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The Shocking Effects of Gum Disease and Your Health

Posted by Joel Williams on

Do you have gum disease

Did you know that perio disease affects 47.2 percent of the adults in the U.S. who are 30 or More?  And, among the population who are 65 and older, it affects over 70% in the U.S.!

Gum disease is a prevalent problem and let's discover what it is, the risk factors and what you can do about it.

What is Perio Disease or Periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease (perio disease) is a type of gum disease. Once a gum infection reaches the periodontitis stage, it can start affecting your overall health.

Research has linked multiple health conditions to unhealthy gums.

Perio disease is characterized by the structures surrounding the teeth being infected. This includes the periodontal ligament, the gums, and the alveolar bone. Gingivitis is the earliest stage. During this stage, the gums are infected. As the infection goes untreated, the ligament and bone are affected.

Perio disease can destroy the gums, ligament, and bones. The end result is losing teeth due to the structural damage making it impossible for your oral structures to hold them.

Gingivitis is the first stage of this disease
and can occur as a result of:

  • Plaque forming on the teeth and not being removed daily.
  • Tartar building up on the teeth and hardening below the gum line (this allows irritation and it gives bacteria a place to grow.

Here are the Top Risk Factors
If You Have Gingivitis

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Being older
  • Vitamin C deficiency

  • Being immunocompromised (when a person doesn’t have the ability to respond to an infection because they have an impaired or weakened immune system)

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Dry mouth

  • Crooked teeth or dental restorations that are hard to clean

  • Poor nutrition
  • Genetics

  • Hormonal changes

  • Certain medications - such as phenytoin and calcium channel blockers

  • Certain fungal and viral infections

If gingivitis progresses, periodontitis can occur.

In addition to tooth loss, this can cause:

  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Tender Gums

  • Receding Gums
  • Pus between the gums and teeth

  • Pain when you are chewing

  • The gums appear dusky red, bright red or purplish

  • Your gums bleed easily

  • Spacing developing between the teeth
  • Bad breath
  • The way the teeth fit together change when you bite

When Perio Disease Is Left
Untreated It Can Also Lead To:

1. Heart Disease 

gum disease

    Perio disease and heart disease have been linked by experts and several theories that have been proposed. These include:

    The bacteria that cause periodontitis can get into the blood vessels and travel throughout the body, including to the heart.

    This could result in damage and inflammation of the blood vessels. This could also cause the formation of tiny blood clots. Scientists have observed oral bacteria remnants inside blood vessels that are narrowed and hardened due to plaque. 

    Inflammation can affect the whole body as a result of disease in the gums could set off a vascular damage cascade. This could result in damage to the brain and the heart.

    Disease in the gums also causes a 50 percent increase in a person’s risk of having a heart attack.

    According to the research, compared to healthy adults, patients who have experienced a heart attack were much more likely to have some degree of disease in the gums. Approximately 43 percent of patients who experienced a heart attack also had a gum infection. The risk of getting a stroke also appears to be higher among people who have perio disease.

    Both the potential brain and heart damage due to inflammation and the formation of tiny blood clots could result in either a stroke or a heart attack.

    2. Diabetes 

    gum disease
    Perio disease is associated with poor blood sugar control. Blood sugar levels may increase in people with perio disease whether they have diabetes or not.

    Scientists believe that some of the germs that reside in infected gums essentially leak into a person’s bloodstream after brushing their teeth, eating and similar activities. This causes the body to react to try and prevent the germs from harming the body. One of the reactions that can occur is an increased blood sugar level.

    Did you know that your blood sugar levels can increase if you have gum disease? And, if you have diabetes it can also contribute to a worsening of your gum disease!

    Diabetes can also contribute to a worsening of gum disease. For example, if someone with diabetes has gingivitis, they are at a higher risk for the infection advancing to periodontitis. This is because diabetes makes it easier for infections to occur.

    3. Kidney Disease
    gum disease

    Adults who are missing teeth are at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared to adults who have all of their teeth and a healthy oral cavity. Perio disease can cause tooth loss, especially when it goes untreated.

    Renal insufficiency has also been studied among adults who have perio disease. Renal insufficiency is a condition where a person’s kidney function slowly reduces over time. Ultimately, this can result in kidney failure. The risk of renal insufficiency appears to be higher when perio disease is present.

    4. Respiratory Disease

    gum disease

    Perio disease may increase a person’s risk of developing pneumonia, acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

    Respiratory infections are believed to partially rely on patients aspirating flora from the oral cavity into the lower respiratory tract. The bacteria most often observed include Actinobacillus, P. gingivalis and actinomycetemcomitans.

    If someone’s body is not able to defend against these bacteria, they could multiply and result in lung infections. Scientists believe that dental plaque may harbor certain respiratory pathogens, especially when someone has a pre-existing perio disease.

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also more prevalent among people with perio disease. Perio disease as a risk factor for COPD is believed to be due to the inflammation that perio disease can cause. This inflammation could negatively impact the health of the lungs, increasing someone’s chances of developing COPD.

    5. Cancer 

    gum disease

    People with perio disease appear to be at a higher risk for certain types of cancers.

    One study determined that men with a history of perio disease have a 14 percent higher risk of cancer as compared to men who never developed perio disease.

    The exact link is still unclear. However, scientists believe that it is associated with the inflammation that perio disease was the cause.

    The median risk for cancer among men with a history of perio disease was 14 percent. However, the risk was higher for certain specific cancers. The results were as follows: 

    • Lung cancer - 36 percent higher risk
    • Kidney cancer - 49 percent higher risk
    • Pancreatic cancer - 54 percent higher risk
    • White blood cell cancers - 30 percent higher risk

    This study was performed on men only ages 40 to 75. The data collected came from over 48,000 men in the United States. Women were not included in this study. 

    Periodontitis has also been linked to head and neck cancers. The two primary rationales linking periodontitis to head and neck cancers include:

    • In cancerous tumors discovered in the head and neck, high levels of P. gingivalis bacteria have been identified.
    • Inflammation is the second rationale. When someone has periodontitis, significant inflammation is present.
      This occurs as a result of the pocket that surrounds the teeth having a bacterial release of toxins. This toxin contributes to inflammation.
      Once this happens, oxidative free radicals and other chemicals can be released as a result of the inflammation. These can be carcinogenic, meaning that they can cause cancer.

    6. Alzheimer’s Disease 

    gum disease

    Emerging evidence is saying that one of the bacteria that contribute to periodontitis could also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe that this is due to this bacterium playing a role in certain toxic proteins accumulating in the brain.

    The bacteria being researched is Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis). This bacterium is classified as a negative oral anaerobe. In the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, this bacterium is present.

    A marker of Alzheimer’s in the brain is beta-amyloid. This is a protein that builds up to excessive levels, resulting in plaques in the brain. The plaques make it difficult for the brain cells to communicate with each other.

    The scientists also explored P. gingivalis toxic enzymes known as gingipains. They determined that high gingipain levels were associated with two other proteins being present that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease development, include ubiquitin and tau. Gingipains were shown to exacerbate tau toxicity.

    7. Cognitive Decline

    gum disease

    Some research shows that poor cognitive function, independent of Alzheimer’s disease, in older men is possible as a result of perio disease and tooth loss.

    This study followed 597 men for 32 years. The men ranged in age from 28 to 70.

    Every three years, the men underwent oral examinations. Starting in 1993, cognitive testing was also administered. For every tooth, the participants lost each decade, their risk of experiencing cognitive decline increased. 

    Due to the impact of this disease on your overall health, it is so important to maintain your optimal oral health or take the steps necessary for reversing gum disease.

    How Can You Prevent Perio Disease?

    1. Floss twice each day.

    gum disease

    2. Gently brush your teeth at least twice each day for one minute.

    gum disease

    3. Use a softer brush that will not damage your gums or enamel and buy a new toothbrush every 4-6 months.

    4. Use a high-quality anti-plaque toothpaste that doesn't heavy abrasives that destroy the enamel of your teeth or have lots of sugar or sweeteners in it.

    5. If you use teeth whiteners be sure to buy an excellent quality whitening toothpaste that doesn't have a lot of abrasives or hydrogen peroxide in it!

    AP24 toothpaste

    The side effects in using hydrogen peroxide as a whitening agent are it can increase your tooth sensitivity and/or gum irritation.

    One brand that we have researched, that is gentle and effective, is AP 24 Teeth Whitening and it's approximately $22.00 as of this writing! That's a lot cheaper than going to a dentist for teeth whitening & it's safe for your teeth and gums. 

    CLICK HERE to discover the many benefits of the AP24 teeth whitener toothpaste (It's so safe that you can use it daily without hurting your teeth or gums!).

    6. Eating a balanced diet is imperative to your overall health.

    Try to avoid or minimize deserts, foods and drinks loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners like high fructose sugar.

    gum disease

    7. See your dentist twice a year.

    Catching gum disease in the early stages reduces your risk of periodontal disease and the systemic health complications that can occur because of it.

    gum disease

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