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HEALTHY REASONING: Gum Disease Affects More Than Your Mouth

HEALTHY REASONING: Gum Disease Affects More Than Your Mouth

By Allan Bucka Jones
Pride Health Columnist

Gum disease is very common in Canada. Seventy percent of Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. It is the most common dental problem, and it can progress quite painlessly until you have a real problem. That’s why it is so important to prevent gum disease before it becomes serious.

Gum disease is the swelling or soreness of the gums around your teeth. It is caused by bacteria in plaque, a sticky colourless film that forms on your teeth. The plaque bacteria produce toxins that can lead to inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. This initial stage of gum disease is reversible. However, if you do not remove plaque by brushing and flossing your teeth, it can build up and infect your gums, teeth and the bone that supports them, leading to a more severe form of gum disease, periodontitis. If left untreated, periodontitis can result in the loss of bone and teeth.

The signs of gum disease are not always easy to see and can be painless. The earlier gum disease is caught, the easier it is to treat. That’s why it is important to see your dentist regularly.

It is documented that bacteria and inflammation linked to severe gum disease play a role in some systemic diseases and conditions. Likewise, diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS can lower the body’s resistance, making gum disease more severe. Several studies link chronic inflammation from gum disease with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests mouth bacteria may be linked to heart disease, artery blockage and stroke.

People with diabetes often have gum disease. Diabetics are more likely to develop more severe gum disease than non-diabetics. Some studies suggest severe gum disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar. It is also known that people with diabetes who smoke, are at increased risk for developing severe gum disease.

Given the potential link between gum disease and systemic health problems, prevention is an important step in maintaining overall health. Here are some important steps to follow to avoid gum disease and ultimately, problems elsewhere in your body: Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush. Hard and extra-hard toothbrushes are not recommended; Clean between teeth with floss or an interdental cleaner, at least once per day; Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks; Schedule regular dental check-ups at least twice a year. Professional cleanings or scaling are the only way to remove tartar, which traps plaque bacteria along the gum line; Tell your dentist about changes in your overall health, particularly any recent illness or chronic conditions. Provide an updated health history including medication use; If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, pay particular attention to your teeth and gums. Pregnancy cause changes in your hormonal levels which can exaggerate some dental problems; Do not smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco.

If your condition is very serious, additional treatment may be necessary. Your dental professional will tell you whether you will need treatment in addition to a routine cleaning.

Oral health is an important part of overall health. Good oral health contributes positively to your physical, mental and social well-being and to the enjoyment of life’s possibilities, by allowing you to speak, eat and socialize unhindered by pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

A healthy mouth is important in maintaining a healthy body. Prevent gum disease and prevent health problems elsewhere in your body. Plan a visit to your dentist. 

Allan Bucka Jones is a Health Promoter and Broadcaster. He can be heard on “Allan Bucka Jones LIVE”, Sundays from 3 to 5pm on CHRY 105.5 FM, CHRY RADIO App, www.chry.fm option RDO.to, Rogers Digital Cable 945, Bell Fibe 973 or mobile app TuneIn Radio. You can contact Allan Bucka Jones at allan@jonesandjones.ca.

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