It is unfortunate that many people see taking care of their dental health as less important than their general physical health. If you believe dental check-ups twice a year at a local dentist in Tunbridge Wells rank low on your list of priorities, you’re forgetting one essential fact – the mouth is the entrance to the rest of the body. A growing body of scientific research points to the inescapable truth; what happens in the mouth does not happen in isolation, it affects the rest of the body as well.
As a case in point, consider the ill effects of gum disease. Gum disease is a dreaded dental disease that wreaks havoc in the mouth, but also has far-reaching effects on the wider physical body too. One research study puts the number of UK adults suffering from gum disease to nearly half of the population. Of this number, 60 per cent belong to the over-65 age group.
It is not surprising that gum disease falls into the category of major public health concerns due to, not only the widespread threat to overall health, but also the costs of dental care involved in treating the progressive disease.
What causes gum disease?
It is the lack of proper oral hygiene that creates the ideal environment for gum disease. Neglecting to brush or floss influences the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the mouth. The mouth, as a moist environment, becomes a natural harbour for bacteria (both the good and bad varieties). As long as there is a balance between good and bad bacteria, there is no problem. Once the bad kind begins to overtake the good in number, the risk of dental diseases is amplified.
The threat of gum disease to oral health
The direct impact of gum disease on oral health is the threat to tooth longevity. If gum disease is not treated, the condition can quickly progress to advanced stages like periodontitis. One of the consequences of periodontitis is tooth loss when the diseased gums can no longer offer adequate support to teeth. In turn, loss of teeth opens up the possibility of additional problems like impaired masticatory function, unclear speech and a ruined smile.
The threat of gum disease to physical health
The effects of gum disease on physical health always come as a surprise as many people do not, at first, acknowledge the link between the mouth and the rest of the body.
Scientists have discovered evidence of types of bad oral bacteria as far deep into the body as the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
These findings establish links between periodontal bacteria and serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease and inflammatory lung illnesses. Studies found that patients with periodontitis are much more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes or be vulnerable to illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The threat of gum disease to mental and psychosocial health
The widespread influence of gum disease extends to mental health as well. Researchers have drawn connections between people with gum disease and mental illnesses including depression, anxiety disorders and Alzheimer’s
In addition, losing a great smile because of gum disease results in a drop in confidence. Low self-confidence can take a toll on one’s social and professional life. All things considered, gum disease is a far more serious threat than at first thought.