Gum disease is a serious and chronic infection of the gums that results from a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Just like infection found anywhere else in the body, immediate treatment of infection found in the mouth is necessary to avoid its spread and destruction of vital bone and soft tissue. Warning signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, gum recession, swollen gums, or a change in your bite. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to periodontitis, where you experience pockets in your gums, receding gums, and potential tooth loss. Research also indicates that gum disease is linked to serious systemic issues such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and others. Are you at risk for gum disease? It’s time to take action! Look to us for a variety of effective gum disease treatments, including LANAP®, osseous surgery, periodontal maintenance, and scaling and root planing.
The daily monotonous task of brushing and flossing your teeth has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and reduce the risks gum disease places on your overall health. It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease which can be linked to serious health complications and causes dental problems that are avoidable.
There are three main stages of gum disease:
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is caused by plaque buildup around the gum line which causes inflammation of the gums. If you neglect to brush or floss your teeth daily, this plaque buildup will trap bacteria and cause gum disease. Gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums. Gums that should otherwise be pink will appear red and swollen; you could experience bleeding when you brush or floss. However, at this point, gingivitis can still be reversed. The bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place have not yet been affected.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will become periodontitis. At this stage, the supporting bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place have been irreversibly damaged. Your gums begin to form “pockets,” deep hollow areas around the teeth that trap food, plaque, and bacteria. Your gums will recede and form gaps between your teeth. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further damage and tooth loss.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
In this final stage, periodontitis has been left untreated and has become advanced periodontitis. Bacteria that was allowed to grow, spread, and cause destruction has destroyed the connective tissues and bones that support the teeth. The pockets that formed in the previous stage have become much deeper. Your teeth can shift or loosen. Loose teeth that move around in the mouth may affect your bite. At this state, aggressive treatment is needed to save the teeth.
Healthy Gums and Tooth
Osseous surgery, or flap surgery, is usually performed when a pocket around a tooth (or teeth) has not responded to other treatments. The procedure is performed in order to create a clean environment around the tooth so that the tooth can be retained rather than lost. Osseous surgery involves making an incision in and lifting back the surrounding gum tissue to treat the diseased area underneath. This is generally tried only after other treatments have been explored and usually is performed when the pocket depth has worsened over time.
Periodontal maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent periodontitis, a serious condition that can compromise the gums and the underlying jaw bone. Periodontal maintenance is usually necessary for patients who are susceptible to periodontal disease or who have been treated for gum disease. Maintenance visits to the periodontist will help prevent additional dental problems in the future. Treating the disease in its early stages saves you not only discomfort but also money!
When bacteria irritate the gums, they can bleed more easily. You may notice this if you are brushing your teeth or eating, and your gums bleed a bit. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth by scaling and smoothing down (planing) the tooth roots. They may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine and show you how to brush and floss your teeth effectively. Most adults have some degree of gum disease.
Research has come forth that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways. Gum problems can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Those who have diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than those who do not, which makes it vital for diabetics to maintain their blood sugar and seek treatment.
Diabetes Increases Chances of Periodontal Disease
Diabetics, as a result of their increased susceptibility to infection, are at greater risk of developing periodontal disease than those without diabetes. Those who do not have their diabetes under control are at an even greater risk. Uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection that can occur in the mouth. Allowing diabetes to be left uncontrolled greatly increases a diabetic’s risk of moderate to severe gum disease. Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation, and poor healing in the oral tissues. All of these complications of diabetes can put a patient at greater risk for periodontal disease, but the inflammation of the gums is by far the most threatening. Besides impairing white blood cells, diabetes also causes blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow of nutrients and waste products from the tissues of the mouth. This inflammation greatly reduces the body’s ability to fight infections, such as the bacterial infection that causes periodontitis or gum disease.
Additionally, the damage that periodontal disease can do is far greater in a diabetic patient than one without diabetes because healing in diabetics may be impaired, allowing the periodontal disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.
Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: A Two-Way Street
Not only does diabetes affect periodontal disease, but periodontal disease has been shown to affect a patient’s diabetes. The relationship is a two-way street. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for patients with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Periodontal disease has been shown to increase blood sugar which contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with high blood sugar. Bacterial infections, like periodontal disease, can affect the patient’s metabolism making it far more complicated to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because gum disease is a chronic infection, it has a negative impact on the diabetic’s ability to maintain control of the metabolic status. All of these effects can increase the risk for some of the complications of diabetes: glaucoma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure.
Several studies have found that treating periodontal disease helps diabetics control their blood sugars. One such study of 113 Pima Indians, published in the Journal of Periodontology (1997), found that when the Indians’ periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease in the Diabetic
If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment today. Treatment options for periodontal disease vary and can help you maintain and control your diabetic status. If you are diabetic, it is crucial for you to have healthy gums. Healthy gums will make it easier for you to control your blood sugar levels, ultimately saving you time, effort, and money!
Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease.
The link between gum and heart problems has long been recognized but it is unclear if poor oral health is simply a marker of a person’s general well being. UK and Irish experts now say bacteria enter the bloodstream via sore gums and deposit a clot-forming protein. The findings are being presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.
Earlier this year a Scottish study of more than 11,000 people found people who did not brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk of heart disease. It backed up previous findings that suggested a link, but researchers stressed the nature of the relationship still needed further analysis.
Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria – responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease – which may be to blame.
Their work shows this bacteria, once let loose in the bloodstream, makes a protein known as PadA which forces platelets in the blood to stick together and clot.
Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.
“This provides a protective cover not only from the immune system, but also from antibiotics that might be used to treat infection,” said Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the research.
“Unfortunately, as well as helping out the bacteria, platelet clumping can cause small blood clots, growths on the heart valves, or inflammation of blood vessels that can block the blood supply to the heart and brain.”
While maintaining good dental hygiene could minimize the risk, the team is also investigating how the platelet-activating function of the protein PadA can be blocked.
Professor Damian Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said, “Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.
“It also underlines the high importance of brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, restricting your intake of sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly in order to maintain good oral health.”
The British Heart Foundation said that were other factors besides oral health which had a greater impact on heart health.
But their senior cardiac nurse Cathy Ross added that combining good oral health care “with a healthy diet, not smoking and taking part in plenty of physical activity will go a long way in helping you reduce your overall risk of heart disease”.
For more information:
“Periodontal Disease And Pancreatic Cancer Linked.” Medical News Today. N.p., 19 Jan 2007. Web. 14 Nov 2011. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/60977.php
1. Eat a balanced diet rich with vitamin D and calcium.2. Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training are best for keeping bones strong.3. Do not smoke; limit alcohol consumption.4. Report any issues with loose teeth, detached or receding gums, or ill-fitting dentures to your dentist immediately.
Most women are aware that smoking, drinking, and drug use have negative effects on pregnancy.
Something that many women may not be aware of is the effect that having gum disease has on pregnant women.
There are studies that show pregnant women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to pre-term and low birth weight babies when they have gum disease.
It is important for more research to be done regarding this correlation, but one thing is for sure…
Any active infection in pregnant women should be avoided at all costs; gum disease is a living, breathing infection in your mouth. Get it treated.
Studies by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry revealed that women with gum (periodontal) disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a pre-term, low birth weight baby. Compare that with the effects of alcohol and smoking, which are said to increase the odds of a low birth weight baby by only three times.
Gum disease and Moms-to-Be
How can your gums affect the weight of the fetus? It has to do with the fact that periodontal disease causes bacterial infections. Pregnant women should avoid any situation where they can obtain an infection, knowing that there may be repercussions on their health or that of the unborn baby. It is becoming clear that an infection of gum tissues is no exception.
Women who have experienced problems with their oral health are most likely to experience gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease) during pregnancy. Even tissues in the mouth undergo changes during pregnancy. Gingivitis usually appears in the second or third month and can last all the way through the eighth month of pregnancy. If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, this could indicate that you have gingivitis.
If a dental professional does not treat these red and swollen gums, the condition can deteriorate to periodontal disease, which can attack the gums and bone surrounding the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss. The natural space between your teeth and gums becomes infected. Pockets can form where bacteria thrive. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that toxins are then released into the bloodstream, and the body reacts by producing chemicals that cause premature labor.
Will I know if I have gum disease?
You may not normally experience pain with gingivitis or periodontal disease, but there are other symptoms:
1) red, swollen, or tender gums
2) bleeding gums when you brush or floss
3) gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
4) loose teeth
5) a change in your bite
6) pus between teeth and gums
7) persistent bad breath
More research is underway to determine how pregnant women with periodontal disease should be treated. For now, we suggest having your oral health checked before you consider pregnancy or as soon as possible after you know you are pregnant.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.; more than 30,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year. It is an extremely difficult cancer to treat, and little is known about what causes it. One established risk factor in pancreatic cancer is cigarette smoking; other links have been made to obesity, diabetes type 2, and insulin resistance. In a new study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas. The study appeared in the January 17, 2007, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Our study provides the first strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This finding is of significance as it may provide some new insights into the mechanism of this highly fatal disease,” said lead author Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at HSPH.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that, over time, cause loss of bone supporting the teeth; tooth loss is a consequence of severe periodontal disease. Two previous studies had found a link between tooth loss or periodontitis and pancreatic cancer. One study consisted of all smokers, and the other did not control for smoking in the analysis; therefore, no firm conclusions could be drawn from these studies.
Data for the new study came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986, and included 51,529 U.S. men working in the health professions. Participants responded to questionnaires about their health every two years. After analyzing the data, the researchers confirmed 216 cases of pancreatic cancer between 1986 and 2002; of those, 67 reported periodontal disease.
The results showed that after adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, body mass index, and a number of other factors, men with periodontal disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those reporting no periodontal disease. “Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Michaud.
One possible explanation for the results is that inflammation from periodontal disease may promote cancer of the pancreas. “Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells,” she said.
Another explanation, according to Michaud, is that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis because individuals with periodontal disease have higher levels of oral bacteria and higher levels of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens, in their oral cavity. Prior studies have shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.
Michaud, senior author Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Dana-Farber, and their colleagues believe that further studies should be done to investigate the role of inflammation from periodontal disease in pancreatic cancer. However, Michaud notes that the underlying mechanisms for this association are speculative at this point. “More research is needed both to confirm this finding in other populations and also to explore the role of inflammation in this particular cancer,” she said.
This study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.
“A Prospective Study of Periodontal Disease and Pancreatic Cancer in U.S. Male Health Professionals,” Dominique S. Michaud, Kaumudi Joshipura, Edward Giovannucci, Charles S. Fuchs, JNCI, 2007; 99:1-5
Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 300 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 900 plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well-being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer, from risk analysis to violence prevention, from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement, and from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/
For more information:
“Periodontal Disease and Pancreatic Cancer Linked.” Medical News Today. 19 January 2007,http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/60977.php.
What is a Stroke?
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and the leading cause of death in older Americans. It is estimated that one American suffers from an instance every 45 seconds. With one in four men and one in five women over the age of 45 suffering from a stroke, reducing your risk of having one is very important.
Stroke occurs when the blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen are damaged or compromised. Restricting the brain of oxygen, even briefly, can result in a stroke. Strokes are widely feared because of their debilitating aftermath. Even minor or mini-strokes can result in life-altering consequences, such as paralysis, weakness, aphasia (losing the ability to speak, write, or understand language), and mental health changes.
Stroke and Periodontal Disease
Recent studies have shown that people with moderate to advanced periodontal disease are at a greater risk of stroke. One study published by the American Stroke Association in 2004 showed that patients with severe periodontitis, or gum disease, had a 4.3 times higher risk of stroke than those with mild or no periodontal disease. The bottom line is: If you have an infection in your mouth 24 hours a day for 7 days per week, then it is going to spread to your entire body!
New studies are released every year linking periodontal disease and stroke. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable and treatable and is an easy way to eliminate one risk factor you may have for stroke.
Teeth can be lost for a variety of reasons. Anything from disease, injury, birth defect, to decay can result in teeth being lost or removed. However, many dental and health problems can result from tooth loss or removal.
Without properly aligned teeth, an individual might not be able to chew correctly, and diet could be affected. With missing teeth, or no teeth altogether, chewing becomes very difficult or impossible. The diet then becomes restricted to soft, easily chewed foods. This kind of diet might not meet the nutrition needs of the body which can cause constipation, weight loss, arthritis, indigestion, and rheumatism.
Teeth are important to meeting the nutritional needs of the body. Without them, the health of the body can be severely impacted.
Teeth play a major part in speech. Some letter sounds such as s, z, d, x, n, th, and sh are made with tongue-to-tooth contact. Without teeth, these sounds will not be able to be made easily and may result in a lisp. Lisping can be an embarrassing condition and may make it hard for you to be understood.
The tongue is also affected by lost teeth. With no teeth to keep it in place, the tongue will broaden out and fill in the newly open space. This thickened tongue makes it harder to control and may also result in difficult-to-understand speech.
Bone Loss in the Jaw
Teeth do more than just help us chew our food and speak. They actually serve to stimulate the bone in the jaw. Each time you chew, the teeth stimulate the bone. Without this natural stimulation, the alveolar bone–the portion of the jawbone that anchors teeth in the mouth–begins to break down and is re-absorbed into the body. Since there are no longer teeth there that “need” the jawbone, the bone deteriorates and disintegrates.
The rate of deterioration varies per person; however, it begins almost immediately after a tooth is lost or removed and continues throughout life. Once deterioration reaches a certain point, dental prosthetics–such as dentures–will no longer be useful because there will not be enough bone to support them.
Misalignment occurs when teeth no longer have an opposing tooth structure. The tooth with no counterpart can become loose, and the bone supporting it may begin to deteriorate because of lack of stimulation. Losing even one tooth may cause the remaining teeth to shift their position, altering an individual’s bite pattern and leading to pain in the head, neck, and jaw.
Teeth are also designed to hold the lips and cheeks in place. When teeth are missing, the lips and cheeks do not have their natural support system. When closed, the mouth will appear “sunken in” without the support of the teeth. This can age the appearance of the person greatly.