How COVID caused a Silent Epidemic

covid caused epidemicRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

When COVID-19 emerged last year, it changed our entire world. The coronavirus pandemic impacted the way we work, learn, shop, and spend our free time. COVID-19 led to a major disruption of dental services. According to a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48% of responding adults rescheduled or canceled medical appointments within the previous three months due to the COVID-19. Moreover, 11% of respondents noticed the decision to skip medical care led to a downgrade in the condition of themselves or a loved one. This applies to the dental world as well. While trying to take precautions related to COVID-19, dentistry has seen a rise in the prevalence of several oral health conditions. In this article, your Royal Oak family dentist Dr. Nancy Hartrick looks at a less-known oral health concern that developed silently during the pandemic.

Gum Disease

Stemming from a bacterial infection of your gums, this ailment affects about half of American adults over the age of 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gum disease starts as gingivitis—symptomized by gums that are red, tender, puffy, or bleed easily. Left untreated, gum disease progresses into periodontitis. By this point, the disease has done permanent damage to your oral health. Bacteria accumulate under your gum line, forming deep pockets around your teeth, providing a place for bacteria to flourish and cause even more damage. Eventually, unmanaged gum disease leads to these pockets deepening and then eroding the jawbone, leading to substantial tooth loss.

Diabetes

There’s a close association between gum disease and diabetes, and having one of these ailments increases your risk of developing the other. Managing gum disease through professional treatment by a dentist can help diabetic patients better manage their blood glucose levels. Conversely, living with higher blood sugar levels leads to more inflammation and slows the healing process, making you more vulnerable to infection.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women face a higher risk of gum disease because of hormone changes during pregnancy, making blood vessels in the gums more permeable and potentially allowing harmful bacteria to accumulate in the mouth. This is why it’s recommended that women who are expecting remain especially diligent about maintaining a regimen of regular dental care.

Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease makes up nearly one-fourth of all deaths in the United States, according to the CDC statistics. People with gum disease face an elevated risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases. Why does this occur? Bacteria from the oral infection can filter into the circulatory system, forming plaque blockages that obstruct arteries and lead to heart disease. One recent study noted that 40% of atherosclerotic lesions contained remnants of oral pathogens.

Treating Gum Disease in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

If you have gum disease, at-home brushing and flossing aren’t enough to remove the bacteria inside the periodontal or gum pockets. Instead, you need to receive periodontal treatment from an experienced, qualified dentist— like Dr. Nancy Hartrick at Hartrick Dentistry. You can’t afford to let the pandemic compromise your oral health. If you let your regular schedule of dental appointments lapse due to COVID-19, or you need to find a new dentist in Royal Oak, now’s the time to get back on track. Schedule your consultation today by calling (248) 549-0950.

Posted in General Dentistry