By Joy Driscoll

It is known that oral health is connected to our body’s systemic immunity and total body wellness. Oral health has an influence on diseases such as heart disease which affects the cardiovascular system. Current research has also linked chronic oral inflammation to cancers, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis and many other diseases. In fact 80 percent of systemic disease is first manifested in the mouth.

Periodontal Disease

The number one oral health infection and silent disease that causes chronic inflammation in the body is periodontal disease. Gingivitis (gum disease/infection) is inflammation of the gums, Periodontitis is when the infection has manifested itself into the bone and now causes the loss of bone surrounding the teeth. Signs of the infection/disease are bleeding gums when brushing or cleaning in between teeth, bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. 90% of adults over the age of 30 have some stage of active gum infection/disease. The mouth is not an isolated ecosystem, but an integral part of the immune system.

The mouth is connected to many other parts of the body and bacterial imbalance of gum disease in the mouth can create immune problems and inflammation in other parts of the body through the blood system. In fact, the plaque deposits that are removed by a Dental Hygienist are the same types of plaque found in the arterial walls of people with heart disease! Below is a list of the increased risk of disease when there is oral inflammation/infection.

In fact, if you are reading this, there is a good chance you have some form of gum disease and not even realize it because it rarely causes pain. The best way to determine if Gingivitis or infection/disease has migrated deeper in the bone (Periodontitis) is to have a periodontal examination. This should be done every time you visit your dentist for a cleaning or exam. The tool that diagnoses this infection is called a probe which has measuring points like a ruler. The probe is inserted between the tooth and gums testing for signs of bleeding or pus. It is then documented how far the probe falls between the tooth and gums. The higher or deeper the number the harder it is to clean out the biofilm In fact, if you are reading this, there is a good chance you have some form of gum disease and not even realize it because it rarely causes pain.

The best way to determine if Gingivitis or infection/disease has migrated deeper in the bone (Periodontitis) is to have a periodontal examination. This should be done every time you visit your dentist for a cleaning or exam. The tool that diagnoses this infection is called a probe which has measuring points like a ruler. The probe is inserted between the tooth and gums testing for signs of bleeding or pus. It is then documented how far the probe falls between the tooth and gums. The higher or deeper the number the harder it is to clean out the biofilm (plaque) between the tooth and gums. This is how oral infection starts.

Gingivitis

Treating This Infection

The immune system recognizes the gum disease as an out of control bacterial infection. One way the body defeats this infection is to increase the inflammation in the local area of the infection in the effort to increase blood flow. This increases the number of white blood cells to fight the bad bacteria/infection. There are many nonsurgical tools used to reverse the infection and halt progression of bone loss. Once the infection reaches the bone that supports the teeth it causes permanent bone loss around the teeth. Current studies show another cause of gingivitis or periodontal infection is an acidic pH in the mouth. When the PH is acidic the bacteria thrives, and causes disease such as decay, oral infection or gingivitis/periodontitis “gum disease”. There are many causes of an acidic pH in the mouth such as dry mouth from medications, mouth breathing and diet.

The goal of nonsurgical treatment is to balance the bacteria and keep the pH neutral in the oral cavity to halt disease progression which deteriorates the bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal therapy differs in every office by different protocols in treating the periodontal infection. The gold standard is scaling and root planing which means the dental hygienist uses special instruments to remove the plaque/biofilm below the gums and on the roots of the teeth. If the infection has advanced to a certain stage, surgical intervention may be recommended The bottom line is that unresolved chronic local inflammation creates a toxic systemic situation.

Oral health impacts the overall body’s health and wellness. Gum infection is related to an increased incidence of all other disease that affect related systems within our body. We can not achieve optimal health unless we have a healthy oral balance of bacteria! See your dental healthcare provider at the very least 2 x a year to catch early stages of gum infection.

Joy Driscoll
Joy is located at 1555 Main St. in Windsor, CO and her mission is to bring holistic dental health care options to patients seeking a more holistic approach to their overall health. She has been a dental provider for over 20 years and has had advanced training and education in how oral health directly effects whole body health or vice versa. To learn more and make an appointment, visit http://dentalalternativeservices.com/or call 970-413-1799.