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Correlation between gum disease and overall health

If you knew that you could potentially add between 6 and 10 years to your life by having healthy gums, wouldn't you think about the benefit of careful daily brushing and flossing in a new way?  Most of us don't take a lot of time to think about our gums and their impact on our overall health, but overlooking our gums can have significant consequences that go beyond bad breath and sensitive teeth.

Research indicates that gingival and periodontal diseases are linked to a host of diseases that can shorten our lives. Studies show a correlation between daily flossing and a longer life, and there are direct links between poor gum health and diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and low birth weight babies.

Chronic inflammation of the gums doesn’t hurt and can go undetected for years, with your only symptom being an occasional bleeding when brushing or flossing, or an itchy sensation under your gums. While most people think this is normal, it may well be your body’s cry for help. Trying to combat the infection, your immune system has to work at a chronic pace to try to fight the ongoing infection, which can lead to other diseases if left too long.

What can you do? By keeping a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, brushing twice daily and flossing once a day, you can help prevent gum disease. Schedule regular visits to your dental hygienist who will use a periodontal probe to gently measure the depth of the pockets in your gums Shallow pockets indicate healthier gums than deep pockets. For example, a measurement of 1-3 millimeters indicates healthy gum tissue, a measurement of 3-4 millimeters with bleeding indicates initial periodontal disease, a measurement of 5-6 millimeters indicates more progressive gum disease, and a measurement of 7-12 millimeters indicates significant gum disease which could result in a tooth extraction and implant, and, even more importantly, an increased risk of other diseases.

If your hygienist detects some gum disease, you will be scheduled for further dental cleanings at regular intervals, which may include scaling and root planning and deep cleanings.

So be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of gum disease like bleeding, swollen or receding gums, sensitive or loose teeth, painful chewing and bad breath. If in question, call your dentist today. Controlling gum disease can save your teeth and play a vital role in your overall health.

Michelle Reed - Dental Hygienist RDH/OHT
Michelle is a graduate of Shoreline Community College, Seattle, Washington. She joins us as an experienced Registered Dental Hygienist from an illustrious dental practice in Orange County, California. She is excited to provide an excellent caliber of dental cleaning services to help patients achieve a healthy mouth. Her children all live in the United States and, in her empty nest time, she and her husband are involved with youth work, hiking, and watching movies, and also always relish time with family and friends.
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