Everyone knows that their teeth require regular brushing, flossing and dental cleaning to keep them healthy. Of course, that doesn’t always mean they act on that knowledge. And they may not know that these recommendations are primarily directed at keeping their gums healthy. Moreover, research over the last five years or so has shown that gum disease, especially untreated or chronic gum disease, can contribute to serious health problems outside the mouth.

It’s now thought that chronic gum disease can contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. It can also increase the risk of stroke, lead to the development of diabetes, and increase a pregnant woman’s chances of having a premature, low birth-weight baby. As new research accumulates, this list may grow longer. Already there is evidence of an impact on the development of Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.

Gum (periodontal) diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection affecting the gums and the bones that support the teeth. It begins when the bacteria that are present in plaque causes the gums to become inflamed. In the mildest form, gingivitis, the gums are red, swollen and bleed easily. Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, in which the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line leading to chronic inflammation and destruction of the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

Original Article: https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/zimney-health-and-medical-news-you-can-use/gum-disease-its-not-just-about-your-teeth/
Author: Ed Zimney, MD