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The human body is an incredibly complex system, in which a seemingly small problem in one area can have a far bigger impact on another. And this can certainly be said of your gums. Almost half the U.S. population over age 30 has some form of periodontal disease, putting them at risk for larger medical issues, which range from cardiovascular disease to dementia.
Carl F. Lipe, DDS, partners with patients in Denver, Colorado, for good oral health to serve you well into the future. As part of this effort, we want to be sure that you understand the risks of untreated periodontal disease, also called gum disease, and the steps we can take to reverse those risks.
To that end, we’ve pulled together a quick primer on gum disease and the surprising, and serious, consequences it may have on your health.
Gum disease starts out benignly enough in the form of gingivitis, which is minor inflammation in your gum tissue caused by plaque buildup that houses harmful bacteria. The problem is that bacteria are opportunistic organisms, continually looking for new places to wreak their havoc.
In the next stage of periodontal disease, the bacteria get far up under your gums, causing them to loosen and break their seal from your teeth, forming pockets. These pockets further exacerbate the problem, giving the bacteria ample opportunity to do more damage.
In more advanced stages, major tooth decay can set in, threatening the structural integrity of your teeth, causing them to loosen or fall out.
But the damage doesn’t necessarily stop at your teeth and gums.
Beyond the issues that periodontal disease can cause in your mouth, medical researchers are continually making links between gum disease and some serious health issues. Let’s start with diabetes, which presents a double-edged sword: Periodontal disease may affect how you control your blood glucose, and people with diabetes are more prone to bacterial infection.
Research also indicates that gum disease can affect your heart health. Once your body has an infection in your gums, it can seep into your bloodstream, causing inflammation and plaque buildup in your blood vessels. Gum disease may also share a link with dementia when bacteria in your bloodstream reaches your brain.
And the list goes on, including everything from kidney disease to osteoporosis. While no definitive evidence has been found to directly link periodontitis to these health conditions, the connections are difficult to ignore.
That said, gum disease on its own — and its effect on your oral health — is a force to be reckoned with, making intervention your best course of action.
If you have gum disease, the sooner we can treat it, the better. In its earliest stages, a good professional cleaning is often all it takes to remove the plaque buildup associated with periodontal disease.
As gum disease progresses, we may have to perform a deeper cleaning, as well as a root planing procedure. In more advanced cases, we need to get more aggressive through pocket reduction and grafts to preserve your teeth.
The bottom line is that gum disease is highly treatable, which may save your teeth and help you avoid many other health problems down the road. Call our Denver, Colorado, office for a dental exam, or use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.
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