The mouth being the window to the rest of the body plays a very important role in its overall health. Having a healthy mouth not only constitutes having healthy teeth but also healthy gums. Any neglect towards caring for your gums would lead to infections and diseases that are commonly known in the world of dentistry as periodontal diseases.
Periodontal/gum diseases not only put your oral health but also your overall health at risk. This article aims at showcasing some of the health risks that gum diseases pose to the rest of the body.
Health Risks Of Gum Disease
Gum Disease and Diabetes
It has been long known and understood that diabetics stand at a higher risk of developing gum diseases. Recent studies also show that the diabetics with gum diseases have a reduced chance of controlling their blood sugar levels as compared to the diabetics with a healthier mouth. Poor control of blood sugar levels in turn leads to increased chance of developing chronic complications that are usually connected to diabetes such as heart disease, kidney complications etc.
Recent studies also show that gum disease might also be considered as a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency as opposed to type 1 diabetes which is characterized by total insulin deficiency. Gum diseases increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by at least 50%.
Gum Disease and Cardiovascular Disease
The bacteria that cause gum disease might have a chance of entering the blood stream causing an inflammatory reaction. This enhances the chances of causing blood clots which in turn disrupts the normal blood flow, increasing the chances of getting a cardiovascular stroke.
Gum Disease and Respiratory Disorders
Due to the close proximity of oral cavity to the respiratory tract, any oral infection has a high chance of spreading to the respiratory tract. The bacteria present in inflamed and infected gums are usually transported to lungs and other respiratory organs through breathing, causing lower respiratory tract and lung infections.
The chances of gum diseases leading to the lower respiratory tract and lung infections are particularly higher in patients that are hospitalized or are residing in nursing homes. Maintaining a good oral hygiene in such patients greatly reduces the risk of them acquiring lower respiratory tract infections.
Gum Disease and Complications During Pregnancy
Studies show that gum disease has a major impact on the growth rate of the fetus and also increases the risk of premature birth. Low birth weight in newborns is a major outcome of gum disease during pregnancy. The bacteria that is responsible for gum disease also often leads to amniotic fluid infection or inflammation which is often associated with preterm labor. It is very difficult to treat gum disease during pregnancy. So it is strongly advised that pregnant women take good care of their oral health especially during the second trimester.
Gum Disease and Gastrointestinal Diseases
The mouth is undoubtedly the bridge between the external world and the gastrointestinal tract. What we eat and how well we eat is greatly affected by our oral health and this in turn affects the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Several gastrointestinal diseases along with oral, esophageal and gastric cancers have often been associated with poor oral health. The dental plaque is believed to be either a reservoir or a path of transmission for the bacteria that causes chronic gastritis and also duodenal ulcer.
Gum Disease and Osteoporosis
Though it has not been confirmed, recent studies indicate that the conditions that would result in bone loss around the teeth in case of advanced gum diseases, would also increase the risk of reduction in bone density in the rest of the skeletal structure usually termed as osteoporosis.
The impact of gum disease on the above medical problems does not necessarily mean that gum disease is the sole factor in a person suffering from the above malignancies. Gum disease would merely increase the risk of a healthy person being prone to one of the above adversities.