Plaque And Gingivitis – Not Just Dental Problems

Dental CheckupFor those of us still lucky to have our teeth, the most universal problems our tooth must reckon with include icky, sticky plaque and inflamed, bleeding gums. But they are the nemesis of the entire body as well.

If recent researches by scientists are any indication, plaque and gingivitis – two very common dental conditions – could be associated with several diseases.

These two may possibly have far-reaching consequences, i.e. heart failure and even dementia!

Nevertheless, nothing has been set in stone yet. But the list is growing, so better “brush up” on your oral hygiene now.

Plaque and Gingivitis

Plaque, which is a kind of bacterium, is omnipresent in your teeth, gums and crowns. When grouped together, they look like a thin film encasing the tooth.

At some point, you are bound to eat food and imbibe drinks with starches or sugars. Doing so causes plaque bacteria to produce acids, which in turn attack the teeth’s enamel.

In time, the plaque grows bigger and stickier. Sticky plaque buildup allows the acids to continue their assault on teeth, until the enamels give up. This then causes tooth decay, which in turn leads to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease sends its opening salvo in the form of gingivitis, a condition wherein your gums swell and bleed. As the disease enters its more severe stages, the gums become so inflamed that they uncover the bones beneath.

Periodontal disease and its link to other diseases

Now the mouth is not the only place of concern when periodontal disease strikes, or so experts say. From the mouth, bacteria could potentially enter the bloodstream, where they get ferried to large organs. The disease may then cause inflammation far from where it began, setting off ailments like:

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Heart disease

Studies have shown that patients with gum disease are very prone to heart failure, and ultimately, heart attacks.

Both the American Academy of Periodontology and The American Journal of Cardiology agreed that gum disease has some connection to heart disease. These scientific bodies wrote a research about the subject, published in 2009 issues of the Journal of Periodontology and The American Journal of Cardiology. Ultimately, the study encouraged periodontists to inquire if their patients have any case of heart ailment, while asking cardiologists to inquire if their patients have any history of gum disease.

Next time your physician, dentist, periodontist or internist ask such questions, cooperate. It might just save you.


Periodontal disease has lately been linked to mental illnesses, particularly dementia.

One research even let gum disease-ridden participants take memory and problem-solving tests. The researchers found that those with less severe gum disease fared better than peers who were worst off.

Yet another research associated periodontal disease with cognitive impairment.

Premature birth

Studies have shown that expectant mothers with periodontal disease but seek medical/dental attention would go on to deliver mature babies. Recently, a study found that women with gum disease, who had finished periodontal treatment within 35 weeks of their pregnancy, were able to deliver the infants after the term. Conversely, the other group of women delivered theirs prematurely. Several other studies show disparate conclusions, though.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Painful, inflamed joints characterize rheumatoid arthritis, which is a kind of autoimmune disease. Those who have this condition tend to acquire periodontal disease.

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According to one research, rheumatoid arthritis patients usually have more missing teeth than anyone else. In 2009, a study was published showing that gum disease-afflicted patients, who also have advanced rheumatoid arthritis, reported less inflammation, stiffness and pain upon completing their periodontal treatment.

Prevent plaque and gingivitis

You could easily manage plaque by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day. Use no less than fluoride toothpaste, and pair it with anti-bacterial mouthwash. You can take out stubborn microbes in your mouth this way.

Set a regular schedule with your dentist to have your teeth cleaned more intensively. Ask him or her if a sealant or protective coating around the teeth’s chewing surfaces would be right for you. Plaque, gingivitis, and the resultant tooth decay often start deep within the mouth.

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1 Response

  1. This is a very useful article. Thank you for writing it. It is always nice to know more about your body and what you may risk if you don’t treat your problems accordingly. I had no idea that gum problems are linked with dementia or any other disease mentioned in the article. Thanks again.

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