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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 19 January 2021
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Gum disease sufferers at risk of diabetes and heart disease

Gum disease affects four out of five people in Ireland and the level of gum disease worsens as we get older.

Image: Brushing teeth image via Shutterstock

MEDICAL EXPERTS HAVE warned that gum disease can damage a person’s general health and is a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, bacterial pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic disorders.

Today the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the Irish Dental Hygienists Association and Dublin Dental University Hospital launched a medical leaflet for patients to raise awareness of the “silent disease”.

Gum disease is a chronic infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth leading to red, swollen and tender gums.

The leaflet explains the causes, symptoms and how to prevent the disease and is available from today for patients to pick up at their local dental surgeries and dental hygienists as well as cardio departments in hospitals and pharmacies around the country.

(To view the full leaflet online, click here)

Commenting today, Dt Steve Kerrigan, senior lecturer in Pharmacology at RCSI, said that most people think of straight, white teeth when they think of a health smile. He said:

Many people never stop to consider the health of the gums and bone supporting the teeth that allow for a nice smile. Over time, the inflammation as a result of gum disease causes the gums and bones surrounding the teeth to recede and teeth to fall out, changing the overall look of a person’s face, mouth and smile.

At the early stages of gum disease there are no symptoms and many people may not be aware they have a problem until it turns into a severe case.

Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Dark red or swollen gums;
  • Tender or bleeding gums;
  • Pain when biting food;
  • Gums that have been pulled away or low down from a tooth;
  • Persistent bad breath.

Gum disease affects four out of five people in Ireland and the level of gum disease worsens as we get older. Common lifestyle and dietary factors such as smoking, obesity and stress in addition to hormonal changes and some prescription medications can cause gum disease.

Experts recommend brushing teeth and gums twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing teeth of using interdental brushes once a day. Avoid sugary snacks between meals and visit your dentist and dental hygienist at least once a year.

Read: Almost one third of us are postponing going to the dentist – because of cost>
Read: 42 per cent of Irish adults “are missing teeth”>

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