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Understanding Gum Disease & Systemic Health Issues


Did you know there’s a strong link between your oral health and overall wellbeing? This link is more formally known as the “oral-systemic connection”. To put it simply, your oral health is essential, and if neglected, this can lead to or worsen many conditions and diseases. Likewise, if your systemic health is compromised, this could lead to your oral health being affected. This article will help you get a better understanding of gum disease and its various oral systemic links.

Signs of gum disease

Gum disease is a dental condition that often arises due to a buildup of plaque on the teeth that has been neglected over time. If plaque isn’t cleaned from your teeth, it eventually builds up under your gumlines and causes a great amount of irritation and inflammation. Some of the most common signs of gum disease are:

-Persistent bad breath

-Bleeding gums

-Red/irritated gums

-Chronic inflammation of gums

-Pain while biting/chewing

-Receding gums

How is periodontal disease linked to other systems?

Your mouth is just one organ, interconnected with many others across your body. Hence, poor oral health often poses a risk for other systemic diseases to develop. This concept is called “oral system links”.

Gum disease & speech

As gum disease worsens, it can eventually lead to your teeth or restorations falling out. A healthy jawbone needs teeth (or other dental restorations) to keep it stimulated. If you do not have an environment capable of supporting healthy teeth, this condition will destroy your jawbone and with it, your speech will become impaired.

Gum disease & immune system

There is a definite correlation between gum disease and your immune system. The immune system will react to gum disease by fighting the infection.  Unfortunately, the mouth has a lot of bacteria that act as immune suppressors. This eventually means that your immune system gets weakened as it fights the bacteria in your mouth, leaving it less effective when protecting the rest of your body.

Gum disease & oral cancer

While gum disease isn’t a direct cause of oral cancer, it puts you at higher risk of developing this disease. This is why regular checkups with our dentist are crucial. Upon assessment, we will be able to advise you on what course of action to take and intercept any worrying dental conditions early hand.

Gum disease & swollen glands

While there may be other reasons such as inadequate brushing or improper tooth care, gum disease is one of the main causes of swollen & bleeding gums. When your mouth contains harmful bacteria, your immune system will fight this, as we covered above. A bodily reaction to this would be swollen glands. The only solution is to have a dental professional conduct a deep clean , in which all the excess bacteria is cleaned out.

Gum disease & diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes is openly linked to gum disease as it causes a high glucose concentration in the mouth, which in turn leads to reduced saliva. This reduction in saliva creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply and eventually worsen into an infection or gum disease.

How to treat gum disease?

Left untreated, gum disease can progress to the stage where your tooth mobility is affected and your teeth start falling out! This stage is irreversible, so you’ll want to schedule a checkup as soon as you notice the warning signs. Here are some of the ways to tackle gum disease:

1. Scaling and root planning

This is one of the most effective ways to restore your healthy gums. This is a non-surgical treatment which involves a deep clean carried out by a dental professional to eliminate all the bacteria accumulating both below and above your gumlines. Contacting a dental professional for help is vital since you won’t be able to remove these bacteria at home.

2. Flap surgery

In more severe cases where scaling and root planning are not effective, you may be in need of flap surgery. This involves lifting the gums in order to thoroughly remove the tartar that has accumulated underneath and then sewing the gum tissue back in place. While the procedure might cause some minor discomfort, it can be relieved with over-the-counter medication.

3. Practice good oral hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing coupled with that of a professional dental clean can help reverse early symptoms of gum disease within 2 weeks. In general, we recommend sticking to a consistent oral hygiene routine and coming in for regular checkups every 6 months in order to maintain optimal oral health and avoid severe dental conditions.

Have bleeding or inflamed gums and suspect you may have gum disease or a dental problem that needs looking into? Read more about gum disease and how we can help or just schedule a checkup with our dental professionals at Purity Dental so we can assess your smile and provide a treatment plan!