Periodontal diseases, commonly known as gum problems, can be a call to many health disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and oral cancer, among others

Swollen gums, bleeding after brushing, loosening of teeth, constant bad breath and receding gum line – all these are signs of poor oral hygiene and its adverse impact on gums. Problems in gums in initial stages are easy to combat, but results could be as bad as loss of tooth, if not treated early.

Gum problem in early stage is known as gingivitis, which occurs due to the formation of plaque, a sticky layer of bacteria around the teeth. Just by sticking to daily routine of brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning can help contain gingivitis. However, any compromise with it is an invitation to plaque build-up. The result of this is release of toxins by bacteria which causes inflammation in the gums.

Any signs of gingivitis like swollen-red gums or bleeding should not be taken lightly. If avoided, the condition advances to periodontitis, a serious form of inflammation which makes gum line to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth to bacteria attack. As gum tissues keep on getting destroyed, they are not able to hold the teeth intact, thus making them go loose. The end outcome is nothing but loss of tooth.

 Periodontal disease  is  an  advanced  stage  of  infection  of  the  gums  and  its  underlying  bone. In the stage of gingivitis, the pain is not excruciating and hence people tend to neglect it. In the absence of proper professional care the same condition develops into periodontitis which is totally painless. The only symptom felt by the patient is mobility of the teeth which signifies that the disease has consumed a good chunk of the bone – the irony is that at this stage only advanced surgical procedures can restore the teeth and gums to a healthy state.

Many people do not know that gum diseases not only lead to loss of tooth, but can also be a call to many serious health issues too. So, they need to be dealt with seriously. There are countless researches that associate gum diseases with numerous health ailments. Ensuring proper oral care, henceforth, becomes more so important.

Cardiovascular diseases:  Both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are chronic inflammatory diseases, so researchers believe that inflammation may account for the association between the two. Untreated periodontal disease can increase inflammation in the body, which may increase the risk for development of more severe health complications, including cardiovascular disease.

 Diabetes: Diabetes and gum diseases are totally interlinked, studies show. In fact many a times it is the swollen gums that take the patient to a dentist and ultimately it turns out to be a case of undiagnosed diabetes.

Dementia:  The disease which hampers a person’s cognitive ability is also found to be linked with gum diseases. A study from University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry points out that these two conditions may be interlinked.  Studies have shown that participants who had gum diseases fared badly in memory tests and calculations as compared to people having good oral health.

 Rheumatoid arthritis: There are studies which suggest that people with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to contracting gum diseases and vice versa.

 Premature birth: Though there have been conflicting reports on the association between the two conditions, there are researches which say that women who have periodontal disease are more likely to have babies before term.

Chronic Kidney Disease: Links have been found between these two diseases too. A study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, suggests that those do not have natural teeth are at more risk of having chronic kidney disease than those who had natural teeth.

Oral Cancer: Too much smoking, alcohol and tobacco use lead to periodontal disease. In the worst cases of gum problems, oral cancer is the outcome. There had been so many instances which prove a link between gum diseases and oral cancer.

People at large are still unaware of the pitfalls gum diseases can have on the overall health. Any sign of oral problem should not be ignored, rather steps be taken to take preventive steps.

The writer is a dentist with Axiss Dental, India’s leading multi-specialty chain of dental clinics.