When we perform our daily oral care routine, we mainly focus our attention on our teeth. They seem to be the stars of the show. Typically, our teeth are what people see when we smile. However, there is so much more to our oral care than simply our teeth. For example, your gums should be a large part of our emphasis when cleaning your mouth.
Brushing your teeth is not enough to keep your mouth healthy. In fact, it could put you at risk of developing gum disease. This is why most dentists recommend flossing between your teeth at least once a day. The health of your gums can influence your overall health. Therefore, it is vital to keep them healthy.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is a condition that attacks the soft tissues of the gums. Although gum disease has numerous factors, one of its main causes is plaque. Plaque is a type of sticky, white bacteria that grows in your mouth. When you brush and floss, you do so to remove as much plaque as possible. This is because plaque can cause all sorts of negative side effects—from bad breath to tooth loss.
Dentists call the first stage of gum disease “gingivitis.” In this stage, your gums can become red, swollen, or inflamed. This is because plaque irritates the gums, causing an infection. Without treatment, the condition will continue to progress. Advanced gum disease can cause tissue damage, bone deterioration, and severe infection.
The damage that gum disease creates can affect your entire body.
Increased Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
When you have gum disease, you have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or other heart problems. One reason for this is harmful bacteria—plaque. The same plaque that builds on your teeth and under your gum line is the same plaque that can build up in your arteries.
When you have plaque in your arteries, your blood doesn’t move through your body as efficiently. As a result, your heart has to pump harder to do its job. Unfortunately, this can put stress on your heart and body. Therefore, you have a higher chance of a heart attack, stroke, or high blood pressure.
Immune System Damage
People who have gum disease are more likely to have issues with their immune systems. This is because gum disease is an infection. Therefore, your immune system is constantly trying to heal itself. Over time, this can cause fatigue in your immune system. A weakened immune system can make it difficult for you to recover from illnesses or surgeries.
Link Between Gum Disease and Other Health Conditions
Doctors claim there is a link between gum disease and other chronic conditions. For example, people who have diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. Additionally, people with gum disease have a higher risk of chronic respiratory disease. There are even some links between gum disease and dementia. The common thread among these conditions is inflammation.