October is the time for creepy ghouls, scary stories, and for cinephiles, the best horror movies of the year. This October is no different, with the next installment of one of the most famous slasher films of all time — Halloween — debuting this month. Although the iconic music and mask wearing villain of the franchise do their best to creep you out, they’re just part of the magic of movies. There are plenty of real things to be frightened of, some that can have a really dramatic affect on your smile.
What Is Gum Disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an inflammatory condition in the mouth caused by a persistent, low-grade infection. In the early stages of gum disease, gums become red and swollen. In later stages, however, gums begin pulling away from teeth, leaving them more exposed to bacteria which can eventually cause teeth to become loose and fall out. Bacteria from the mouth can also get into the bloodstream, and significantly increase your chances of heart disease and stroke.
While symptoms can vary from patient to patient, the first sign of gum disease is generally red and swollen gums, and bleeding while brushing or flossing. Some may experience bad breath, and eventually loose teeth. While poor oral hygiene is generally the cause of gum disease, certain genetic factors may predispose some to the condition.
Is Gum Disease Dangerous?
Obviously losing teeth can be pretty dramatic, but gum disease has other complications that can make it deadly. A recent study published in the American Association for Cancer Research found a link between gum disease and esophageal cancer. Analyzing bacteria that were present in the mouth, researchers linked advanced periodontal disease with a higher rate of esophageal cancer, which is highly fatal.
That, of course, is only the beginning. Dozens of other studies have linked advanced gum disease with a higher rate of stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of cancer. Some believe this is caused by the effect low-grade infection has on the body after a long period of time. Not only does this infection cause inflammation, but it can also cross into the bloodstream and begin infecting other areas of the body.
Stop Gum Disease in Its Tracks
Stopping gum disease or avoiding it altogether isn’t exactly rocket science. There are many practical steps you can take to protect your mouth, and most of them start with oral hygiene. The American Dental Association suggests brushing and flossing twice a day to avoid gum disease. Because we generally sleep for eight hours, the best time to brush is usually before we go to bed and when we wake up.
Another important step also suggested by the American Dental Association is visiting the dentist once every six months for a cleaning and checkup. Gum disease forms after several months of neglect, not overnight. By visiting your dentist regularly, you can avoid any unknown complications from developing.