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Gum Disease: Putting Your Overall Health at Risk

ginigivitis-oral health-tooth decay
ginigivitis-oral health-tooth decay

Dr. Uchenna Okoye, clinical director of London Smiling, shares tips on avoiding gingivitis.

Gum disease is a very common condition; however, it can lead to periodontal disease and gum infections. This can cause a number of health problems, which people often don’t realize.

“We know from research that gum disease can actually increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes,” says Dr. Uchenna Okoye. “And there’s research linking it to an increased pregnancy risk, dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis. One study found a link between periodontal disease and tooth loss and cognitive function.”

Recognizing the symptoms

If you’re concerned about gum disease, knowing what to look for is critical. “Many people first notice their gums are bleeding after brushing. Then gums appear red, swollen, puffy and are tender.”

Unpleasant breath is another indication. And it doesn’t stop there. “Usually, when there’s pain, it’s the late stages of the disease,” warns Dr. Okoye.

Undergoing gum disease treatment

Addressing gum disease depends on the severity of the condition. “First port of call is cleaning with hygiene visits, and helping the patient establish a really good oral hygiene program. Stages of treatment go from simple brushing, flossing, and hygiene cleaning, to more complex modalities by the periodontist that can involve surgery and the use of chemical aids.”

Prevention is key

Brushing at least twice daily, particularly at night, is a top priority. “I recommend using an electric toothbrush. After brushing with toothpaste, don’t rinse, just spit, as rinsing takes away the toothpaste, which coats and protects. And brush your teeth before breakfast, not after, which most people do.” Dr. Okoye also suggests avoiding cigarettes and controlling stress.

Knowledge is power

Fortunately, people are becoming much more aware of gum health, and there are many new oral health products on the market. “I’m so pleased dentistry seems to be having a renaissance as we realize how important oral health is to the body as a whole. Research during the pandemic showed a definite link between those who got very ill and a high incidence of gum disease.” 

Dr.  Okoye adds, “I’m a strong believer in empowering patients to take care of their health. What really matters is motivation and maintenance, which happens at home on a daily basis.”

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