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Deadly Complications of Gingivitis

Updated on April 25, 2011
Complications of gingivitis can lead to heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's, and premature delivery.
Complications of gingivitis can lead to heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's, and premature delivery. | Source

Don’t underestimate gingivitis. What starts as swollen, bleeding gums could actually kill you.

How? Well, let’s first look at how gingivitis develops. Gingivitis is primarily a result of poor oral hygiene. When the natural bacteria in your mouth interacts with the food you eat, a sticky film called plaque forms over your teeth. It mostly comes off when you brush your teeth, but it almost immediately begins building up again. If you don’t remove it for two or three days, it can harden and form tartar under your gum line. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist. As plaque and tartar accumulate, they inflame the gums, which causes them to swell up, turn darker in color, and bleed when they are brushed. Eventually, spaces form between the teeth that fill up with bacteria and more plaque, which often lead to infection. Infection then destroys both gum tissue and bone, at which point you actually start losing teeth.

It may not be entirely a person’s fault—up to one third of the population has inherited a greater susceptibility to gum disease, and those who have poor immune systems or nutritional deficiencies, take one of many antidepressant or cold remedy medications, or smoke are also at a higher risk. Whatever the cause, people with gingivitis do not clean their teeth to the degree that their teeth require cleaning. And the consequences can be deadly.

If the thought of losing teeth isn’t scary enough, consider this: that bacteria and inflammation in your mouth can spread throughout your body. When you’ve had severe gum disease for a long time, the bacteria enters your blood stream and travels to the arteries in your heart, where it can cause a heart attack. The bacteria in your blood can also lead to blood clots, which are a precursor for stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.

The combination of diabetes and gingivitis can also be disastrous. Diabetes will put you at a higher risk for developing gum disease, and that infection will in turn raise your blood sugar. This makes diabetes even harder to control.

Gingivitis has a similar mutually exacerbating relationship with pregnancy. Fluctuating hormone levels associated with pregnancy increase your susceptibility for gingivitis, and mothers with gingivitis are much more likely to give birth prematurely. Premature babies often have health problems because their organs did not have enough time to develop.

Evidence is building that gum disease increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, too. It may be that the body’s reaction to the inflammation begins to attack brain tissue, too, or that the inflammation itself contributes to the development of the disease. In any case, there seems to be a correlation between poor oral hygiene and dementia. Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Gingivitis may even increase your risk of pneumonia when you inhale the bacteria in your mouth through your lungs. This phenomenon occurs most frequently when you are already breathing through a tube or sedated in the hospital, which makes the onset of pneumonia even more devastating.

Luckily, even if you are at a higher risk for developing gingivitis, it is a preventable disease. Learn about what you need to do to care for your teeth properly so as to avoid gingivitis and all of its deadly complications.


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      Andrea 3 years ago

      No, your mother can't use your sisetr's dental insurance to cover work in your mouth. That's illegal, and would get you all in trouble if you tried. You may be able to get braces with your own insurance, if the teeth have reshifted out of position again. Or you may have to pay out of pocket, making the arrangements with the dentist. It's called paying the consequences for bad decisions. Sometimes it's just more expensive to learn a lesson the hard way than others.References : nurse

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      Hora 3 years ago

      to be many home remedies for teeth whnteiing. In this article we explain each teeth whnteiing home remedy and its effect on teeth. Some may help, but most home remedies will damage your teeth.Please do have a look at the various home remedies at…Which Professional Teeth Whitening System is Best?The fact is there has been a lot of hype about professional tooth whnteiing systems (i.e. Zoom, BriteSmile, Sapphire) that work wonders , while in reality, not a single professional tooth whnteiing system has proved to be the most effective. Your needs and your dentist are the best places to start reviewing whnteiing systems.What Dental Publications SayYou might think about researching magazines that are designed for professional dentists, but there are a lot of dental publications and many feature reports detailing the clinical trials of various professional tooth whnteiing products. Many of these reports and research materials, however, are sponsored by the manufacturers of such products, so not much can be said about their credibility. Also the majority of studies are designed to reach statistical conclusions, which is different from the side-by-side comparisons that consumers might find useful. If you think you might want to make a dramatic difference in the whiteness of your smile, it's best to either consult your dentist or find a dentist that specializes in cosmetic procedures and not focus merely on choosing the best whnteiing system.Pick the Best DentistThere are a number of factors that determine the success of any tooth whnteiing product, including the present state of your dental health. That's the most important reason to consult a dentist if you're planning on professional whnteiing.In general, patients having a darker set of teeth have shown better results than people with lighter teeth. Also, the degree of relapse of tooth whnteiing achieved will vary from patient to patient. Some patients are able to sustain their results for a longer time than others. As a matter of fact, even the different teeth in a patient's mouth show different results, despite using the same product. Hence, the results of professional tooth whnteiing products are very subjective. Besides these factors, the results also depend on the way your dentist uses the whitener. Certain professional tooth whnteiing products are to be used in a specific way. The results of the whnteiing system can be affected by the dentist's adherence to the protocol as prescribed by the manufacturer.Ideally, you should focus on finding the best dentist for tooth whnteiing rather than looking for the best professional tooth whnteiing system in the market. The results depend on how skilled your dentist is and how he or she uses the tooth whnteiing system.While choosing dentists you should keep the following things in mind:- The experience of the dentist in this field- Number of teeth whnteiing treatments performed- Number of teeth whnteiing methods available- Testimonials and results of previous patientsOnce you find the best dentist for tooth whnteiing, let the dentist decide the best tooth whnteiing system for you.