Poor gum care can lead to heart problems

National 1 minute, 45 seconds


POOR gum care can lead to infections that increase the risks for cardiovascular problems, heart attacks, stroke and pregnancy complications, according to a consultant at the Department of Dental Services.

Dr Hjh Samsiah Hj Mohd Said yesterday explained at a oral health symposium that periodontitis – a gum infection that damages soft tissue and bones that support teeth – can be easily prevented, but can pose major health problems if left unchecked.

Serious cases of periodontitis are found in 10 to 15 per cent of Brunei’s population and affect half of all adults. Dr Hjh Samsiah said periodontitis is usually the result of poor oral hygiene.

“Basic steps such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental check-ups can drastically reduce chances of developing the infect,” she said.

Periodontitis has a high correlation with systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory problems, said Dr Hjh Samsiah.

Studies have indicated that bacterial infections play a significant role in systemic diseases such as diabetes, as these diseases lower the body’s resistance to infection, making periodontitis more severe.

“Pregnant women with periodontitis are also seven and a half times more likely to develop complications during their term, as well as being more likely to deliver prematurely, with babies that have low birth weight,” she added.

The root cause of periodontitis is plaque that stays on teeth longer a few days, which can result in the plaque harderning under the gumline to form tartar, which is even more difficult to remove, and is likely to store bacteria.

“The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more likely they are to cause damage. Initially when they inflame the part of your gum around the base of the teeth it is known as gingivitis,” she said.

Continued and untreated gingivitis can then advance to periodontitis, where gums begin to separate from teeth, forming pockets that become infected.

“If these pockets become deeper and accumulate more bacteria, eventually they will advance under the gum tissue, which can cause a loss of tissue and bone,” said Dr Hjh Samsiah.

The Brunei Times