Around 75% of American adults believe that good teeth attract the opposite sex, but what happens when you have gum disease?
Gum disease has been found to be linked to various other health issues, which can’t be good for scoring that hot date. This oral health condition begins when the sticky, filmy, bacteria-infected layer known as plaque builds up around the edges of your teeth and your gums. If left untreated, this disease had been shown to be linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.
Based on a report from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, treating gum disease can actually lead to better health; so it isn’t just about preventing the disease anymore that can lessen chances of heart issues.
The study found that there were lower health care costs and fewer hospitalizations for people who were treated for gum disease than those who were not. Researchers looked at health and dental insurance records of around 339,000 people who all had periodontal disease at some point, along with one of five conditions: Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or pregnancy.
Researchers found that people who had four of the five health conditions saw lower medical costs and fewer hospitalizations within four years of their treatment for gum disease, compared to those who weren’t treated.
Some findings were especially interesting. Pregnant women ended up with 74% lower medical bills after being treated because gum disease is linked to premature births. By treating the gum disease, these women skipped out on costly premature delivery costs. Those with cardiovascular disease and diabetes saved around 20 to 40%.
“This is a really solid finding and a testimony to what we’ve been preaching,” says periodontist Dr. Alpdogan Kantarci of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute.
Gum disease is also called gingivitis, but if left untreated it can progress into periodontal disease. This is when the gums actually recede from the teeth, creating a small pocket of space that gradually expands as the disease worsens and no treatment is sought. The infection and inflammation then attack the underlying gum tissue that holds the tooth to the jawbone, causing tooth decay and tooth loss. Around 34% of American adults aged 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth, and this it often due to gum disease.
If caught early enough, gum disease can be prevented. Treatment for the disease is also relatively easy and painless. A dentist can treat the disease by having the patient undergo a scaling and root planing procedure, which is when dentists use manuall scalers or ultrasound devices to scrape plaque and tartar off the roots of patient’s teeth.
So why does this disease affect the rest of the body? The human inflammatory response. Our species wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the inflammatory response; its the body’s way of getting rid of foreign objects and pathogens in order to treat and infection. However, chronic inflammation of the gums can create a buildup of inflammatory substances in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. Treating the disease will lessen the inflammatory response and will bring the body back to a more stable functioning level.