If you have swollen, tender, or red gums, you may be developing gingivitis. It's imperative that you get into a periodontist for treatments like pocket irrigation and scaling and root planing. If gingivitis isn't taken care of, the inflammation can get so bad that your gums will pull away from tooth roots. As gums pull away, pockets can form, bacteria can thrive, and the risk of periodontitis can increase. And keep in mind that periodontitis, or gum disease, doesn't just hurt your gums or jawbone: it can affect many other systems.
Do you have a family history of Alzheimer's disease? According to the NCBI, there is a link between the inflammation caused by periodontitis and Alzheimer's disease. Although the NCBI says that studies haven't shown causation, the fact that there's an association should be enough. Chronic inflammation isn't great for your body since it not only destroys healthy tissue, but since it can let bacterial cells thrive. According to this same research presented by NCBI, periodontitis increases the release of cytokines--molecules that help stimulate the movement of cells towards inflammation. These cytokines aren't inherently bad since they can fight infections; but again, if they send these signals for too long, then your body starts attacking healthy tissues, leading to inflammation that can increase the risk of Alzheimer's.
Like Alzheimer's, it's hard to figure out cause and effect with periodontitis and heart disease. However, doctors at WebMD do say there is a link. Can you guess what that link is? You got it: inflammation. WebMD says that since gums are vascular, bacteria from periodontitis can easily get into the bloodstream and damage vessels and the heart. And if you do a quick Google search, you'll see that heart disease is the top killer in the U.S. for both men and women; so, this periodontal link is definitely something to worry about!
Your Immune System
In the past, diabetes was thought to cause periodontal problems. However, one site says that new research may actually point to reverse causation! Researchers actually found that people with periodontitis were twice as likely to develop diabetes over the years. Whatever the causation, this link makes sense since both diabetes and periodontitis increase inflammation and compromise your immune system. And keep in mind that since those with diabetes have weak immune systems and are slow healers, they are more susceptible to infections.
As you can see, gum disease is more serious than you might initially think. Whether you have the first signs of gingivitis or full-blown periodontitis, you need to talk with a dentist like http://www.thefamilydentist-lakeland.com right away so other bodily systems aren't compromised.