Many years ago, a physician who detected heart disease, diabetes, stroke or pregnancy would probably not refer the patient to a gum specialist. Physicians are taking gum disease more seriously because patients with gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.
Bacteria that build up on our teeth make gums prone to infection and our immune system moves in to attack the infection. The gums become inflamed and remain until the infection is brought under control. The result ranges from Gingivitis to severe gum disease, known as periodontitis. Inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body.
What is Gingivitis?
- An inflammation of the gums.
- The direct cause of gingivitis is plaque the soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth and gums. If not removed by daily brushing and flossing, it produces toxins (poisons) that can irritate the gum tissue.
- Gingivitis can be reversed.
- If left untreated it can become periodontitis.
How do I Know if I Have Gingivitis?
- Red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed when you brush.
- Gums that have receded or pulled away from your teeth, giving your teeth an elongated appearance.
- Some people may experience recurring bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth, even if the disease is not advanced.
How can I Prevent Gingivitis?
- Good oral hygiene, proper brushing 2 times a day and flossing daily
- Professional cleanings; once plaque has hardened and built up, or become tartar, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.
- Eating right to ensure proper nutrition for your jawbone and teeth
- Avoiding cigarettes and other forms of tobacco
- Scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist
- Tartar, sometimes-called calculus, is plaque that has hardened on your teeth.
- Can also form at and underneath the gumline and can irritate gum tissues.
- Tartar gives plaque more surface area on which to grow and a much stickier surface to adhere, which can lead to more serious conditions, such as cavities and gum disease
What is Plaque?
- Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on our teeth.
- It is the main cause of cavities and gum disease, and can harden into tartar if not removed daily.
- A cleaning of teeth as a preventative measure against periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay above and below the gumline.
- Removal of plaque and calculus by using an ultrasonic device and instruments.
- When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontal disease.
- Gums pull away from the teeth and form “pockets” that are infected.
- The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.
- Bacterial toxins and the body’s enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.
- If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed
How is gum disease linked to diabetes and heart disease?
Inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. Gum disease then impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin. High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections.
About 90% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% of people with no heart disease. Inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels and can increase the risk for heart attack because inflamed blood vessels allow less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body, raising blood pressure. Fatty plaque will break off the wall of a blood vessel and travel to the heart or the brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.