Holistic dentists have known for years that your oral health is a barometer for overall health. Dentists and dental associations worldwide are now recognizing the systemic health benefits of a healthy mouth, which begins with healthy gums.
What causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease, and its related conditions, is known by many names: Gingivitis, Periodontal Disease, Periodontitis (Pyorrhea). Simply put, gum disease manifests itself when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up at the gum line. Plaque and tartar are full of bacteria, which can then cause an infection of the gums. If this infection is allowed to progress, it can lead to abscesses as well as gum, bone and eventually tooth loss. When the infection advances to the tissue and bone, this is known as Periodontitis and is very serious.
The condition of your dental work can also affect your periodontal health. Broken fillings, decayed teeth that trap food, ill-fitting crowns or bridges – can all negatively impact your gum health. Mercury from fillings can also lead to inflammation and periodontal breakdown.
Certain medical conditions, prescription drugs, hormonal changes (especially in pregnancy) and poor nutrition (notably a lack of B and C vitamins) can also lead to gingivitis.
How common is Gum Disease?
The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that nearly 53% of adults aged 20 and older have gum disease! That’s over 150 million people in the United States alone! That number goes up to nearly 80% of adults when very early stage gingivitis is taken into account!
What are the symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can seem very benign and you may not even notice a problem. It is rarely painful, but it is important to be familiar with some of the common signs:
- Bleeding gums when you brush and/or floss.
- Swollen, tender or red gums.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Teeth feel loose or like they’re separating/drifting.
- Receded gums – gums that have pulled away from teeth.
- Teeth don’t fit together the same way when chewing.
- A change in the way partial dentures fit.
Why is Gum Disease so dangerous?
The infection from gum disease can cause tooth and bone loss if left untreated. In fact, gum disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults. Without strong, healthy teeth you are less able to properly digest food and absorb the nutrients that you need.
What causes the greatest risk to your health is the infection. As it progresses, the infection releases more toxins into the bloodstream, leading to very serious health risks:
Sources (photo): National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research and American Heart Association
Is there a cure?
Absolutely. In fact, we at Groton Wellness Dental Spa offer several comprehensive and highly effective non-surgical gum treatments for most stages of gum disease – even advanced cases of Periodontitis (Pyorrhea). But the key to the cure is through early detection and prevention. It is critical that you treat gum disease early, because the tissue and bone that are destroyed unfortunately cannot be restored.
How can I prevent Gum Disease?
You may take excellent care of your teeth and gums – brushing and flossing twice a day and more – but still get gum disease. Even the most diligent home care can still allow regular bacterial plaque and tartar build-up. Regular dental cleaning visits are crucial to further prevent the plaque and tartar build-up that causes gum disease. During this visit, the hygienist and dentist will thoroughly examine the condition of your gums, and advise you if any additional course of action is necessary.
Systemic health is critical as well. Proper diet and nutrition is key in preventing the spread of bacteria and helping your body heal naturally from any “dis-ease”. Your nutritional status and supplementation needs will also be discussed relative to your periodontal health.