The Link Between Gum Disease and Other Serious Medical Conditions, From Diabetes to Heart Disease

Your mother always told you to brush your teeth. Turns out she was more right than we knew. Not only does brushing your teeth keep them clean and healthy, but it also prevents gum disease, which in recent years has been linked to many other serious medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, decreased cognitive function, low-birth-weight babies, and more.

The expert dentists at Popper Dental on New York City’s Upper East Side are well-versed in the importance of preventing gum disease. They can help you maintain healthy gums. Here’s why that’s so important.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of your gum tissue. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. If the plaque, which includes bacteria, is not removed, it will eventually infect your gums, which puts your teeth at risk – gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Your gums become red and inflamed and may bleed when you brush your teeth. At this stage, gum disease is reversible with better at-home care, including regular brushing and flossing, along with regular dental checkups.

The next stage is periodontitis, which is more serious. Your gums begin to pull away from your teeth, creating pockets where more bacteria and debris can gather. Your teeth begin to loosen in your gums as the bone weakens, and you may eventually lose teeth.

What is gum disease linked to?

Gum disease is widespread in the United States – the CDC says almost half of adults age 30 and over have some form of periodontal disease. It is important that people catch gum disease before it gets worse. Gum disease is essentially inflammation, which can play a role in many other serious health conditions.

Inflammation in the gums, for example, could lead to inflammation of the cardiovascular system. Bacteria from the gums could travel to the heart and cause infection.

Gum disease has also been linked to increased risk of cancer, a reduction in respiratory function, and an increased risk of cognitive decline. It has also been connected to diabetes, stroke, premature birth, and low birth rates

How can you prevent gum disease?

Preventing gum disease and the health risks associated with it is actually very simple: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. This will keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent bacteria from gaining a foothold in your mouth.

You should also visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and more thorough cleanings. Your dental staff can, for example, remove tartar from your teeth that your toothbrush can’t. Checkups will ensure that problems are not developing.

A regular schedule of checkups also allows your dentist to catch small problems before they become big ones, so the team at Popper Dental recommends cleanings every six months. Call or book an appointment online today to get and stay on the road to clean and healthy teeth and gums.

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