How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health

How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health

Good dental hygiene is critical for several reasons, such as avoiding tooth decay and having fresh breath. Regular dental visits are part of good dental hygiene. When you brush twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist twice a year, you’re more likely to have a bright, beautiful smile, and more importantly, better health overall. 

Dr. Lana Rozenberg and her staff at Rozenberg Dental NYC are dedicated to helping you enjoy good oral health. Oral health is just one element of good health. You probably work to improve your health through good nutrition and exercise but may not realize that taking care of your teeth contributes to your healthy lifestyle, too. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is widespread but poses serious risks to your oral health and is associated with numerous chronic conditions. 

Diabetes and gum disease

If you have diabetes, you probably already know that it’s a condition that raises your risk of many other health problems. Gum disease is one of those risks and is considered a complication of diabetes. In addition to the greater risk of developing periodontal disease if you have diabetes, if you do get gum disease, your diabetes becomes harder to control. 

The effect of gum disease on controlling diabetes may occur when bacteria from your infected gums leak into your bloodstream. This activates your body’s defense mechanisms, which results in higher blood sugar levels. The situation can make maintaining healthy blood sugar levels difficult, which is key to controlling the disease and reducing the risk of complications. 

One of the ways the two conditions impact each other is that the bacteria from your infected gum tissue get into your bloodstream. Your body detects the infection and your immune system goes into gear, which leads to higher blood sugar levels. It can become a vicious cycle and make it difficult to control your blood sugar which is crucial for controlling diabetes and lowering your risk of other complications. 

Your gums and your heart

If you have periodontal disease, you are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than someone with healthy gums. Cardiovascular disease may lead to events like a heart attack or stroke. 

Once again, the association between the two conditions may have to do with bacteria from your infected gums entering your bloodstream. It can cause plaque to build up in your arteries, making them narrower and less flexible. This is called atherosclerosis, and it can lead to blocked blood vessels and potentially even a heart attack or stroke. 

It’s also possible that gum disease and cardiovascular disease have to do with inflammation. Your body’s immune system tries to fight periodontal disease, and inflammation is one of its weapons. Because the bacteria from your gums get into your blood and travels throughout your body, the inflammation can occur in places other than your mouth. However, chronic inflammation can cause damage to the organs and tissues in your cardiovascular system and weaken them. 

Cancer and gum disease

You may be surprised to learn that periodontal disease can make it more likely you develop some types of cancers. A long-term health study reported that participants with advanced gum disease had a 24% higher cancer risk versus those with healthier gums. 

Patients who participated in the study and had severe gum disease were more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer compared to people who had mild gum disease or didn’t have gum disease at all. Colorectal cancer was also more common in people who had periodontal disease. 

Your gums and breathing

Gum disease may increase your risk of developing a respiratory infection like pneumonia. The increased bacteria in your mouth from the infection in your gums can get into your upper respiratory tract. 

If you have a condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gum disease can worsen it. The infection in your gums creates inflammation in your airways, which can lead to lung damage or more frequent respiratory issues. 

Alzheimer’s disease and your gums

Having gum disease may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This finding was reported in a study that found that a specific type of bacteria related to severe gum disease also existed in the brains of deceased people with Alzheimer’s disease. The same bacteria have been found in the spinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Researchers in the same study infected the gums of healthy mice with P. gingivalis. They found that the bacteria easily spread to the animals’ brains and caused changes characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease there. This is early research but offers one additional reason to practice careful dental hygiene. 

Schedule an appointment at Rozenberg Dental NYC today. We’re always happy to see you and want to help you stay healthy.

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