Why Gum Health Is So Important
It may seem as though dentistry is concerned only with the teeth. After all, we take care of our mouths with toothbrushes and toothpastes. We clean between our teeth with dental floss (Dent is Latin for “tooth.”). Even the name dentistry seems to be tooth-centric. However, in your efforts to take care of your teeth, it is important that you do not let caring for your gums fall by the wayside. Unhealthy gums can cause serious problems for the mouth, eventually leading to large scale tooth loss. In addition, gum disease has been linked to several other health problems. Read below for a closer look at gum disease and the health risks that have been associated with it.
The Progression of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is a rather well-known form of gum disease. Many people even know that gingivitis means “inflammation of the gums” (Gingiva is Latin for “gums” and itis is Greek for “inflammation,” but fewer people know just how serious a problem it can be. If left unchecked, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, a more damaging form of gum disease that attacks the ligaments and tissues that support teeth. As these tooth-supporting structures decay, teeth loosen, shift, and may eventually fall out. However, large scale tooth loss is not the only problem caused by gum disease. Researchers have linked gum disease with several health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
The link between gum disease and heart disease is especially clear, and scientists have pointed out two striking similarities between the two diseases. First, both involve inflammatory processes. (Gum disease involves inflammation and the hardening of arteries is itself an inflammatory process.) Second, the bacteria responsible for gum disease are also present in cases of heart disease. With such a strong connection between the two diseases, it is clear that gum health affects more than just the mouth.
Diabetes, Cancer, and Gum Disease
The link between diabetes and cancer still remains a bit murky. What is clear, however, is that patients with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years. The connection between gum disease and cancer is a little easier to trace. Periodontal disease results in an increase in the number of bacteria found in the mouth. It also causes an increase in gastric acidity and the number of nitrosamines in the mouth. Because all of these substances are cancer-promoting agents, cancer becomes more likely.
Visit Your Williamsburg Dentist
Thorough homecare and regular dental visits can help keep bacteria from attacking your gums. If you are due for a dental cleaning, contact our Williamsburg dental office today at 757-645-4055 to schedule an appointment.