Everyone is so concerned about preventing cavities, they fail to take into account the other structures in the mouth. While it is important to preserve the integrity of the teeth, it is equally important to establish healthy gums. Read about Periodontal Disease: More to Dental Health than Just Cavities.
If the gums are diseased, the health of the entire body is at risk.
While the teeth are anchored to the jaw, the gums protect the roots of the teeth when they are healthy and intact.
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gum pockets. The bacteria set up house along the gum line and can actually eat the living gum tissue, including the bone and ligaments.
Periodontal disease puts the health of your entire body at risk because the bacteria, if left unchecked, continue to do damage to the gums, pockets of the gums, roots of the teeth and finally the immune system.
The disease causing bacteria enter the bloodstream and can cause serious damage to other far structures of the body.
For example, this recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dentistry, in 2014, found a significant association (in males), between depth of periodontal pockets and vascular disease, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, diabetes mellitus, other endocrine diseases, thyroid disease, respiratory allergies, and rheumatoid arthritis.
They also found the relative frequency of periodontal pockets ≥5 mm and clinical attachment loss (CAL) of ≥6 mm as dependent variables.
The researchers concluded,
The findings confirm the results from previous investigations in which a number of systemic medical conditions were significantly associated with probing pocket depth and/or CAL.
I have a pocket that I am dealing with of 5 mm. I have been dragging my feet about this because my dentist is recommending oral surgery. I don’t want to do that – even with a lazar, not a scalpel.
Additionally, this review study published in the National Medical Journal of India in 2011 found that,
…individuals with periodontal disease may be at higher risk for adverse medical outcomes including cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, adverse pregnancy outcomes, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes mellitus. Many cohort, in vitro and animal studies suggest that systemic inflammation due to pathogens associated with periodontal disease may play a role in the initiation and progression of some systemic diseases. Periodontal infections should therefore be considered as a risk factor for various systemic diseases.
It’s an exciting time now in the study of the oral microbiome.
Even back in 2005, this study published in the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research found complex variations to the oral microbiome of people with chronic periodontal disease in countries around the world. They used DNA analysis to identify the bacteria. They concluded,
Our findings suggest that because different microbial profiles are found in oral biofilms throughout the world, treatment responses with a given therapy might be different geographically.
The microbiome fascinates me and I am so pleased that research in this area is at the forefront.
Of course, any good dentist will tell you if you have periodontal disease, or the first signs of it. It is insidious in that, in the beginning, it is painless and may even start in the teenage years.
Periodontal disease progresses slowly but persistently unless something is done.
Here are some of the signs and the progression:
I do have some recession in my gums from brushing too hard when I was younger and when I used a hard toothbrush.
Regular good dental hygiene will help prevent the bacteria that causes gum disease from colonizing in your mouth. This includes brushing twice a day and flossing twice a day.
One mistake I made was to neglect the very last intersection of my wisdom tooth and the last molar, because was hard to reach with regular floss. I have since purchased the dental flossers that have a small handle and are angled (like these). I can now reach that area and do a good job of keeping it clear of food particles.
Another method of preventing gum disease and one that I have recently started in hopes that it will reduce the pocket without surgery, is to use a safe anti-bacterial product that attacks the disease causing bacteria and help keep them in check (I like this one).
Gum disease is epidemic in adults.
I never thought I would have it and now I do. I’m taking steps to cure it naturally before I rush to have surgery (though if this doesn’t work I would have to consider it or risk bone lose and eventual tooth lose).
Another Method of Improving Dental Health Naturally
There is an ancient Ayurvedic therapy called Oil Pulling that may be used to improve the health of the oral cavity. See more about oil pulling here.
I have been practicing oil pulling for over 6 months now – actually since the dental visit when I learned that I have a gum pocket. I thought I would give it a try to see if it reduced the pocket.
It didn’t reduce the gum pocket, but what it did do is astounding. My hygienist actually asked me what I was doing because she couldn’t believe how clean my teeth were.
The oil pulling dramatically reduced the amount of plaque that was constantly forming in my mouth. I noticed it after doing the oil pulling for about 3 – 4 months. I swish with coconut oil for 20 minutes every morning before eating.
Do you have gum disease? What do you do about it? Leave a comment and let me know!