According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50 percent of Americans suffer from periodontal (gum) disease, the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum disease is an inflammatory condition caused by bacterial growth in the mouth. If left untreated, the oral bacteria can spread through the body and cause potentially deadly health conditions. In this blog post, we take a look at six serious health conditions linked to gum disease.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, several studies have found a connection between gum disease and heart disease. Researchers believe the inflammation caused by gum disease leads to hardening of the arteries, which increases the risk for heart disease. Research also shows gum disease can have a detrimental effect on existing heart conditions.
A study conducted by the American Heart Association found that severe gum disease is a risk factor for ischemic stroke among men under age 60. Ischemic strokes are usually caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain.
When bacteria from gum disease enters the airway, it can affect the chest and lungs, possibly leading to pneumonia. While pneumonia is treatable, more than 50,000 Americans die from the condition each year.
Studies have found pregnant women who suffer from gum disease have an increased risk of premature birth. Pregnant women are advised to take extra care of their oral health as the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy make women more likely to suffer gum health issues. Other research shows low birth weight and fetal loss are also linked to gum disease.
Studies have found people with gum disease have an increased risk for certain cancers, including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and oral cancer. Researchers believe the chronic infection in the gums triggers inflammation throughout the body, which can potentially promote the growth of cancer.
Most recently, research has found that gum disease may be associated with faster cognitive decline among people with Alzheimer’s disease. While it is still unclear whether one disease causes the other or whether they are just simply connected, researchers believe these latest findings further prove the importance of good oral hygiene.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease and decrease your risk of other health conditions is through good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice each day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist every six months. Mission Viejo dentist Dr. Robert Milner offers a range of dental services, including dental exams, deep cleanings and gum disease treatment. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling 949-859-8899.