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The Hidden Dangers of Gum Disease

Did you read our blog post last month about bad breath? If not, check it out here.

In our blog, we said that bad breath could be more than a side effect of the foods you eat; it can be a sign that you have gum disease.

This is an often unknown sign of gum disease, or periodontal disease, for many people. There are a lot of other things about gum disease you might not know that can actually signal or lead to other problems.

Are you one of the 64 million adults who is in danger because you have gum disease? Today we want to help you uncover the hidden dangers of gum disease that are lurking beneath its surface!

1. Gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss.

Gum disease works in stages. The first is gingivitis, which can be dangerous because you may not feel anything for a while. Eventually, you’ll experience mild symptoms like bleeding, swelling, and tenderness in the gums, and chronic bad breath like we mentioned above. This is when it’s usually easy for us to take care of it with a professional cleaning.

If it’s left untreated, though, it can evolve into periodontitis. At this point, the trapped bacteria will cause inflammation in your gums, breaking down your bone underneath and your gums and leaving pockets around your tooth that can cause it to get loose and ultimately fall out or require us to pull it out.

It sounds terrible, right? But the danger is that a lot of people don’t really feel this process happening. That’s why good at-home oral hygiene, which helps get rid of the bacteria, and regular checkups at our New Albany Implants office are so important. Your dentist knows what to look for, even if you can’t feel or see it.

Watch this video from the American Academy of Periodontology that shows the progression of gum disease.

2. Gum disease is linked to other serious diseases.

In the past decade, there’s been a lot of research on gum disease as it relates to other diseases. That’s because dentists and physicians realized that more of their patients who had gum disease, specifically periodontitis, also had greater risk of other diseases and serious health conditions than those who didn’t have gum disease. This relationship has been referred to as an oral-systemic connection.

Although research is still being done regarding the relationship between gum disease and other diseases, two of the common denominators are inflammation and lowered immunity.

Here are a few diseases that you might be more at risk of developing if you have gum disease.

Diabetes
People with diabetes who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels also have trouble controlling gum disease. Gum disease can raise the blood sugar level of a diabetic patient, while increased blood sugar levels can put them at risk of developing gum disease. This relationship may be caused by lowered immunity, which increases risk of infection.

Heart Disease
Studies have shown that people who have gum disease are at greater risk for developing heart disease. Both are caused in part by inflammation.

Research has also shown that controlling one disease can help control the other, because it reduces the body’s level of inflammation.

Stroke
People who have gum disease also have higher levels of stroke, according to research.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis and gum disease are also linked. Osteoporosis is characterized by weak, fragile bones, so it may make gum disease worse by contributing to the bone deterioration in your mouth.

Lung and Respiratory Problems
Oral bacteria from your mouth may move into your lungs, causing respiratory infections.

Cancer
Research has shown that your risk of cancer can be increased if you have gum disease. This is especially true with men. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that “men with a history of gum disease are 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. Specifically, men with periodontal disease may be 49 percent more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.”

Those are some dangerously frightening statistics!

3. Gum disease can affect the baby of a pregnant woman.

Studies have shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to give birth to a low-weight, premature baby. No pregnant woman is safe with a disease, and gum disease is no exception!

There are other hidden dangers associated with gum disease, but these are some of the main causes for concern.

Don’t Let The Dangers of Gum Disease Affect You

We hope that we’ve helped you in some way by exposing these dangers of gum disease! Your New Albany dentist can help you prevent and treat gum disease, which can help lower your risk of other problems.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had a dental exam or cleaning, or if you have medical conditions that might be associated with increased risk of gum disease, contact us now to set up an appointment. Even if you’re embarrassed about the way your mouth looks or the way your breath smells, or if you’re afraid to come in, we will treat you with respect and make you feel comfortable so that we can help you tackle this danger!