Many patients think they know everything they need to about going to the dentist. But it’s a common misconception that dental treatments have stayed the same for decades. You may...
Many published studies have suggested that there could be a direct link between women who suffer from common oral health issues, such as a history of periodontal disease, and those same women having a 12% higher risk of premature death from other health conditions. The research and analysis show that having a history of gum disease, which affects more than two-thirds of adults in the United States over the age of 60, can be directly linked with a higher risk of developing other severe health issues.
If you’re a woman over the age of 60 in the US, read on to learn about the potential health risks associated with developing gum disease and what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy for life.
Assessing Your Risk For Gum Disease
Certain factors make you more inclined to experience gum disease at some point in your life. While some of these factors are inevitable, many are entirely preventable. By taking extra care of your oral hygiene and habits, you can do your part to keep your smile intact and healthy.
Common gum disease risk factors include:
- Genetics – A family history of gum disease makes certain people predisposed to develop periodontal disease. While some may be genetically susceptible to gum disease, checking your family history will help determine your likelihood. Check with parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents when researching your family history of gum disease.
- Age – Being over 65 increases your risk of developing gum disease by as much as 70%.
- Medications – Certain medications like oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and certain heart medications can affect your oral health. These medications can cause dry mouth and a lack of natural saliva, which directly negatively impacts your oral health.
- Poor Nutrition – A diet that’s lacking proper nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system, making it that much more difficult for your body to fight off infection – including infection in your gums. Research also shows that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.
- Systemic Diseases – Certain health and medical conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease are directly linked to gum disease.
- Use Of Tobacco Products – If you use tobacco products of any kind, you’re at risk of developing many serious illnesses. Smoking or using other tobacco products puts you at risk for developing and progressing many diseases, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and periodontal disease.
Reducing the Risk of Periodontal Disease
Many gum disease studies are not conclusive, and the ADA has yet to make an official statement on the connection between periodontal disease and other health conditions. The most effective way you can prevent periodontal disease, which leads to tooth loss, is to keep your gums healthy. Improving your gum health at home is the best way to prevent gum disease, especially if you have a family history or fall under one (or multiple) risk categories.
Have Consistent Oral Hygiene
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for a full two minutes will allow you time to properly clean your entire mouth and ensure you aren’t skipping over areas that become neglected quickly. If you’re unsure if you brush for a full two minutes, try timing yourself to understand better how long you’re taking for self-care when it comes to your teeth.
Floss Once a Day
Plaque buildup on your teeth is a direct instigator of gingivitis. By removing harmful bacteria from your mouth, you will begin to get back to a regular, healthy mouth. Floss accesses areas of your mouth that your toothbrush simply can’t reach – especially if you have crowded, crooked or overlapped teeth.
Add Mouthwash To Your Routine
An antibacterial mouthwash will help treat gingivitis by removing harmful bacteria from your mouth. Look for a mouthwash that has the ADA’s seal of approval, or ask our office for a personal recommendation on which product is best suited for you.
Health Conditions Linked To Gum Disease
Your mouth is not isolated from the rest of your body. While you know that the food and drinks you consume pass through your mouth to the rest of the areas of your body that require nutrients, having oral health issues can have a significant impact on the rest of your body’s overall health.
It’s a proven fact that certain diseases show up in your mouth first, making your dentist the first defense against new health problems. While you may not see your physician on a routine basis, scheduling regular dental exams every six months could help you keep not just your teeth and gums healthy but the rest of your body as well.
Contact Hoffman Dental Care to schedule your next cleaning and exam. Together, we can determine if you’re at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.