Gums Are Close to My Heart
(and they should be close to yours too)
We are going to take a little break from discussing tooth decay and all things connected with that, but I will return to it soon as there is so much more to say!
I recently went to a great continuing education class given by Amy Doneen, MSN, ARNP. (If you haven’t noticed yet, and I admit freely, I am a bit of a dental education geek. My idea of a great time is curling up with a new dental education magazine or book- see what I’m reading below. ) Ms. Doneen works with a physician named Bradley Bale. They have a unique approach preventing heart attacks and strokes that they guarantee. Google the Bale/Doneen method and learn all about it. Ms. Doneen talked with us about the gum disease- heart attack and/or stroke connection. It is very real, and very deadly. If you want to reduce your risk for them, (and who doesn’t?) then you need to really look at your bleeding gum issues and home care. So often I hear from my patients that their “gums only bleed when I clean them.” Really? Little ol’ me did not cause your gums to bleed- truly. If your gums are healthy they won’t even be bothered by my instruments going below your gumline. It’s sort of like cleaning under your fingernails. Wouldn’t you be concerned if you bled when cleaning there? Here’s the real scoop- if your gums bleed, there’s an infection, period, end of story. This infection causes an inflammation that could definitely contribute to a heart attack or stroke (not to mention a whole host of other diseases which we will explore on another post). It’s caused by bacteria (different bacteria than that connected to tooth decay) and these bacteria do not just stay in your gums. They hitch a ride in your blood stream and happily glide along through the 60,000 miles of vessels in your body, wreaking havoc all along the way. Rather than go into extensive anatomy and inflammation detail, just know this: bad bacteria in your mouth and body starts a fire in your cells, (thus the inflammation) and does not go away by itself.
If you don’t already have one- get an electric toothbrush. Everyone in your family should have one of their own, even the children! Honestly, a manual toothbrush is so 19th century. How many times have you updated your cellphone, but still use that old, gross toothbrush you got from your last dental visit? There are any number of power brushes- get the best one you can afford – if it prevents one cavity or even a heart attack, it’s paid for itself! If you have a question on which to purchase, send me a message and I’ll give you my opinion on it. Next- clean in between your teeth. That’s where all the disease starts. I understand you hate to floss- but please note I did not say “floss” in between. What else is there? LOTS! There’s irrigation with a Waterpik or Shower Flosser, or Piksters, or Go-betweens. Peruse
|A shower flosser hooks up to your shower so
you can get everything done in one spot!
the local drugstore and see what else they have to clean in between your teeth. If you are a flosser – good for you! To see how effective you are at removing all that nasty plaque bacteria get some plaque revealing tablets or a plaque revealing mouthwash (it’s not just for kids!) and swish it around your mouth. It will stain the plaque left on your teeth so you can see what’s still there after your usual routine. Then, either clean in between again or find even better tools. If your gums bleed, go ask your favorite hygienist for help. He or she may literally save your life. It is time to put out that fire!!!
Mouth Matters by Carol Vander Stoep RDH, BSDH
Beat the Heart Attack Gene by Amy Doneen and Bradley Bales
Your smile will give you a positive countenance that will make people feel comfortable around you.