Hygiene, Gum Health and Overall Health

The Role of Gum Health in Preventing Chronic Health Issues

If you knew there was something simple you could do daily that would decrease your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, or cancer, would you be interested? If you knew that a part of your morning routine could also ease the symptoms of arthritis or diabetes, would you do it?

You might be surprised to know that a simple two to four minute brushing and flossing twice daily can have more impact on your overall health than you ever realized. This is because gum disease, the most common of all human infections, is also the most common source of harmful inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation increases the risk of these diseases. When gum disease is treated by lowering the quantities of harmful bacteria in the mouth, gum inflammation is reduced, which lowers the inflammation level in the rest of the body. Combine this simple daily practice with regular periodic professional cleanings and exams for a lifetime of healthy gums and a healthier body.

Our Microbe Load and It's Effects

Did you know that each of us carries ten times as many bacterial cells as we do our own cells? Bacteria are essential to our health in many ways, but there is a balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria. With gum disease, our mouths are home to some of the most virulent bacteria, and they do get into our bloodstream and end up in organs and tissues where they have no business being. When we have a healthy immune system, it will usually take care of these invasive gum disease bacteria. But research studies have shown that in people with compromised immune systems or certain conditions, these bacteria and the toxins they produce can exacerbate existing health problems or interfere with normal functions in a way that stimulates the development of chronic disease.

Conditions and illnesses known to be linked to gum disease:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Adverse pregnancy conditions

How to Recognize the Early Signs of Gum Disease

In its mild early stage, gum disease is known as gingivitis. It appears as reddish gumlines that you will notice bleed and ache slightly when you floss. This occurs because the shallow trough or moat around the neck of each tooth contains an overgrowth of organized bad bacteria that is gaining the upper hand on the immune system. These bacteria have formed a clear, sticky coating or layer known as plaque or biofilm. If this complex biofilm is not broken up and removed daily, and if the body's immune system is weak, gingivitis can easily progress to a more advanced stage of gum disease known as periodontitis. Gingivitis can actually be reversed by routine dental cleanings and adequate brushing and flossing, because there is no damage to the underlying bone at this early stage.

How We Can Help You Maintain Gum Health and Prevent Chronic Illness

When we examine your gums we will assess them for any level of gum disease. We will discuss our findings with you, and will also discuss any risk factors that could be making your disease worse, such as smoking, diabetes, medications, or nutrition. When systemic illness is present, it is very important to treat any areas of gum disease infection as soon as possible, to minimize the threat of migrating bacteria and their effects.

When gingivitis is present, our hygienists will assure that all biofilms are removed, including the hard deposits of tartar. If a person is diagnosed with gum disease that is more advanced than gingivitis, we will often recommend a deep cleaning, called scaling and root planing, to thoroughly remove plaque, biofilm, and calcified tartar deposits that have accumulated above and below the gumline. This will greatly help the immune system to regain the upper hand. Equally important are the specific recommendations our hygienists give each patient on brushing and flossing to assure those daily plaque removal sessions help to keep you healthy.