If you’re like most people, you’re taking plenty of steps to take care of your whole body. Maybe that means that you’re doing a lot more walking than you used to in the past. Maybe you’ve kicked a smoking habit, or you’re dedicated to avoiding excessive alcohol use. It’s also a good idea to try to relax and not sweat the small stuff so much.
But did you know that even with all of the other steps you’re taking for better health, you could have a time bomb ticking in your mouth?
You see, good oral health goes far beyond your mouth. You could be harboring a silent killer that can contribute to serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. What could be so dangerous that it causes so many major health issues?
The answer is simple: gum disease. It’s a silent killer because many of the signs of gum disease start very quietly and cause just a few outward issues. However, the beginning stages of gum disease eventually lead to severe problems, so it’s essential to get treatment as soon as possible to preserve not just your smile, but your health.
“The signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, extra sensitive teeth, and a receding gum line.”
Knowing the Signs of Periodontal Disease
The official term for these gum issues is periodontal disease, and more people are affected by gum disease than you might imagine. Even those taking charge of their health may miss out on cues about gum disease. This is perfectly understandable, but it's vital to be aware.
The signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and a receding gum line. It usually starts with inflamed gums that never seem to calm down and can lead to serious health issues if it’s not appropriately managed.
Major Health Issues Linked to Periodontal Disease
How does periodontal disease cause heart disease and heart attacks? Inflammation is the culprit that triggers so many of these significant health issues. With heart disease, the bacteria that infect the gums travel to the blood vessels, where they cause inflammation and damage triggered by an immune response. They can also cause blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If you’re already taking hypertension medications, gum disease can limit the effectiveness of these medications and lead to chronic blood pressure issues. Gum disease itself has also been linked with poorly managed blood pressure.
Heart issues are also linked to lung issues, so it’s no surprise that gum disease is a contributing factor to pneumonia. The bacteria in the mouth travel to the lungs, possibly leading to pneumonia, and can exacerbate conditions like COPD.
Diabetics Should Take Extra Care
Inflammation is a major issue for people with diabetes, as they have to watch blood sugar levels constantly. Unfortunately, severe inflammation triggers blood sugar levels to rise as the body handles the issue internally. Chronically high blood sugar levels can worsen diabetic complications, such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and edema.
Managing blood sugar levels is already difficult, but it’s important to make sure that blood sugar levels are controlled by reducing the amount of sugar in the diet. What we eat directly impacts our health, so it’s important to remain cautious. Sugary sodas and baked goods are not just bad for our teeth, but they also spike blood sugar levels and cause the body to produce more insulin to try to compensate for this issue.
Inflammation, like we see with gum disease, plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. If you aren’t already diabetic, it’s important to prevent developing Type 2 diabetes by watching what you eat, brushing your teeth regularly to avoid excess sugar remaining on your teeth, and getting a fair amount of exercise every week. Diet is critical when it comes to managing diabetic health; don’t beat yourself up for a treat once in a while, but stay on top of what you’re eating.
Get Effective Gum Disease Treatment
We don’t recommend trying to fight gum disease on your own. Ignoring the symptoms of gum disease can lead to not just tooth loss, but bone loss. Without healthy bones, your teeth can become loose. Bone loss can also affect the structure of your face.
Reversing the damage caused by gum disease isn’t possible, but we can work together on a treatment program that dramatically slows the progress of this terrible condition. At Central Texas Periodontics, we can work with you in a safe, non-judgmental environment where the focus is on your healing, not on how advanced your case becomes. You deserve the best health possible, and it’s our pleasure to help! Just contact us to set up a consultation in our office.