Gum Disease: More Yucky Than You Realize
Right now, as you are reading this, 500 to 600 different kinds of gross germs make your mouth their cozy home. And that’s just KINDS of bacteria. Given that each kind can consist of well over 100,000 bacteria, it becomes clear why dentists say that your mouth has more bacterial residents than there are people in New York City. And, just like New York City, they NEVER go to sleep. They only do two things: eat leftover food in your teeth and make bacteria babies.
Well, actually, there is one more thing the bacteria do and that’s what causes all the problems. They defecate waste product. That bacteria excrement is toxic to your teeth and gums.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, the icky layer of bacteria excrement that constantly builds up on your teeth. The bacteria’s excrement (plaque) contains chemical compounds that are destructive to your gums and your teeth.
Gum disease (also known as gingivitis) is very common in adults and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Research shows that over 75% of Americans age 35 and over have some form of gum disease as a result of medications, diet, or lack of adequate dental hygiene care
Common symptoms of gum disease are:
- bleeding gums after brushing
- cherry red color to gums
- mouth sores
- inflamed gums
- bad breath
If you follow our advice about dental home care and schedule twice-a-year cleanings at North Kansas City Dental, the plaque can be removed and gum disease can be prevented. Even the damaging effects of gum disease are also amazingly easy to heal if treated early by Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen.
North Kansas City Dental’s hygienists provide gentle, thorough cleanings that remove the plaque build-up that normal brushing fails to remove. They also provide education and instruction on how to get the maximum benefit from brushing and flossing.
Recent studies have shown an association between gum disease and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, low birth weight and diabetes. Because gum disease can have an adverse effect on your over-all health, Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen strongly suggest getting professional cleanings at least every six months.
Gum disease is oftentimes painless in the early stages, so you may not be aware that you have it. Add to that the fact that gum disease is virtually impossible for the patient to diagnose on their own and it becomes obvious why you need to see us regularly. At your cleanings, Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen and a North Kansas City Dental hygienist will take depth readings of the shallow, v-shaped crevice (called a sulcus) between your teeth and gums to determine if you have gum disease.
Gum disease attacks at the connection of your teeth and gum line in the sulcus, where it damages the supporting and connective tissues. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket; generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the depth of the pocket. Eventually, the pocket can get so deep that your tooth is no longer attached to your gums or jawbone. And, that’s when they fall out.
Oral Health and Body Health: The Connection
Periodic preventive cleaning appointments including periodontal therapy will probably extend your golden years, according to recent scientific research . It may sound weird, but, the germs from gum disease can travel through your body arriving at vulnerable areas of the body like the heart, kidneys, lungs and the digestive organs. It becomes clear that you need to schedule regular visits for dental hygiene and periodontal therapy to maintain your periodontal health.
“Periodontal disease and and inattention to personal oral health can lead to premature death,” relates health and wellness author, Dr. Michael F. Roizen in his best-selling book, Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be? Why? Because gum disease has been shown to be linked to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, digestive problems, osteoporosis, and immune disorders. It seems weird when you think about it, however, adding up the entire infected area of infection and decay in the mouth and gums, you end up with an infected area about two inches in diameter. It’s just invisible because it’s under the gums. If you looked in the mirror tomorrow and saw that big sore on your forehead, you be making a medical appointment that day.
In addition to gum disease’s negative effect on your body, it can also hinder any treatment regimen you are receiving for a medical condition.
The Signposts of Periodontal Disease:
- Bleeding gums after brushing
- Gums bleeding after flossing
- Aching, inflamed or puffy gums
- Loose and/or wobbly teeth
- Tooth roots becoming exposed
- Untreatable bad breath (halitosis)
- Pus or white film around the base of the teeth
- Sharp pain when you chew or bite on something
- Noticeable changes in your bite
- New spaces between your teeth
- Food getting lodged up in your gums
Type II Diabetes Encouraged By Periodontal Disease
For a long time it was known that those with Type II diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. Research is now indicating that it may work both ways: people with chronic gum infections are more likely to get diabetes. Researchers recently looked at data from a big health survey and uncovered the fact that those who had ongoing periodontitis when the survey started twenty years ago had greater odds of developing Type II diabetes.
This study provides evidence for the conclusion that patients with ongoing periodontal disease are more in danger of developing Type II diabetes.
Finally, did you know:
- The American Diabetes Association has announced that gum disease causes diabetes.
- Adults with periodontal disease are 2 times more likely to have insulin resistance.
- When Type II diabetics also have elevated gum disease, they are seven times more likely to die.
By having regular cleanings and periodontal therapy to treat your gum disease, you are saying, “No” to developing cardiovascular problems.
Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen cites dental research that has revealed that people with periodontal disease have a significantly greater chance of having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria shed by advanced gum disease can spread through the bloodstream and contribute to disease in the heart and other parts of the body.
Since the year, 2000, several studies have determined that there is a strong link between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One inevitability of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When the gums become very diseased, your teeth can wiggle out.
Finnish researchers decided to look for an association between the number of missing teeth in a person and the rate of diagnosed heart disease in the group. They looked at almost 1500 men aged 45 to 64 years. The researchers discovered that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from sustained oral infections resulting from periodontal disease also had a higher incidence of heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the risk of having a stroke by 1000%.
The Connection Between Periodontal Disease And Pulmonary Disease
According to numerous studies, gum disease can compromise your lungs. First, bacteria attacking your gums find their way into the saliva. The bacteria hitches a ride on the water droplets in the air you draw in every time you breathe. The water droplets mixed with the bacteria may be aspirated into the lungs. There the bacteria begins to colonize into a case of pneumonia. This can be very dangerous for the elderly or people who are dealing with a low immunity level, including anyone suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
What This All Means To Dentists
Previously, dental practices committed to saving your teeth through regular dental care. In the future, there is much more to be taken into consideration. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, you’re in danger of developing more serious systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. In the future, as we care for your teeth, we’re not just saving your teeth, which in itself is a very good outcome, we might just be saving your life as well.
Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen conclude, “It is no longer good enough to just be aware of trouble spots in the gums. Given this new research, attacking gum disease aggressively will become a critical action step in maintaining, and improving our patients’ overall health and their enjoyment of life. In fact, it will mean that if our patients’ teeth and gums are not healthy, we can assume that they are not healthy overall.”