Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that can affect your whole body. Unfortunately, it is extremely common in the United States and affects over half of the population over the age of 30, but when it is promptly detected at its early stages, you can treat it and restore your gums back to health. Dr. Olivia Hart and the team at Glen Allen Family Dentistry also provide biological treatment options for patients who have more advanced stages of periodontitis. Below, we answer the question, “How does gum disease affect my body?” and provide other important information about preventing and treating gum disease.
Even though the name “gum disease” implies that it only affects your gums, periodontitis is really a “whole body disease.” A wealth of research over the last several decades has shown that there is a link between gum disease and several systemic illnesses that can take a major toll on your health. This includes, among others:
For example, people with gum disease have double the risk of dying from heart disease, three times the risk of dying from a stroke, and a 64% increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer.
While the reasons for these whole-body effects of periodontitis are not fully understood, the scientific basis for many of these negative symptoms leads back to the fact that gum disease is, in essence, a chronic bacterial infection and systemic inflammatory condition. The harmful bacteria and inflammatory compounds circulate from your mouth through your bloodstream, where they can reach everywhere in your body, from your heart to your organs and your brain. Over time, this inflammation wreaks havoc on your health and well-being.
As you can see, gum disease can take a serious toll on your health and it is vital to treat it as promptly as possible when it is identified. While traditional dentists may offer several treatment options that range from home care to invasive surgeries, we take a biological approach at Virginia Biological Dentistry that harnesses a combination of patient education, your body’s own healing powers, and supportive treatments to help restore your gums back to health.
Regular visits for cleanings and checkups play an important role in keeping your gums healthy, as we monitor your mouth for signs of gum disease, tooth decay, and other issues. Like many oral health issues, gum disease is much easier to treat in early stages, which saves you time in the dental chair, money in your wallet and has fewer side effects and shorter recovery times.
One of the primary contributors to gum disease is plaque. This is a sticky film that forms on your teeth and tongue that is a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria. When they grow and multiply on your teeth, they generate acids and other toxic substances that irritate your gums and cause decay of your teeth. Because of this, keeping plaque formation in check is essential for gum health. We offer an array of treatments to eliminate plaque build-up on your teeth—depending on the stage of gum disease you have, more regular hygiene visits may be all that is needed, or a more intensive cleaning called scaling and root planing or ultrasonic scaling may be recommended to clean and sanitize your gums and encourage your teeth and gums to form a healthy seal.
Your dietary patterns can have a big impact on the health of your teeth and gums. If we identify gum disease, nutritional counseling and a dietary plan that includes nutrient-rich foods may be needed to aid your gums’ natural healing processes. We may also recommend certain probiotics to boost the healthy bacteria available in your body, which can help ward off the disease-causing periodontal bacteria.
Laser technology is one of the most exciting modern advances in periodontal disease treatment. Using targeted laser energy, Dr. Hart can gently access the infected area of your gums to eliminate the bacteria and infected tissues and then remove the built-up calculus on your teeth. After the tooth root has been thoroughly cleaned, energy from the laser is used to heat the tissues and blood surrounding the treated area, creating an effective seal of your gums around the root where it can properly heal and be protected from further bacterial invasion. With laser treatment, your gum tissues are preserved while simultaneously stimulating the natural healing and growth powers of bone, tissue, and collagen in the treatment area.
With the patented Perio Protect method® for gum disease, Dr. Hart uses non-invasive, customized Perio Trays® to treat deep periodontal pockets, often without the need for invasive surgeries or cleanings. The trays allow healing medications to be delivered to areas of your teeth that brushing and flossing alone cannot reach, which can eliminate or reduce the frequency needed for scaling procedures to treat bacterial infections beneath the gum line.
With Perio Protect, Dr. Hart will take impressions of your mouth so they can be sent to the Perio Protect laboratory, where they are fabricated for your individual mouth. Then, you can use the prescribed medication with your customized trays at home at your convenience, typically only for just a few minutes each day. Patients with both early stages of gingivitis and more advanced forms of periodontal disease can benefit from Perio Protect treatment. In mild cases, it can help prevent the need for more invasive treatment options, and in more advanced stages, it can be a great complementary therapy to help increase the chances of successful treatment by preventing the harmful bacteria from repopulating.
If you have noticed signs that you are developing gum disease, then it is important for your oral health and overall well-being to treat it as soon as possible before it progresses into later stages of disease that are more difficult and costly to treat. At Virginia Biological Dentistry, we partner with our patients to provide natural, healthy solutions for gum disease that will help restore their teeth and gums back to health. Call us at (804) 381-6238 to schedule an appointment today!