Recent reports suggest possible links to heart problems, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.
We have touched, in our previous blogs, on gum disease and how good oral health care can keep it at bay.
In today’s post though, we want to take a look at how potentially serious this problem can be, not only for our oral health, but our overall health too. It should be noted that whilst a lot of research into some of the areas covered below are at a relatively early stage, the sheer weight of the reports indicates that these issues should be taken seriously.
As dentists based in Epsom, it seems reasonable to start with oral health issues.
In its early stage (gingivitis), gum disease can cause unpleasant soreness or even bleeding of the gums. Often, at this stage though, it can be reversed and managed through improved oral care along regular ‘scale and polish’ performed by our hygienist. Later stages (periodontitis) are more threatening and can attack not only the gum, but the bone in which the teeth are secured too. If not treated, this bone loss can cause teeth to become loose and even fall out. In fact, gum disease is responsible for more tooth loss than dental decay in the UK.
A recent study (1) of over 60,000 patients revealed that those who had gum disease problems were twice as likely to suffer from heart problems, strokes or severe chest pain than those who were problem free. Although this may also mean that those with oral health issues were likely to take less care of themselves; once adjusted to take this into account, the study still reveals that those with gum disease were still 59% more likely to have heart health problems.
With periodontitis in particular being associated with chronic inflammation, it is though that this, along with increased bacteria in the circulatory system may be behind the increased risk, although research is ongoing.
Again, it should be noted that research into this area is still ongoing and, whilst no direct link has yet been proven, studies have shown that cognitive decline in older adults may be slower in those who have healthy teeth and gums and pay regular visits to their dentist. One factor thought to speed up the process in older patients with dementia is the increased likelihood that they do not take care of their teeth as well, perhaps not even brushing at all, or irregularly. As the gum problems become more pronounced, the antibodies required to fight this increase in the body, causing inflammation, thereby increasing the risk of advancing dementia.
It would seem likely, from the above, that taking care of your gums may well improve your overall health, or at least stop it deteriorating as quickly. Even without these links though, having healthy teeth and gums will help you to retain a great smile and hopefully to keep your teeth for many years to come.
If you have not had a gum health check recently and live in the Epsom area, why not contact the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720 136 to arrange one with our experienced team?