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Gum Disease Impacting Health and Wellbeing

According to a study carried out by the University of Melbourne, severe gum disease (medically known as Periodontitis) affects one in three adults and more than 50%¹ of Australians over the age of 65. While over 90%² of tooth loss, can be attributed to dental caries and periodontal disease. 

A systemic disease process, periodontitis is causally associated with a heightened incidence of diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and certain cancers. Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes the onset of periodontitis, however, not all occurrences of gingivitis will progress to periodontitis.  

Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth, it impacts the gums, ligaments and the bones and is a direct result of a bacterial infection. In the initial stages of gingivitis, bacteria in the plaque builds until the gums are both inflamed and bleeding. The gums may become irritated; however, the teeth remain fortified in their socket. There is no irreversible bone or tissue damage at this stage. 

When left untreated the inner layer of the gum and bone recedes from the tooth and forms pockets. Within these small gaps, debris collects and the area becomes infected. The ensuing inflammation may also precede the loss of ligaments and bone that supports the tooth. In severe forms of periodontal disease an extensive loss of bone can lead to a heightened occurrence of edentulism – and a strong correlation with debilitating systemic health conditions. 

Periodontal (Gum) Disease Causes

Plaque while the primary cause for gum disease, is among a litany of factors that can contribute to periodontitis including: 

Hormonal Activity: from pregnancy to puberty, menstruation and the menopause, increased hormonal activity may result in enhanced sensitivity. 

Diabetes: diabetics innately possess a greater susceptibility to infection, including gum disease. 

Smoking: a significant risk factor, smoking also lowers the chances of successful treatment 

Pre-existing Conditions: disease states that impact the immune system such as HIV, AIDs may negatively affect the health of the gums. 

Genetic Susceptibility: certain individuals are naturally more prone to gum disease than others. 

Overall Health and Wellbeing 

Many studies have shown strong correlation exists between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes and poor pregnancy outcomes. Early research has also determined a greater risk for certain cancers. There are, differing theories as to the connection, including the bacteria entering the bloodstream to the chemical signals given off from chronic inflammation causing atherosclerotic plaque build-up. 

The American Journal of Cardiology³ found that individuals with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease, the correlation is so strong that the journal partnered with the Journal of Periodontology to release a consensus statement addressing the issue.  

Devoid of inherent risk factors, there are steps we can take to prevent periodontal disease. Ensuring a comprehensive twice daily brushing and flossing of the teeth. Coupled with regular dental check-ups and professional scale and cleaning will help to alleviate controllable risk factors. The recognition that oral health and hygiene is intrinsically linked to other processes throughout the body will assist you in pioneering your overall health and wellbeing. 

Call for Consultation  

If you are at risk or are experiencing the early signs and symptoms of gum disease, call our team of professionals at the Studfield Dental Group on (03) 9887 0888 for a personal consultation.  

 
 ¹ www.aihw.gov.au 
² www.aihw.gov.au 
³ “Gum Disease and Heart Disease.” American Academy of Periodontology. http://www.perio.org/consumer/heart_disease.