bacteriaDid you know that gum disease can affect more than just your oral health? A lot of research exists which connects gum disease to various health risks including heart disease and certain cancers. But how does gum disease develop in the first place? And how can you prevent it? Your Brighton dentist, Dr. Thomas Villani, answers both of these questions below.

The Development of Gum Disease

Gum disease is ultimately caused by bacteria, although a contributing factor can be neglect of one’s own oral health. You see, gum disease often stems from the presence of bacteria on teeth in areas around the gums. When bacteria are left to gather in these areas because of poor homecare or neglect, they may venture below the gum line, where they can begin to wreak havoc on the mouth.

A very well-known form of gum disease, gingivitis (the inflammation of the gums) may develop first. However, gingivitis can quickly progress into a more damaging form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Gingivitis tends to linger and progress into periodontitis because the bacteria responsible for the disease actually inhibit the immune system’s response toward them. When they enter the body, they trigger the body’s production of an anti-inflammatory molecule known as IL-10. Unfortunately, this molecule interferes with the body’s bacteria-fighting T-cells, allowing gingivitis to stick around.

When periodontitis develops, it attacks the ligaments and tissues that support teeth. As these structures deteriorate, the teeth can loosen and may even begin to shift around in the mouth. Eventually, they may even fall out. However, tooth loss is not the only potential consequence of gum disease. Studies show that people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and other health problems.

Gum Disease Prevention

Gum disease prevention begins at home. Keeping teeth clear of bacteria can go a long way towards prevention. However, a regimen designed for gum disease prevention is not complete without regular dental checkups. During these checkups, a trained hygienist can remove bacteria-ridden plaque and tartar from teeth, lowering the risk of gum disease. In addition, these checkups allow your Brighton dentist, Dr. Villani, to examine your mouth for any oral health problems.

Schedule a Dental Checkup with Your Brighton Dentist

When was your last dental checkup? If it was more than six months ago, you are due for another. Contact your Brighton dentist, Dr. Villani, to schedule an appointment or a consultation by calling Brighton Family Dental Group at (617) 562-5210. We proudly serve patients from Watertown, Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, Brighton, and the 02135 area.