Rene Wilson | HealthGreatness

Poor oral hygiene is often associate with cavities, yellow teeth and bad breath. But poor oral health can also lead to much more serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, immune deficiencies and osteoporosis. One of the leading contributors to inflammation and infection in the body, is gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease in an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth. The early stages of gum disease is known as gingivitis. During the early stages of gingivitis, a sticky film, called plaque forms on your teeth and bacteria in the plaque builds up, causing your gums to become inflamed. During this stage, it is easy to reverse the symptoms of gingivitis, because although there is irritation, your teeth are still firmly in their sockets. There is no tissue or irreversible bone damage at this stage.

However, when gingivitis goes untreated, it advances to periodontitis, which means the inner layer of your gums and bone pull away from your teeth, forming pockets. The pockets collect debris and may become infected. Your body’s immune system naturally attempts to fight the bacteria in plaque as it spreads and grows below the gum line. However, toxins that are produced by the bacteria, along with enzymes that fight infections, start to break down the connective tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. The deeper the pockets are, the higher the risk of more bacteria building up. The bacteria may eventually begin to enter the blood stream, which puts your bones, tissue, organs and cells at risk of infection. As the infection flows through your bloodstream, there are risks of serious health problems, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease – There are several types of cardiovascular disease that be caused by poor oral health and gum disease, such as heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries.
  • Diabetes – Poor oral health may make the symptoms of diabetes more difficult to control. The infections resulting from gum disease can cause a rise in blood sugar, requiring more insulin to keep it under control.
  • Pregnancy and birth – Gum disease has been shown to cause premature birth. This is why it is critical to maintain excellent oral health before and during a pregnancy.
  • Osteoporosis – During the later stages of gum disease, there may be bone loss in your teeth. The loss of bone density that occurs in osteoporosis, including the bone in your jaw, cause the bone supporting your teeth to be highly susceptible to infection and further damage.

Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine is not only important for aesthetic purposes, but for long-term health issues as well. It is important to brush your teeth at least twice each day, especially before bedtime. Brushing your tongue each time you brush your teeth can dramatically reduce the amount of bacteria that is harbored on the tongue.