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Just how serious is gum disease? Yes, it can cause persistent bad breath. It can certainly result in bloody gums and loose teeth. Unresolved gum disease can even cause your teeth to fall out. As if bad breath, bloody gums, loose teeth, and tooth loss aren’t serious enough, periodontal disease can also cause serious and even life-threatening health conditions affecting your entire body. Here are nine more serious reasons to deal with gum disease as quickly as possible with help from a dental clinic near you.

Cancer

Gum disease can be caused by factors which also increase the risk of oral cancers — smoking being the primary example. Many studies have also pointed to gum disease and generally poor oral health as increasing the risk that you will develop cancer affecting your blood, pancreas, and kidneys.

Cardiovascular disease

Bacteria that cause periodontal disease do not remain in your mouth, but are carried throughout your body via your bloodstream. In your bloodstream, those bacteria can cause plaque accumulation in and hardening of your arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis that can cause blockages in your heart and rapidly and seriously increase your risk of a heart attack.

Dementia

Inflamed and infected gums release toxins that can affect tissues and cells far beyond your mouth — including in your brain. Those toxins can destroy cells in your brain that are essential to memory. When the bacteria associated with gingivitis enters the bloodstream and nerve channels in your brain, those bacteria can contribute to dementia and even Alzheimer’s Disease.

Diabetes

There is a strong association between people who live with diabetes and periodontal disease. People with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to infections, including periodontal disease. At the same time, periodontal disease can complicate your diabetes condition by spiking or negatively influencing your blood sugar levels. Even in someone not previously diagnosed with diabetes, the effects of gum disease on your sugar levels can increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Erectile dysfunction

Arterial inflammation caused by the presence of gum disease-related bacteria in your bloodstream can block blood flow to the genitals. In a male, decreased blood flow to the genitals can contribute to erectile dysfunction by making it harder to develop or sustain an erection.

Infertility

Untreated gum disease can have effects far beyond those that anyone might anticipate — including presenting challenges when it comes to fertility. A woman with advancing periodontal disease will have more difficulty and take longer to conceive than a woman with good oral health. The systemic implications of gum disease during pregnancy can also interfere with the ability to experience a healthy pregnancy. Periodontal disease in a pregnant woman can cause low birth weight and even premature delivery.

Kidney disease

Serious periodontal disease suppresses an individual’s immune system which makes them more vulnerable to infections and serious chronic diseases, including kidney disease. Kidney disease is a serious medical condition that impairs your kidneys, heart and bones, and can cause increased blood pressure. In its most dangerous state, kidney disease can result in kidney failure or life threatening cardiovascular disease.

Lung infections

Your lungs are particularly vulnerable to bacteria present in your mouth due to gum disease in two ways. Those bacteria can be swept into your lungs in your bloodstream in the same way as some of the other conditions discussed here. Bloodstream aside, those same bacteria can also be inhaled into your lungs where they can contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and chronic bronchitis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease are both characterized by inflammation. Bacteria present due to gingivitis or periodontitis in your mouth can induce inflammation throughout the body, including the inflammation characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. At least one study has found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis were four times more likely to have periodontal disease — and more severe gum disease — then patients without rheumatoid arthritis.

If your dentist in Delta has identified any symptoms or risk factors for gum disease in your medical history or upon an examination of your teeth, you should have those symptoms addressed as early as possible. At the earliest stage of gum disease — gingivitis — you can restore your gum health as easily as brushing and flossing properly. If gum disease progresses beyond gingivitis to the point of periodontitis, your health can be restored with scaling, root planing, or even gum surgery in Delta if necessary.

Early, timely and effective intervention at a dental clinic near you can save your gums, save your teeth, and maybe even save your life.