Most of us realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?

Growing research and evidence is supporting what dental professionals have long suspected: Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.

Studies are continuing but dentists do know that periodontal (gum) disease is a bacterial infection, and all infections are cause for concern. Periodontal bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research is suggesting that this may:

  • Contribute to the development of heart disease.
  • Increase the risk of stroke.
  • Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low birth weight baby.
  • Pose a serious threat to people whose health is compromised by diabetes, respiratory diseases, or osteoporosis.

Signs of gum disease include:

  • gums that are red around your teeth
  • shiny, puffy or sore gums
  • gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
  • bad breath that will not go away
  • a taste of metal in your mouth
  • teeth that are sensitive for no reason
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

As well as contributing to the above-mentioned health concerns, gum disease is one of the main reasons why adults lose their teeth. The good news is gum disease can almost always be prevented. If it starts, it can be treated and can even be turned around (or reversed) in its early stages.

What causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque remaining around the gumlines of the teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce acids and other toxins that can destroy bone and gum tissue over a period of time. Brushing twice a day is not enough to remove plaque from in between the teeth, so it is very important to floss your teeth daily. If plaque is not removed, it will harden into a thick deposit called tartar. If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth and below the gumline, it can lead to chronic infection and inflammation. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

(Information from the American Academy of Periodontology & The Canadian Dental Assn.)

Visit the following links to read more:

What is Periodontial/Gum Disease?
http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/complications/diseases/gum_diseases.asp

Assess Your Risk for Gum Disease
http://www.perio.org/consumer/4a.html