Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Increasingly, Periodontitis has been identified as cultivating long-term health problems in a number of patients, rendering diseases such as endocarditis, chronic kidney disease, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease or in some cases, adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Periodontitis is common but largely preventable. It's usually the result of poor oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and getting regular dental checkups can greatly improve your chances of successful treatment for periodontitis and can also reduce your chance of developing it. But that is only if you continue to practice good dental hygiene. Without these practices, you can leave yourself vulnerable to a variety of long term health implications that can seriously hinder your quality of life should you choose to neglect your teeth. To provide insight into these issues, here is a list of the long-term health problems associated with gum disease.
Endocarditis is a rare, life-threatening inflammation of the lining of the heart muscle and its valves. It is caused by a bacterial infection. In very rare cases, bacteria in the mouth may trigger endocarditis in people at higher risk.
What causes endocarditis exactly? Well, bacteria found in tooth plaque may multiply and cause gingivitis (gum disease), rendering inflamed (red or swollen) gums which will bleed during manipulation of the gums usually involved during brushing, flossing or other dental procedures. The problem with this is that when the gums bleed, bacteria can enter the bloodstream, infecting other parts of the body. Endocarditis, in particular, is known to affect the inner lining of the heart and the surfaces of its valves. Bacteria stick to these surfaces and creates growths or pockets of bacteria, negatively affecting your quality of life! Whilst Endocarditis is rare, it is a fatal disease that triggers a range of life-threatening complications, such as heart failure and strokes.
Gum disease can extend beyond the realm of tooth and bone decay and in fact cause serious respiratory issues, which in some cases, can result in death!
Consequently, maintaining periodontal health may contribute to a healthy respiratory system. A number of scientific studies have suggested that periodontal disease may increase the risk of respiratory infections, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. These infections, which are caused when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract, can be severely debilitating and are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Researchers and health experts have also examined the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. As aforementioned, Gum disease begins when plaque builds up around teeth. Similarly, a different type of plaque made of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood — can also build up inside arteries, commonly known as atherosclerosis. This plaque is the cause of coronary artery disease.
It is stipulated that people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular events. Whilst there is no definitive evidence to suggest that there is a direct connection between gum disease and cardiovascular problems, researchers still suggest it could be an underlying factor. This is because periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation - which over a prolonged period of time, is a key contributor to many health problems such as atherosclerosis (a disease where plaque builds up in your arteries).
Another major problem associated with unhealthy gums is the adverse pregnancy outcomes they can cause. Several studies have investigated the occurrence of periodontal disease during pregnancy, yielding a wide variation in prevalence. Pregnant women with periodontal disease have been reported to be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight! Again, whilst the evidence is not fully conclusive, there is a compelling trend to suggest that poor dental hygiene resulting in periodontal disease can affect the quality of a newborn's life in one way or another.
Simply, you must brush and floss your teeth regularly as well as attending routine check-ups at the dentist to safeguard yourself from dangerous diseases. Whilst forgetting to maintain good dental hygiene may not seem like a pivotal part of your everyday life short-term, the consequences, in some cases, could be deadly!
At our family dental practice, we can provide quality dental care to your whole family.
At Procopio Towle Dental Office, you can rest assured knowing your oral health is monitored to safeguard you from costly procedures in the long-run should you neglect your teeth. Call today for your routine check-ups and bring the whole family along. You will not regret it!
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