New research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy,chances are your overall health is good, too. Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring. In some cases, oral problems can be a symptom of other diseases, such as diabetes. Research has also linked gum disease to heart disease, premature birth and even knee arthritis.
Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease cause by bacterial species found in plaque below the gums. Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. It can cause swollen gums, irritation and bleeding. Often people learn they have been living with diabetes because their dentist or periodontist told them. Then when they go and get tested they find out they have diabetes. There are distinct oral signs on the gums that dentist and periodontist can see that make it known that you may have diabetes. The diabetes and periodontal disease feed off each other.
The reason the negative impact of gum disease goes beyond the mouth is gum disease is an active bacterial infection that has access to the whole body via the bloodstream. The bacteria can destroy flesh and bone tissue in the mouth, leading to severe gum problems and tooth loss. The immune system recognizes the gum disease as the rampant bacterial infection it is. One way the body defeats an infection is to increase the inflammation in the local area of the infection in an effort to increase blood flow thus increase the number of white blood cells to fight the infections. Swollen, painful gums, bleeding when brushing or flossing are clear signs of an active bacterial infection in the mouth and an early warning sign of serious gum disease (this is also a sign that many people ignore).
More serious problems begin to occur when the bacteria present in the mouth from gum disease travel to other parts of the body. At this point, it is now a system wide chronic inflammation that contributes to and sets the stage for other diseases like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Thus, gum disease really is one of the main pathways, like a gateway disease, that helps support the conditions that allow system wide diseases to establish and flourish.
Healthy smile, Healthy you.