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Gum disease and systemic health

Dr Hiba Shams

Dr Hiba Shams

Wed. 16 February 2022


It’s essential to keep an eye on your gums as they play a significant role in your dental and overall health.

Inflammation of gums

Gingivitis (inflammation of gums) and chronic periodontitis are the two most common gum illnesses. Both are caused by the deposition of dental plaque along the gingival border, where the teeth meet the gums.

Your gums get red, swollen and bleed when they are inflamed. Gingivitis is quite prevalent and affects up to 90 per cent of individuals.

In chronic periodontitis, a profuse dental plaque builds on the tooth's root surface below the gingival margin (known as subgingival plaque). The teeth become loose and may shed because the bone that supports the teeth is destroyed. It affects up to 45 per cent of adults, and it is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in affluent nations.

Gum problems give rise to systemic problems

Dental plaques harbour complex microbial communities. Therefore, chronic gum inflammation is linked to several long-term health disadvantages, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and poor pregnancy outcomes.

According to a study, compared to women who did not have periodontitis, women with periodontitis had a six times higher chance of giving birth to premature babies.

After the systematic investigations, researchers identified periodontal infections as a latent mediator of atherosclerosis, either through direct bacterial translocation or an inflammatory/immune-mediated process.

In another study, periodontitis was an independent predictor of arrhythmic events in a study of 227 patients with atrial fibrillation.

A recent study suggests that periodontitis and diabetes have a bidirectional relationship independent of associated risk factors, and the two diseases affect each other.

In another study, periodontitis is associated with higher blood glucose levels and an increased incidence of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes in non-diabetic subjects.

Ways to treat gum problems

Multiple treatments have been used to combat such a prevalent hazard and treat oral infections. The use of antibiotics in combination, such as metronidazole and amoxicillin, to treat severe and chronic periodontitis is a promising method.

Gum inflammation can be avoided by practising proper oral hygiene, including thorough plaque removal, which can be complemented with antibacterial or anti-plaque mouthwashes. Dental experts treat gingivitis by eliminating plaque from the gum edges. Chronic periodontitis is treated in the same way. However, it also necessitates the removal of subgingival plaque and, in some cases, the injection of antibiotics or antiseptics into the space between the gums and the teeth.

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