Richard Warner, D.D.S.
Warner Family Dentistry in Council Bluffs
Concerned about your breath? Click here for some ideas to counter the “horror of halitosis!”
Did You Know Walter Cronkite’s father was a dentist in Kansas City? Dr. Cronkite was reportedly none too pleased when Walter decided to become a newsman instead of going to dental school!
Richard Warner, D.D.S. Family Dentist in Council Bluffs, Iowa
What is gum (periodontal) disease?
What is periodontal disease?
Simply put, it's a bacterial infection of the gums.
In the past the fear was that it would lead to bad breath, toothaches, loose teeth, or tooth loss. That seemed bad enough, but now strong evidence suggests a significant relationship between the bacteria that cause gum disease and those implicated in heart disease and strokes. There have also been relationships shown between gum disease and premature birth, low birth weight in infants, and even pancreatic cancer! Periodontal disease is also linked to diabetes; a study last year showed people with diabetes who had their periodontal disease treated showed fewer hospital admissions from diabetes-related problems.
Bottom line: periodontal disease is something to take seriously.
Gum tissue normally wraps tightly around a tooth. Periodontal disease causes these tissues to become infected and inflamed, creating an ever deepening pocket that allows toxins a path into the supporting structures of the teeth. You have no way to get these out, so the process continues, irreversibly destroying bone and opening a pathway for the bacteria of the mouth to get into your bloodstream.
A chilling fact about gum disease is that it has no symptoms in its early and middle stages. Many people don't even know they have it until it is in advanced state.
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film that forms on teeth. Some people are more genetically susceptible, so it does run in families. It's not unusual for a person recently diagnosed with periodontal disease to comment that their parents had "pyorrhea" or lost their teeth at an early age.
Just because you have inherited a risk for gum disease doesn't mean you are doomed to lose your teeth. It does mean you will need to be more serious with your home care and keep current with your dental checkups and cleanings. If early signs of periodontal disease is found it's particularly important for those with a genetic predisposition to treat it aggressively right away.
You may be wondering... just how could gum disease lead to a stroke? Dr. Oz has a short animation that explains it very well on his website; click here to see it.
Periodontal disease is quite treatable... but not curable. This distinction is important, as our hygienists Stacy Underwood and Laura Ranney explain.
(Click the arrow to hear their comments).