Years ago, if a person were suffering from heart disease or diabetes, he or she would absolutely not been referred to a gum specialist. Within the past decade, more and more research has been developed that links gum health and the health of the overall body, allowing increased methods of treatment.
Why Do the Gums Affect the Whole Body?
The gums are able to affect a person’s entire body because the mouth is the gateway to the body. Bacteria is able to build up on a person’s teeth and cause the gums to become much more vulnerable to infection. As soon as the gums become infected, the immune system will attack the bacteria and try to remove it, resulting in the gums that are infected becoming inflamed, red, and painful. This inflammation will not abate until the infection is completely removed from the gums. If the infection is not removed in a short period of time, the inflammation of the gums will cause them to wear away because it releases chemicals. These chemicals have the capacity to eat away at both the gums and the bones that keep them from moving around. When this occurs, it is known as severe gum disease. This inflammation will not only hurt the gums, but it also has the capacity to hurt the rest of the body.
How Does Severe Gum Infection Affect Heart Disease?
There are two main connections between heart disease and the overall health of a person’s mouth. The first is that studies have shown that people who have periodontal disease, or gum disease, will be much more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy mouths. The second connection is that the health of a person’s mouth can be an early warning indicator with regards to problems elsewhere in the body, including heart disease.
Gum Disease Causing Heart Disease
Those who have chronic gum disease are far more likely to suffer from heart disease. It is theorized that the bacteria from the infected gums will detach and enter the bloodstream. Once it is in the bloodstream, it can attach to a person’s blood vessels and cause them to clot more quickly. These clots can clog up a person’s arteries and make it difficult for blood to flow to a person’s heart. Blood pressure with subsequently increase and make it more likely that a heart attack will occur.
Gum Disease Warning of Heart Disease
Gum disease can also warn a person that he or she might be suffering from heart disease or about to suffer from increased symptoms as a result of heart disease. Most systematic problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, have oral health problems as symptoms. Treating gum disease early will be able to reduce some of the symptoms and decrease the need for a person to take blood pressure medication. Looking for these warning signs will help periodontal disease to be diagnosed as soon as possible:
– Tender gums that are red in color
– Bleeding gums when touched as a result of flossing or brushing
– Bad breath or a bad taste that will not go away
– Gums that appear to be receding
– Teeth that are looser than usual
If any of these symptoms are witnessed, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Preventative steps, such as brush several times a day, flossing, and rinsing with fluoride mouthwash, can reduce the chances that gum disease will occur. If a person has heart disease, it is critical that he or she maintain excellent oral hygiene habits to improve health.
How Does Gum Infection Affect Diabetes?
Gums and diabetes are intrinsically connected. When the amount of bacteria in a person’s mouth rises, his or her body loses its ability to easily regulate blood sugar. This is very dangerous for a person with diabetes since he or she already does not have enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Having inflamed gums also makes it much more difficult for a body to properly use the insulin that many patients with diabetes use for blood sugar balance. This causes a person’s blood sugar levels to rise. These high levels make it much more likely that a person is going to suffer from infections, especially gum infections. The vicious cycle begins, with high blood sugar making it more likely for infections to occur and infections making it harder for the body to regulate how it uses insulin.
What Other Problems Does Gum Infection Cause?
Aside from heart disease and diabetes, gum disease can exacerbate or cause a number of other issues in a person’s body. One is dementia. Having gum disease and inflammation causes chemicals to be released into the bloodstream. Some of that blood will reach the brain, where the chemicals will be able to wreak havoc with brain cells. Gum inflammation will not cause dementia, but it can cause the process to accelerate.
A second problem that gum infection causes is rheumatoid arthritis. The chemicals that are released by inflammation can serve to inflame other areas of the body, especially a person’s joints. Rheumatoid arthritis drastically reduces the amount of mobility that a person enjoys and makes it painful to complete small tasks. Reducing the amount of inflammation in the gums can reduce the chemicals in the bloodstream inflaming other parts o the body, allowing some relief to be gained.
Premature births are a third issue that is exacerbated by gum disease. Chemicals in the bloodstream can injure a woman’s organ’s and cause her body to make the executive decision that it is no longer a safe place to nurture another being. The body will feel ready to give birth and cause a baby to be born before it has been fully developed and strengthened. This could increase the chances that the baby will die shortly after being born, as well as result in developmental issues later on.