Gums in the mouth seal around our teeth and hold them in their place. Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene can damage your gums, which may go unnoticed as they are mostly painless. Ruinous gums can lead to gum diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis, causing inflammation of gums. A recent study has reported that periodontitis can give rise to a series of mental health conditions, autoimmune diseases, and cardiometabolic diseases.
What Is Periodontitis And What Causes It?
Periodontitis is an inflammatory disorder that affects the gums.
Gums are soft tissues surrounding the teeth.
Periodontitis can affect any one tooth to all the teeth.
It is mainly caused due to the plaques that build upon our teeth every day.
The plaque buildup makes the gums bleed, inflamed, and red.
Therefore, it is necessary to brush the teeth properly to avoid plaque building up.
The initial stage of periodontitis is gingivitis - the swelling of the gums.
Usually, gingivitis does not cause any pain; hence it gets unnoticed in some people.
Gingivitis can be cured easily by following good dental practices, proper brushing, and flossing at home.
However, if left untreated, the condition progresses into periodontitis.
Risk Factors For Periodontitis
- Family history of dental disease
- Medications affecting the acidity of saliva
- Changes in hormones due to pregnancy or other health conditions
The Consequences Of Gum Disease - The Study
The study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, reported that periodontitis could increase the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, mental illness, and autoimmune diseases.
The study was published in the journal of BMJ Open.
The team collected data from nearly 64,400 UK patients with a history of gum disease.
They further compared the data with a group of 251,161 people without gum disease.
After a follow-up of three years, the study reported that the people with gum disease had
- 33% increased risk for autoimmune diseases
- 7% increased risk for cardiometabolic diseases
- 18% increased risk for cardiovascular diseases
- 26% greater risk for type II diabetes
- 37% increased risk for mental health conditions such as depression, and anxiety
The outcomes of gum disease - bad breath, tooth loss, gum pockets can have psychological impacts leading to loss of confidence, inability to mingle with others, and fear of judgment (symptoms of depression and anxiety).
Periodontitis causes autoimmune diseases due to the changes in proteins caused by a periodontal pathogen.
This, in turn, releases antibodies (proteins produced by the body's immune system ) that act against healthy cells.
Whether gum disease causes these problems or vice versa is ambiguous; hence further research is required to know more about the association.
- Dental problems can affect our wellbeing by causing difficulties in eating and speaking properly, causing pain and bad breath.
- Poor dental health can affect our mouth and the areas other than the mouth, including the brain, heart, and mind.
- A recent study has reported that periodontitis, a gum disease, is linked to autoimmune diseases, mental health conditions, and diabetes.