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How Gum Disease Can Impact Your Overall Health

How Gum Disease Can Impact Your Overall Health

If you’re ignoring your gum health, you’re jeopardizing more than your teeth and gums. Poor dental hygiene increases your risk of developing gum disease, an infection of the soft tissue, bone, and ligaments that support your teeth and keep them in place. While gum disease increases your risk of permanent tooth loss, the condition is also associated with a higher risk of several serious health conditions. 

Gum disease starts when food debris and bacteria in dental plaque — a tacky film —  form on your teeth. Without regular brushing and flossing, dental plaque remains, allowing the bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of it spreading to other parts of your body. 

In Jasper, Texas, dentist Eric R. Koch, DDS, and the team at Advanced Dental Care of East Texas provide professional gum treatment to stop the progression of gum disease. If you have gum disease, the team at Advanced Dental Care of East Texas has the expertise necessary to restore and maintain your gum health. In providing comprehensive gum care, they also monitor your mouth for evidence of oral problems that can pose a threat to your overall health. 

Here are some ways gum disease can impact your well-being.

Cardiovascular disease

In comparison to people with healthy gums, individuals with gum disease have higher rates of cardiovascular disease

While the relationship between these conditions isn’t fully understood, one theory suggests that gum disease allows bacteria to enter your bloodstream, promoting the buildup of plaque in your arteries where it hardens. Plaque puts you at risk of blood clots, which can increase your risk of having a heart attack. A stroke results if a blood clot blocks blood flow to your brain. 

Another theory suggests that cardiovascular disease and gum disease are associated as a result of inflammation, which can occur as an immune response to a gum infection. As your immune system works to fight against the infection, it can damage tissue and organs in your cardiovascular system, making them vulnerable to disease.

Diabetes

Gum disease is a common complication of diabetes. That means if you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing gum disease. Once gum disease develops, it can make it harder to control your diabetes. 

Gum disease triggers your body’s defenses, which increases blood sugar levels. The result can make it harder to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, a key factor in controlling diabetes and avoiding dangerous complications. 

Respiratory conditions

Gum disease may be associated with a higher risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia. As the number of bacteria in your mouth increases due to gum disease, it is more likely that the bacteria may pass into your respiratory tract from your upper throat. 

An existing respiratory condition, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),  can worsen as a result of gum disease because the condition increases airway inflammation. Respiratory system inflammation can cause lung damage and other respiratory problems. 

Cancer

Having gum disease can increase your risk of developing some types of cancer. In a long-term study, researchers reported that individuals with advanced gum disease had a 24% higher risk of cancer versus individuals with healthier gums. 

The highest risk was associated with lung cancer, in which researchers found that individuals with severe gum disease had more than twice the risk of lung cancer compared to individuals with a milder form of gum disease or no gum disease. Individuals with gum disease also demonstrated a higher risk for colorectal cancer versus those with healthy gums. 

Alzheimer’s disease

You may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if you have gum disease. Researchers found that Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), a specific type of bacteria associated with severe gum disease, was also present in the brains of deceased individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. DNA of the bacteria was also found in the spinal fluid of living people with Alzheimer’s disease. 

When researchers in the same study infected the gums of healthy mice with P. gingivalis, they reported that the bacteria readily spread to the brains of the mice and caused changes consistent with having Alzheimer’s disease. 

Find out more about the ways untreated gum disease may be threatening your well-being. Call our office today to schedule an appointment. 

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