Pelican Landing Dental January Newsletter
Gum Disease Linked to Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer!
When it comes to chronic diseases, periodontal (gum) disease is among the most common by far. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, over half of Americans have periodontitis. This condition is the more advanced form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and permanent damage to bone and gum tissue.
But gum disease has the potential to carry far more serious consequences than just tooth loss. Research has shown that those with gum disease are at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
In this month’s newsletter, we want to emphasize why gum health is crucial to maintaining long-term overall health. Furthermore, we want patients to know that the dentists at Pelican Landing Dental take gum health very seriously and that we’re prepared to help you manage your symptoms should they appear.
Recent research has shown that gum disease can raise your blood sugar levels, which exacerbate conditions like diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic Dental Center, individuals with uncontrolled diabetes may find their condition even more difficult to manage if they have gum disease.
However, current diabetics aren’t the only people that should be concerned. According to researchers studying gum disease and diabetes at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, individuals who had elevated levels of gum disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic later in life. This is in large part due to heightened blood sugar levels, which in turn led to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
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For years, researchers have been studying the link between gum disease and more serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer. While there isn’t necessarily a direct link, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a chain that links the two conditions together. Chronic inflammation is highly suspected to be this missing link.
Inflammation simply refers to the body’s process of defending itself from harm, whether that be an infection, injury or toxins. During this process, the body increases blood flow to the area in danger and releases antibodies to fight back. This is known as acute inflammation.
When this process goes on for too long, it can significantly increase your risk of developing life-threatening disease. For example, chronic inflammation has been linked to all stages of atherosclerosis, a condition that underlies heart attacks. Furthermore, the National Cancer Institute states that chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage and increase your overall risk to cancer development.
Chronic inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, but the gums are one of the most common areas. This is due to its regular exposure to dental plaque, which carries multiple toxins that trigger the body’s immune response. Even mild forms of gum disease like gingivitis can have huge implications for your systemic health because of it’s ability to keep the gums perpetually infected and therefore chronically inflamed.
One of the reasons that gum disease is so rampant throughout the country (and the world) is because the symptoms are not always easy to notice. Gum disease progresses relatively slowly, increasing the chances of it going undiagnosed. However, there are symptoms you can keep an eye out for.
While the symptoms are not always obvious and you should be visiting our office for regular checkups, it’s important that you stay aware of them. The most common symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Receding gums or teeth that appear longer than usual
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Painful chewing
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
Our dentists are trained to track the earliest signs of gum disease. Even the most severe forms of gum disease like periodontitis are preventable if you commit to consistent at-home oral hygiene and regular exams/cleanings with our office.
In the event that you develop gum disease that requires more than improved oral care and professional cleanings, our office can help you manage. These treatments include scaling, root planing and antibiotic therapy. Scaling and root planing work to remove plaque from beneath the gum line and smooth out the tooth roots for improved gum tissue regeneration. Antibiotic therapy helps facilitate this process and prevents future infections from occurring.
Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you fear that you or someone you know is plagued with periodontitis or a similar gum infection. You just might help them prevent a far more serious disease from developing later!