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Andrew M. Sklar, DDS
Whole Mouth Whole Body
Andrew M. Sklar, DDS, PC

Whole Mouth Whole Body

Bleeding gums can be a nuisance, right? But did you know that they can have consequences that reach far beyond your mouth? For example, researchers have found that the risk factors for periodontal disease are very similar to those for cardiovascular disease. They have looked at the relationship and suspect that periodontal infection may actually increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
In addition, periodontal disease has been linked to an increased incidence of respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis and also of pregnancy problems.
What is periodontal disease? How does it start?
In its earliest stages, gums become red, swollen, tender and inflamed from the buildup of plaque that attracts bacteria. Poor oral hygiene and bad diet are often to blame. When that plaque buildup, also called biofilm, slips between the protective areas where the gum attaches to the tooth, the bacteria start eating away at the teeth and the gums. With the protective area breached, bacterial infection is able to set in.
Over time, the gums recede, a pocket forms around the tooth, and bacteria further infiltrate the bone. Ultimately, when the bone breaks down, support of the teeth is weakened, teeth can loosen and even fall out. Because of this ultimate outcome, periodontal disease could actually be called “osteoporosis of the mouth.”
The real danger, however, occurs when the bacteria from the mouth get into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, increasing risk for infections in organs like the heart, lungs, pancreas, and uterus. And no one is immune to periodontal disease from teenagers with poor oral hygiene and bad diets, to aging adults. Fluctuations in hormone levels, age related osteoporosis, smoking, poor oral hygiene, stress, uncontrolled diabetes, and a family history of periodontal disease all increase your risk.
So, how do you treat periodontal disease?
If the periodontal pockets are shallow, the best approach may simply be a matter of good oral hygiene and diet. This includes brushing after every meal to remove the biofilm that coats the teeth. Some dentists feel electric toothbrushes do a better job removing plaque.
Daily flossing also disrupts the biofilm and lessens the likelihood that bacteria will enter the bloodstream. It is important to drag the floss across the surface and underneath the gum as far as possible to remove the biofilm.
Good nutrition can play a big role too it cant prevent periodontal disease but it can play an important part by shutting off the inflammation and promoting healing. Fruits vegetables, fish, meat, and whole grains can ensure that your body maintains the proper balance of calcium, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids. These work together to prevent bone loss and help regulate the inflammatory process.
Supplements that remove free radicals, boost the immune systems ability to fight infection, and help build new bone and connective tissue are sometimes recommended. People with pockets four millimeters or deeper will require more aggressive treatment.
People diagnosed with periodontal disease, as well as those at risk, should be seeing their dentist every three to four months. Additionally, everyone, including those who have yet to show signs of periodontal disease, should be taking every precaution by visiting their dentist regularly, practicing good oral hygiene and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
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