Gum health is often neglected because most of us focus on keeping only our teeth clean. Since gums cover the bones of our teeth, and seal and protect against bacteria, it is essential to take good care of our gums.
Negligence of oral hygiene can result in gum disease (periodontitis), which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Like our intestine, our mouth is home to complex ecosystems of bacteria, known as the oral micro biome. Disturbance in the balance of different species of bacteria provides an opening for pathogens to penetrate, causing periodontal disease, which further disrupts the bacterial balance. Effects range from mild redness and swelling of the gums (gingivitis) to complete destruction of the tooth’s bony support structure (advanced periodontitis), which is responsible for tooth loss.
For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other disease in the body; however, more recent research highlights that inflammation may be responsible for the association.
People with periodontal disease have been found to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, pregnancy complications, and dementia.
The association probably works both ways. For example, diabetes research has determined that successfully treating periodontitis reduces the severity of diabetes and vice versa.
DID YOU KNOW: According to a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, adults with gingivitis performed worse on memory tests and other cognitive skills than those with healthier gums and mouths. Those with gingivitis were more likely to perform poorly on delayed verbal recall and subtraction tests – skills used in daily life.
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