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Periodontal disease, comes in two forms gingivitis (reversible) and periodontitis (treatable but non reversible), is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. Recent studies have shown between 50-75% of people have some form of periodontal disease. More statistics show that approximately 30% of Americans are at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease due to genetic factors. These statistics show how much a health concern periodontal disease can be especially when you add in even more research showing periodontal disease links with systemic diseases.

Factors in Development of Periodontal Disease

-Poor Oral Hygiene.

-Tobacco Use.

-Medications.

-Teeth Grinding or Bruxism.

-Genetics.

-Poor Immune System

-Systemic disease.

The earliest and mildest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, where the gums redden and bleed easily. If not treated, inflammation of the tissue occurs, resulting in progression of  the disease to periodontitis. Gingivitis is characterized by receding gums, loose teeth, sores, sensitive gums, swollen gums, red or discolored gums, chronic bad breath, change in teeth alignment and teeth movement. The ultimate consequence of advanced periodontal disease is loss of teeth, which occurs when the tissue and bone supporting the tooth breaks down.

Periodontal disease was previously thought to affect only the teeth and gums, but researchers have discovered that periodontal disease influences the overall health and well-being of an individual. Research has shown that gum disease is a risk factor for many health conditions throughout the body. The gum disease causing bacteria that normally resides around the teeth can enter the blood stream and reach other organs and tissues in the body. Once there, the bacteria  release disease-causing agents that can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions that can include:

Diabetes Mellitus (or simply Diabetes)

Periodontal disease impairs the body’s ability to maintain blood sugar levels making you more prone to diabetes or making diabetic symptoms worse. On the other hand, diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease due to a weakened immune system, making it easier for them to catch infections, viruses, and exhibit delayed wound healing.

Stroke

According to scientific studies, gum disease increases the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. A chronic infection of the gums can be directly related to an increased risk of reduced blood flow to the brain. Stroke and gum disease have similar risk factors and severe inflammation from periodontal disease increases the risks of having a stroke.

Heart Disease

Having periodontal disease puts you at higher risks of heart disease. Just like periodontal disease, heart disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which can be greatly impacted by periodontal disease. The more severe the periodontal infection, the higher the risk of developing heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acute coronary syndrome.

Respiratory Infections

When the bacteria in the plaque that causes gum disease goes to the lungs, it can cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. This explains the increased cases of pneumonia and other respiratory conditions in people with periodontal disease. This also is in conjunction with patients with lowered immune systems which makes it easier for them to be susceptible to these bacterial attacks.

Cancer

After considering risk factors for cancer including age, diabetes, smoking, BMI and more, experts found periodontal disease as a risk factor for lung, kidney, pancreatic, head, neck and hematologic cancers. Inflammation caused by periodontal disease is a major contributing factor to these cancers.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Periodontal disease can result in chronic bad breath which is more of a social issue than a medical one. Bacteria deposits on the tongue can also cause bad breath. This is one of the few conditions caused by periodontal disease that can be treated at home by practicing proper dental care to control halitosis (brushing, flossing, mouthrinses, tongue scraping).

Complications with Birth and Pregnancy

Periodontal disease in pregnant mothers has been shown to increase the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. The  periodontal bacteria involved cause inflammation of the uterus and cervix. Periodontal disease also increases the risk of developing preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. The relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease goes both ways as each increases inflammation in the other. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are faced with increased risks and severity of periodontal disease and treating periodontal disease can relieve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion

The best and easiest way to prevent and control periodontal disease is by maintaining a good oral hygiene program which includes regular dental visits as well as diligent at home care. This includes brushing, flossing, use of mouth rinse, and tongue scraping. Your health is important, taking care of your dental health is a great way to start taking care of your overall health.

 

Wishing Everyone Has A Healthy, Happy, And Safe Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time of family gatherings, good food, and being thankful for all we have. Your dental health is something that should not be taken for granted. Your teeth do amazing  things that most of us do not even think about. Below you will find a few to be thankful for this holiday season.

 5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Good Dental Health

1. Chewing Tasty Thanksgiving Foods. Healthy teeth are necessary for chewing hard, crunchy foods. Soft foods tend to be high carb and not as healthy. Imagine trying to eat your turkey dinner with all the trimmings without your teeth. It certainly would be quite a challenge!  Our teeth give us the ability to tear and and break down all kinds of food, from celery sticks and crusty bread to turkey and all the trimmings.

2. Convey Friendliness and Warmth. Our smiles convey to others how we feel towards them. A warm smile and hug to an old friend or relative at holiday warms even the coldest of hearts. Smiles tend to be contagious they just make you and others feel happy! Without a healthy smile, we would not smile nearly as often as many of us do.

3. Communication. Proper speech is directly related to tongue and tooth position. Without our teeth we would have a hard time communicating correctly. Just saying “Thanksgiving” would be very difficult without your upper teeth. Speaking without teeth is extremely challenging.

4. Attractiveness. Your teeth give your face a fullness and symmetry that you lose when they are missing. When a person is missing teeth, facial support is gone, causing a sunken in appearance. Your teeth are important as support for your lips and cheeks and give your face a full, rounded, youthful, look.

5. Maintain Bones And Keep Them Strong. The bones of the face are strong because they work to support our teeth. Once the teeth are gone, the bone is resorbed and re-utilized by other parts of the body. The jaw will atrophy and shrink. As the bone atrophy’s, there is a greater risk of jaw fracture.

Conclusion

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving season. We all have a lot to be thankful for so do not leave out your dental health. As always visit your dentist for regular dental examinations and professional cleanings.

At Thanksgiving we have a lot to be thankful for…great family and friends to share the holiday with, good health, and good food. Our Thanksgiving traditions center around a bountiful, hearty meal. This Thanksgiving we will all sit down to a bountiful feast but did you know not only can it be delicious but also healthy for your teeth and gums? A delicious Thanksgiving feast can include various vitamins and nutrients that are important to our oral health. These include Vitamins A, C, D, phosphorous, and calcium. Eating a nutritious meal will benefit not only your oral health but your entire health as a whole.

Best Thanksgiving Foods to Eat for Good Oral Health

-Turkey is high in phosphorous. The phosphorous is not only healthy for developing teeth but can actually help rebuild and re mineralize teeth and bones of the jaw.

-Sweet potatoes are filled with nutrients including vitamins A, C, and B6. Sweet potatoes are thought to be much healthier and nutritious than regular white potatoes as they are digested faster by the body.

-Green and winter vegetables are great sources of vitamins A and C. These vitamins are important for gum health and repair of periodontal diseases (gingivitis and periodontitis).

-Cranberries contain flavonoids. These can prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth and forming plaque. Bacteria (and their acid byproducts) are responsible tooth decay and periodontal disease. Most cranberry side dishes contain high amounts of sugar. Try sweetening with agave, stevia, or splenda.

-Pumpkin pies are loaded with vitamin C and Calcium. Vitamins that are important for gum health and developing teeth and maintenance of bones. Remember, pies have high sugar, so make sure to brush after!

Health for your entire body including your smile starts with good nutrition and prevention. We all have so much to be thankful for, so let’s hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!!