Does Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?
Gum disease is an infection that develops as a result of a bacterial buildup in your mouth. Bacteria irritate your sensitive gum tissue, which triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. This causes the gums to become red and swollen. Without treatment, gum disease worsens over time and can leave you faced with gum recession and tooth loss. While gum disease starts in your mouth, advanced stages of the condition can impact your overall health. North Atlanta Family Dentistry can help.
While the early stages of gum disease may only affect your gums, advanced stages can affect your jawbone and your overall health. When your gums are swollen, they eventually start pulling away from your teeth. This leads to the formation of periodontal pockets. Bacteria fall into these pockets, which continue to grow deeper as the condition worsens. Eventually, the bacteria reach your jawbone and periodontal ligaments, causing these supporting structures to weaken.
Bacteria can also enter into your bloodstream, where it begins to travel throughout your body. The bacteria trigger an inflammatory response from your immune system, which causes your blood vessels to swell. This restricts your blood flow, which can increase your blood pressure. Blocked arteries affect your heart, which can cause a heart attack. Bacteria in the heart can also infect the lining, causing a condition known as endocarditis.
If you have diabetes, gum disease can significantly impact your health. Diabetes can increase your risk of developing gum disease. This is because your saliva contains higher concentrations of sugar, which provide more food for oral bacteria. Gum disease can make controlling your blood sugar levels more difficult. You are at a greater risk for experiencing dangerously high blood sugar levels. Even if you do not currently have diabetes, untreated gum disease can increase your risk of developing this condition.
When you have gum disease, you have a large number of bacteria in your mouth. If you breathe through your mouth, you may inhale some of the bacteria into your lungs. The lungs are a warm, moist environment, perfect for fostering bacterial growth. As the bacteria multiply, your risk for developing issues like pneumonia. Infections in your lungs can also exacerbate existing issues like COPD or asthma.
Complications During Pregnancy
Gum disease does not just affect you; it can also affect your unborn child. If you are pregnant, your hormones change the way that your gums react to plaque and bacteria, increasing your risk for developing gum disease. If gum disease goes untreated, it can lead to serious complications. Pregnant women with gum disease are at a higher risk for developing pre-eclampsia. Pregnant women are also at risk for pre-term birth, or birth before 37 weeks, or having babies with low birthweight. If your infant is born underweight, it is at greater risk for serious complications such as troubling staying warm, breathing complications, and issues with their nervous system.
Gum disease affects more than just your mouth. Without treatment, advanced stages can impact your whole body, leading to serious issues. If you suspect that you have gum disease, contact North Atlanta Family Dentistry at (470) 387-0500 today to schedule your appointment.