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How Serious Is Gum Disease?

If you listen to your dental team at the Stein Center for Advanced Dentistry, they will warn you about the effects of not maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. You can increase your risk of several dental problems, including gum disease. But, what does that mean? We want to protect against the effects of gum disease, but is it really that serious?

Unfortunately, untreated gum disease can cause major problems for your mouth and body. 

image of woman pulling her lips up to reveal red swollen gums gum disease dentist in Skokie Illinois

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the soft tissues that keep the teeth in place. In its earliest stage (gingivitis), you can reverse the effects of gum disease completely. However, advanced gum disease may require significant long-term treatment. 

One of the most common causes of gum disease is the constant presence of plaque. If you go a while without brushing and scrape your fingernail across your teeth, you will discover a sticky white substance. This is plaque—a type of harmful bacteria that can damage your teeth and gums. If you don’t remove plaque properly, it can irritate your gums. 

Over time, the plaque will build underneath your gum line, progressing the effects. 

How Does It Affect the Mouth?

In its earliest stages, gum disease can cause bleeding, swelling, and redness of the gums. With proper oral health and treatment from your Stein Center dentist, you can reverse the effects. However, these minor dental concerns can progress to serious complications. 

Because plaque irritates your gums, the soft tissues can begin to pull away from your teeth. This effect is called receding gums. Once your gums begin to recede, more plaque can build underneath your gum line. Unfortunately, your gums help keep your teeth stable. This can lead to loose or missing teeth. When the gums recede, your teeth no longer have a solid foundation. 

Additionally, receding gums expose more of the teeth’s roots. This can increase your chances of developing gum disease or other significant issues, such as bad breath. 

How Does It Affect the Body?

Your mouth is not the only place that gum disease can affect. In fact, gum disease can cause negative health effects on your entire body. 

Studies suggest that gum disease is closely linked to heart disease. This is because the same plaque that builds on your teeth and under your gum line can build in your arteries. Unfortunately, this decreases the efficiency of your heart. Your heart has to pump harder in order to give your body adequate oxygen and blood. Over time, your heart can weaken. Plaque in your arteries can increase your chances of heart attack or stroke. 

In addition, gum disease can weaken your immune system. When your body has an infection, your immune system fights to make you healthy. However, gum disease can become a chronic infection. As a result, your immune system may not work as well. This can make it difficult to heal from illnesses and surgeries.