Gum disease and general health
Treating Gum Disease, Ealing and Hanwell
Everyday bacteria in our mouths produces an invisible, sticky film called plaque which constantly forms on the teeth. Plaque, which is 90% of bacteria, is one of the main causes of tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria in plaque reacts with sugars in food to produce acids which damage tooth enamel and cause tooth decay and cavities. Plaque can also affect the gums leading to gingivitis or, if left untreated, to more serious gum disease called periodontitis (which affects the jaw bone).
Gingivitis causes the gums to redden, swell slightly and to bleed easily when tooth brushing. More care and attention to good oral hygiene and treatment from your dental hygienist can usually solve the problem.
This is the advanced state of gingivitis where the plaque spreads below the gums and forms a hard deposit called tartar. The bacteria in plaque and tartar produce poisons which irritate and inflame the gums and break down the tissues and bone which support the teeth. Eventually, if the situation is not controlled, teeth become loose and may have to be extracted.
Numerous research studies have shown a link between heart disease and certain bacteria in periodontal disease. Whilst research continues to explore the link, it is important to treat periodontal disease aggressively so its impact on heart disease can be reduced or eliminated.
Gum disease and general health
Periodontal disease can also aggravate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk of infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your dentist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires antibiotic cover.
Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the potential 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.
For a long time we've known that risk factors such as smoking, alcohol use, and drug use contribute to mothers having babies that are born prematurely at a low birth-weight. Now evidence is mounting that suggests a new risk factor periodontal disease. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.
More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. It appears that periodontal disease triggers increased levels of biological fluids that induce labour. Furthermore, data suggests that women whose periodontal condition worsens during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby. All infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby. It may be wise for women considering pregnancy to have a thorough periodontal examination.
People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes.
Research has emerged that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways - periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar because severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. Experts recommend that diabetics who have periodontal disease should seek treatment to eliminate the periodontal infection and thereafter follow measures to prevent recurrence.
Scientists have found that bacteria that grow in the mouth can be drawn into the lung to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease. This discovery leads researchers to believe that these respiratory bacteria can travel from the oral cavity into the lungs to cause infection.
Studies are now in progress to learn to what extent oral hygiene and periodontal disease may be associated with more frequent bouts of respiratory disease in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Researchers have suggested a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggested that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation.
However, hormone replacement therapy may offer some protection. A recent study concluded that oestrogen supplementation may decrease inflammation of the gums and the rate of destruction of the fibres and bone that support the teeth in women with signs of osteoporosis, thus helping to protect the teeth.
My hygienist today was particularly informative and very thorough. Best cleaning ever. I loved the little gum models which showed what I was missing and her advice on flossing and all the stuff I don't do enough of.