Posts Tagged ‘swollen gums’

Gum Disease and Whole-Body Health

A few months ago I wrote a post about dental health’s connection to whole-body health, and how a patient dealing with a mouth disease and another disease could be experiencing two symptoms of one root cause, or a deeper health issue that may be overlooked. I want to continue this discussion by using the example of the factoring causes that link gum disease to other illnesses.

Gum (periodontal) disease happens when bacteria build up separates tooth and gum, leading to infection, decay, and tooth loss. Several studies are being done that connect this to a list of other health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, pregnancy issues, osteoporosis, gluten intolerance, and obesity. But how are they connected? If we look at the body as one whole, functioning system, there are some root causes that could explain the relationship between two (seemingly) separate problems.

One cause to be aware of is oxygen deficiency in the body, which is often overlooked. When the system isn’t receiving the oxygen it needs, the body cannot function normally and the outcome is an increased risk of cancer, disease, infection, aches and pains, and other overall metabolic malfunctions.

Another important factor when looking at overall health is the body’s pH balance. Anything below 7 on a pH scale is acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline. Because many people’s diets consist of inflammatory foods, it is easy for their pH balance to be below 7, causing the body’s system to be overly acidic. This inhibits and harms the metabolism and immune system, making them much more susceptible to disease and infection, from gum disease to heart issues.

These are just a few possibilities, and at the root of them is an unhealthy lifestyle that results in a body unarmed to fight disease. This is why being aware that your body is a systematic whole is so important! Take care of your teeth, take care of your body, and don’t believe that they are isolated; the health of one affects the health of the other. Here’s to healthier mouths and bodies, and a better quality of life!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

http://www.dds4smiles.com

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Dental Laser Therapy for Periodontitis — What to Expect

There are different degrees of gum disease. Sometimes it’s mild, manifesting itself as soft tissue swelling, redness, or sensitivity. Other times it’s severe, probably a case that has been neglected too long. Recessed tissues, deep pockets, extreme pain, bad tastes/smells, and an ongoing infection are indicative of periodontitis.

If you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, your level of treatment will depend on the severity of your case. Obviously, mild cases will heal up quickly if you receive prompt treatment and you take care of yourself. A more serious condition of gum disease could take months to properly recover from. Diseased gums that have shrunken and shriveled off teeth need time and a clean, clean environment in order to grow back and fit snugly around them again.

Conventional periodontal therapy/surgery is effective but invasive. In order to remove diseased tissue, parts of the gums and teeth may be simply cut out instead of treated. Ironically, this kind of treatment leads to a longer, harder recovery and can weaken oral health permanently. Risk of mistakes on the dentist’s part increase as well.

In a holistic practice, however, where a laser is used in conjunction with ozone gas, surgery is almost never necessary. Dental laser wavelengths can be calibrated, in a sense, to perform many different functions ranging from gentle cleaning of diseased tissue — without damaging normal tissues in the same area — to cutting and reshaping of tissue. It is completely non-toxic and much less painful than regular slicing and dicing because of its inherent cauterizing properties. Bacteria cannot survive under a laser’s beam, so the process of sterilization is furthermore simplified, especially with additional blasts of ozone gas. Not to mention, recovery is faster and smoother because of minimal intervention and blood flow stimulation.

Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease. During an initial inspection of your periodontal health, the degree of the disease will be evaluated and your individual prognosis will be determined. You’ll be instructed on the steps you must take in order to heal. At your appointment, your mouth and teeth will be cleaned and thoroughly prepared so the environment is in the best possible shape for a temporary “construction zone.”

At the site of treatment, the gum pocket(s) will be separated from the tooth with an instrument, and the laser will be used to clean away the infection and dead/decaying parts of the tooth and gums. All exposed surfaces of the tooth and gums are prepared to bond together again so healing may occur. Blood clotting stimulation may be administered to further speed up healing. The process is quite speedy; most cases can be taken care of in a single appointment and may also leave the patient in conditions good enough to return to work the next day.

As always, however, the best cure for a disease or infection is prevention in the first place. My laser adds a fantastic element of superior dental care to this practice, but as the patient, preventing gum disease by yourself in the first place is the best route to take.

Happy flossing!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

http://www.dds4smiles.com

Musings and More On Dental Irrigation

I am stating the obvious when I say that the Internet is the foremost consulted source of knowledge and answers to the world’s questions. We do it without thinking. Where was the transition, and why, in retrospect, does it feel like it happened without us noticing? Once upon a time, there was no cyberspace, no “online,”no instant mental gratification (unless you lived next-door to a library). What did we do all day? How did we work? As a dentist highly reliant on the latest technology available, the Internet has become a part of the skeleton of my practice. Without it, my practice would have fizzled out long ago in this fast-paced world.

But I do not mean to get all philosophical with you today. Today’s post just got me partly reminiscing about days gone by when society was more “awake” to the physical world around it, but also causing me to express gratitude in how much computers have transformed science and medicine and my own work.

In the online world of patients searching for solutions for their dental diseases and ails, oral irrigation has been quite a popular topic lately. I must say it’s for good reason. It is one of the best at-home dental hygiene routines you can maintain at home.

Pericoronitis, in particular, seems to be the central purpose for which people seek healing and relief through irrigation. Pericoronitis, if you remember, is an infection which develops under a gum flap of emerging teeth — usually the wisdom teeth of young adults. It is caused by the body defending itself from a foreign invader, which is usually an overabundance of bacteria feeding on a particle of uncleaned food. The pain is quite severe. The infection will remain swollen for up to several days or a few weeks. Even someone in good health has a tough time kicking this infection in less time, which is why it is so important to prevent it in the first place. Irrigation does just that, and it does it very well.

In those hard-to-reach areas around your teeth — and there are many — an oral irrigator shoots thin streams of water, ozone water, or diluted oral cleansing solutions, gently forcing out the debris that is not supposed to be there. Finely squirted liquid crawls into the places that floss can’t reach, effectively cleansing and leaving the mouth refreshed. How does this help healing and preventing infections? We’ll look into that tomorrow.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

http://www.dds4smiles.com

Further Insight On Gum Disease

When we check for signs of gum disease, we use a thin, tiny ruler to measure the depth of these “gaps”, or “pockets”, along your gumline. This can give us an idea of how well your teeth and gums are doing healthwise. Healthy gums and healthy teeth have pockets that measure at 3mm or less, which is equal to slightly less than 1/8 in. However, at around 3mm, early stages of gingivitis (fancy name for the first progression of full-on gum disease) may appear: the swelling, redness, and sensitivity of gums may start becoming a bother. From there, the pocket deepens as the infection grows, slowly separating the tooth from the gum tissue. This is how the tooth becomes loose or how it eventually falls out; the tooth’s root is in serious danger!

Another thing to consider is that these acidic bacteria and their acidic waste (yes, their waste, as in feces!) can become trapped in this pocket between tooth and gums. The gums, most likely, are already pretty swollen, so any deep-cleaning is painful to begin with, which leaves the bacteria to continue multiplying and rotting your tooth. Getting an ozone cleaning will help out with this a little bit, but it’s always the price to pay for poor oral hygiene habits (…or the lack thereof).

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

http://www.dds4smiles.com

Back to the Basics

Last week we had a staff meeting in the early afternoon, and we talked about gum disease.

I’ve blogged about this before… but did I really make the point clear about what gum disease is? Do YOU know exactly what it is? Let me explain in simple English:

There is a space or small gap in between your gums and your teeth, right where you see the gums meet your teeth (where you are supposed to floss). When bad bacteria are not cleaned out of these gaps — or “pockets”, as we call them — the gums may swell up, start hurting, or turn red and sensitive. The spaces grow bigger, slowly deepening and separating from the tooth. The tooth is also slowly being eaten away by this bacteria and its acidic waste. After a while, if nothing is done about it, this turns into a serious infection that can and will cause loose teeth, tooth loss, and many other painful complications that could have been easily avoided.

Brush and floss your teeth!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

http://www.dds4smiles.com