Coming in for your routine cleaning is obviously beneficial to your oral health, but did you know that it actually benefits your overall health as well? Without your semi-annual visits, you are at a higher risk for gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, and periodontitis can lead to further health issues in different areas of the body. Before we get to that, let’s talk about the differences between gingivitis and periodontitis, and what they are exactly.
Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: Know the Difference
Gingivitis is a buildup of bacteria and plaque in the mouth, which then leads to inflammation and bleeding of your gums. At this stage, no irreversible damage has been done to bone or tissue. You can be completely cured of gingivitis with adjustments to your oral healthcare routine and some help from your dentist. Gingivitis precedes periodontitis, and this is when things get serious.
Periodontitis (or periodontal disease) is basically a progression of gingivitis. With periodontitis, the inner layer of your gum and bone begin to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces are the perfect home for bacteria and other debris, which can cause the pockets to become infected. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque and the body's "good" enzymes involved in fighting infections then start to break down the bone and connective tissue holding your teeth in place. Left untreated, these pockets grow and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Without that gum tissue and bone, your teeth will loosen begin to loosen, and this is when tooth loss occurs.
Another important factoid to note is that unlike gingivitis, periodontitis never goes away. Your dentist can help you manage it and fight its progression, but you will never get rid of it. That’s why it’s important to stop in for your routine cleanings, and keep your oral health in check.
The Connection Between Periodontitis and Your Overall Health
A recent study announced findings of a connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers discovered gum disease bacteria in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. What this means is that, just like when bacteria build up in your mouth, when these bacteria reach your brain it triggers a response in the immune system. This may lead to changes in the brain that cause the confusion and deterioration of memory associated with Alzheimer’s.
In addition, periodontal disease also puts you at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. You can learn more about gingivitis, periodontitis, the risk factors involved in these diseases, and the aspects that can make you more likely to develop gum disease here.