The most common oral health disorder - periodontal disease - is also the most serious because it has the potential to affect your overall health. Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth, gums and jawbone, most commonly caused by the bacteria in the plaque that constantly forms on teeth.
While it is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, periodontal disease has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, and infective endocarditis - a potentially fatal bacterial infection of the heart. Periodontal disease can also cause respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
FACT...your risk for contracting periodontal disease increases if you smoke.
Source: CAESY Education Systems, from Patterson; Vancouver, WA; DVD 2008.
How can a mouth-based disease do such widespread damage to the body?
It starts with pockets of infection, causing the gums to turn red and swollen, eventually bleeding when you brush your teeth. This bleeding opens the doorway to disease-causing bacteria to enter the bloodstream, travelling quickly to your heart, lungs and elsewhere.
ALTHOUGH NO SYMPTOMS MAY BE EVIDENT, COMMON INDICATORS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE INCLUDE:
- Persistent bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Swollen, tender gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
FACT...pregnant women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver a pre-term low birth weight baby than women with healthy gums. Source: CAESY Education Systems, from Patterson; Vancouver, WA; DVD 2008.
The good news is that periodontal disease is fairly simple to prevent by eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting your dentist and hygienist twice annually for thorough examinations and cleanings and a more advanced oral care regimen at home.
Talk to the doctor today about what oral care regimen is best for you to help prevent the serious effects of periodontal disease.
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