Gum Disease and its association with other health issues

Researchers have found that the same bacteria and viruses that live in your mouth and cause gum disease are also linked to other health problems, i.e. heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature births.

For people with diabetes, it is important to see a dentist regularly. This is because your saliva can contain high sugar levels, and you may be more likely to develop tooth decay if you are diabetic. Diabetes also contributes to gum disease because your body is less resistant to infection making you a higher risk for periodontal disease.

During pregnancy your body experiences hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react to the hormonal changes. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease. In addition, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver pre-term, low birth weight babies.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is also known as gingivitis or periodontitis, depending on its severity. Periodontitis is a chronic bacterial infection that affects approximately 34% of the American population over age 30. About 5% – 15% of adults have a severe form of periodontitis, which leads to tooth loss. The disease begins as an inflammation of the gum tissue known as gingivitis. The main symptom is bleeding, for example when tooth brushing. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is when the destructive inflammatory process extends into the surrounding bone. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss because of the loss of supporting bone.

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