The Link Between Gum Disease and Systemic Disease
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The Link Between Gum Disease and Systemic Disease

Teeth being checked by dentist

Research has shown that gum disease may cause or aggravate several other conditions. We used to think that bacteria was the connection but recently research has begun to show that inflammation caused by gum disease may be responsible.

By treating inflammation we may be able to help manage both periodontal disease (gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health issues) and the chronic inflammatory conditions that it causes. These conditions are thought to include diabetes, heart disease and stroke, cancer and other systemic diseases.


Teeth being checked by dentist

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. It is designed to rid your body of the thing that caused the injury (such as a splinter) and the consequences of the injury. It protects against infection and helps the body to heal and repair itself; it is a natural process and without it our bodies wouldn’t survive


Signs of inflammation include swelling, heat, pain, stiffness and fever. There are two types of inflammation, acute (lasting for a short time) and chronic (lasting for a long time). Because of the effect it has on the body as a whole, chronic inflammation can cause issues both in the area it is healing and throughout the body.


When you suffer from gum disease, that inflammatory response is triggered in your mouth. Your gums change from pink to red or purple, swell up and may bleed. It is typically painless and therefore may be untreated. As the gum disease progresses, the chronic inflammatory response worsens until it begins to affect your body and your physical health.


The Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes

Diabetics are more likely to develop periodontal disease than any other group, and this inflammation can have an effect on their blood sugar, meaning that they at more risk of hyperglycaemia and other diabetic complications. This is especially risky for those who don’t have their diabetes fully under control as it makes the condition far harder to control.


If you are diabetic, you should be seeing your dentist more regularly to make sure that your mouth is healthy.


The Effect Gum Disease Can Have on Your Heart

The chronic inflammation associated with gingivitis may increase the risk of heart disease, or exacerbate existing heart problems. If you have other risk factors, such as smoking, being overweight or having high blood pressure, you should see your doctor more regularly.


Gum Disease Increases Your Risk of Developing Cancer

Men with a history of gum disease are far more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime (the study was only on male subjects; it is likely to be the same across the female population) with a 30% increase in the risk of blood cancer, 36% increase in the risk of lung cancer, a 49% increase in the risk of kidney cancer and 54% increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer.


The Connection Between Gum Disease and Other Systemic Diseases

There is also a connection between periodontitis and many other conditions, such as pneumonia, stroke, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive impairment, obesity, metabolic syndrome and erectile dysfunction.


There are many ways you can reduce your risk of oral inflammation and the simplest is to take good care of your teeth. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing and / or using TePe brushes between your teeth before you brush. You should also try to limit other disease-increasing behaviour such as smoking or heavy drinking.


If you have concerns about gum disease or any other oral health conditions, give your dentist a call. They should be able to provide you with advice to decrease your risk of periodontal disease, increasing your overall health.


Looking for a dentist in Nailsworth? Townes and Townes provide premium dental treatment at the highest possible standard. Visit our site to book a comprehensive dental health check now.

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