You’ve probably heard about how diet and exercise, as well as genetics and personal habits such as smoking or drinking, can affect your overall health. But you might not be aware that the health of your mouth also plays a part, as science has linked periodontal, or gum, disease to several systemic health issues.
The American Academy of Periodontology has reported that people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease. In addition to that, gum disease in diabetics or in those with pre-diabetes can exacerbate their condition. This link may be caused by the fact that people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections. If you know that diabetes runs in your family, or that you are at risk of developing the condition, it becomes of greater importance for you to keep your gums healthy.
Unlike with diabetes, research has not yet conclusively proven that gum disease causes heart disease. However, it can be a risk factor, meaning that, if you have gum disease, you have a greater chance of developing heart disease than if your gums were healthy. It’s believed that this is due to inflammation of the gums, which can worsen heart disease. Gum disease has also been linked to stroke.
The mouth is in very close proximity to the lungs, being just a few short breaths away. If you have gum disease, potent bacteria living in your mouth can easily travel that short distance, potentially causing respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. Though they are dangerous to anyone, respiratory diseases can be a greater threat to the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems.
Maintaining a healthy mouth does not just give you a bright, beautiful smile – it also benefits your overall health. Allowing gum disease to develop can lead to poor health, so it’s best to be proactive and prevent it from happening in the first place by maintaining a good oral healthcare routine. This includes brushing and flossing regularly as well as visiting the dentist at least twice a year as recommended. Dental visits are particularly important because gum disease does not usually present obvious symptoms until it has reached advanced stages. It is during check-ups at the dentist that signs of any problems can be caught and treated before they can develop into a major problem.