The medical and dental fields have come a long way in recent years. The prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many diseases are all handled much differently than they used to be. And thanks to modern research, we know things today that would have been hard to believe even 30 years ago! One of those things is the link between the gums and the rest of the body.
As a dentist in Tyler, we wanted to write a blog about this important topic. We’ll start by explaining what gum disease is before discussing the link between your gum health and overall health. We’ll also share some tips for how to make sure your gums are as healthy as possible!
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease affects the gums and underlying jawbone that support the teeth and keep them in place. In advanced stages, the teeth can become loose and fall out, even if the teeth themselves have never had cavities.
The first stage is called gingivitis, which simply means, “inflamed gums.” Thankfully, gingivitis can usually be reversed with regular dental care and consistent brushing and flossing.
However, once gum disease progresses past gingivitis, it can no longer be reversed or cured. But, like diabetes, it can be managed and stabilized.
Can Your Gums Affect the Rest of Your Body?
Researchers have found that having gum disease can increase the risk for all of the following:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Pregnancy Complications
In addition, an article on Colgate’s website refers to a study from the journal, The Lancet Oncology, that found a link between periodontal disease and several cancers.
Researchers believe that the increased risk is due to the chronic inflammation of the gum tissues, but more studies are needed to determine the specific link.
What Can You Do For Healthy Gums?
The first step is to schedule a checkup with a dentist in Tyler so that you can have your gums examined. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you have gum disease or not and can spend more time explaining how to manage it.
In the meantime, here are some easy things you can do to improve the health of your gums:
- Gum therapy – Thankfully, we have effective treatments that can make a big difference. Our goal is to diagnose and treat gum disease as early as possible to help you get the best out of these therapies.
- Excellent Hygiene – Even with regular dental care, what you do at home every day will have an equally big impact on your gum health. Brush at least twice each day and floss once. Tools like an electric toothbrush and a waterpik can also help you reach under the gumline where even floss can have a hard time reaching.
- Avoid tobacco – Smoking can increase the risk for gum disease, so if you smoke, using one of the many cessation tools available to help with quitting will really improve your oral health.
- Manage diabetes – Diabetes is also a risk factor, so working with your doctor to manage your blood sugar can make a big difference to your gums.
At one time, it may have sounded like a stretch to say that flossing can save your life, but now that we know more about the connection between gum health and overall health, it’s not a stretch after all!
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Stansbury is a firm believer that when it comes to your health, everything is connected. With decades of experience and extensive advanced education, he is dedicated to providing the best in comprehensive dental care to his patients, which includes educating them about periodontal disease. If you have any questions, he can be reached via his website or at (903) 561-1122.