Gum Disease and Overall Health 

Protecting gum health is just as important as being concerned about the aesthetics of your smile. With many individuals experiencing some stage of gum disease, routine cleanings and visits to the dentist are essential in combating the advancement of the disease. Gum disease that is left untreated leads to tooth loss, but it can also enter the blood stream, spreading bacteria to other parts of the body. This can lead to overall health consequences that effect critical organs and intensify existing health conditions.

Some of the most common health conditions that gum disease exacerbates include:
Diabetes – The growth of bacteria in soft tissue can be a catalyst for developing diabetes in individuals who are already at-risk for this condition. As oral bacteria growth grows, it increases blood sugar, making the patient more susceptible to triggering of diabetes. For patients who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, gum disease further complicates problems by making it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. 

Heart Disease – When bacteria from gum disease reach other parts of the body, it can cause inflammation in soft tissue, other than in just your smile. Specifically for patients who are at risk for endocarditis, spread of gum disease contributes to inflammation of the lining within the heart.  This can prevent adequate amounts of oxygen from accessing essential organs, such as the brain and lungs. The hardening of blood vessels makes it difficult for blood to flow to your heart, increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. 

High Risk Pregnancies - With pregnancy, there are a great many changes to the body, including fluctuations in hormones that can increase the risk for gum disease by making soft tissue susceptible to bacteria and plaque. By not treating initial stages of gum disease while pregnant, this dental problem can spread to the rest of the body and to affect the health of the baby as well. Patients who are expecting and have gingivitis during pregnancy are at risk for premature birth and low birth weights for their babies. 

While these secondary complications can be extensive and serious, it’s important to know that gum disease can be treated when caught early. When patients visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings as recommended, it becomes even easier to manage soft tissue health and prevent development of periodontitis, which contributes to these more complex, whole-body health problems. 

Contact our Upper St. Clair Dental Practice

As our oral health can greatly impact your overall health, it is important to be mindful of the symptoms of gum disease for early detection and treatment. For more information about periodontal disease and root scaling and planing treatment to treat soft tissue infection, contact our Upper St. Clair dentist, Dr. Diane M. Falsetti.


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