Top Health Reasons to Prevent Gum Disease

World Oral Health DayOn March 20, 2016, we celebrate World Oral Health Day, an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene for old and young. This year’s theme is:

It all starts here. Healthy mouth. Healthy body.

Why do we place so much importance on brushing, flossing and regular dental health check-ups? One of the main reasons is to prevent gum disease — an inflammation of the gum line that can progress and become more serious and end up affecting the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth.

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease can affect more than your mouth. In fact, more and more research is showing that the inflammation — not the bacteria in the mouth — is the factor that is associated with several other diseases. Beyond simply avoiding bad breath and keeping your teeth intact, here are some of the top reasons to prevent falling prey to gum disease.

  • Cognitive decline. Recent research found that gum disease may be associated with a faster cognitive decline in people who have early Alzheimer’s disease.  The scientists measured patients’ cognitive ability and inflammatory markers in their blood samples, and had their oral health assessed by a dental hygienist. When the researchers followed up six months later, they found that if a person had gum disease, they had a six-fold increase of cognitive decline, as well as increased inflammation.
  • Increased complications in patients with diabetes. Research has found that the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street — people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, and people with gum disease who have diabetes may find it more difficult to control their blood sugar. Blood sugar that is poorly controlled can put people at risk of diabetic complications.
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by gum disease is linked to and increases the risk of heart disease; however, no causal relationship has been identified. In addition, a study that looked for a link between stroke and gum disease found that people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.
  • Respiratory problems. Scientists have found that bacteria that grow in the mouth could be aspirated into the lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
    Increased risk of cancer. Surprisingly, researchers have found that men with a history of gum disease were 14 percent more likely to develop cancer. Some cancers — including kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and blood cancers — carried a 30 percent or more risk.

The three stages of gum disease are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. Gum disease is treatable, and early intervention is important. If you have swollen, tender, red or bleeding gums — or any other signs of gum disease — schedule an appointment with Enlighten Dental Care today.

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