May 17, 2016
It’s just a bit of blood on your gums – it can’t be that serious, can it?
That’s a position that over two thirds of adults find themselves in during their lives. Slight bleeding in the gums is usually ignored or blamed on brushing too hard, but almost all instances of bleeding gums are due to gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.
Without proper treatment gum disease can result not only in lost teeth other oral health problems, but problems throughout your whole body. Our Virginia Beach office can treat gum disease and prevent the worst from happening, but saving teeth doesn’t always mean preventing bodily harm.
Gum Disease: The Bodily Connection
It all starts with the bacteria that lives in your mouth. Some of that bacteria produces acids when it metabolizes sugar from the foods you eat. Those acids irritate your gums and wear away teeth, causing the beginning of cavities and gum disease.
Once bacteria makes its way below your gumline your body reacts with inflammation. Your gums get red, puffy, sensitive, and they even bleed once in a while. As the process continues they’ll start receding, exposing the sensitive roots of your teeth and eventually leading to tooth loss.
But that’s not what we want to talk about today – we want to talk about how gum disease causes your body to be exposed to dangerous bacteria. It all starts with that bleeding, which is one of the earliest symptoms of gum disease.
Bleeding gums open a pathway for oral bacteria to get into your bloodstream, and once there it travels all over your body. Some strains even target certain organs and lead to health problems so serious they can result in death.
How Oral Bacteria Attacks Your Body
Oral bacteria in your bloodstream is a recipe for health disasters. They might not happen overnight, but the chances that you’ll end up with problems later in life greatly increase the longer your gum disease goes untreated.
This list of oral bacteria related health conditions isn’t conclusive, but it gives you an idea of the serious risks that come with even the earliest stages of gum disease.
- Streptococcus mutans, a strain present in a large number of people, has been closely linked to brain hemorrhages and strokes. It’s able to bind to weak blood vessels in the brain, where it reproduces and further weakens them. Over time the result is a burst blood vessel and potential death.
- If you’re suffering from kidney disease gum disease will just make it worse. Your immune system will already be weakened due to kidney problems, which makes gum disease easier to develop, and also increases your chance of dying from the condition. Kidney disease patients with gum disease have significantly higher chances of succumbing to it.
- Heart disease occurs much more easily in the bodies of people with increased inflammatory markers in their bloodstreams. The markers that increase heart disease risk are the exact same markers that show up when you have gum disease. To add to that problem, oral bacteria in the bloodstream further increases the chances of cardiovascular problems.
- Pancreatic cancer sufferers have been found to have a completely different set of oral bacteria than those without it. This suggests that particular strains, if and when they enter the bloodstream, are more likely to lead to certain kinds of cancer.
- Esophageal cancer cells are usually covered in oral bacteria. Healthy cells right next to cancer cells contain far less bacteria.
- Gum disease rates in breast cancer patients are much higher than in the general population.
Don’t Take Chances With Your Health
The longer gum disease goes unchecked the more bacteria makes its way into your bloodstream. Early treatment is by far the best way to prevent these problems from becoming severe, and we’ll gladly see you at the first sign of gum disease.
Many patients who catch gum disease early can treat it simply by brushing and flossing more thoroughly. In the cases where that doesn’t work we’ll get your gums cleaned out and on the road to health with a deep cleaning.
The deep cleaning process, also known as scaling and root planing, involves going below the gumline with tools specially designed to remove tartar buildup and bacteria. By the end of treatment your gums will be ready to start healing without the constant assault of oral bacteria. In most cases you’ll notice improvement in mere weeks.
Fight Gum Disease: Prevent It!
The most effective way to combat gum disease is to never get it at all. To do that you need to be seeing us twice a year for checkups. Whether you’re a regular patient or need to get back in the habit we’ll gladly see you at the office of Dr. J. Wesley Anderson, DDS!