Your mouth is the gateway into your body. Therefore, it is understandable why the link between oral health and whole body health is a strong one. In fact, an increasing amount of research shows that gum disease can have a significant impact on the development of systemic health issues. Gum disease starts with excess oral bacteria caused by poor dental hygiene. Once the bacterial infection sets in within the gums and causes these soft tissues to swell and bleed, you are at risk for some serious whole body health issues. The bacteria of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) can enter the bloodstream and cause a host of issues within the body.
Here are some examples of how untreated gum disease in the mouth can cause health issues within the body:
Cardiovascular Disease, Heart Attack and Stroke – The bacteria of gum disease can travel to the blood vessels of the heart and cause hardened arteries and even blockages of blood flow to the heart. This can result in a heart attack or stroke if the arteries in the brain begin to weaken or clot.
Respiratory Infection – What we breathe from the mouth can enter our lungs. If you have excess bacteria lingering in the mouth due to gum disease, that bacteria can cause respiratory infection, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Diabetes – Gum disease and diabetes involves a two-way street. While uncontrolled diabetes makes you more vulnerable to gum disease, untreated gum disease can make it more difficult for your body to control blood sugar levels.
Kidney Disease – Gum disease can weaken the body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to infections within the organs and kidney disease.
Osteoporosis – At its advanced stages, gum disease causes a loss of bone tissue. However, this can spread to bone loss throughout the body (back, hips and wrists).
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Gum disease bacteria causes inflammation in the gums as well as the whole body. Autoimmune or inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can be aggravated by untreated gum disease.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s – Recently there has been a discovered link between oral bacteria and memory loss due to bacteria in the blood damaging parts of the brain.
Pregnancy Complications – Pregnancy gingivitis is common. However, when it goes untreated, gum disease can impact an unborn child and lead to premature birth, a low birth weight and infection in their newborn.
Cancer – Last but not least, your neglected gum disease can also put you at an increased risk for cancer, including blood cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.
Ready to rethink your oral hygiene routine so that you can avoid the devastating consequences of gum disease? We can help you at Riverwood Dental. Our office offers routine cleanings as a preventative measure for gum disease as well as periodontal therapy to reverse the stages of infection that may already be present.