Periodontal health, or gum health, plays a significant role in protecting your teeth. Gum tissue covers sensitive tooth roots and helps teeth stay properly anchored in the jaw. Without your gums, teeth would become loose and fall out. In fact, periodontal disease is one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults . Besides supporting healthy teeth, did you know that your gum health influences the health of the rest of your body? Here’s how.
Periodontal Health Affects Your Heart and Risk for Stroke
If you have gum disease, you are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke . Chronic inflammation may be the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. It’s also possible that the bacteria responsible for gum disease can influence inflammation in the heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Researchers have also found oral bacteria in arterial plaque, which can narrow arteries and lead to a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. Although medical experts are still understanding the connection, existing research shows just how much your oral health can affect the rest of your body.
Gum Disease Can Influence Diabetes
Periodontal disease is a complication of those living with diabetes. With diabetes, the body is unable to properly produce or use insulin, which in turn affects the body’s blood sugar. People who have diabetes are at higher risk for gum disease, particularly if the condition is untreated .
Unregulated blood sugar can increase the body’s risk for infections. However, existing gum disease can also cause problems with diabetes. When there’s an existing infection and diabetes, periodontal disease can be more challenging to treat, and diabetes may be harder to get under control.
Poor Gum Health Can Increase Your Risk for Respiratory Infections
Poor gum health can also influence your risk for respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) . This happens because oral bacteria can be breathed into the lungs or respiratory tract, where it can cause an infection.
If you have existing gum disease, your immune system is attempting to fight off the condition, which can lower your immunity and make you even more susceptible to developing a respiratory infection. The bacteria involved in gum disease may also make treating and recovering from a respiratory infection more difficult.
Remember That Gum Disease Is Treatable
Although some people are more at risk for gum disease, gum disease is treatable at all stages. The earlier you catch gum disease, the easier and more successful your treatment is likely to be.
If you’re seeing signs of gum disease, whether it be chronic bad breath, bleeding gums, or a bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away, follow up with your dentist to explore treatment options as soon as possible!