periodontitis
In the previous article, we talked about gingivitis (gum inflammation). It is a mild gum inflammation that can be treated by regular flossing. If you haven’t read that article, you should do that now. If gingivitis is left untreated, it WILL turn into a serious condition called Periodontitis. Not only it is expensive to treat, it can also lead to other health problems such as kidney, liver, and heart disease.

Periodontitis is a type of destructive gum disease. By destructive, it means the damage is irreversible. When bacterial and fungal plaque is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it makes its way below the gum line. Your immune system responds to this by sending white blood cells to the affected area. Due to hyperactive immune response, the bone and ligament around the tooth gets resorbed. You may not experience any pain or other signs of symptom. However, it does not mean you can ignore it.  During a dental cleaning, the hygienist will insert a probe into your gum to measure loss of ligament and the surrounding bone. Overtime, the tooth loosens, and eventually falls out. That sounds pretty bad, but it gets worse. When the affected area is packed with pathogens, the germs can travel to other places within your body through blood circulation. Usually, pathogens end up in organs that have the highest blood flow resistance, namely kidney and liver, where your blood gets filtered. As pathogens multiply in those organs, it can result in kidney or liver failure. Additionally, pathogens can also be trapped by the valves in your heart, causing endocarditis (infected heart valves).

People with certain health conditions such as diabetes have weakened immune system, and is prone to develop periodontitis. Another known cause for weakened immune response is high stress, which we all have as New Yorkers. With that said, prevention against periodontitis is cheap and effective. All you need to do is keeping up the good habit of brushing and flossing. Also make sure to visit your dentist every six months for a check up and cleaning. If you are prone to develop gum disease, your dentist may want to monitor your oral health by recommending you to receive a cleaning every three to four month.

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