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Gum Disease-It's a Thing

January 13, 2023
Dr. Dimitrios Vareldzis

In the US, over 47% of all adults aged 30 year and older, or 157 million people, have periodontal disease. For those over 65 years, over 70% have it. In its most serious form, gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can be lost and teeth may loosen or even fall out. And Women are at a much higher risk for gum disease than men.

Periodontal disease—a chronic inflammatory disease that can destroy gum tissue, ligaments, even the bone supporting the teeth—is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults. Gum disease has been associated with such chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

People with higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth are more likely to have high levels of plaque (atherosclerosis) in the carotid artery in the neck. Clogging of the carotid arteries can lead to stroke.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums has become more important than ever. Daily tooth brushing and flossing can help you avoid heart attack and stroke, but they are not an acceptable substitute for the important annual periodontal evaluation.

If you’re a woman, you’re at higher risk for gum disease than the ordinary guy on the street. In fact, women are nearly 20% more likely to have periodontal disease than men, with the disease occurring in 56.4% of women vs 38.4% for men. Women of all ages are prone to changing levels of progesterone. And progesterone—especially when you are pregnant or taking oral contraceptives—causes some bacteria to mushroom. Unfortunately, the bacteria associated with gum disease are among them. Recent studies have also linked gum disease to infertility.

Healthy Gums—Healthy You!

Fighting periodontal (gum) disease through meticulous daily hygiene and regular dental appointments is smart. You preserve your beautiful smile and sweet breath, maintain the health of your teeth and gums, and protect your overall health in the bargain!

Plaque & Plaque

The dental plaque your hygienist scrapes off your teeth is different from the plaque in your arteries. Dental plaque is a sticky residue of bacteria and food particles that can irritate your gums and eat away at tooth  enamel. Arterial plaque, a characteristic of atherosclerosis, is a fatty deposit in the artery. Both forms of plaque are to be avoided.