When a “Cleaning” is Not Enough
My goal in writing this blog is to help you, my favorite reader, learn how to have a healthy mouth, why it’s important, and also give you knowledge, tools and options to achieve dental health. Superior health care prevents disease before it even starts.
In past blog posts I’ve discussed in detail how to prevent tooth decay, and I gave you a once-over about gum disease. It’s now time to delve more deeply into that topic.
Why it’s important:
Gum disease or Periodontal disease affects over one-half, potentially more like 80% of the population of North America and it a major health problem throughout the world. Eight out of 10 people have some form of gum disease, that’s quite a high percentage for something so preventable! The infection in your mouth infects not only your mouth, but can also infect your heart and brain, as well as many other body parts:
ex. low birth weight babies, preterm babies
(This is only part of my list!)
The infection under the gums is caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Yes, Fungus and viruses! Left untreated this proceeds deeper and infects the jawbone. They love life under your gums: it’s warm, moist, undisturbed, dark, and there’s plenty of food. Perfect for a nice pathogenic biofilm (you know it as “plaque”) to multiply happily for many years. Your body does not like these pathogens and sends your army of white blood cells to kill them. The war is on, silently. Unless you send in reinforcements to eliminate the bad “guys”, this war will escalate deeper into your jawbone and then spill out into other body parts- (see above for examples) wrecking havoc. (More on what “reinforcements” you can send in in future posts.)
How do you know if you have gum disease?
Signs and symptoms of Gum Disease:
Sore, red swollen gums
Pus around your teeth
Persistent bad breath
However, there may be no visible signs in the early stages of the infection. So, in my office, we look a lot deeper for signs; we use a chair-side microscope to look at the bacteria. Just like your MD tests you for strep throat with a swab test, we can look at the bacteria and see what they are up to- usually no good, especially since there’s such a high prevalence of this disease world wide! A healthy mouth sports one type of bacteria while periodontal diseases has a totally different look under the microscope. Sometimes we’ll even send in a saliva sample for further testing. In my opinion, it’s vital to monitor the oral bacteria. If bacterial levels are high then it’s even more important to kill’m dead, and keep on monitoring them so they stay dead.
If you have just had your teeth “cleaned” by your favorite dental hygienist, and you taste blood, or she/he tells you there’s blood – there is an infection under your gums. Period. Gum infection- see S/S above. The hygienist did not cause your gums to bleed. They bled because there’s INFECTION. There’s a fire under your gums- they are inflamed and you should be concerned, very concerned because this will destroy your jawbone, not to mention inflaming the rest of your body.
If your favorite hygienist does not mention the blood or does not offer therapy to treat your gum inflammation, it may be time to find a new favorite hygienist. A “cleaning” will not take care of the problem. A cleaning is only a preventive appointment, a light scaling and polish above the gumline. I call it a “buff-n-go”. Your gums need more help, your body needs help to heal itself. So, talk with your dental professionals about gum therapy and learn how to prevent gum disease. (And, just so you know, gum disease is contagious- we share this bacteria with our significant others and with our children so they, too, have about a 75% chance of having this infection. )
One of my favorite websites is ZT4BG.com See what that stands for. The research there should scare you! I hope you’ll agree to have superior health, it’s time to prevent disease. Be proactive, find out what’s lurking under your gums, clean in-between your teeth, and be your own dental health advocate.
No more “buff-n-go’s” Please!
P.S. your favorite pet can also get periodontal disease! http://www.avdc.org/periodontaldisease.html