Your Smile: Healthy? or NOT?
It’s time to turn our attention from tooth decay to gum decay. Rather, it’s called “gum disease” but gum decay is rather appropriate, isn’t it?! So, do you have it? Maybe?! 80% of Americans have some stage of gum disease, and while I can’t find any quick statistics on Europe and other countries, I did see that only 41% of Europeans have all their teeth. That tells me the gum disease is rampant throughout the world!
|from a patient of mine|
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums. See the red, smooth, puffy/swollen, V shaped gums in the picture? Since gums hold your teeth in your head, they are really rather important. In fact, it is vital to have healthy gums.
How do you know if you have periodontal disease?
#1. Are your gums tender or bleed when you brush?
(Pink on your toothbrush or pink in the sink indicates INFECTION and INFLAMMATION!)
#2. Do your gums bleed when you get your teeth cleaned?
|You want to avoid pink in the sink!
(Health gums do not bleed, EVER, even when you see your favorite dental professional. Really! Even a little bleeding means INFECTION and INFLAMMATION!)
As some of my patients tell me, their gums “always bleed with cleanings.” As I tell them: “your gums have always been infected. Let’s fix that!” If your finger bled for 30 years, wouldn’t you be concerned? Would that be okay with you? Hope not! Bleeding gums may not hurt- neither does heart disease, until the final stages. The absence of pain does not mean there’s no infection or injury.
Here’s a simple test you can perform on yourself to test and see if indeed, like 80% of the US population, you, too, have gum disease: Eastman Interdental Bleeding Index
Simply insert a triangular shaped wooden toothpick in between your teeth at the gumline. Rub it in and out four times. Move from tooth to tooth, and check for bleeding, both on the lip side and the inside of your mouth. See blood within 15 seconds = gum disease and inflammation.
Infection in your gums causes your body to be in a chronic inflammatory state. And, since your mouth is connected to your body, your body is in a chronic inflammatory state. Oral health, or rather, the lack of it has life or death consequences. Most Americans suffer from diseases caused by inflammation such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, the list goes on. See the connection? Healthy mouth, healthy body; unhealthy mouth, unhealthy body. It truly is life or death. The infection in the mouth can and does infect the rest of the body. I’ll discuss this in much more detail in future posts.
|Prevention of gum disease should be equally as important
as prevention of tooth decay!!
To Know For Now:
Initially, inflammation is a good thing, that’s how our body helps us heal. The blood flows to the site of the wound, the heat the cells give off kill the bacteria. It’s all designed to help us heal. The problems arise when the wound healing response does not end and it becomes chronic. Think constant open (oral) wound full of cesspool bacteria.
As the US Surgeon General reported in 2000 (yes, I read it) periodontal disease is the most under-diagnosed and under-treated of all the systemic illnesses. So, we will explore all aspects of gum disease in future posts. What you can do to prevent it, especially in children; causes; therapies; screening for it; and most important – the oral/systemic connections. Gum disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, bet you know someone who has one of these systemic diseases. I have lots to share with you!!
Barbara’s Dental Hygiene Pearls of Wisdom
For now, start cleaning your teeth and mouth better. If you have a manual tooth brush, here’s a big hint: DRY BRUSH! (I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before) No toothpaste, no water. Start on the bottom inside, and brush until your teeth feel and taste clean. Brush into your gums, not perpendicular to your teeth. Brush your gums. Then use toothpaste. Clean and scrape your tongue. Clean in-between your teeth. Swish and gargle with yellow Listerine and follow up immediately with ACT mouth rinse. Spit, don’t rinse. Use xylitol products. Do this routine twice a day. You’ll be well on your way to a healthier mouth and a healthier body. Invest some time and effort in your mouth, act as if your life depends on it- because it does!
I’d love to hear from you. Questions, comments? If you can not leave comments here, please go to my Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/queenofdentalhygiene and leave me a message. I’m hoping to get lots of messages this week!
The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. author unknown
So keep smiling!
Til next week,