The Long Arm of Gum Disease

Chances are that you’ve heard of gum disease before, but are you aware that it is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America? As it affects nearly 70% of America’s adult population with different levels of severity, gum disease should not be taken lightly, especially in light of research that suggests the mechanisms of the disease may contribute to other chronic systemic illnesses. To help you understand the importance of controlling this destructive dental issue, your Austin dentist, Steven Van Wicklen, examines how gum disease can travel beyond your mouth to affect your overall health.

What is Oral Systemic Health?

The relationship between your oral health and your physical wellbeing, also known as the oral-systemic connection, has been the subject of much research across the globe. By understanding how certain oral pathogens can affect the proper functions of cells throughout your body, experts hope to gain the knowledge necessary to defeat many of today’s most serious illnesses. For instance, the mechanisms that lead to the progression of gum disease, such as excessive inflammation, are also contributing factors to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, certain forms of dementia, and many other health issues.

Looking at Inflammation

The inflammation of your gingival tissue (gums) begins with the accumulation of bacterial dental plaque on your teeth and along your gum line. Some of these germs can irritate your gums, and one in particular (Porphyromonas gingivalis) is known to manipulate your immune system’s inflammatory reaction to harmful microbes to survive. Unfortunately, the pathogen’s presence is still registered by your immune system, and the chronic inflammation can pave the way for gum disease to destroy your teeth’s supporting gums and jawbone. Diseased oral tissues can provide a pathway for these germs to enter your bloodstream and wreak the same havoc with other body tissues, increasing the importance of keeping your smile disease-free.

About Your Austin Dentist:

Since 1985, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen has been providing expert cosmetic and restorative dentistry services to patients and families in Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Bastrop, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next dental consultation, call our office today at (512) 448-3131.