How to recognize, treat and prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease is a disease of inflammation. It is probably along with tooth decay, the most common infectious disease inflicting humans’ worldwide. Four out of five people have gum disease! If your gum’s bleed when you brush your teeth or even eat crunchy foods then you have gum disease.
What is gum disease?
- Painless- Can affect your general health- Can result in losing your teeth from loss of bone (Periodontal Disease)
- Can contribute to the overall toxic load to the body from the toxins of inflammation leading to early death most commonly from heart disease and stroke.
What causes gum disease? It is simply caused by bacteria that build up on the teeth around the gum line. This bacterium is called plaque. Often this plaque absorbs calcium and phosphate “salts” dissolved in the saliva. This then forms a hard deposit called ‘calculus’ also known as ‘Tarter’.
Gum’s that bleed are not normal
As a dentist I see this sort of picture nearly every day. Most people know they have this build up but think it is normal. They also know they have bleeding gum’s and because it is painless and occurs the entire time, think it is normal and healthy. IT IS NOT ONLY NOT NORMAL BUT VERY UNHEALTHY.
Teeth need to be brushed thoroughly
The crazy thing is plaque can be kept under control. Most of us are poor at brushing our teeth well. We go into automatic mode, walk around; some even brush their teeth in the shower to save time. Even if you think you are doing a good job by brushing twice a day, you may not being doing a thorough job. Very few clean in-between their teeth on a daily basis with dental floss or special interdental spiral brushes or even dental wood sticks. If the plaque can be controlled then the ‘tarter’ will not form.
A good dentist is one who talks to his clients. Our job is to educate and inform. Doing a good job of keeping teeth clean requires “Coaching”. We are creatures of habit when we brush we will miss in the same places every time, probably use the same number of brush strokes every time, spend the same amount of time every time. The fact is a dentist can get a bird’s eye view of your teeth and see all the areas that are not cleaned. Let’s change our view of how you regard your dentist. A good dentist is a “COACH” – a tooth coach.
Dental coaching can resolve gum disease
I have been coaching a lovely Dutch lady for the past 4 years. At her first visit her gums were in a very sorry state with lots of bleeding, recession and “Tarter”. My initial feeling was she was going to lose all her teeth as there was considerable loss of bony support and gum recession. I told her with my help (initially with the dental water laser to treat the infections under the gums) and her hard work paying attention to detail, we could turn this problem. I said don’t regard me as just your dentist, but as your tooth coach. I have been seeing her on a 3 monthly basis for the last 3-4 years.
When she comes in she has a big smile and says “Hallo Coach, what mark will you score me out of 10 today?” It has taken nearly 3 years but her last visit I scored her 9.98. She was over the moon. No longer does she have any bleeding gums. Her teeth have stopped being mobile and the gums are nice and pink and not red and angry looking. There is no reason for her to lose her teeth from “gum disease”. And who knows, her life expectancy has probably also been extended.
The good news for many is that once the symptoms of gum disease (and tooth decay) are treated then the cause of the disease can be treated (Bad Bugs). There is a lot of current research being carried out in this field and a group of researchers from America have developed a program of mouth washes to shift the balance from the bad Bacteria to the good Bacteria. These mouth rinses are only available at dental surgeries. We now assess patients’ risk factors. The risk groups are simply low, medium, high and extreme.
What are the major factors that cause gum disease?
It is established that plaque and tarter are the sole cause of Gum Disease. This is mainly due to poor dental hygiene i.e. not brushing and flossing teeth thoroughly. Sometimes using an electric tooth brush can change bad brushing habits. Or changing the brand of toothpaste – whatever it takes to clean teeth thoroughly will help to resolve gum disease.
There are however contributing factors that can make the disease process worse. Here is a list in no particular order:
- Poor Nutritional status as in a heavy loading of refined carbohydrate and high GI foods e.g. sugary foods and foods made from refined white flour, processed foods and take-aways, sugary drinks and energy drinks.
- Lack of some vitamins especially Vitamin D. Gum’s seem to be worse in the winter months when we don’t get as much sunlight. Sunlight stimulates Vitamin D production. I recommend (and use myself) advanced quality broad-spectrum nutritional supplements to support your immune system and that contain the full spectrum of vitamins, chelated minerals, antioxidants including Vitamin D3.
- Depression.- Diabetes both Type 1 and Type 2
- Some medically prescribed drugs that can dry up saliva e.g some of the blood pressure tablets and anti-psychotic drugs as well as recreational drugs
- Smoking – This is a big one
In conclusion gum disease is destructive and very unhealthy and can contribute to premature death. On a brighter note it is controllable with good home care and regular dental visits to a caring dentist to get re-motivated to start flossing again (that you gave up, after running out of dental floss, after you were fired up after your previous dental visit).
Telephone Simon Wenley and his team at The Dentists on 09 625 1411. Your mercury free dentist who uses intra-oral cameras and digital x-rays so that you can become involved with your oral health. I recommend getting gum disease resolved before considering cosmetic dentistry.