If your gums are a little red or you have a never-ending case of bad breath, you might write the problem off as a minor inconvenience. After all, if you aren't getting up-close and personal with anyone, who cares if your mouth is less than perfect? Unfortunately, discolored gums and bad breath are symptoms of mild gum disease, also called gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, which can make your teeth fall out. Here are two other reasons you shouldn't ignore the symptoms of gum disease, and what might happen if you do:
1: Your Jaw Could Melt Away
When most people think of dental decay, they think about yellow teeth, cavities, and the occasional root canal. Unfortunately, if your dental problems are left unchecked, bacteria can ravage your underlying dental structures and erode your jawbone.
Your teeth are held in place by ligaments connected to your jawbone. As you chew food and talk, the pressure put on your jaw strengthens the area and keeps your bone healthy. However, once gum disease sets in, bacteria can swarm the area and attack the ligaments that hold your teeth in place. Believe it or not, the damage can continue long after your teeth are gone. Once your teeth go missing, your body will slowly resorb your jaw. In fact, after losing a tooth, 25% of the surrounding bone will be resorbed in the first year.
Fortunately, you can fend off bone loss by seeking treatment for gum disease early. If you have mild gum disease, dentists might be able to treat your symptoms by professionally cleaning your teeth. By scraping away plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line, your dentist might be able to keep bacteria from taking root in the area. If you have advanced gum disease that has led to tooth and bone loss, your dentist might be able to graft new bone to the area and place dental implants to keep your jaw from resorbing.
Do yourself a favor and meet with your dentist at the first sign of trouble. The longer you wait to have your gum disease treated, the more complex your treatment might become.
2: Gum Disease Has Been Tied to Heart Disease
If preserving your jawbone doesn't prompt you to take gum disease seriously, you should consider the fact that gingivitis and periodontitis have been tied to heart disease. In fact, research has showed that people who have gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.
Although the links between gum disease and hearth health are still being studied, here are a few reasons poor oral health could lead to cardiovascular problems:
- Inflammation: Whenever bacteria are allowed to grow in your body, your system's immune system ramps up inflammation to fight foreign invaders. Unfortunately, this inflammation can cause blood cells to swell, which could create blood clots and narrowed arteries.
- Oral Bacteria Found In Blockages: If you eat improperly, your arteries become lined with fats, referred to as plaque. Although this plaque isn't the same plaque found in your mouth, the same oral bacteria that is found on teeth has been found in artery blockages. Some scientists believe that bacteria might be entering the bloodstream through the mouth, and contributing to dangerous blockages.
The ties between gum disease and heart health are scary, but you don't have to let bacteria destroy your overall health. Your dentist can evaluate your condition and recommend a treatment option that will stop gum disease in its tracks.
Being able to recognize the early stages of periodontal disease might help you to avoid extensive dental procedures and dangerous medical complications. For more information, talk to the dentist at a local clinic, like Bee Cave Dental Center - Corrine Scalzitti DMD MAGD.