Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, may be considered the primary component of the oral-systemic connection. The mouth is one of the primary entryways into the digestive and respiratory tracts, making it a natural breeding ground for bacteria. Most of such bacteria are harmless, but poor oral hygiene may allow them to multiply to dangerously high levels. At this point, the mouth becomes at risk for several oral infections. Inflammation will then enter the bloodstream, weakening the body’s immune system.
Oral health is most notably linked to preexisting heart conditions and diabetes. However, others involve pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Research has shown that heart conditions and periodontitis have a positively correlated relationship and that diabetes and oral health exist bidirectionally. As such, receiving treatment for one condition often treats the other. Poor oral hygiene can increase elderly patients’ risk of pneumonia. Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease are both linked to severe inflammation — making patients more susceptible to further health problems.
Nothing can replace regular visits to a complete health dentist, especially since gum disease is often a "silent" condition with little to no symptoms until it has already progressed. However, good oral hygiene should be the first defense for anyone looking to prevent gum disease. Brushing at least twice daily and flossing once nightly can help remove plaque, especially when using a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Arizona Family Dental can help determine your unique risk profile and what you can do to bring your mouth back to a healthy mouth baseline.
Lifestyle choices significantly affect one’s risk of developing gum disease. These involve excessive alcohol intake, tobacco use, and poor nutrition. Age, genetics, stress, medications, and grinding or clenching teeth may also play a factor. However, this list is not exhaustive.
Typically, gum disease begins with a buildup of excess plaque. If left undisturbed for long enough, this plaque will eventually turn to tartar under the gumline. From then on, it will develop into gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. If left untreated, this condition will progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.
Patients often lack the necessary knowledge to make informed, critical decisions about their care. As a result, they may feel lost or taken advantage of within the healthcare system. Our goal is to empower our patients to become active participants in their recovery, those with realistic goals and a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions that affect them.
Pregnancy is not a preexisting condition for most insurance plans. However, it may still affect and be affected by oral health. Our compassionate staff will take the necessary steps to provide you with safe, efficient dental care for both you and your baby.