Did you know seven out of ten Canadians will develop some degree of gum disease during their lifetime? These figures from the Canadian Dental Association are pretty scary, and especially given that gum disease is avoidable. What makes these figures even worse is the potential effect on people’s overall health.
Gum disease is caused when plaque, a sticky substance containing bacteria builds up over your teeth and gums. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, the bacteria will eventually irritate the gums, causing them to become red, swollen and most likely they will begin to bleed. These early signs of infection are a condition called gingivitis. Usually, at this stage, having your teeth cleaned professionally will be enough to reverse gingivitis, combined with an improved oral hygiene routine at home. However, without the proper care provided by a dentist in Whitby, gingivitis will soon develop into periodontitis which affects the structures surrounding and supporting your teeth, including your gums, jawbone, and the periodontal ligaments which keep your teeth attached in their sockets.
Increasingly, clinical studies are linking gum disease with other health issues, perhaps most notably heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Possible Connection with Heart Disease
Heart disease is another common condition, and it does appear that there is a link between heart disease and gum disease. Of course, other factors can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, for example, smoking and drinking to excess. But there are some interesting theories as to why gum disease may be an independent risk factor for heart disease. One idea is that the two are linked by inflammation produced by the body as a response to the presence of pathogens like bacteria. It’s thought that inflamed gums could set off a cascade, leading to inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Another possibility is that the two are connected by bacteria which get into the bloodstream through bleeding gums. From there, they have free passage to travel anywhere in the body, creating inflammation and damaging the heart.
The Possible Connection with Alzheimer’s Disease
Some researchers have discovered a bacterium commonly found in advanced gum disease is also present in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought this bacterium increases production of beta-amyloid, an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease produces an enzyme called gingipain, and one theory is that beta-amyloid is produced in response to these enzymes.
Gum disease has also been linked with other conditions like some forms of cancer and respiratory disease.
We Focus on Prevention
Whatever the potential risks, here at Margolian Dentistry we’d much prefer to ensure your gums remain strong and healthy. It is why we thoroughly recommend regular checkups and professional dental cleanings for all our patients. Most people need to see a dentist in Oshawa twice yearly, but if you are at higher risk of developing gum disease or have some health conditions affecting your immune system, we may suggest you see us a bit more frequently.
At every visit, we can monitor your current gum health, taking precise measurements that are compared with your last visit, along with a close visual inspection of your gums. If we detect any slight changes, we can suggest the most suitable treatment to help restore your gums to the pink of health, hopefully well before the disease has caused irreversible harm to your gums and teeth, and potentially to your general health.
Good ongoing dental care in Ajax can do a lot to reduce your risk of becoming one of the seven in ten Canadians with gum disease. Instead, you can enjoy a healthy smile, all while knowing you are protecting your overall health.