Our mouth has to contend with all manner of food and drink and if you are not careful, there is a chance that you will be affected by an infection and even suffer from a gum disease at some stage.
When you develop cavities, it can leave weak areas where bacteria can get in, which is why a crown can sometimes be a sensible solution.
Risks Of Neglecting Mouth Infections
1. Bacterial Infection
If you pick up a bacterial infection in your mouth, it could lead to inflammation of the gums, which is a condition known as Gingivitis.
Once you have Gingivitis and it is left untreated, you could subsequently go on to develop a far more serious infection called Periodontitis. Both Gingivitis and Periodontitis are cited as the major cause of tooth loss in adults, says the American Dental Association.
The reason you can fall victim to a bacterial infection is that food can get trapped in a small space called a sulcus, which is the area beneath the visible line where your gums attach to your teeth.
What happens initially is that you develop a thin film of bacteria on your teeth that we know as plaque. If the plaque is given the opportunity to build up, it hardens and turns into tartar. The infection develops when your plaque is allowed to extend beyond the visible gum line and attack the sulcus.
This situation will subsequently lead to gingivitis, which can cause your gums to separate from your teeth.
All of this, including the final act of actually losing your teeth, stems from an infection developing unchecked.
2. Other Dangers
As if the prospect of losing your teeth is not worrying enough in its own right, there are some serious health issues that can affect the rest our body, all stemming from initial gum disease.
Figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about 15,000 people in the U.S alone are diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
This is a cancer which develops within the esophagus or gullet, which is the muscular tube within our body that serves the function of transporting food from the throat into your stomach.
It would be wrong to suggest that every case of esophageal cancer diagnosed can be attributed to gum disease. But the fact that the P.gingivalis bacterium was present in over 60% of cancerous tissue samples tested, suggest that a mouth infection if definitely a risk factor and a prognostic biomarker for this particular type of cancer.
3. Chronic Kidney Disease
There are ongoing tests to confirm a more definite link between gum disease and esophageal cancer, which is also the case when it comes to another perceived risk related to patients with periodontitis.
The results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology offer further evidence to suggest a link between oral health and some chronic diseases, such as kidney disease.
The studies demonstrated that patients with a chronic kidney disease are statistically at a much higher risk of death than patients with the same kidney disease diagnosis, but with healthy gums.
In hard numbers, it seems that over a ten-year period of mortality rates and allowing for certain influencing factors, the death rate of patients with healthy gums was just over 30% whereas patients with periodontitis demonstrated a higher rate that was just over 40%.
What medical professionals are currently looking at is whether early diagnosis of gum disease will enhance the prognosis and early detection of other issues such as kidney disease.
Periodontitis is a serious condition in its own right and is actually a non-communicable gum infection, which is why medical teams are looking at the link between gum disease and kidney disease for instance, in order to establish if the link is a coincidental numerical anomaly, or something more tangible in terms of evidence.
Don’t Ignore The Signs
Early diagnosis is vital in so many medical issues and you should definitely look to avoid getting a gum disease, even if you are unsure about the link to other chronic conditions.
Get the health of your gums checked regularly by your dentist and if you are spitting a small amount of blood out when you brush your teeth, tell them about it, as it could be an indication of a gum disease.
Your mouth acts like gateway to the rest of your body and could end up being the point where bacteria enters your bloodstream via your gums. Do what you can to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Lydia Middleton works as a dental hygienist. She enjoys seeing her patients, old and new, and helping them to incorporate healthy teeth habits into their busy lifestyle.