Gum disease and tooth decay are two of the most serious conditions that can affect your dental health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But, a new study suggests that gum disease—aka periodontal disease or gingivitis—can affect a lot more than your mouth.
Gum Problems Linked To Heart Disease And Other Illnesses
A new study from the University of Birmingham in the UK has found that gum disease is linked to a number of health conditions and diseases. According to the study—which is one of the largest epidemiological studies of its kind to date—poor gum health is associated with cardiovascular diseases, in addition to autoimmune and mental health conditions.
The study results are quite concerning considering that gum disease is extremely common among American adults. The CDC reported that 47.2 percent of people 30 and older have some form of gum disease. In people 65 and older, that number rises to 70.1 percent.
“When oral ill-health progresses, it can lead to a substantially reduced quality of life. However, until now, not much has been known about the association of poor oral health and many chronic diseases,” said study author Dr. Joht Singh Chandan.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease starts with bacteria in the mouth, which infects tissues surrounding the tooth and causes inflammation. Bacteria that stay on the teeth long enough turn into a film known as plaque, which can harden to tartar.
Tartar build-up can spread below the gum line, and that can make the teeth even harder to clean. At that point, only a dental health professional can stop the periodontal disease process.
Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath or a bad taste that won’t go away, red or swollen gums, bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, and sensitive teeth.
Things that can increase your risk of periodontal disease include smoking, diabetes, stress, genetics, and poor oral hygiene.
Good Oral Hygiene Is Key
You can control and treat gum disease with regular professional cleanings and good oral hygiene. It’s important to brush and floss every day so you can remove the bacteria that cause gum disease. And, the best way to do that is with an electric toothbrush, like Philips Sonicare.
The research shows that electric toothbrushes are much better at cleaning your teeth and removing plaque compared to manual ones.
One study even compared the efficacy of electric toothbrushes compared to their manual counterparts. The study found that those who used electric toothbrushes had a 28 percent reduction in plague, while those who used manual toothbrushes showed a measly 0.89 percent reduction.
This means that electric toothbrushes are a great tool for fighting gum disease. And, in turn, taking care of your cardiovascular health.