Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is one of the most common diseases in America. The CDC estimates that roughly 40% of adults over 30 and 70% of adults of 65 have some degree of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth that results in inflammation. Plaque and tartar on the teeth can cause red, swollen and bleeding gums. As it progresses, the gums recede and bone can be lost around the teeth. Advanced gum disease can cause so much bone loss that teeth begin to fall out due to the lack of bone support.
What many people do not know is that gum disease is linked to heart disease. According to Harvard Health, people with gum disease are 2-3 times more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. While the relationship may not be causal, gum disease is an independent factor that increases the risk of cardiovascular events. The link between the two is thought to be inflammation. Gum disease causes chronic inflammation and chronic inflammation is a major contributing factor to coronary artery disease.
Managing inflammation caused by gum disease starts at home with proper brushing and flossing. However, regular check-ups and cleanings are also essential. This is because gum disease is caused by bacteria underneath the gums that cannot be removed by brushing alone; it requires special instrumentation by a hygienist in a dental office. Depending on how far your disease has progressed, we may recommend a “deep cleaning” in our office to reduce the bacteria causing inflammation and bone loss. Very advanced disease may require a referral to a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in gums). Gum care isn’t just about the health of your mouth, but the health of your entire body. Talk to us about your gum health on your next visit!
- Dr. Audrey Miles