Many patients seeking a dental health professional might do so because they have mouth pain, a chipped tooth, or are hoping to see a cosmetic dentist. Because of this, they often believe that putting off a dental appointment might not be a big deal. What they might not understand is that oral health can significantly impact overall health, as well.
Researchers from Finland recently published a study in 2017 linking periodontal disease to certain strains of cancer, including pancreatic. Accompanied by other studies that have linked periodontal disease to an increased chance of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes, then the importance of solid oral health becomes more and more important.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is characterized as a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the gums. In advanced cases, periodontitis will eat away bone mass around the teeth which could lead to loss of teeth if left untreated. Symptoms include, redness or bleeding in or around the gums, bad breath, gum recession, and loose teeth.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2 percent of adults who are over 30 in the United States have some type of periodontitis. With age, this rate increases to over 70 percent of U.S. adults over 56.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by bacteria that stick to, and grow on, the surface of teeth. This bacteria then travels down into the gum tissue, triggering an immune response that causes inflammation and traps the bacteria there. It would be incorrect to assume that gum disease is caused by bacteria that somehow gets into the mouth. Instead, bacteria which causes gum disease is already present within all of our mouths. When we eat a diet high in sugar or carbohydrates, these bacteria feed and multiply.
How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?
The secret to preventing gum disease is practicing succinct and regular oral hygiene. The American Dental Association suggests you brush your teeth twice daily, and floss once. Bacteria containing plaque hardens within 48 hours, and begins to eat enamel away by 24, so brushing in the morning and at night is incredibly important.
Brushing, unfortunately, isn’t enough. That’s because bacteria or plaque can begin to form in places where a toothbrush can’t reach, specifically, below the gumline. To properly clear out these hard to reach places, you must floss and floss correctly. A basic rule of thumb is to start with fifteen inches of floss, gently insert between your teeth, and dip below the gum line periodically.
Another important way to prevent gum disease is to schedule regular appointments. Gum disease doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to grow. By regularly seeing your dentist, you can monitor your oral health before serious complications arise.