There are a litany of health ailments that are associated with gum disease. Many of these are strictly linked to one's oral health. However, there are almost an equal number of health issues connected to gum disease that are not strictly oral health problems. In fact, the majority of health issues that are linked to gum disease are not what most would consider to be an oral health issue at all.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is actually a catch all name for basically any disease that affects the gums. This can range from a simple inflammation or swelling of the gums to much more serious maladies, such as gum cancer.
Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease. It is usually caused by smoking and a lack of care for your teeth and gums. It is a relatively mild form of gum disease, and can be treated by taking better care of one's teeth and gums. Gingivitis, however, can coalesce into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis is a swelling of the gums around the teeth. This can cause some serious problems, including a destruction of the gum line and tooth decay. If the problem persists, often times a medical professional will recommend tooth removal.
What Other Health Problems Are Linked To Gum Disease?
Despite common belief that problems with gums stay in the mouth, this is strictly not the case. There are a series of other complications that can arise if you do not take adequate care of your gums. Heart disease and high blood pressure have been shown to be more likely to exist in patients with gum disease. This in itself can lead to a host of other issues, including diabetes or heart failure. There is also evidence that poor oral health is an increased risk factor when it comes to experiencing a stroke.
In addition, some pregnant women are not able to carry a child to term due to gum disease. Although the gum issues alone should cause you to be more careful about how you treat your gums, these factors also should raise awareness about your oral health and hygiene.
How Are These Issues Linked?
Essentially, there is no one way in which these issues are causally linked. Some physicians and medical experts even claim there is no way to successfully isolate how these issues are specifically linked, only that they can say that people with gum disease are more likely to contract other diseases and come into contact with other issues.
There is conjecture that gum disease leads to cardiovascular illness due to bacteria being introduced into the bloodstream, which then travels through the body and ends up attaching to plaque present in the heart's artery walls, increasing the rate at which plaque builds up and increasing a risk of a heart attack. However, there is no definitive evidence that this is the case.
This is not to say that gum disease should be ignored as a catalyst for causing these issues. It can be said that gum disease is known to cause such issues, but how it causes such issues is debatable.
Although most people tend to think of gum disease as a problem that exists strictly in one's mouth, so to speak, hopefully you now have the knowledge to realize that there is an entire series of health issues related to gum disease, and they don't necessarily stop at the mouth alone! Gum disease can range from a minor health annoyance to a serious malady that requires professional medical attention as soon as possible. Thankfully, now that you know what exactly gum disease is, and what other health problems are linked to gum disease, you can begin taking precautionary steps to prevent yourself from ever getting it, such as visiting the dentist every 6 months, brushing and flossing regularly, and avoiding smoking.