When most patients take steps to protect their oral health, many consider tooth decay, tooth loss, or even cosmetic issues to be their number one motivator. They’re afraid of cavities, stains, are even the idea of traditional dentures. Though all of these concerns are legitimate, they can take some of the attention away from one of the the worst—possibly the worst—oral health concerns out there. We’re talking about gum disease.
Gum disease can have cosmetic repercussions — for example, it’s known to be the leading cause of tooth loss in adults — but it can also carry much more serious concerns regarding your general health. According to several studies, gum disease can increase your risk of a whole manner of nasty complications, including, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
More recently, a new study has found other complications associated with gum disease.
What Exactly Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease or periodontal disease begins with a bacterial infection in your mouth, and may end with receding gums and tooth loss. The early stages of are known as gingivitis, or gum inflammation, that starts as a change in breath, red puffy gums, or bleeding while brushing your teeth. This is caused by plaque build-up underneath the gum line. When this is left untreated, it can develop into a more pronounced infection, triggering the body’s immune responses.
Gum Disease and Stroke
The relationship between gum disease and stroke had already been cited by a number of other studies, but new research conducted at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia uncovered new information that sheds more light on the relationship between the two.
Gum disease doesn’t just increase risk of stroke, it doubles the risk! According to the study, someone with mild gum disease was 1.9 times more likely to experience a stroke, and someone with severe gum disease was 2.2 times more likely. These numbers suggest what is known as a dose-response relationship.
“Dose-response” is a scientific term which describes the relationship between two things in terms of “dose,” or level of exposure. What the study found was that the worse the gum disease, the higher the risk of stroke. This is an impactful discovery, and makes treating gum disease that much more important.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Oral hygiene is the best tool patients have to avoid gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing before you go to bed. Brushing introduces fluoride into your mouth, which helps to control populations of bacteria, and flossing can eliminate plaque from hard to reach places like below the gum line.
The second most important thing to avoiding gum disease is visiting your dentist twice a year for your annual checkup and cleaning. Gum disease doesn’t occur overnight, so checking in with your doctor and ensure you receive treatment before it’s too late.
For gum disease, our hygienists use special tools to clean out pockets of bacteria and plaque, and PerioProtect medicated trays to ensure that gum disease doesn’t come back. Call us at (610) 272-0828 to make an appointment with Blue Bell dentist Dr. Ken Siegel or request an appointment online now.