What are the dangers of gum disease?
February 28th, 2019
In recent years, a great deal of research has been conducted into the relationship between gum disease and other health problems. Many of these problems can have serious and even life-changing consequences if not treated quickly and effectively. With trusted organisations such as the NHS now confirming many of the links that have been circulated in the media, it is time to take gum disease seriously. In this article, we look at what are now known to be some of the biggest dangers of gum disease.
Gum disease and premature labour
A recently published study has discovered that women who entered labour early were one and a half times more likely (45%) to have gum disease than women who experienced a perfect pregnancy (29%). It was also discovered that early birth rates were more common for women with untreated tooth decay or fillings.
The study featured almost 150 women and it was found that women who went into early labour recorded gum health scores four times lower than those who had a timelier birth. They also had eight times more plaque.
Taking good care of your oral hygiene before and during pregnancy is clearly of great importance and those who are planning or expecting a child are advised to follow a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning in-between teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss.
As well as helping to ensure a healthier birth, maintaining good oral hygiene can also help to protect expectant mothers from unwanted problems. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can leave gums more vulnerable to plaque. They are more likely to be sore and swollen, and may even bleed. Good oral hygiene will help to reduce the risk of this occurring.
If you are planning a child, a thorough dental checkup early on will allow you to get a clean bill of health for your teeth and give you one less thing to worry about during your pregnancy.
Gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease
Another topic that has got a great deal of attention recently is the link that has been discovered between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The most recent study into the relationship, conducted in Taiwan and published in the respected medical journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, found that gum disease sufferers are 70% more likely to get dementia.
The study concluded that people with a 10-year or longer history of chronic periodontitis (CP) had a small but significant increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
This supports a previous study which also found a link. In both cases, it is hard to find any definitive answers due to the complex nature of Alzheimer’s disease. Future studies are likely to continue in this field, however, to build on the insights that have already been gained and see if there is more to be learned.
Although it may be in the early days yet, the research certainly helps to support the arguments for maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, and suggests that this could have real benefits later in life.
Gum disease and other conditions
According to Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, “the link between oral health and overall body health is well documented and backed by robust scientific evidence. Despite this, only 1 in 6 people realises that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke or diabetes. And only 1 in 3 is aware of the heart disease link.”
The NHS agrees with the research, adding that there is also now an established relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease.
Taking this into consideration, looking after your teeth and gums could be protecting far more than just your smile – it may well help to protect your quality of life long into the future.
If you have any questions or concerns about your teeth and gums or would like to book an appointment now, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Battle Road Dental Practice today on 01332 916351.