Listen Up… Gum Disease Is Bad For Your Body

Orally-related infection sits in the top position on Earth when looked at by the number of people who have periodontal disease.  Translation: on planet Earth, more people have gum disease than the number of people who have the widespread cold and sniffles. Studies performed in America show that half of U.S. citizens have gingivitis and about 30% have periodontitis (periodontal disease), according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that eats away at the jawbone, tooth roots and gums that work together to produce your smile. This sneaky disease may affect just a single tooth in your mouth or, some teeth on the bottom and some on top.

The never-ending story of periodontal disease starts again as soon as you finish brushing your teeth. The germs that survive your toothbrush’s attack get together again and begin systematically building up layer after layer of bio-film on your teeth. What bio-film? It’s that slightly yellow, sticky “gunk” that accumulates on your teeth while you sleep. Dental staff call it dental plaque. 

After the plaque reaches a necessary thickness, it will have built up enough material on the teeth to initiate the plaque’s de-mineralizing machine. The plaque begins to suck the calcium away from the enamel on that tooth. It sounds sickening, but don’t forget, losing minerals is a normal thing that goes on each day from simple wear and tear.

Conveniently, nature designed a solution for just such an occasion. As essential minerals are displaced from the tooth’s enamel, your saliva constantly bathes your teeth with fresh, new minerals from today’s food and water supply. The situation is, however, the microbes have built enough plaque that your saliva is blocked from the tooth’s surface. So, the enamel trapped by the plaque begins to soften and the supporting gum tissue becomes red and sore. From there, it’s a downhill slide. The microbes seem unstoppable.

Hold on, pardner. Lucky for us, there’s one fatal flaw in the germs’ dastardly scheme that can slap them silly.

The bad bugs require a full 9 hours to build up the necessary accumulation of plaque on your teeth. Unless that pasty buildup reaches a required coverage the plaque can’t attack your teeth.

There are 24 hours in the day. Divide those hours by 3 and you have three 8-hour parts to every day. Then, remember to brush your teeth every eight hours and you’ll never have to worry about those pesky germs.

Brogna-Gum-Disease-Mary

The Signposts of Gum Disease

  • Bleeding gums after brushing
  • Blood on your floss after flossing
  • Painful, shiny red or puffy gums
  • Loose and/or wobbly teeth
  • Tooth roots becoming exposed
  • Never-ending offensive breath (halitosis)
  • Pus around the base of the teeth
  • Sharp pain when biting down or chewing
  • A change in how your teeth come together
  • Recently developed spaces between teeth
  • Food “packing” into your gums

Brogna Periodontal Illustration 4

As strange as it may sound, the germs from gum disease are able to circulate through your system and get to vulnerable areas of the body like the heart, kidneys, lungs and the digestive organs. The problem with that is, you are able to use a toothbrush to eliminate the plaque layered on your teeth, but you can’t do the same to your heart. What this all means is that gum disease should be considered a bigger danger to your health than previously judged. Therefore, if your health is important to you, take action now to protect your gums.

As gum disease continues unchecked, bacterial waste products slowly destroy your gum tissue. This allows the bacteria to access your bloodstream. The bacteria and their by-products generate inflammation in the body’s vital organs. For children with a low-functioning immune system, this added burden could be the final ingredient that downgrades their overall health.

Studies have also concluded medicine you are receiving for a variety of internal conditions especially heart failure, pulmonary disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, orthopedic replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy might be diminished by bacteria from periodontal disease.

“Periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene are predictors of an early death,” explains health and wellness author, Dr. Michael F. Roizen. That’s because gum disease is a contributor to respiratory disease, heart disease, diabetes, immune disorders, osteoporosis, and digestive problems. It seems weird when you think about it, however, adding up the entire infected area of periodontal disease and decay in the mouth and gums, gum disease is like having an open and pus-filled infection the size of a silver dollar. Of course, “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. If that infection was on your face you would make it a top priority to get it corrected.

What Does This Mean For The Dental Patient?

Dr. Brogna explains, “Yesterday, dental professionals committed to saving your teeth with regular cleanings. From now on, there is a more complex dimension to dental care. If you develop an inflammatory condition such as periodontal disease, you risk facing more dangerous systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. Henceforth, as we manage the health of your teeth, not only do we save your teeth, which in itself is an admirable commitment, we might just be saving your life as well.”

Dr. Brogna sums it up well, “It’s no longer good enough to just attend to trouble spots in the gums. Given this new research, aggressively controlling periodontal disease will become a top priority for preserving and improving our patients’ systems-wide well-being and their zeal for life. In fact, it will establish the concept that, if our patient’s teeth and gums are not healthy, our dental team should assume the patient is on a pathway to major health problems.”

He maintains that, “It will require some education and reassessment by our patients, but people will sooner or later come to recognize that gum disease is a major contributor to heart disease and other systemic diseases. Don’t forget, it took decades for Americans to accept and realize the causal connection between being a smoker and heart disease.”

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