Dental Disease and Overall Health

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Gum (Periodontal) Disease: How Gum DiseaseDamages Your Health - Page 2

Specific infections related to dental disease can contribute to oral health problems such as root canal abscesses and cavitations of the jaws. However, the most serious damage to overall health results from periodontal disease, the most advanced form of gum disease. Every health practitioner understands that the body is negatively affected by infection of any kind, wherever it is located in the body. Because gum infection can severely stress the immune system by doing its damage 24 hours a day, seven days a week it has a greater potential for damaging your health. Its effect on your heart and blood vessels is directly related to the extent, type, and duration of the gum disease.        

It’s also important to understand that the more advanced form of gum disease doesn’t just involve the skin and underlying soft tissue. As gum disease progresses the periodontal pocket then becomes a haven for all kinds of harmful bacteria. When left unchecked, it will ultimately infect the highly vascular underlying bone structure. The result is that the heart and circulatory system is continuously being exposed to numerous strains of virulent bacteria. It has been estimated that the infected area of a mild form of gum disease, if laid out flat, would cover an area the size of a postcard. In the case of moderate-to-severe gum disease, the total infected area could cover an area the size of a standard sheet of paper. This infection would not only involve the skin and soft tissue, but the bone surrounding the teeth as well. 

Gum Disease: A Serious Infection of the Body

Of course gum disease is a serious infection and I wonder what your reaction would be if this same infection was found in any other part of your body. I doubt that you would consider it just a minor problem and am certain that you, and any competent health professional, would consider this to be a very serious infection of your body and suggest immediate treatment. Yet gum infections of this severity are present, and left untreated, in tens of millions of Americans. 

The extent and severity of an infection is, of course, important, but so is its duration. In the aforementioned example, such an infection is often both acute and chronic and thus would be active 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, for as long as gum disease was present. Unfortunately, this type of infection could be present for many years. It should not be difficult to imagine the stress this infection could place on the immune system and how it could reduce your resistance to other diseases. 

Gum Disease: The Hidden Infection

Yet, gum disease may not always be obvious. Often, there is no pain or overt symptoms and it’s often subtle and insidious. But if left unchecked, it will steadily continue to destroy both tissue and bone. Whether you are aware of it or not, this kind of infection poses a serious threat to your health. 

My book, Healthy Teeth-Healthy Body: How to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health explains the process of gum disease in detail, but this brief summary should make it clear that because of the damage dental disease does to the immune system, it can cause, contribute to, or make worse, a large number of serious and life-threatening diseases. If you are committed to improving your overall health and extending your life expectancy, you must insist that your dentist, physician, or other health practitioner, consider the effect of dental disease when making an overall diagnosis and determining the most effective medical treatment plan for you.