Teeth often seem to be the last thing we worry about, and most of us have gone to bed after a night out or a few too many drinks without brushing our teeth. Other factors, such as mental health issues, are also known to lead to a lack of self-care, which is especially damaging to teeth and gum health. Teeth implants for tooth loss can resolve gaps caused by missing teeth, and the good news is you can also reverse gum disease and improve oral health.
Poor oral health can have serious consequences. If you judge your oral health by how white your teeth look, you are missing out on other signs that indicate your teeth and gums are not as healthy as you think. So before we look at the many ways oral health can affect your entire body, let’s take a quick summary of what warning signs to watch out for.
Bleeding gums might not seem like a big deal. After all, if they don’t hurt, who cares? But bleeding gums are one of the first signs of gum disease.
- Red, swollen and sore gums
- Pain when chewing food
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth
- Bad breath
- Receding gums exposing the lower section of the tooth
- Gums that are loose and not attached to the teeth
- Loose teeth
If you have any signs of gum disease, you should always visit a dentist. Although early gum disease can be reversed with regular brushing and flossing, more advanced gum disease will need dental treatment. Gum disease, if not treated, will eventually lead to tooth loss and is a known contributor to some dangerous health conditions, such as heart disease.
Gingivitis is the term for the first stage of gum disease. Common signs of gingivitis are bleeding gums that are sore and inflamed. Gingivitis is usually reversible without dental treatment by sticking to a strict oral health routine of twice daily brushing and flossing.
However, it is advisable to visit a dentist if you have any signs of gingivitis to check that it has not developed into periodontitis, the second stage of gum disease. Even if you don’t have periodontitis, a professional scale and polish can help reverse gingivitis faster and make it less likely to become periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease leading to tooth loss as it breaks down the bone and ligaments that support teeth and hold them in place. An obvious sign of periodontitis is when gums are loose and can be easily pulled away from the teeth or when the tooth root is showing.
Periodontitis requires dental treatment. Early intervention includes scaling and root planing as this is the only effective way to clean around the gum line and remove bacteria present in the pockets and on the tooth root that form when the gum is pulled away from the teeth. You may also be prescribed antibiotics or antimicrobial medications to help the gums heal faster by killing any bacteria that remain in the gum pockets.
Research has indicated that gum disease increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. The exact cause is not determined, although growing research into gum disease supports the association between oral bacteria and systemic inflammation. This suggests periodontitis can lead to the build-up of fatty plaque inside the arteries and the development of blood clots.
Studies suggest oral bacteria cause inflammation in the lungs, which can lead to cell changes resulting in cancer. Other studies have found an association between gum disease and an increased risk of cancer, including oral and oesophagal, gastric, and pancreatic cancer.
Analysis conducted by Brains for Dementia Research found a correlation between Porphyromonas gingivalis, present with chronic periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found a correlation between tooth loss and cognitive performance due to periodontal disease.
Research suggests a link between plaque in the gum tissue and inflammation and type 2 diabetes, with one study showing type 2 diabetes present in almost one in five cases of people with periodontitis. Other studies have found that gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fear of the dentist — otherwise referred to as dentophobia — is a common reason why people avoid the dentist. If you are afraid of the dentist and only go when you absolutely have to, there are a few things you can do to cope with a fear of the dentist.
- Choose a dentist that specifies they offer sedation and are experienced in treating nervous patients.
- Book your check-up for the morning so that you do not have hours for your anxiety to build before your appointment. A morning appointment also reduces the risk of the temptation to cancel at the last minute.
- Prepare a compilation of your favourite music to listen to with headphones/earbuds to help to distract you during your appointment.
- Ask someone to go with you, so they can hold you accountable if you try to cancel your appointment.
- Try meditation; there are numerous free apps that can help you to feel less anxious in the run-up to and on the day of your appointment.
Don’t be afraid to call a dentist and explain that you feel nervous and have not been to the dentist for a long time. You can also get a feel for a dentist from reviews, which can normally be found on Google, their website, and social media accounts. Go on; commit to getting healthier today, and prevent tooth loss by booking a dental checkup.