Gum disease is an infection of your gums. This can cause adults to lose their teeth. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) gum disease is usually fairly painless- you might not even be aware you have it. Gum disease is caused by plaque, or the film of bacteria that forms over your teeth.
According to an article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, gum disease can be linked to issues such as premature birth, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health problems. The good news is that treating gum disease can lead to better overall health (measured with fewer costs related to health care and hospitalizations) with those who have health conditions.
The study looked at those the experiences type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy. The study found with all of those (aside from rheumatoid arthritis) there was a decrease in the healthcare spending for those who received at least one periodontal treatment (within four years of the treatment).
The biggest savings were found in women that were pregnant. The costs for healthcare were found to be 74% lower on average. There were less health care costs because of the connections between gum disease and premature births. Those who had diabetes and cardiovascular disease saw a 20-40% decrease in their spending.
If gum disease is left untreated, it can turn into periodontal disease. This is more serious and can spread to the periodontal ligament (the tissue that is in between your tooth and the rest of the structure) and the alveolar bone (the bone that holds your teeth in place). This will cause the gums to pull back from the root of the tooth and if the disease spreads this can lead to your teeth falling out.
The connection between gum disease and other chronic illnesses lies in the inflammation of the surrounding area. Inflammation is your body’s reaction to disease and pain. Having built up inflammatory substances is leads to a worsening in heart disease and other illnesses. If the infection is removed however, there is less of a chance that your body will have this harmful reaction.
The good news is there are treatments for gum disease that a dentist can perform. There are plenty of tools out there that your dentist can use, so it’s best to discuss with them which are best for you. You do have some homework, however. Improving your oral health will also require you to brush regularly, floss and use mouthwash in order to prevent plaque. You can also help prevent any more damage to your teeth or surrounding tissue by getting regular teeth cleanings.
At Modern Family Dental care, we offer a multitude of dental services in the Charlotte area. If you’re interested in learning more or if you need to schedule a consultation, please contact one of our Charlotte or Concord dental offices today!