Posted April 5, 2011
Recognizing National Public Health Week, April 4-10, 2011
How often do you think about the health of your gums? Most people assume their gums are healthy and spend time on more pressing problems. But the health of your gums may affect your physical health.
Your gums are made of a soft skin designed to cover the bones of your teeth. The tissue forms a tight seal around your teeth to support the bones and provide a barrier to bacteria. It is important to take good care of your gums by brushing after meals and flossing daily to remove food particles between and around your teeth, and to prevent the formation of plaque on tooth surfaces.
If plaque is not removed, it can release toxins that irritate and inflame the gum, causing a condition called gingivitis. If not treated, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, a low-grade infection of the gums that can slowly and painlessly destroy the gums and bones around your teeth.
According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, nearly 75 percent of Americans have gum disease, but may not know it. Gum disease can occur at any age, but dental professionals believe there is a higher risk after age 35.
Medical researchers believe that individuals with periodontal disease may be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections.
- Cardiovascular disease – A leading killer of Americans, contributing to 2,400 deaths daily; coronary artery walls thicken due to a build up of fatty proteins; oral bacteria entering the blood stream attaches to the fatty plaque and contributes to clot formation and possibly to obstructing the normal flow of blood to the heart
- Respiratory infections – New research indicates that individuals with periodontal disease may have an increased risk of respiratory infections, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia or acute bronchitis; infection results when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract; can be severely debilitating and is a leading cause of death in the United States
Remember to take care of your gums by following good oral health practices and scheduling regular dental examinations for checkups and cleanings.
If you have gum disease, what was the cause and what solutions did you adopt to improve your oral health? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group