When you think of your gums, you probably don’t think of them as something that could kill you.
Most of the time, this kind of thinking is absolutely right. You can go your merry way, day in and day out, not giving a second (or even first) thought to this seemingly strange topic – that is, only if you regularly floss, brush, and visit Newingham Dental Center.
If you haven’t been doing those things, then we have some bad news for you: Your gums could already be harboring the bacteria that could lead to your premature death.
If it sounds shocking, that’s because it is. Gum disease isn’t just something that makes your smile less attractive; it can be the precursor to any number of deadly diseases and conditions, which are completely avoidable.
Today, I want to take a look at the top five life-threatening illnesses which trace their roots in gum disease.
A Quick Note About Cause & Effect
Before we begin in earnest, we want to briefly address the science behind the link between gum disease and a variety of serious illnesses. All it takes is a simple Google search to reveal a growing body of medical research pointing to this link.
Basically, the bacteria that cause gum disease – also known as periodontitis – infests your gum tissue, causing it to take on a “puffy” appearance and eventually recede. Indeed, inside of that receded, puffy flap of tissue, gum disease has already begun to take hold.
And quite literally: The shape of periodontal bacteria – known as spirochetes – are like microscopic corkscrews that burrow into the soft flesh of your gum tissue. There, they will feed on food particles, which can get trapped in the “flap” of recessed gum created by the bacteria, allowing them to explode in population.
Here’s the dangerous part. Once periodontal bacteria has set in, they will begin to multiply and likely enter the bloodstream. From there, the bacteria can cause all manner of havoc inside of your body, triggering different responses depending on a variety of factors, including your genetics and behaviors (for example, if you’re a regular heavy smoker.
As your mouth continues to deteriorate every day that you look in the mirror, so too will the inner workings of your body be at an ever greater risk of succumbing to a myriad of dangerous and deadly diseases.
So, without further ado, here are our top five picks:
- Heart disease – One of the leading causes of death for Americans in the first place, gum disease will only increase your chances of developing this terrible condition.
- Alzheimer’s disease – Although scientists are still examining the link, there is evidence that gum disease bacteria is a factor in developing the memory-impairing, identity-disassociating condition known as Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease bacteria enters the bloodstream and penetrates the blood-brain barrier, creating the groundwork for an infection of your gray matter.
- Stroke – Similar to Alzheimer’s, once periodontal bacteria enters your bloodstream, it can promote, in conjunction with other factors, the necessary conditions for a stroke of the brain, which could result in impairment or even death.
- Diabetes – Numerous studies are showing that, when periodontal bacteria enters your bloodstream, it can affect the natural balance of insulin in your body. If untreated, it can exacerbate the situation into full-blown diabetes.
- Low birthweight in Babies – Not as much is known about this connection, but it is currently thought that, in addition to periodontal disease’s ability to affect the bloodstream, (and thus the ability of the mother’s body to properly provide nutrients to the fetus) that there is a strong correlation between mothers with gum disease and mothers who engage in other behaviors, like smoking or drinking alcohol, which primarily result in low fetal mass accumulation.
There Is A Cure
And it begins and ends with a visit to our dentist office in Birmingham, MI. One simple, nonsurgical periodontal disease treatment is all it takes to rid yourself (or a loved one) of this smile-killing, potentially fatal oral health problem.
You can’t fight off gum disease on your own. If you have the tell-tale signs of an infection, then it’s already burrowed too far into your gum tissue for toothbrushes and dental floss to do a thing about it.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s not nothing.