The Center for Disease Control estimates that up to 50% of Americans have gum disease. Furthermore, according to recent research, those with gum disease are more prone to heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia.

The symptoms are bad breath, red or swollen gums, discomfort, bleeding gums, and receding gums. In addition, periodontal disease, often known as gum disease, can harm the tissues, bones, and gums, resulting in tooth loss if left untreated.

Pregnant women who have gum disease endanger themselves and their unborn children. According to research, chronic inflammatory disease can result in premature and underweight infants. Furthermore, deformities and health issues can occur when the baby is born earlier than expected.

Gingivitis, on the other hand, is reversible with early detection and treatment. It's one of the reasons why going to the dentist every six months is so important.

What Is Gum Disease?

It is known as gingivitis in its early stages. The gums are red, sensitive, and possibly swollen. You can treat gingivitis with regular cleanings every six months and avoid it by brushing and flossing daily.

Gingivitis progresses to periodontitis if left untreated.  Periodontitis causes bleeding and pain around the teeth. When the receding gums can no longer support the teeth, the teeth become wobbly and fall out.

What Causes Gingivitis And Periodontitis?

Plaque and tartar build-up are the primary causes of periodontal diseases. Poor oral hygiene encourages plaque formation; plaque forms when starches and sugars in food interact with the oral bacteria. The longer plaque and tartar stay on your teeth, the more dangerous they become to oral health.

Brushing your teeth daily is necessary to remove the bacteria film. On the other hand, when you don't brush, the microorganisms under your gums solidify and convert into tartar. In addition to irritating the gum line, tartar is a barrier for microorganisms. It is also difficult to remove and requires a hygienist or dentist cleaning.

Factors That Can Increase The Risk Of Gum Disease Include:

  • Hormonal changes make the development of gingivitis easy because gums are sensitive, commonly affecting women during puberty, monthly menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Men, on the other hand, can go through hormonal changes during adolescence.
  • Diabetes can also have an impact on gum health. Diabetes and other systemic diseases increase the risk of infection. Medications can also decrease saliva production, which helps to protect the mouth from harmful bacteria.
  • Smoking, vaping, and excessive alcohol consumption can all contribute to periodontal disease by impairing the gum tissues' natural ability to repair themselves. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease development.
  • Stress is also a risk factor for periodontitis because it lowers the body's ability to fight infections.
  • Clenching teeth causes excess pressure on gums, speeding up the deterioration.
  • Malocclusion. Non-aligned teeth strain your jaw and cause gum recession. In this case, cleaning your teeth might be able to help.

Gum Disease And Alzheimer's 

A new study in Science Advances suggests a link between Alzheimer's and gum disease. According to Stephen Dominy, researchers discovered that P. gingivalis could migrate from the mouth to the brain. The researchers studied mice infected with the mouth bacteria and found that the infectious agent eventually enters the brain.

Through COR388, the study also offered hope for treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. COR388, for example, has been shown to reduce the presence of P. gingivalis, which aids in preserving hippocampus neurons - the part of the brain responsible for memory.

Gum Disease And Cancer

Studies have linked Periodontal Diseases to Systemic Diseases, including Heart Diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Cancer.

According to the Lancet Oncology, men with periodontal disease had a higher risk of cancer: 49% for kidney cancer, 30% for white blood cell cancer, 54% for pancreatic cancer, and 36% for lung cancer.

Furthermore, the inflammation of the gum layer sends bacteria through the bloodstream, hardening the arteries and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

The Link Between Other Systemic Diseases

Studies suggest that periodontal disease can lead to systemic diseases in women and men, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, heart disease, respiratory infection, and diabetes. After all, the condition and inflammation in the mouth can travel down to other parts of the body.

Arthritis | PLoS Pathogens discovered that oral bacteria caused rheumatoid arthritis to worsen. It also causes the disease to manifest earlier and the symptoms to progress more quickly.

Cancer | The Lancet Oncology discovered that periodontal diseases increased cancer risk by 14%, lung cancer by 36%, kidney cancer by 49%, and pancreatic cancer by 54%.

Diabetes | Gum disease can affect blood sugar levels, contributing to diabetes progression.

Heart Disease | Gum disease doubles the risk of heart disease, possibly even higher in people with high cholesterol.

Preeclampsia | Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure, swelling of the hands and feet, and excess protein. In addition, due to hormonal changes, pregnant women are more likely to develop gum disease. As a result, expectant mothers are more likely to have a premature or low birth weight baby.

Respiratory Infections | People with gum disease are more vulnerable to respiratory infections like pneumonia. According to one study, participants with respiratory illness had poor gum health due to an excess of oral bacteria

Stroke | Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of stroke due to a heightened systemic inflammatory response.

Gum Disease Can Also Affect Children

Periodontal disease can affect anyone, regardless of age, including children, because the thin enamel of their teeth makes them more vulnerable to bacterial attacks. In addition, hormonal changes in teenagers may disrupt blood flow in their gums, making them more prone to swelling. So, how does gum disease develop in children?

Contamination Causes Gum Disease in Children

Parents can pass bacteria to their children when they share utensils or blow on hot food. So if either of the parents has gum disease or other oral bacteria, the bacteria can transfer to their children. But don't worry, your children will not develop it at the same time. Gum disease develops when plaque accumulates below the gum line on the teeth over time. 

Hormones play a role in adolescence. During puberty, increased hormone levels increase blood flow to the gums. As a result, the gums become slightly swollen and more sensitive to brushing and flossing.

6 Tips To Help Prevent Gum Disease

#1 Reduce Your Stress

Stress can trigger many health problems. Besides higher blood pressure, stress can increase anxiety, cause weight gain, and lower the immune system. 

#2 Avoiding some Medications

Oral contraceptives and antidepressants can increase the risk of gum disease if used for an extended period. If you are concerned, consult your primary care physician.

#3 Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

A sugary diet is ideal for gum disease. A healthy diet would include a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy products while avoiding sugary snacks and processed foods.

#4 Stop Smoking and Vaping

In addition to lowering your risk of gum disease, quitting smoking reduces your risk of oral cancer.

#5 Visit the Dentist Twice a Year

Visiting the dentist twice a year allows you to prevent painful (and expensive) gum disease from becoming a problem.

#6 Avoid Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth can speed up the progression of gum disease. Consult your dentist about getting a custom-fitted night guard.

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