When you come to Callow Family Dentistry and Dr. Callow examines your mouth, he does not just look at the state of your teeth. He checks your gums carefully as well, looking for signs of gum disease, or periodontal disease.
Gum disease is alarmingly common — afflicting half of Americans over 30 and 70 percent of people over 65, according to the Centers of Disease Control. It is also dangerous. Not only is periodontal disease (and not tooth decay) the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, but recent studies have shed light on how the health of the gums affects the entire body.
Regular visits to Callow Family Dentistry are crucial to keeping gum disease in check. Call our Plymouth, MI office at 734-404-7336 to request an appointment.
The Gum-Body Connection
Gum disease is an inflammation and infection of the gum tissue, caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. It is a progressive disease, becoming worse over time. In its earlier stages, it is called gingivitis. Late-stage gum disease is called periodontitis.
Studies have confirmed that unhealthy gums may contribute to or worsen a host of serious systemic diseases. So taking care of your gums is not just about keeping your teeth. It’s about maintaining the health of your entire body.
Research suggests that periodontitis may cause or worsen cardiovascular disease. The culprit appears to be inflammation — a hallmark of gum disease. The bacteria that’s causing problems in your mouth may escape to your bloodstream and trigger inflammation of the blood vessels in the heart. Gum disease may also put you at a higher risk for stroke.
The gum disease and diabetes connection runs both ways. People with diabetes are much more likely to develop periodontal disease than the general population, probably because they are more susceptible to infection generally.
Research has also shown that gum disease makes it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood-sugar levels. This makes them more at risk for diabetic complications.
While the nature of the connection is not yet understood, research has shown a link between gum disease and cancers. One recent study showed a higher rate of certain cancers in postmenopausal women with gum disease. Another showed that men with gum disease were more likely to have kidney, pancreatic, and blood cancers than their peers with healthy gums.
Bacteria from your mouth may be aspirated into your lungs, which can lead to a respiratory disease such as pneumonia.
Know Your Gum Disease Risk
While periodontal disease can strike any person at any age, some people are more likely to develop it than others.
- Gum disease runs in families. If your parents, siblings, or other relatives have it, you should be extra vigilant.
- People who smoke or use other forms of tobacco are at a very high risk of periodontal disease. Smokers’ gum disease tends to be resistant to treatment, too.
- The older you are, the more likely you are to have gum disease.
- Some medications dry out your mouth, which makes it more difficult to remove harmful bacteria. This increases your vulnerability to gum disease.
- People who clench or grind their teeth may wear down the tooth enamel and gums, increasing the likelihood they will develop periodontal disease.
- People who are obese or have a nutrient-poor diet are at an increased risk for gum disease, possibly due to a weakened immune system.
- Certain systemic disease, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, may make you more susceptible to periodontal disease.
- Women who are pregnant or going through menopause are at an increased risk for gum disease due to hormonal changes.
- Poor oral hygiene habits put you at risk for periodontal disease.
- Crooked or overlapping teeth are more difficult to keep clean and therefore increase your chances of developing gum disease.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have gum disease. Call Callow Family Dentistry immediately!
- The first symptom to appear is often swollen, red, and/or tender gums.
- Gums that bleed, especially when brushing or flossing.
- Halitosis, or bad breath, that won’t go away.
- Gums that are receding, or pulling away, from the teeth.
- A change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together.
- Pus in your mouth
- Loose teeth
But remember: gum disease is often symptom-free at first. So be sure to visit our dental office every six months for a checkup!
At Callow Family Dentistry, we will help you keep your gums healthy. If you are in the very early stages of gingivitis, we can help you reverse it with a thorough professional cleaning and by teaching you proper oral hygiene at home. If you are in a more advanced stage, we can perform a special deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing.