If asked what the worst thing that could happen to your oral health is, many people may respond that the loss of teeth must be the worst case scenario. The truth, however, is that even the loss of all of your teeth does not compare to the destructive damage of one of the worst threats to your oral health—gum disease. Your Lake Forest dentist Dr. James Fondriest explains the intricacies of gum disease and the destruction it can cause.
Gum disease begins with the excessive buildup of plaque along your gum line. Your mouth is constantly inhabited by oral bacteria; about 600 different kinds, in fact. When these bacteria gather, they form a sticky biofilm called plaque that protects and holds them together. Inadequate oral hygiene habits, such as not brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily, allow bacteria to continue to collect along your teeth and gum line, irritating your gums and damaging the supportive tissue. The irritation causes your gums to become red and inflamed (the indicative signs of gingivitis), and if left unchecked, the damage increases as gingival infection progresses.
The Destruction of Periodontitis
When bacteria irritate and damage your gums, they begin to separate from your teeth, forming small pockets where bacteria can accumulate and exacerbate the infection. As gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the infection spreads deeper and can cause irreversible damage to gum tissue and supporting jawbone structure. Your weakened jaw can no longer properly support your teeth, and for this reason, gum disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America.
The Oral-Systemic Connection
Even more dangerous than loss teeth is the connection between your oral health and your overall wellbeing. Studies continue to show that there is a link between the poor health of your mouth and an increased risk of serious systemic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and dementia, among many others. While definitive evidence cannot yet state whether one causes the other, it is agreed that keeping your mouth healthy by preventing or treating gum disease can benefit the state of your physical health.
To learn more about protecting your oral health, contact Lake Forest Dental Arts to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest. Call our Lake Forest dentist office at 847-234-0517. We proudly serve patients from Lake Forest, Libertyville, Grayslake, Highland Park, and surrounding Chicago-area communities.