If eyes are the window to the soul, the gums may well be the window into your overall health. Excellent oral health is essential to ensure good health at every stage of life. Many diseases and disorders are signaled by various conditions in the mouth, especially gum disease.
Swollen and bleeding gums are early indicators that the gums are infected with bacteria. Bacteria, if left untreated, can cause damage within the mouth, the jaw, and teeth. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease, or gum disease, can also spread throughout the body and is linked with other health problems.
Research indicates that gum disease increases the likelihood of coronary artery disease. While the link is still not entirely clear, it is believed that bacteria in the mouth travels through the bloodstream and clog arteries in the heart, resulting in progressive disease or stroke.
Gum disease and associated bacteria may cause infections in the lungs or worsen existing conditions. In addition, inhaled bacteria may cause severe pneumonia, especially in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Compounding the Issues of Osteoporosis
While normal bone loss occurs over time in everyone, osteoporosis increases the rate of bone loss and weakens all bones including the jaw. Gum disease compounds this condition and raises the risk of tooth loss.
Gum Disease Can Further Complicate Diabetes
Because diabetes disrupts the body’s immune system, those who suffer with this condition are especially vulnerable to the effects of gum disease. Infection in the mouth, including periodontal disease, can also raise blood sugar levels, which further complicates diabetes and its effects on patients.
Gum Sensitivity During Pregnancy
As hormone levels change during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of oral health problems and gum sensitivity. Studies have shown that periodontal disease can lead to low birth weight babies and premature labor.
No matter what stage you are in life or if you are suffering from a chronic illness, it is very important to maintain good oral health habits and avoid gum disease. Proper and regular brushing and flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental checkups and cleanings are all key to keeping your mouth and gums in the best shape possible!