Gum disease may be up to 50% more prevalent than anyone realized. New research shows that a large number of Americans have periodontal disease, which can also put them at risk for several more serious health problems.
Not Just for Gums
Gum disease can be painful in the mouth and affect overall well-being, but studies show that it can actually contribute to several separate health issues as well. Heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can all come out of bacteria festering in the gum and spreading infection to other parts of the body in addition to deteriorating the bone structure in the mouth.
Researchers have labeled the disease a significant public health concern. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their findings in the Journal of Dental Research. Scientists hope it helps people realize the importance of maintaining oral health.
The study examined 450 adults over the age of 35 for signs of gum disease as defined by the AAP and CDC. Former studies only conducted partial oral examinations, but this study examined the entire mouth of each participant. This difference may explain the disparity in numbers between former studies and the current one.
The purpose of visiting the dentist isn’t just to keep your smile looking pretty. The dentist can examine your mouth for signs of disease and treat the area before it becomes a painful, expensive problem. Advanced stages of gum disease are irreversible once they begin to eat away at your teeth and jaw bones.
Go in for an oral exam at least once or twice a year so your dentist can check for things that you may have missed. That, in addition to regular brushing and flossing habits, can help prevent gum disease and other more serious health problems.