Nobody likes going to the dentist, but it’s important not to skip dental checkups. While dentists visit to make sure our teeth look clean, they’re also searching for signs of gum disease and other oral diseases.
Gum diseases like gingivitis can go unnoticed by us even though gum tissue is red and inflamed or gums bleed when brushed. Untreated gum disease can lead to pain, tooth decay (or even tooth loss), bad breath, and other health conditions.
In this article, we’ll explore the different threats of untreated gum disease and learn why regular dental checkups are important.
How Does Gum Disease Develop?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and surrounding structures that hold teeth in place. It develops when plaque builds up and accumulates in pockets between the gumline and teeth. This buildup can lead to a range of symptoms such as bleeding gums, bad breath, receding gums, and tooth sensitivity.
The development of gum disease usually starts with bacteria-containing plaque building up on the teeth and hardening into tartar or calculus. If not removed, calculus traps bacteria beneath the gumline where it causes an inflammatory response. Over time this process weakens the bond between the gum tissue and teeth roots causing pockets to form where more bacteria can accumulate. Lack of proper hygiene will only continue these processes leading to further damage to your oral health.
Signs of a gum disease
Gum disease is a serious issue and can lead to tooth loss and other oral diseases in the long term. But fortunately, it’s preventable and treatable if identified early. There are some signs that you need to be aware of in order to understand when you might be in danger of developing gum disease.
The first sign is red gums or inflamed gums. Your gums should be pink and healthy looking—but if they turn red and become swollen, those are warning signs for you! In addition, look for discomfort when brushing or flossing. If your teeth or even your gums hurt during these activities, it could mean that there is an infection present beneath the surface.
Another sign is tenderness or bleeding whenever you go to brew food from between your teeth or brush them. This could mean that there is a build-up of bacteria called plaque along the gum line and should be taken seriously as this could lead to further inflammation, infections, and damage to your teeth and gums over time.
Untreated gum disease can have an alarming effect on our overall health, including heart or cardiovascular disease. It’s believed that the bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream, which may lead to inflammation of the heart valves and major arteries. This inflammation can then cause hardening or narrowing of the vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
The end result? An increased risk of stroke and even a higher chance of developing coronary artery disease or having a heart attack. People with gum disease are known to be twice as likely to suffer from some form of blocked artery than those without it. Moreover, recent studies have shown that proper management and treatment of periodontal disease can substantially reduce the risk posed by these health issues.
Knowing this information is key to understanding why it’s important to treat your gum disease before more serious complications arise. Practicing good oral hygiene habits, avoiding tobacco products, and seeing your dentist for regular exams are all great ways to keep your vasculature healthy!
Untreated gum disease is a silent killer, as it can increase your risk of developing other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own joints. This can result in pain, swelling, and inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue.
Research has linked untreated gum disease to the development of rheumatoid arthritis in certain individuals. The bacteria from untreated gum disease cause chronic inflammation in the body and this triggers an immune response leading to further inflammation that affects the skin and joint tissues.
Therefore, seeking timely treatment for gum disease is key to preventing rheumatoid arthritis later on. People who believe they may have symptoms of gum disease should seek medical assistance immediately in order to reduce their risk of developing this autoimmune disorder.
One of the potential side effects of untreated gum disease is an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without it. This correlation is thought to be due to the bacteria in our mouths entering the bloodstream and making their way to the brain, where they may attach themselves to cells responsible for controlling memory.
The good news is that treating gum disease can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Practicing good oral hygiene helps keep bacteria away, and regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist can help keep any existing buildup under control. Additionally, chewing some types of xylitol-containing gum after meals can increase saliva production, reducing plaque and bacteria buildup in your mouth.
Pneumonia is one of the most serious threats of untreated gum disease. When bacteria builds up due to poor dental hygiene, it can spread from the gums and be inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia. Pneumonia patients may experience fever, fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath. It has even been linked to increased mortality rates in certain individuals.
To minimize the risk of developing pneumonia from gum disease, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene by brushing often and flossing regularly. Regular trips to your dentist for professional cleanings are also an effective way to keep your gums healthy and free from dangerous bacteria that can cause gum disease and subsequently lead to other complications such as pneumonia.
Untreated gum disease can cause changes in the microbiome of the mouth, which triggers low-grade inflammation throughout the body. This type of inflammation can impair the immune system, making it more difficult for our bodies to fight illness and infection. That includes the risk posed by COVID-19.
Preventing gum disease from putting you at additional risk is possible with a good oral care routine for good oral health. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every night, and use an antiseptic rinse to reduce bacteria levels in your mouth. Make sure you visit your dentist regularly to keep your gums healthy too. Finally, maintain a healthy lifestyle — exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet to make sure your body has all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
By taking these steps, you’ll not only reduce your risk of gum disease but also protect yourself from more severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications that come with having an impaired immune system!