The Surprising Dangers of Gum Disease

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World Oral Health Day, celebrated globally every year on March 20th, is designed to bring attention to the importance of good oral health and its connection to overall well-being.

Gum disease is a prime example of this relationship. Research continues to confirm that people with periodontal issues are at an increased risk for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer.

And periodontal disease is sneaky. The first stage, called gingivitis, often takes hold in your mouth without alerting you with symptoms. At Family Dental of Spokane Valley, we can detect problems early on, while they are still easy to reverse.

For your dental health and your systemic health, book a cleaning and exam every six months. Call our Spokane Valley, WA office at 509-850-3217.


Bacteria Are the Bad Guys

When bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up around and underneath your gumline, your tissue will begin to become inflamed, tender, and swollen. It may bleed easily while brushing or flossing. This is how gingivitis, or early-stage periodontal disease, begins. If ignored and left untreated, your disease will progress into late-stage disease, or periodontitis.

This is when things get serious. Gum problems — not tooth decay — are the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Not only that, but the bacteria that are infecting your mouth can escape into your bloodstream and cause issues throughout your body.

Numerous studies have indicated that people with periodontal disease are at an increased risk for developing heart disease — and worsening of existing heart problems. The mechanism for this may be bacteria leaving your mouth and traveling via the bloodstream to blood vessels in the heart, causing inflammation and damage. Research has shown that people who have a buildup of oral bacteria have thicker carotid arteries than other people. This may restrict blood flow to the brain, putting them in danger of stroke.

It’s long been known that people with diabetes are at a much higher risk for gum problems than non diabetics (likely because they are more prone to infection in general). But research shows another unfortunate connection. Periodontal disease appears to make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar, which makes them vulnerable to complications.

And that’s not all. Other studies have shown a link between gum infections and cancer, respiratory disease, and osteoarthritis.


Your Treatment Options

The best way to keep your gums in great shape is to prevent bacteria build-up altogether with meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits. But if you do end up with periodontal disease, we can bring your gum tissue back to health.

If you have early stage gingivitis, you many not need any special treatment at all. At this point, professional cleanings and improved brushing and flossing may do the trick.

If your disease has advanced, we may perform a deep-cleaning technique called scaling and root planing. Performed under local anesthesia, this procedure involves removing bacteria, plaque, and tartar from underneath the gumline. We will also smooth your tooth roots, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to take hold and enables your gums to reattach more easily.

We can also discourage bacterial growth by placing an antibiotic under your gumline.


For gum disease prevention and treatment in Spokane Valley, WA, fill out our handy online form or call the office of Family Dental of Spokane Valley at 509-850-3217.



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