition at some point during their lifetime. Periodontal disease is being linked with serious health problems that include heart health, mental health, and autoimmune conditions.
A recent UK study investigated the strength of this link, reviewing GP records of patients with periodontal disease and comparing them with patients with no record of gum disease. The data allowed them to evaluate the percentage of patients with gum disease and those without it and who subsequently developed problems affecting their health over a follow-up of around three years.
Researchers determined that those with a history of periodontal disease were more likely to be diagnosed with other health conditions over the three years of the study. They discovered an 18% increased risk of heart disease, a 33% increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and a 37% increased risk of mental health problems.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Every day, your teeth are coated with dental plaque, a sticky biofilm containing the harmful bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
When you brush and floss your teeth, you remove most dental plaque, getting rid of the bacteria and leftover food particles. Suppose you don’t brush your teeth regularly. In that case, the bacteria in dental plaque will thrive on leftover food particles, creating toxins that infect and inflame your gums and initially cause early gum disease, called gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can soon develop into periodontal disease, destroying your gums and the bone around your teeth.
Gums will bleed easily, allowing harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream by this stage. Once inside the body, they can create inflammation, potentially causing or worsening existing health problems.
Regular Dental Checkups Help Maintain Healthy Gums
We take good gum health very seriously, and it is partly why we strongly encourage our patients to visit us regularly, generally every six months, for checkups and cleanings.
Whenever you visit Bel Canto Dental for your checkups, Dr. Mackie will always assess your gums carefully, taking precise measurements at each appointment using a small instrument called a periodontal probe. The probe measures the depth between each tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. Usually, the depth of healthy gums is 3mm. Gum disease causes the gum tissue to recede, pulling away from teeth and creating gaps called periodontal pockets, which have a depth of greater than 3mm. These measurements are compared at your next visit, allowing any changes to your gum health to be quickly evaluated.
Good, ongoing preventive dental care can help you maintain strong, healthy gums while protecting your overall health.
While gum disease is a serious condition, it is very treatable in the early stages. It can be completely reversed before it causes significant damage to your dental and general health. Periodontal disease can require a slightly different approach and an ongoing treatment plan to control it.
Those with a history of periodontal disease were more likely to be diagnosed with other health conditions.
What Happens if I Do Have Periodontal Disease?
Bel Canto is equipped with laser technology, using laser gum therapy to treat gum disease gently. A dental laser is very precise and can destroy the harmful toxins and pathogens causing gum disease. It is extremely effective for treating deep periodontal pockets, helping to sterilize areas treated and removing tissues too badly damaged to heal.
Because treatment is so gentle, we often don’t need to use any anesthetic, and recovery afterwards is more comfortable and faster. You should feel perfectly well enough to return to work the next day.
Are you concerned about your gum health? Get in touch to arrange your checkup.