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Your gums do more than provide a home for your teeth, although that is an important part of their job. They also keep the bacteria that is always present in your mouth from entering your body and creating health problems. You may know that gum disease can result in loose or lost teeth, and even in damage to your jaw, but did you know that it can also lead to other very serious health complications? The primary cause of gum disease is plaque and tartar on your teeth. These substances cause your gums to swell, which allows plaque to develop below the gumline, which will then permit bacteria to enter your body.

If you inhale the bacteria present in gum disease, over a period of time, you may develop a respiratory infection. If that bacteria enters your bloodstream, it can cause your arteries to harden and plaque to develop on the artery walls. It can also cause swelling in the walls of your heart valves. These conditions could result in a stroke or a heart attack. The bacteria from your gum disease could find its way into your nervous system, the result could be dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, if you have diabetes, gum disease will make it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar, and could make your symptoms worse.

Your dentist may suggest that you do a more thorough job of brushing and flossing, or you may need medication for your gum disease. In more severe cases, surgery may be required. In some cases, gum disease can be treated by scaling and root planing. This often requires two visits, and involves your dentist removing plaque and tartar from your teeth above and below the gumline; and then smoothing and cleaning the roots of your teeth.

If you have been experiencing swollen, tender or bleeding gums, or if they have turned bright red in color, or you have noticed loose teeth or chronic bad breath, it’s time for a visit with our dentist, Dr. Shoaf. If you would like to make an appointment at Complete Dental Care in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, call 412-253-4671. We’re looking forward to helping you have a healthy smile!