What You Need To Know
Who is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who has received extensive training including three to four additional years of postgraduate education beyond dental school in the following areas,: Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease commonly referred to as gum disease. Treatment of oral inflammation Performing regenerative periodontal procedures. Performing plastic/cosmetic periodontal procedures. Site preparation for implant such as extraction, Guided Bone Regeneration, Bone Graft, Ridge Splitting and Sinus Elevation. Placement of dental implants
Periodontal Health in Children and Adolescents
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children and teens receive a comprehensive periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. The most important preventive step against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child. There are basic preventive steps to help your child maintain good oral health:
- Establish good dental hygiene habits early. When your child is 12 months old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing his or her teeth. When the gaps between your child’s teeth close, it’s important to start flossing.
- Set an example. Serve as a good role model by practicing good dental hygiene habits yourself.
- Make time. Schedule regular dental visits for family checkups, periodontal evaluations and cleanings bi-annually.
- Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth and bad breath.
- Early diagnosis ensures the greatest change for successful treatment. It is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits
Correlation Between Gum Disease and Other Systemic Diseases and Conditions
Research has shown that there may be an association between periodontal disease and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among others. Scientists believe that inflammation may be the cause behind the link between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions. Inflammation, the body’s reaction to fight off infection, guard against injury, or shield against irritation, initially intends to have a protective effect. Untreated chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to the destruction of affected tissues, which can lead to more serious health conditions. If you think or know you have one of the inflammatory conditions listed below, it is important to talk with both your physician and a dental health professional, such as a periodontist, to help reduce your risk of further disease progression. Dental professionals and medical professionals will often work together to manage their patients living with, or at risk for, the those diseases:
Gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease
There is a correlation between Alzheimer’s disease and periodontitis. New guidelines have periodontists, experts in the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of periodontal disease, encouraging patients to maintain gum health in an effort to reduce their Alzheimer’s disease risk.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, uncovered a potential link between P. gingivalis, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease (commonly known as gum disease) and Alzheimer’s. Researchers analyzed brain tissue, spinal fluid, and saliva from Alzheimer’s patients—both living and deceased—and found evidence of P. gingivalis., one of the bacteria causing periodontal (gum) disease. Gingipains, the toxic enzyme secreted by P. gingivalis, were found in 96 percent of the 53 brain tissue samples examined, with higher levels detected in those with the pathology and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: A Two-Way Relationship
The American Diabetes Association defines diabetes as a serious disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. Approximately 23.6 million Americans have diabetes; however, 5.7 million of them have ot yet been diagnosed. If you or someone you know has diabetes, you already understand the importance of keeping the disease under control. However, you may not know that good oral health not only keeps the mouth and gums free from periodontal disease, but also might have a significant impact on the control of diabetes. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory response to a bacterial infection that, if left untreated, may cause damage to the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth and may even lead to tooth loss. People with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop periodontal disease, which, like any other infection in the body, can impair their ability to rocess and/or utilize insulin. Additionally, people with diabetes tend to have more severe levels of bone loss, and often experience more aggressive disease activity. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss, which can make chewing and digesting food difficult. For people with diabetes, this can have a devastating impact on the ability to maintain proper nutrition and control Just as diabetes can increase a patient’s chance of developing periodontal disease, research suggests that periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their bloodsugar. Periodontal disease increases the body’s systemic inflammatory signals that serve to increase blood sugar. This contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with an unhealthy blood sugar level. Consequently, it is important for people with diabetes to treat periodontal disease to eliminate the infection for optimal metabolic control. Periodontal disease is a leading complication of diabetes; therefore, it is important for people with diabetes to know their treatment options. If detected early, a periodontist can provide treatment that can stop the gum disease and bring the gums back to a state of health, preventing additional bone or tooth loss. In fact, periodontal treatment has been shown to improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, suggesting that treating patients’ periodontaldisease could decrease insulin requirements. If diabetes is well controlled, treatment will be similar to the treatment of someone who doesn’t have diabetes. In the early stages of gum disease, treatment usually includes scaling and root planning, a procedure in which plaque and calculus are removed from the pockets around the tooth and near the gums. People with diabetes may want to schedule their dental appointments early in the morning after they have eaten a normal breakfast in order to stabilize and prevent a severe or sudden drop in blood sugar levels. Upon determining a treatment plan, your periodontist and physician will work together to help you control both your diabetes and gum disease.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Gum disease and cardiovascular disease are both major public health issues that impact a large number of people all around the world. While these two diseases impact separate areas of the body, research indicates that periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are connected; having one disease may actually increase your risk of developing the other. Inflammation’s Role periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are both considered chronic inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is the body’s instinctive reaction to fight off infection. Inflammation is initially good for your body because it helps in the healing process. However, chronic and to severe health complications. Researchers believe that inflammation provides the basis for the connection between gum disease and heart disease1. And now, periodontists and those who treat cardiovascular disease are working together to provide the best care to patients. The Perio-Cardio Connection In July 2009, a consensus paper was published in both the Journal of Periodontology and The American Journal of Cardiology. The paper was jointly developed by periodontists and cardiologists. Periodontists are dentists with advanced training in the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, and cardiologists are doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the heart. The paper summarizes the evidence that links periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, and provides clinical recommendations for periodontists and cardiologists to use in managing their patients living with, or at risk for, either disease. What does this Mean for You? You might be surprised when your periodontist now asks even more questions about your medical history, especially questions about your family history of heart disease and any behaviors that may affect your heart health such as smoking. Your cardiologist may start to ask you about your dental history and might even look in your mouth to evaluate your teeth and gums! These new recommendations are intended to help periodontist and cardiologists better manage your risk factors for future disease progression, and ensure your wellbeing. Hopefully by working together with your periodontist to ensure healthy teeth and gums, you will also ensure a healthy heart throughout your entire life. Research has shown that inflammation is a major risk factor for developing CVD, and that people with periodontal disease may have an increased risk for CVD. Though more research is needed to better understand the connection between periodontal disease and CVD, don’t be surprised if your periodontist asks you about your heart health or if your cardiologist or physician asks you about your periodontal health.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Complications
There used to be an old wives’ tale that said “A tooth is lost for every child.” While it may seem arfetched, it may actually be based loosely on fact. Your teeth and gums can be affected by pregnancy, just like other areas of your body. Most commonly, pregnant women can develop gingivitis, or pregnancy gingivitis, beginning in the second or third month and can increase in severity through the eighth month of pregnancy. During this time, some women notice swelling, bleeding, redness, or tenderness in the gum tissue. In some cases, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to local irritants and form a large lump. These growths, called pregnancy tumors, are not cancerous and are generally painless. They usually disappear after pregnancy, but some may require removal by a dental professional, such as a periodontist. The best way to avoid periodontal conditions associated with pregnancy is to begin with healthy gums. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should visit your dentist or periodontist for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation. If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you need to know that your periodontal health may affect the pregnancy and ultimately the health of your baby. Pregnant women who experience periodontal disease during their pregnancies may be twice as likely to develop preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It can put you and your baby at risk for severe complications. Additionally, studies have suggested that women who experience periodontal disease during pregnancy may be at risk of having a premature or low birth weight baby. The good news is that researchers are making strides to find out exactly how periodontal disease affects pregnancy outcomes. Some studies have suggested that treating periodontitis during pregnancy may reduce the risks of a preterm birth. Preventing gum problems from developing during the stresses of pregnancy also appears to be important in improving the health of mother and baby. If you are already pregnant and have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, treatment by your dental professional may reduce your chances of having a preterm, low birth weight baby. Talk to your dentist or periodontist for more information. If you’re considering pregnancy, it’s a good idea to include a periodontal evaluation as part of your prenatal care. A healthy mouth can help give you, and your baby, something to smile about!
Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the causal relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.
Research has suggested that bacteria found in the mouth can be drawn into the respiratory tract and cause an inflammatory response in the lungs, commonly known as pneumonia. In addition, periodontal disease may also worsen existing chronic lung conditions. Anyone with lung or respiratory problems should consider a complete oral health examination to determine if gum disease is present. Since periodontal disease has been shown to have a connection with other chronic diseases, you should try to keep your teeth and gums healthy. First, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice each day and floss your teeth at least once each day. Additionally, you should receive a comprehensive periodontal exam each year from your general dentist or your periodontist. Doing so can help ensure that your periodontal health is at its best, which can help keep your entire body healthy.
Over 1.3 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic, inflammatory disease of the joints that can lead to long term joint damage. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology uncovered yet another potential side effect of RA; researchers discovered that patients with RA are eight times more likely to have periodontal disease than those without RA. However, the research indicates that poor oral hygiene alone did not account for the connection between RA and gum disease, which means that other factors play a role as well. Both RA and gum disease are systemic inflammatory disorders which may explain the connection between the two.
Men are especially at risk for developing certain cancers if they have periodontal disease. Research published in The Lancet Oncology found that men with a history of gum disease are 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. In fact, researchers discovered that men with periodontal disease are 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that toothless adults may be more likely to have chronic kidney disease than adults with all of their teeth. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to bone loss around teeth, which can then cause teeth to loosen and fall out. Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. In the study, the lack of teeth was found to be significantly associated with chronic kidney disease. The two diseases may be connected by chronic inflammation, as both are considered inflammatory conditions. To help protect yourself from these health conditions, including periodontal disease, make sure to brush your teeth twice each day, floss at least once each day, and see a dental professional for cleanings twice each year. If periodontal disease develops, a consultation with a dentist or periodontist may lead to effective treatment. The key to a healthy body may start with a healthy mouth!
Assessing Your Risk for Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease or “gum disease” is typically caused by a build-up of plaque beneath the gum line. The bacteria in the plaque ignite the body’s inflammatory response, and the gums become red, swollen, and even bloody. While the main cause of periodontal disease is inflammation as a result of bacteria, other habits or environmental conditions, referred to as risk factors, can increase the likelihood that an individual will develop gum disease. Common risk factors of periodontal disease include:
Age: Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the united states of America found that almost half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.
Smoking/tobacco use: Studies have shown tobacco use to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Genetics: Research has found that a family history of periodontal disease may increase a person’s susceptibility to gum disease. Genetic testing can be conducted to identify if you are predisposed to periodontal disease.
Stress: Stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.
Medication: Some drugs like oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, andcertain heart medicines can affect your periodontal health.
Poor nutrition and obesity: A diet low in nutrients can make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Research has also found obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.
Poor oral hygiene: Ignoring teeth and gums allows plaque to build up along the gum line. Not routinely brushing and flossing can easily lead to gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease.
Other systemic diseases: Recent studies have linked diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and erectile dysfunction to periodontal disease. These and other systemic diseases could interfere with the body’s inflammatory system and may worsen the condition of the gums. It is recommended that you see a periodontist or dentist once a year for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation to assess gum health. If you are experiencing any of the risk factors mentioned, inform your periodontist, dentist, or hygienist so he or she can look for early signs of periodontal disease. Considering risk factors as part of the treatment planning process allows for proactive management of an individual’s periodontal health and can potentially reduce the need for more complex periodontal procedures in the future.
Brush and Floss for Healthy Gums
One of the easiest ways to help prevent gum disease is to brush and floss every day, so therefore it is very important to know the correct way to take care of your teeth and gums. It does not matter if you brush first or floss first, as long as you do both (twice a day!). Equipment the most commonly used toothbrush is the manual toothbrush. Another option is the electric toothbrush, which uses electrical power to move the brush head. The resulting vibrations that are created gently clean the teeth. It is important to always choose a soft brush head when using either a manual or electric toothbrush, and to replace the toothbrush when the bristles begin to bend (or every two to three months). According to a recent study in the Journal of Periodontology, all dental flosses are equally effective. This means that it does not matter which type of floss you choose to use. There are many different varieties of floss, including waxed, unwaxed, flavored, and shred-resistant, so there is a type of floss out there for everyone!
How to Brush: Position the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. While applying slight pressure, gently move the brush in a circular motion using short strokes. Use this method to clean the front of your teeth, then move to the back of your teeth, then the biting surfaces, and then your tongue, using the same gentle movements. Be sure you are constantly moving the brush head to avoid damaging your gums!
How to Floss: Using about 18 inches of floss, wrap the floss around your middle finger. Wrap the rest around your other middle finger, leaving 2-3 inches of floss between your fingers. While tightly holding the floss between your thumbs, insert it between two teeth. Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the tooth, and gently slide it up and down. Then, with the floss still in between the two teeth, switch the “C” shape against the adjacent tooth, and repeat the slidingmotion. Move to the next tooth over, and repeat the process, unwrapping fresh floss from your middle finger as you go.
Maintaining Oral Health During Cancer Therapy
Cancer therapy can cause oral complications that compromise periodontal health, so a visit to your periodontist is important to help keep your gums healthy during this difficult time. Oral Complications Common side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation to the head and neck, and bone marrow transplantation can negatively impact your overall health and quality of life. Radiation and chemotherapy kill cancer cells, but they can also hurt normal cells. Complications vary for every person, but common complications include:
- Inflamed gums and mouth ulcers Dry mouth
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Loss of taste
- Jaw stiffness
- Delayed healing Pretreatment Evaluation and Daily Oral Hygiene Routine
Before beginning your cancer treatment, an oral evaluation by a periodontist is important. Identifying and correcting potential problems in your mouth may prevent them from intensifying or interfering with your cancer treatment. In addition to pretreatment care, your periodontist will probably recommend a daily oral hygiene routine. This routine will provide comfort, reduce the risk of infection, and minimize the effects of the complications caused by the cancer treatment. Special Considerations Even though pretreatment and daily oral hygiene can go a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy and comfortable during cancer treatment, sometimes it is hard to keep the negative effects at bay. Chemotherapy and radiation can decrease your salivary secretion causing excessive dryness in the mouth, and a dry mouth can increase your susceptibility to infection. Therefore, it is important to keep your mouth moist by sipping cool water, melting ice chips in your mouth, chewing sugarless gum, applying lip balm to your lips, and using a humidifier in your bedroom to reduce oral dryness at night. If a dry mouth or vomiting is a side effect of your cancer treatment, then it is important to protect your enamel (the outer surface of the tooth). Your periodontist can prescribe fluoride trays, which will prevent the tooth enamel wearing away as a result of vomiting or increased oral bacteria from dry mouth. You may also want to consider asking your oncologist to prescribe anti-nausea medication during your cancer therapy to treat nausea and vomiting. The relationship with your periodontist is as important after your cancer therapy as it is before and during your treatments. This continued relationship will help you maintain a comfortable, confident smile for years.
Nutrition and Your Oral Health
Nutrition plays an important role in overall wellness, including oral health. Eating well and maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing problems in your mouth, including periodontal disease. In fact, including certain foods as part of a nutritious diet has actually been shown to play a role in the prevention of periodontal disease.
- Lactic Acid & Calcium: Most people know that dairy products can help build strong bones. What some may not know is that consuming dairy products may also reduce your risk for developing periodontal disease. A recent study determined that individuals who regularly consume 55 or more grams of foods containing lactic acid, commonly found in dairy products such as yogurt, have a lower instance of gum disease. Dairy products are also a good source of calcium which has been shown to lower the risk of severe periodontal disease. The American Dietetic Association advises that adults should consume at least three servings of calcium each day to help keep your jaw bone strong and your teeth in place.
- Vitamin C: When a cold is coming on, many people reach for the vitamin C. But this vitamin may do more than just fend off the sniffles; it may reduce the risk of periodontal disease. According to a study, consuming less than 60 mg of vitamin C each day can put you at slightly higher risk for developing certain types of periodontal disease. And this isn’t recent news! In fact, in the late 18th century, sailors away at sea would eat limes to prevent their gums from bleeding! According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is 60 mg per day – or about 1 orange.
- Vitamin D: Sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D can help lessen inflammation associated with periodontal disease. Research shows that foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, eggs, sardines, and tuna fish, as well as moderate exposure to sunlight, can provide you with the amount of vitamin D required to stay healthy.
- Healthy Diet: There may be more reasons to watch what you eat other than maintaining a healthy weight. Studies indicate that obesity may be linked to periodontal disease. Obesity can be the result of an unbalanced diet, which may lack the nutrients known to help prevent gum disease. Also, excessive consumption of sugary drinks such as soft drinks and foods high in sugars, trans-fats, and sodium are often associated with increased tooth decay and can have a negative impact on periodontal health. Without the proper nutrients from a healthy diet, the body can have a hard time fighting off infections such as periodontal diseases. And routinely including such things as lactic acid, calcium, and vitamins C and D in your diet have been shown to possibly reduce the occurrence of gum disease. So next time you go to the grocery store or sit down for a meal, remember: eat right to smile bright!
More Tips to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
Most people recognize how important it is to keep your teeth and gums healthy, but over time, different lifestyle factors can negatively impact your periodontal health. To help maintain healthy teeth and gums, keep these tips in mind: Strive to be stress free Minimize the stress in your life. Research has shown that people who are having a difficult time coping with stress can neglect their oral hygiene. Additionally, researchers have also associated the hormone cortisol with periodontal disease. Chronic stress has been shown to increase levels of cortisol, and these increased levels can be a factor in developing periodontal disease. Kick the tobacco habit Tobacco use is one of the mostsignificant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Tobacco’s negative effects on oral health are well documented. Most people that have recurrent periodontal disease are smokers, and smoking is also associated with complications after oral surgery. Drink alcohol in moderation Drinking the occasional glass of red wine has been shown to have positive effects on the body; however, heavy drinking cannegatively impact your oral health. Alcohol can irritate your gums, tongue, and other oral tissues. It can also contribute to poor healing after surgery and can halt your oral hygiene routine. In addition, heavy drinkers often suffer from tooth decay as a result of the increased exposure to sugars and acids that are often found in alcoholic drinks. Stock up on healthy foods You know that a healthy diet is important for your overall health, but it’s also very important for your oral health! A good diet will help your immune system be at its best to help fight infections, including periodontal disease. In addition to eating a wellbalanced, nutritious diet, research has shown that bothyogurt and green tea may add an extra boost to your periodontal health.
Periodontal Health Is Important for Men
Men already have a lot to worry about when it comes to health; they face shorter life spans, greater risk of heart attacks, and higher rates of cancer than women. One more thing can be added to that list: research shows that periodontal disease is more prevalent in men than women, and men lose more teeth on average than women! Men’s periodontal health may be poorer than women’s due to their lack of action when it comes to oral hygiene. Research published in the Journal of Periodontology found that women are almost twice as likely as men to have received a regular dental check-up in the past year, and women were more likely than men to schedule suggested treatment following those dental check-ups. Furthermore, men have worse indicators of periodontal health than women, including higher incidence of dental plaque, tartar, and bleeding on probing. This may be because women are three times more likely to floss every day than men. A man’s health may be uniquely impacted by periodontal disease as well. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory conditions. Research has suggested that the following conditions may be associated with periodontal disease in men, making it important that men diligently maintain periodontal health.
Prostate-Specific Antigen: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally secreted in very small amounts. However, when the prostate becomes inflamed, infected, or affected by cancer, PSA levels rise. Research has shown that men with indicators of periodontal disease (including bleeding on probing) as well as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of the conditions. This means that prostate health may affect periodontal health, and vice versa, similar to the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes.
Heart disease: Research indicates that periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are associated; having periodontal disease may actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. This may be because both conditions are chronic inflammatory conditions, and researchers believe that inflammation provides the basis for the connection between gum disease and heart disease. Since men are already more likely to develop heart disease than women, maintaining periodontal health may be another way to reduce this risk.
Impotence: Men with periodontal disease, especially those younger than 30 or older than 70, are at increased risk of developing impotence, according to research presented at a 2012 meeting of the American Urological Association. Researchers believe that inflammation may be the link between the two conditions; prolonged chronic inflammation (the same type of inflammation that is associated with periodontal disease and other inflammatory conditions) can cause damage to blood vessels which can lead to impotence.
Cancer: Research published in the June 2008 issue of The Lancet Oncology found that men with a history of gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. Specifically, men with periodontal disease may be 49% more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers. Men: you can help prevent these serious conditions, including periodontal disease, by ensuring that your oral health is at its best every day! Take proper care of your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth twice each day, flossing at least once each day, and seeing your dental professional for regular cleanings and an annual Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation.
Inflammation and Periodontal Disease
Most people know that maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a necessary step in achieving overall wellbeing. In fact, now not only dentists encourage brushing and flossing, but many physicians also promote oral hygiene as a way to help keep the rest of the body healthy. Several research studies have suggested that gum disease may be associated with other health issues, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And with more and more research reinforcing the connection between periodontal and systemic health, scientists are beginning to understand why these connections exist. One theory points to chronic inflammation as the culprit. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to harm, such as an injury or infection. For many years, dentists believed that gum disease developed as a result of a bacterial infection caused by the build-up of plaque between the teeth and under the gums. While plaque build-up is still a factor in the development and progression of gum disease, researchers now suspect that the more severe symptoms, namely swollen, bleeding gums; recession around the gum line, and loss of the bone that holds the teeth in place, may actually be caused by the chronic inflammatory response to the bacterial infection, rather than the bacteria itself. Scientists hypothesize that the chronic inflammatory responsemechanism may be the reason behind the periodontal-systemic health link. Many of the diseases associated with periodontal disease are also considered to be systemic inflammatory disorders, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and even certain forms of cancer, suggesting that chronic inflammation itself may be the basis for the connection. More research is needed to pinpoint the precise biological mechanisms responsible for the relationship between gum disease and other disease states. However, since previous findings have indicated that gum disease sufferers are at a higher risk for other diseases, it is critical to maintain periodontal health in an effort to achieve overall health. Dentists recommend daily oral care, including regular brushing and flossing, and routine visits to the dentist to avoid gum disease. If gum disease develops, consultation with a dental professional such as a periodontist can lead to effective treatment. A periodontist is a dentist with three or four years of additional specialized training in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease.
How to Reduce Inflammation at Home
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the supporting bone and tissues around the teeth. The inflammatory reaction is your body’s way of removing the toxins released by bacteria that live on your teeth and gums. However, when the inflammation lasts for too long or is too strong, it starts to break down the tissues around your teeth, including your gums and supporting bone. This may cause teeth to become loose and even fall out. Unfortunately, inflammation doesn’t only occur in your mouth. Several other serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, are caused by the same chronic inflammation that causes periodontal disease. The good news is that your dental professional can help you reduce the inflammation in your mouth as a result of periodontal disease through treatments such as scaling and root planing. But you can also help to reduce the inflammation in your mouth and even in your entire body right at home. Here are a few things you can try: Eat the right foods Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, herring, orsardines) and walnuts, have been shown to reduce inflammation. Green tea, which also contains antioxidants, has been shown to reduce the risk of gum disease and cardiovascular disease by reducing inflammation in the body. Exercise People who maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly have been shown to have lower incidences of periodontal disease than those who do not exercise regularly. Moderate exercise may also help reduce inflammation in your body, but extreme exercise (running a marathon, for example) can actually increase systemic inflammation. It’s a good idea to discuss your exercise plan with a health professional to ensure that it’s a good fit for your lifestyle. Brush and floss your teeth When you brush your teeth three times a day and floss at least once a day, you remove the bacteria on your teeth and gums that causes the inflammatory response that leads to gum disease. Therefore, it’s important to take care of your teeth every day by brushing and flossing, and don’t forget to see your dental professional for regular cleanings and check ups, including a yearly comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE).
Periodontal Health and Gender Differences
Periodontal disease and its associated complications affect both men and women, so it’s important that both sexes are doing everything they can to maintain their periodontal health. However, research1 published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that women are more proactive in maintaining healthy teeth and gums than men. In fact, the study found that women are almost twice as likely to have received a regular dental check-up in the past year, and women in the study also had better indicators of periodontal health, including lower incidence of dental plaque than men. Overall, the study suggested that women have a better understanding of oral health, as well as a more positive attitude towards dental visits. This understanding is important for women, as hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s life may affect her periodontal health and, therefore, overall health. Certain life stages may increase women’s susceptibility to periodontal disease, which may require special attention:
Puberty: Studies show that elevated hormone levels may cause an increase in gum sensitivity and lead to a greater inflammatory reaction, which can cause gums to become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
Menstruation: During menstruation, some women may experience menstruation gingivitis, which may cause gum bleeding, redness, or swelling of the gums between the teeth.
Menopause: Hormonal changes may cause women to experience discomfort in their mouths, including pain, burning sensations in the gum tissue, or mouth sores. Men have special periodontal health considerations, as well. A June 2008 Lancet Oncology study found that men with periodontal disease may be more likely to develop kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancers. Periodontal disease has also been linked to higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Both men and women shouldstrive for periodontal health by brushing twice each day, flossing at least once each day, and seeing a dental professional, such as a periodontist, regularly. Additionally, it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year. A dental professional, such as a periodontist, can conduct this exam to assess your periodontal disease status.
Choose Tried-and-True Methods to Treat Gum Disease
Miracle cures, or quick fixes, have been around for centuries; certain foods, ointments, or potions have claimed to cure everything from hair loss to cancer. Marketed as quick, easy, and painless, these miracle cures often are not backed by science or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that they may do more harm than good. Similar quick fixes that claim to treat periodontal disease are no different. Though elements of these quick and easy periodontal “cures” may be FDA approved, there may be little or no scientific proof that they are effective in the prevention and treatment of periodontal diseases. In fact, periodontal “miracle cures” may actually harm your oral health. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth, and has been associated with the progression of otherdiseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. If you opt for a treatment for periodontal disease that has not been backed by scientific evidence, it’s possible that the treatment won’t effectively treat (or could even worsen) your condi t ion. Just because a treatment is deemed “new” or “innovative” doesn’t mean that it works properly or better than more traditional treatments. By choosing the quick fix route first, your oral health may remain in poor condition and you may require additional treatment. Instead, a better idea is to schedule an appointment with a periodontist when you notice signs of periodontal disease (red, swollen or tender gums; bleeding while brushing or flossing; gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth; loose or separating teeth). A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and theireducation and experience allow them to ef fec t ively t reat periodontal disease using clinically proven treatments such as scaling and root planing, soft tissue grafts and regenerative procedures. A periodontist will evaluate your unique condition, and offer the treatment that is best for you; one that is supported by both science and experience. Your periodontist can also answer any questions that you may have about alternate treatment options. Your oral health is invaluable. While quick fixes for periodontal disease may seem like a good option, it’s a better idea to research treatment options and discuss them with a periodontist first. The discussion has the possibility of saving you time and money in the long-run!
What You Need to Know about Bisphosphonates
You may have heard recent reports about bisphosphonate drugs and their potential effect on periodontal health. These reports can be alarming and even misleading, especially for those taking bisphosphonates. The information below explains what bisphosphonates are, how they are related to periodontal health, and how bisphosphonates may impact your periodontal treatment. Bisphosphonates, also known as bone-sparing drugs, are used to treat and prevent osteoporosis, and are also prescribed to patients diagnosed with certain bone cancers. Bisphosphonates can be administered in two ways: orally and intravenously (IV). Oral, or tablet, bisphosphonates (common names include Fosamax, Boniva, and Actonel) are usually prescribed for osteoporosis, while IV bisphosphonates (common names include Aredia and Zometa) are typically prescribed for patients with advanced bone cancers to help decrease pain and fractures. In rare instances, some people that have been treated with bisphosphonates, especially the intravenous form, develop a rare condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which can cause severe, irreversible, and often debilitating damage to the jaw. ONJ can be worsened by invasive dental procedures such as tooth extractions or dental implants. People may not have symptoms in the early stages of ONJ, but pain can gradually develop as the condition progresses. Symptoms of ONJ include:
- Loose teeth
- Numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw
- Pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw
- Gums that do not heal
- Exposed bone
Currently, there is no treatment that definitely cures ONJ. However, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve some of the pain associated with ONJ. Most people diagnosed with ONJ will also need surgical treatment. If your physician prescribes a bisphosphonate, especially IV bisphosphonates, it is very important to tell your dental professional, because your dental treatment plan may be affected. There have been other risk factors associated with ONJ including age, gender, and other medical conditions, so it is important to share all health information with your dental professional. It is also important to maintain youroral health if you are taking bisphosphonates. Even though the risk of developing ONJ while taking a bisphosphonate remains very small, if you need periodontal surgery, your dental professional may recommend that you interrupt your bisphosphonate therapy prior to, during, and/or after your procedure. Be assured that both the medical and dental communities are studying ways to ensure the safest outcomes for patients taking bisphosphonates who require invasive dental procedures.