Gum disease – yuck! Who would want the discomfort of red, swollen gums and sensitive or loose teeth? Not to mention chronic bad breath, abscesses and pus in your mouth. Yet statistics tell us that 75% of us are likely to suffer from this contagious bacterial infection at some point in our adult lives.
The news gets worse before it gets better – left unchecked, bacteria from diseased gums can infect other parts of your body:
- Circulatory System: Oral bacteria can add plaque to your arteries and increase the chances of heart attack and stroke. They may also infect the inside lining of the heart, causing inflammation. If left untreated, it could kill you or cause permanent damage to your heart.
- Lungs: If you accidentally inhale these oral bacteria into your lungs, they can cause or worsen disease like pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Blood Sugar Levels: Diabetics are at increased risk from all infections, including gum disease. Bacteria from severe gum disease can trigger increased blood sugar levels and the time it takes the body to reduce them.
- Womb: Pregnant women need to keep their gums healthy because large amounts of oral bacteria can set off premature labour.
The good news is that regular brushing, flossing and rinsing (5 X 2 = A Happy Mouth) will help keep the bacteria that cause gum disease at bay, guarding your healthy mouth and lowering the probability that they will wreck havoc with the rest of your body. Regular visits to the dental hygienist are essential. If not removed completely, the white sticky material (or “plaque”) created by oral bacteria will harden into tartar. Tartar is a bacteria-filled calcium deposit that no amount of brushing or flossing will remove. Only professional scaling (physically scraping it off) by a dental hygienist will eradicate tartar. NOT removing it gives the bacteria a foot-hold in your mouth that can easily lead to inflammation of the gums and infection of the bone, with the possible end result of tooth loss.