Did you know that individuals with serious gum disease are 40% more likely to have a chronic condition as well? Your gums can actually cause your body to become sick. That was the finding of the American Dental Association. Apparently, when bacteria in the mouth build up it can bring on infection, where the immune system goes on the attack to fight the infection and inflaming the gums along the way. This inflammation doesn’t disappear until the infection is controlled. With time, this inflammation and its byproducts eat at the gums and bones holding the teeth in place. By then you have advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. In addition, bacteria from pieces of food particles stuck between the teeth emit chemicals (hydrogen sulfide) which smell bad, resulting in halitosis. Along with periodontitis and halitosis, gum inflammation can also affect the body in other ways.
Obesity: periodontitis seems to increase in a person with higher body fat, in fact, a study recently found that overweight people had double the occurrence of periodontitis, while obese people had triple the incidence.
Respiratory problems: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia are both made worse by periodontitis, and it is thought that might be the increase of bacteria in the lungs.
Heart disease: up to 91% of patients who have heart disease also have periodontitis. Both can be caused by smoking, being overweight, and an unhealthy diet. Inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, traveling to the arteries in the heart and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which can cause a heart attack and stroke as well.
Low birth weight babies: infection and inflammation interfere with a fetus’ development during a woman’s pregnancy and can raise the levels of chemicals called prostaglandins, which may induce labor.
Diabetes: inflammation starting in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to use insulin, and high blood pressure causes infections to grow, like gum infections.
Dementia: bacteria from gingivitis can travel to the brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels in the head and lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking care of your mouth helps your overall health, not just your teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, rinsing with a mouthwash to kill bacteria along with regular dental cleanings keeps periodontitis away and benefits your body as well. We invite you to call our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Michael Smith or Dr. Evan Smith for a checkup if you have any concerns. Our Boise Dental Center team in Boise, Idaho is just a phone call away at 208-343-4986!