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Sunee Salpetch, DDS
The Silent Killer
Springfield Complete Dentistry
. http://www.springfieldcompletedentistry.com/

The Silent Killer

Surprising but true, the major cause of tooth loss in adults is not decay its periodontal (gum) disease. And, its completely painless right up to an advanced stage. More than half of all people over age 18 have at least the early stage of periodontal disease. After age 35 about three out of four adults are affected.
The results of gum disease arent pretty. Early stages show up as persistent bad breath and red, swollen gums (also known as gingivitis). The main cause of this disease is plaque, a colony of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. They produce toxins that when combined with your bodys reactions, destroy the bone around your teeth. Eventually tooth loss is inevitable.
Some people seem to be more susceptible to gum disease than others. Anything from pregnancy and systemic disease (like diabetes) can contribute to its development. For example, elevated hormone levels in pregnant women can cause their gums to overreact to plaque and develop gum infections. This is also known as pregnancy gingivitis.
Gingivitis can affect the health of your baby. Excessive plaque bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums, and trigger hormone-like chemicals that signal you to go into labor prematurely, resulting with a low birth weight baby. Researchers also have discovered that active gum disease during pregnancy can raise the risk of preeclampsia, a pregnancy induced high blood pressure that harms the health of both the mother and baby.
If youre a diabetic, its important for you to prevent or control gum disease. The gum infection can cause blood sugar levels to rise, making it more difficult for you to control your diabetes. In addition, diabetes contributes to gum disease in the following ways it lowers your bodys ability to fight off the infection, results in high blood sugar levels, and causes dry mouth.
Some unlucky folks are inherently more susceptible because of unique bacterial and chemical mixes in the mouth that encourage plaque. Smoking is another factor that increases the likelihood of gum disease dramatically (and renders treatment less effective).
Keeping your gums healthy is vital to your overall health as well. Researchers have found that if you have gum disease, you may have an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and infective endocarditis. Bleeding infected gums are an open doorway for bacteria to enter your bloodstream. The bacteria that infect your gums may cause inflammation in your arteries leading to buildup of blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack. In serious cases, the deposits can lodge in your brain, block a blood vessel, and cause a stroke. A potentially fatal bacterial infection, also known as infective endocarditis, may inflame the sac, valves or muscle of the heart.
But there is good news. Once youve been diagnosed your dentist can start you on a treatment program that involves professional removal of plaque and tartar from the root surface of teeth to allow your gum tissue to heal. As co-therapist, your dentist will depend on you to continue the work at home.
Its critical to the success of your treatment that you
1. Remove the plaque that forms constantly on your teeth with effective brushing and flossing daily.
2. Come in regularly. Only a hygienist can get your teeth their cleanest.
3. Maintain a healthy diet.
Periodontal disease can be treated at every stage. If you notice any signs of gum problems, do call your dentist for a periodontal exam. Together you can beat the statistics and have a good chance of never having to be a victim of the silent killer.
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