Sebastopol, CA dental team discusses gum disease treatment for whole health
For four decades, the husband and wife team of Dr. Silvano Senn and Dr. Toni Mann has been helping patients in the Sebastopol, CA area enjoy improved health through holistic dental care. Knowledge-sharing is an important part of that mission. With a better understanding of gum disease and treatment options, you, too can enjoy a healthier mouth and body.
Gum disease basics
Gum disease is easy to disregard since there is usually little or no pain in the initial stages. However, ignoring it is basically allowing an infection to rage 24/7/365. You probably wouldn’t do that if the infection were on your leg, arm, or abdomen.
A recent study from the Weizmann Institute in Israel reveals that the human body is home to about 39 trillion bacterial cells (compared to only about 30 trillion human cells). While this ratio varies from person to person, we know that it is higher in women, since they have fewer human cells (specifically red blood cells).
Those numbers include hundreds of strains of bacteria living in the warm, moist environment of the mouth. Some are beneficial, helping to prepare foods for digestion. Others build a biofilm of plaque that protects them and traps bits of food debris. They thrive on starches and sugars, excreting acid that irritates gum tissue. These bacteria can double in population every five hours if not removed with proper brushing and flossing. As they overpopulate, they nudge out healthy flora, further contributing to imbalance.
As gum disease progresses to periodontitis, pockets form around tooth roots as gum tissue loses its seal. Bacteria quickly colonize in these pockets, where they are difficult to remove, continuing to penetrate deeper. Periodontitis irreversibly destroys soft tissues, connective tissues, and bone in the mouth, eventually leading to tooth loss.
How do you know if you have gum disease?
An estimated 90 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some level of active gum disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 47.2 percent of adults in America have the more advanced stage, periodontitis, and prevalence increases to 70.1 percent in those aged 65 and older.
Initial warning signs are subtle:
- Chronic halitosis (bad breath).
- Puffy gums.
- Blotchy or discolored gum tissue.
- Bleeding from brushing or flossing.
- Blood seepage on your pillowcase.
- Tender spots on gums.
If you notice any of the symptoms, it is time to schedule a dental visit, ASAP!
Gum disease effects on health
Although you see the devastating effect of gum disease on the mouth, you might not be aware it can also have a profoundly negative impact on the rest of the body.
While the ecosystem in your mouth is unique, it is not isolated. The mouth is connected to the entire body, including the immune system. Gum disease is linked to oral, breast, pancreatic, esophageal, and other types of cancer. It increases risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease. Women with gum disease are more likely to have low birth weight babies. Gum disease and diabetes are reciprocal – each condition increases chance of developing the other. Gum disease is a factor in arthritis and respiratory problems, as well.
How does an active oral bacterial infection travel through the body? Bacteria are mobile, entering the bloodstream through diseased tissue and the digestive tract (each time you swallow contaminated saliva). The same strains that cause gum disease have been identified in arterial walls of individuals with heart disease and brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.
When rampant bacteria invade the bloodstream, they flood the body with toxins. The immune system responds to the ongoing bacterial attack with inflammation. This defense is meant to increase blood flow, and thus white blood cells, to fight infection. However, a state of chronic systemic inflammation is detrimental. It supports conditions that allow the diseases discussed above to become established and to flourish.
The seriousness of gum disease is obvious. The good news is that the condition can be reversed in the early stages, and improved at any point. Call 707 549-6333 to schedule an appointment at Whole Health Dentistry. We will design a customized treatment program to improve oral health, reduce the toxic load on the body, and support the immune system.