Gum Inflammation and Your Overall Health - Dr. Colin Richman

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Gum Inflammation and Your Overall Health

September 14, 2012

If your dentist has told you that you have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, it is important for you to understand some of the reasons why this may be happening, how it may affect other medical conditions and the step you can take to make things better.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease begins when plaque bacteria adhere to the tooth surface and grows there, aided by nutrients and moisture from the adjacent gum tissues. Your gums become inflamed when your immune system tries to fight the bacterial infection. White blood cells flow to the area and damage or destroy the bacteria. This releases inflammatory mediators – special enzymes and chemicals that attract more white blood cells to the area. A complex cycle of inflammation and repair ensues as the body tries to eliminate the bacteria

But this only affects my gums, right?

Wrong. Gum tissues do respond to the inflammation/repair cycle with redness, swelling & bleeding (gingivitis), and destruction of the bone that supports the teeth (periodontitis). But inflammatory mediators can also accelerate serious chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, gout, obesity, and asthma.

The exact nature of the link between periodontal disease and these serious medical conditions is the subject of intensive study. It has now been shown, for example, that people with periodontal disease (PD) have increased blood levels of CRP C- Reactive Protein), which is a known risk factor for future heart attacks and strokes.

So, What do I do?

  • Keep plaque under control. Brush your teeth, floss and use interdental brushes, toothpicks and/or other approved instruments at home. Get professional cleanings to remove plaque and calculus from below the gum line – where your toothbrush can’t reach them.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your diabetes under control (if you have diabetes).
  • Limit your intake of carbohydrates, especially sugar and processed carbohydrates.
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seed, olive oil, and fish.
  • Eat fruits (especially berries), vegetables and beans, and drink green tea.

Understanding the link between gum disease and systemic illnesses provides a new perspective on the importance of maintaining good overall health. For more information regarding the control of gum disease, contact the practice of Dr Richman is your periodontist serving Roswell, for an evaluation today.

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