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Periodontal Disease Affects More Than Just The Mouth
Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:44:00 +0000
A missed brushing, flossing or dental appointment now and then may sound like no big deal. But neglecting your dental health can lead to periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease. This insidious condition affects more than just your oral health.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums. It can range from mild gum swelling to serious damage of the tissue and bones that support the teeth. It causes tooth decay and can lead to tooth loss.
Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky bacterial film that covers the teeth. Every time you eat or drink, plaque releases acids that destroy tooth enamel. If you do not brush and floss each day to get rid of the plaque, tartar builds up. Over time this can cause your gums to separate from the tooth and form deep pockets where infection can flourish.
Stages of periodontal disease
There are two stages of gum disease:
is the milder form of periodontal disease and only affects the gums. Gums are usually red, swollen and bleed easily. The disease is often reversible at this stage if treated early.
is the second stage and more serious form of gum disease. The gums, tissue and bones that support the teeth become irreversibly destroyed. If left untreated, tooth loss could occur.
Health threats beyond the mouth
Periodontal disease may cause health complications in other areas of the body as well. Studies show that periodontal disease is linked with:
People with diabetes have an increased risk for infection, including gum disease. Research shows that periodontal disease is more likely to occur if blood sugar levels are poorly managed. Follow your diabetes treatment plan to control blood sugar levels and cut your risk.
Heart disease and stroke.
People with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease as people who don't. There is also a link between periodontal disease and stroke. Experts are not sure exactly what the connection is, but one theory points to inflammation as the culprit. Swelling from gum disease may lead to inflammation. This inflammation may, in turn, cause thickening of the lining of the blood vessels.
Gum disease can also make existing heart conditions worse. Be sure to let your dentist know you have a heart condition if you'll be having dental surgery. You may need to take special precautions.
Women who have gum disease during pregnancy are more likely to have preterm labor and deliver low-birthweight babies. Experts do not know why this happens. One thought is that periodontal disease affects the systems that trigger labor.
It is crucial that you have a dental checkup before you become pregnant, or as soon as you know you're pregnant. Your dentist may suggest additional cleanings during pregnancy to prevent or control mild gum disease.
Bacteria from the mouth can travel down to the lungs when you inhale. People with gum disease may at a greater risk for developing lung diseases, like pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The bacteria from periodontal disease may also make existing problems worse.
Note that periodontal disease and these health conditions are
with each other. More research is needed to see if one condition
How to reduce your risk
Good dental care is the key to preventing gum disease:
Brush your teeth twice each day.
Floss once each day.
Get regular dental checkups. This is especially important because periodontal disease is usually painless, so you won't know you have it. Ask your dentist about using an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Do not smoke. If you do, quit.
5 Tips To Avoid Periodontal Disease
Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:43:00 +0000
Gum disease basics
Gum disease is a serious bacterial infection that is caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky bacteria that covers the teeth. Every time you eat or drink, plaque releases acids that destroy tooth enamel. If you don't practice good dental care - like regular brushing and flossing - to get rid of the plaque, tartar builds up. In time this can cause your gums to separate from the tooth and form deep pockets where infection can grow.
Gum disease can range from mild gum swelling to serious damage of the tissue and bones that support the teeth. It causes tooth decay and can lead to tooth loss.
How to reduce your risk
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy takes a few basic steps. Good home dental care, regular dentist visits, a healthy diet, limiting stress and not smoking are the cornerstones of first-class dental health.
1. Practice good dental care at home
Gum disease prevention begins with good home dental care. You can remove plaque by brushing, flossing and possibly using mouth rinse:
Brush your teeth twice a day
. Brushing removes bacteria from your teeth. Use a toothbrush that has soft bristles and fits your mouth. Replace it every three to four months or when bristles become frayed. Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay.
Floss your teeth once a day.
Flossing will remove the bacteria and food particles that your toothbrush cannot reach.
Ask your dentist if you should use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
2. Get regular dental checkups
Visiting your dentist regularly is especially important because gum disease is usually painless, so you won't know you have it. Regular exams and professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar are essential for a healthy mouth. See your dentist as often as he or she suggests.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Good nutrition not only benefits your waistline, but it's good for your oral health, too. Choose a diet that's rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugars.
How exactly does a healthy diet benefit your dental health?
Low-fat and nonfat dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D, which strengthens teeth and bones.
Whole-grain breads and cereals are rich in vitamin B, which helps healthy gum tissue.
Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C help maintain healthy gums.
Lean protein sources - like fish, chicken or beans - are high in iron, magnesium and zinc, which are key nutrients for healthy teeth and bones.
Foods high in sugar release damaging acids that harm your teeth. Foods that are chewy, gooey or sticky in texture do even more damage because they stay in your mouth longer.
4. Watch your mental health
A low-stress or well-managed stress lifestyle is good for your overall health
your mouth. Experts have linked stress, anxiety and depression with gum disease. Try to eliminate stressors from your life. Find time to relax and do activities you enjoy. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, see your doctor.
5. Don't smoke
If you smoke, quit. You know smoking is not good for your health. Here's another reason to kick the tobacco habit: Not only does smoking increase your risk for gum disease, but if you get gum disease, smoking may make some treatments less effective.
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