We all are aware that poor dental care, leads to dental and gum problems i.e. cavities and gingivitis. However, there are other serious medical problems which may occur, as a result of ignoring gum health.
1. HEART DISEASE- Bacteria from the inflamed gums (gingivitis) and those which are present in the mouth as a result of periodontal disease, (serious form of gum infection affecting the bone which support the teeth,) can enter the blood stream and travel to the arteries in the heart. These bacteria attach themselves to the inner walls of the arteries and cause their thickening, as a result of formation of plaques. This condition is called atherosclerosis. This results in a decreased flow of blood to the body. This increases the chances of heart attack or stroke. The inner lining of the heart can also get infected and inflamed. This condition is called endocarditis.
2. DEMENTIA- The bacteria from the inflamed gums, can reach the brain either through the blood stream or the nerve channels. They contribute to symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including confusion and failing memory. The theory is that when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria and/or debris from our inflamed gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss.
3. RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS- It has been found that respiratory bacteria from the oral cavity travel to the lungs through the blood stream and cause infections. The periodontal pocket, acts as a reservoir for various species of toxic bacteria. These bacteria can increase significantly the risk of lung diseases and worsen conditions like pneumonia, emphysema and bronchitis. In one study of patients suffering from pneumonia, it was found that their lungs had strains of certain virulent bacteria normally found only in the mouth. There are studies which show a relationship between gum infection and frequent episodes of COPD i.e. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
4. DIABETIC COMPLICATIONS- It has been found that gum inflammation and periodontal disease, makes it harder to control the blood sugar levels and the symptoms of diabetes worsen.
5. IT COULD ADVERSELY AFFECT FERTILITY- It has been found that women of childbearing age, with gum disease took longer to conceive than those without any gum disease. Also the chances of miscarriage are higher in women with gum disease.
Posted By – Dr. Suprriya B. Bhatia