Gum disease is a very common and unpleasant health concern. Research conducted in recent times has uncovered the fact that gum disease can play a role in so many health problems that may seem unrelated to oral health.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. It begins when plaque(that sticky yellow film that sometimes appears on your teeth) which is made up of bacteria, mucus, and food particles, accumulates and occupies the space between your gums and teeth. When they are left to rot, your gums become infected and become swollen and sore. You can prevent this and treat it by maintaining good oral hygiene.
About half of the adults in the United States have some level of gum disease. This is a cause for alarm because a growing body of evidence has shown that Gum disease may play a role in the development of other diseases in various parts of the body. Gum diseases and all these related conditions can easily be prevented by flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day with the best whitening toothpaste you can find in stores near you.
However, in this article, we will be taking a look at some of the links between gum diseases and different health issues.
Gums Disease and the brain
The gum is quite close to the brain. But, you will not immediately link a complaint of soreness in your gum to any neurological condition(at least at first glance). However, studies have linked periodontal disease and tooth loss with loss of cognitive function. Also, there is a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, P. gingivalis causes a buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain which is the neurological hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Gum Disease and the heart
Scientists and researchers have not entirely uncovered the correlation between both conditions. People who smoke and take a lot of alcohol risk having a lot of oral and cardiovascular problems. But growing evidence makes it seem that the link may just be a lot more than the shared risk factor. Some scientists believe that the relationship could involve inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response to irritants and pathogens. If it continues for a long time, it can cause damage to tissues and organs. They believe that it is possible that the swelling in the gums can be replicated in other parts of the body which could affect the heart. Also, bacteria in the gums can easily enter blood supply which could transport them to the heart which could cause also cause inflammation.
Gum Disease and Sex Life
About 50% of the men above the age of 40 suffer from erectile dysfunction. Both psychological and physical factors cause this condition. In 2016, authors of a literature review identified a relationship between erectile dysfunction and chronic gum disease. They suggest that patients should be referred to oral health professionals for evaluation and treatment. While there are shared risks, the problem still seems to be inflammation just like with the heart.
Gums and lungs
The link between gum diseases and lung issues is not surprising since the mouth is a shared gateway between the lungs and the mouth. Last year, a study found a link between chronic gum disease and respiratory function. Inflammation is also the linking factor here. Once the tubes that transport air are inflamed, airflow is restricted. Also, bacteria from the mouth can easily be breathed into the lungs. Thus triggering infections that can lead to inflammation.
This is not a message of doom that is meant to scare you. Instead, it is a call to action that should encourage you to take your oral hygiene a lot more seriously.