Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 6

Welcome, returning readers!  We’re so glad you’ve return for today’s conclusion of this article series on kidney disease and gum disease .  Our plan for today is to conclude with a discussion about what the havoc wreaked by kidney and gum disease looks like in those afflicted with the inflammation which exists with both of these maladies.  If you have been following this series, you will likely remember from past installments, we’ve discussed what kidney disease is, what gum disease is, some of the causes of each of them and have touched on the fact that many serious health conditions can stem from gum disease and its associated inflammation.  Today,  Dr. Scharf wants to pull all of the installments together with a discussion about some of  those other serious health conditions and what they can look like as they affect the quality of life and lifestyle of you and those you love.  We are hoping that,  by reading this article series, you will begin to appreciate the concerns your medical doctor and your dental professional have for taking care of all of the parts of your body.   So, let’s get started, shall we?

Are You Aware that Other Diseases Are Lurking at the Door?

Continuing research is showing that the chronic inflammation, which is actually infection  trapped in the gums, accompanies gum and periodontal disease and does, in fact, have a profound effect on various other organs.  The research also supports the belief that the kidneys are at risk in a similar fashion as the various parts of the cardiovascular system, for example.  Recently, a group of researchers from the University of California San Francisco began a study in which they are tracking kidney disease development and progression in those kidney patients who have already been diagnosed with gum disease.  They are assessing how the kidney disease progresses in relation to either treatment of the gum disease or leaving the gum disease untreated.  Their goal is to find data to support the treatment of gum disease in an effort to control and slow the progression of kidney disease.  The preliminaries are very encouraging!

Gum Disease Has An Inflammatory Base

If you have been following this blog for any period of time, then you are well aware that, we have discussed gum disease’s inflammation in previous articles and in previous installments of this series.  This inflammation, which is caused by infection trapped in the gums, is at the root of gum disease, and it results from bacterial infections in the oral tissues.  The inflammation and bacteria then get into the bloodstream and get transported throughout the body , pulsing through every blood vessel, tendon, muscle, bone and organ in its path.  As the bacteria passes through, it leaves a “deposit” in the form of bacterial organisms which attach to cells and flourish everywhere they’re deposited.  Inflammation comes to the new sites as the immune system rises to the challenge to fight the infection(s).  And, the cycle continues….  

Internal Damage  Results Throughout the Body

This inflammation results from the normal immune process that occurs when an infection or outside threat is perceived by the body, causing the good bacteria, bad bacteria and white blood cells to battle .  The resulting inflammation erodes blood vessels, causes  atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels) and other vascular changes throughout the body.  Since the entire body requires blood and the cardiovascular system supplies that requirement by pumping blood throughout the body , those vascular changes are taking place within every tissue type in the body as well as every organ, vital or otherwise!  What does that look like?   Well, let’s take a look:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels which supply the heart, making the heart work harder to push the blood through, i.e. increased blood pressures, elevated or irregular heartbeat rhythms, palpitations, etc
  • Inflammation affects the way various cells in various systems do the job they were designed to do, i.e. digestive system, lungs, pancreas, liver, endocrine, etc
  • Blood chemistry imbalances which have an effect, for example, on how food is digested, how nutrients are extracted and absorbed.  This imbalance in the blood chemistry and increased inflammation helps to cause insulin resistance, overproduction of insulin and peripheral vascular issues which are common to diabetes, for another example

What Does This Look Like to You and To Those You Love?

  • it could look like having to take a medication to control your blood pressure, triglycerides, diabetes or heart rate at younger and younger ages
  • It might mean that blood sugars will need to be tested routinely to assure things are balanced (ouch!)  
  • It might mean that routine blood work is also required along with frequent follow up medical appointments with your doctor to assure the medications being given are working as intended (another ouch in the arm AND your pocketbook!)  
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia are all diseases in which inflammation is the primary clinical sign and symptom – AND they are all progressive and debilitating. How many people do you know with these problems?
  • It might mean skeletal changes which could affect the lifestyle your live (or would like to live)
  • It could mean that more and more people battle with eating disorders to avoid obesity and that ever-expanding waistline that is becoming more prevalent every year…or
  • The horror of the increasing rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes (normally only an adult disease) with the physical limitations associated with these issues.

Can You See the Pattern Here?

These are just a few of the hundreds of health issues which can stem from chronic inflammation, which, most of the time begins in the mouth.  The first step toward avoidance of these problems for you and everyone you love is to address that oral inflammation.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, and as such, he can help you achieve this goal by identifying and treating that inflammation and any stage of associated gum disease.  Call him at (631)-661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Oh, and come back next time for a new interesting topic!  See you then!

Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 5

Hello and welcome back to all of my returning readers!  It is our hope that you have been picking up some new knowledge concerning the health and well-being of, not only yourself, but also those you love from this article series on kidney disease and gum disease.  Today, as promised last week,  in today’s installment, we want to spend a bit more time talking about inflammation, a condition which is at the root of many serious diseases as well as both gum disease and kidney disease .

Strong link to cardiovascular disease 

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for very long, then I’m sure you know that the research community has already established a pretty strong link between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease (also known as gum disease).  But, did you know that they are also actively pursuing evidence to establish the link that is believed to exist between kidney disease and gum and periodontal disease?  Well, take my word for it…the research is ongoing in this area in an attempt to ascertain potential links between gum or periodontal disease and many other serious health maladies, like diabetes, stroke, obesity, heart attacks, etc.   There are many existing studies which report strong correlation between oral inflammation and these other major health conditions and the ongoing research is hoped to strengthen the correlation to help people avoid the life-threatening conditions which can be created from these serious health issues.

Did you know that the mouth is considered an open door to your body?

So, since you’ve heard so much about inflammation and it seems like it’s everywhere you look, have you ever wondered where this damaging inflammation comes from?    If this question hasn’t yet crossed your mind, try to keep up because I’m sure it will, sooner or later if your oral inflammation continues to go unchecked.  Let’s get down to basics and talk a little more about what’s going on in that “open door” we call the mouth.  We’ve talked about this in previous installments as we have addressed infections in general.   Because the mouth is an open door to your body, any infection of any type which develops within your oral tissues can be transmitted throughout the body , traveling at an incredible speed in the bloodstream, visiting virtually every blood vessel, tissue type and organ in the human body.  The mouth provides an EXCELLENT environment for infections to be born when oral cleaning regimens aren’t as thorough (for some they’re non-existent) as they could be. You see, there are bacteria which live in your mouth all of the time, and, some of these bacterial organisms are designed to be there while others are not.  The problem begins when the bad bacteria (the ones which are not designed to be there) are present and begin to conflict with the good bacteria (the ones God put there).  This conflict stimulates a response from your immune system and a battle begins that results in the creation of inflammation.  Without proper care and treatment, the inflammatory response helps to keep the environment primed for the battle (and the bad bacteria) to flourish unchecked . As the bacterial battle is waged,  that less than desirable bacteria gets dumped into the bloodstream and gets a high speed “tour” of the body free of charge!

The continuing bacterial / inflammation cycle

This transportation of all of that bad bacteria throughout the body allows the bad bacteria to take up residence in every cell, tissue type, blood vessel and organ in their path.  It is this bacterial habitation and the associated inflammatory process which has been found to be at the root of many of the more serious health conditions and diseases – many of which are life-threatening!  Getting this bacterial overgrowth under control is key to stopping the inflammatory response which continues the cycle and, perhaps even saving the lives of those you love somewhere down the road.  

We vote to close that open door….

Since the mouth is that open door we’ve been talking about through which this process begins, let’s close that door!  This probably sounds like quite a simple solution, right?  Well, yes and no… for some it will be more easily accomplished than for others.  The ease with which that open door is closed depends on where you are in your oral cleaning regimens and routine oral care.  Given the national stats on gum disease in adults, it is quite possible that you or any member of your family could have gum disease or periodontal disease right now, growing and festering lots of bacteria and inflammation, and not even be aware of it!  That gum or periodontal disease could be munching away (pun intended) at the precious bony structures of your mouth, eating its way to the support for your teeth.  It could be infecting and eating away at the soft tissues in your mouth, which, as noted above, is an EXCELLENT habitat for that bacterial overgrowth mentioned above.   And…all of this could be taking place without your knowledge!

In our next  installment…

In the next installment, we will talk about what this link or relationship looks like in your life and the lives of those you love.  In the meantime,  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  He can help to identify and treat any gum or periodontal disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.


Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 4

Welcome to my returning readers !  Today, we’re going to continue with another installment of this educational and  vital article series on kidney disease and gum disease.  For those of you who were with us last week, you will likely recall,  that we discussed early kidney disease, the symptoms associated with kidney disease as it develops into its later stages and the diagnostic process which allows your doctor to identify and treat it.  As promised last week, today we want to continue with more about gum disease and the inflammation that is associated with it.

What is gum disease? Not a great place to start

We have chosen this as the most natural starting point for this installment of this article series .  I know you’ve heard, as we’ve all heard, the media reports and medical advice urging us that gum disease is something on which more attention needs to be focused.  But, have you ever wondered why so much advertising time and money is being spent on this subject?   Well, sometimes, not enough attention is given to providing an explanation of what gum disease is.  And, how can you be expected to understand the importance of having a condition evaluated, treated and monitored if you don’t understand the reason for those recommendations?  And how can you understand the effect a condition can have on your life and general overall health if no one educates you.  That, dear readers and friends, is the purpose behind this article series.  Today,  we’re going to get very basic and help you understand what gum disease is and next week, we’ll talk about why you need to be concerned about it.

Now about that gum disease…

Have you ever considered that the mouth is a very interesting organ?  Yes, it is an organ and it isn’t JUST another organ in the human body but rather, it is also an entryway to all biological processes in the human body.  What does that mean to you?  It simply means that your mouth is an open access point to all things biological in your body via the bloodstream, and this open access applies to each and every cell, tissue type and organ in your body!  Yes, I said “EACH AND EVERY” and that, my friends, is HUGE (to coin a word from a well known TV commercial)!  Your mouth contains several types of tissue which are represented in the soft tissue and bony structures which allow you to bite and chew your food.   Those structures are:

  • Gum tissue – this is the soft tissue which contains the vascular network, suppling all of the structures with the needed nutrients to flourish
  • Teeth which are multi-layered, having the enamel on the extreme outside for protection and then the dentin inside in the center of each tooth that contains components which help to supply nourishment to the tooth as well
  • Bony structures, i.e. jawbone for one – provide support for the teeth and the power for the chewing action – the bones also contain components which work with the vascular network and dentin to provide appropriate nourishment to the structure

So, how does gum disease start?

Here is the basic general cycle of how gum disease develops:

  • Plaque forms – our mouths are full of various bacterial organisms – some good and some not so good.  These bacterial organisms team up with mucous and food particles to form a clear sticky substance called plaque which attaches to the surfaces of your teeth
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth – this oral cleaning habit helps to remove this plaque so that it doesn’t harden
  • Tartar forms – this occurs when the above mentioned plaque isn’t properly removed from the surfaces in the mouth and it is allowed to harden to become tartar
  • Tartar progresses – this hardened version of the plaque becomes problematic when it is not removed – and once it hardens, only a dental hygienist can remove it
  • Plaque and tartar cause irritation – unfortunately, the longer these substances are left untreated in your mouth, the more damage they are able to do.  The irritation they cause in the surrounding tissues in the mouth result in the creation of inflammation and then the big “G” is born
  • Gingivitis (the big “G”) begins as the inflammation develops in the gums.  Have you ever brushed your teeth and discovered the “pink” toothbrush?   Then, rest assured , you are familiar with gingivitis .  But did you know that it comes with swollen, red and painful gums as well?  This is the mild, early stage of gum disease

And it doesn’t stop there….

Gingivitis is both treatable and reversible if caught early and managed.  If gingivitis is not treated, the inflammation will continue to progress to periodontal disease, which is a more serious and severe stage of gum disease.  

  • The periodontal disease literally inflames the gum tissue around the tooth where it can eat away at the bony supporting tissue that keeps the tooth strong and secure
  • The inflammation eats away at the gum tissue where it attaches to the root of the tooth and creates a “pocket” in which more bacteria take up residence and prosper
  • More infection develops in the “pockets”, creating toxins that cause the body’s immune system to kick in and respond as it is designed to do when infection is threatens the body
  • Eventually, as the inflammatory process continues, it erodes the bone and connective tissue, loosening the tooth to a point at which it will become necessary to remove it, if it doesn’t fall out on it’s own first.

The rest of the story … in the next installment …

Next week, we’ll talk about what happens to that damaging inflammation that becomes so dangerous for the health of each and every person on the planet.  In the meantime, please understand that it is so very important to achieve and maintain good oral health for everyone in your family.  And in that vein, let us say that Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he wants to help to identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in you and those you love.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 3

Welcome back,  all of my returning readers!  We so happy that you returned for the next installment of this article series on kidney disease and gum disease.  For those of you who have been following this series, I’m sure you will recall that we have been discussing the potential relationship shared between kidney disease and gum disease.  Previously, we had discussed just what was meant by kidney disease and what causes it.  Last week, we promised that today, we would discuss how kidney disease develops and progresses and how this progression and development can affect your health and potentially your life style.  OK, review over… let’s get started.

Did You Know That Early Kidney Disease Is Frequently Undetected?

Well, it’s true!  Early kidney disease unfortunately frequently remains undetected and undiagnosed for awhile, that is, until enough damage has occurred to the kidneys  to cause symptoms to appear.  As we discussed in last week’s installment, a number of factors and health conditions exist which can create conditions which cause chronic kidney disease to develop over time.  And, some of those health conditions are diabetes (both types 1 and 2), high blood pressure and various autoimmune diseases.  Because these diseases cause underlying inflammation, wreaking havoc on any number of bodily tissues, organs and systems, it is this inflammation that is responsible for the interruption of the functions of these bodily tissues, organs and systems,  ultimately leading to kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.  As you can see, the chronic variety of kidney disease can sneak up on us without our knowledge.

What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

As we noted above,  frequently, the symptoms of kidney disease are non-existent for most people in its early stage of development.  However, as the disease progresses, here are some of the symptoms that could be noticed:

  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Changes in urinary frequency (either more often or less often)
  • Seeing “foam” in your urine
  • Swelling or puffiness around the eyes or ankles
  • Fatigue or shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased taste sensations
  • Cramping of muscles, especially in the leg muscles
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Unexplained weight loss

Also of importance to note here:  children can also be afflicted with kidney disease and may experience many of the same symptoms as well as not growing and developing as expected.  If any of these symptoms are noted in you or any of your loved ones, do not hesitate to seek medical advice as only your doctor will be able to do the appropriate testing to ascertain the cause of the symptoms, regardless of whether kidney disease is responsible.

Are You Wondering How Kidney Disease Is Diagnosed?

The diagnosis will come from your medical doctor who will need to do a physical examination and blood testing.  Some of this blood work may be specific to kidney function while other tests will assess the overall blood chemistry to ascertain if any values are out of line.  When the results of these tests are collected, your medical doctor may also need some CT imaging to get a better look at the kidneys and other organs.  The  medical practitioner’s diagnosis may bring some dietary restrictions, medication administration and, in the event of end stage kidney failure, perhaps dialysis.  If kidney disease is not treated and is allowed to progress to this end stage of development, it can be very debilitating and even fatal.

Next time, we will talk  about what gum disease is and how the inflammation at the root of it can affect not only your kidney function but also virtually every vital organ and system in your body.  In the meantime, it is important to have good oral health to protect each and every member of your family.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help you achieve that good oral health that will go a long way toward getting and keeping your family safe from the many maladies awaiting those with poor oral health down the road.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum and periodontal disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 2

Welcome back,  faithful returning readers !  For those of  you who were with us last week, I’m sure you’ll recall that we began a new article series on a  possible link between kidney disease and gum disease.   Today,  our goal is to continue with Part 2 of this important topic and talk about  how kidney disease develops and progresses.

 A Review from Part 1

Last week, we noted that March has been designated as “kidney month”.   We also explained that this designation is designed to help us focus on kidney disease, its symptoms, causes and treatments, with an intention of increasing our awareness of this human malady which is increasingly more prevalent , affecting people of all ages, especially the aging.  Accordingly, we feel it is quite appropriate to have begun this series  in the official “kidney month” of March,  accomplishing the goal of increasing your awareness.

How Does Kidney Disease Develop?

In Part 1,  we discussed what kidney disease is and even provided  you with a fairly simple and brief anatomy lesson.  Our goal for this week is to  dig more deeply into that anatomy lesson in an attempt to help you understand what is going on inside you – processes which  are unknown to you, especially in the earliest stages of development.   It is our hope that, by helping you understand some of these basics,  you’ll see how importance it is to  steps to avoid or, at the very least, slow down the progression kidney disease.

What Are The Causes of Kidney Disease?

Each and every one of us, except of course those having genetic anomalies, comes into this world  with two kidneys.  These vital organs are located in the back just below the waist, one on each side of the body.  Normally, when these kidneys function as they were designed:

  • Toxins and other wastes are removed from the body,
  • Extra water from the blood is removed and filtered
  • The above functions help to control the blood pressure.

The problem begins when a health condition appears or another system in the body doesn’t work as designed, causing stress on the kidneys, leading to damage to this vital organ.  There are two types of kidney disease:

  • Acute – this type occurs when the kidneys suddenly cease to function for various reasons listed below
  • Chronic – this is a type designation given when the kidneys aren’t working properly for a period of 3 months or longer

Here are some of the reasons why the kidneys would cease to function or decrease in function:

For acute kidney disease:

  • Traumatic injury with loss of blood (i.e. vehicular accident)
  • Levels of dehydration which results in muscle tissue break down, sending in too much protein into bloodstream for the kidneys to process
  • Any level of shock which stems from a severe sepsis infection
  • Enlargement of the prostate which results in a blockage of the flow of urine
  • Long term use of  certain medications or exposure to certain toxins
  • Pregnancy with preeclampsia and eclampsia (abnormally high levels of protein in urine which can evolve into seizures)
  • Autoimmune diseases – these are diseases which cause the immune system to attack the body – some of these are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, grave’s disease (this is not an exhaustive list)

For chronic kidney disease:

  • Types 1 and 2 diabetes – elevated blood sugars can  damage the kidneys over time
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) – over time, high blood pressures can result in unnecessary wear on the blood vessels all over the body, including the those  supplying the kidneys
  • Add to the list above of immune disorders: HIV/Aid, hepatitis B, hepatitis, various types of urinary tract infections, inflammation in any part or tissue type in the body, polycystic kidney disease (a genetic disease), various types of birth defects which affect the urinary system, lead poisoning, long term use of certain medications, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti inflammatories) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, IV street drugs and exposure to certain chemicals over time

It’s certainly not hard to see how kidney disease can sneak up on you from many different angles and through some physical situations which you cannot control.  Our goal for the next installment will be to go into some of the symptoms that you might notice as kidney disease develops and progresses.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get a dental evaluation done on each and every member of your family.  Identifying gum disease is an important step toward avoiding and slowing the progression of kidney disease.  Dr. Scharf  wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, so please call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Related? Part 1

Hello, my faithful readers!  If you have been following this blog over the past several years, then you already know that our goal has been to provide regular updates and pertinent information to our readers and to Dr. Scharf’s patients about dental issues, especially as they apply to overall general health and vice versa.   With that goal in mind, our new blog series will focus on kidney disease and gum disease.  We do hope you will follow along with each installment as well as take away some new information which will help you and your family achieve better health and maintain it.  So, let’s carry on!

Let’s Not Forget Some Basics

Yeah, yeah, I know, you have probably heard what we are about to say more often than you care to admit. But, before we begin this new blog series on this topic, we feel it’s important to  briefly repeat some information.  Throughout this blog series as well as many others which we have published, we have stressed the importance of knowing  that gum disease is a condition which is growing annually among Americans, both young and old, and, even more importantly, it is one which can be avoided or reversed if detected in an early enough stage of development.  Regardless of when it is detected, it is vital that it be treated because there is increasing evidence that gum disease is linked to some pretty major and potentially life-threatening diseases.  There! It’s been said, but redundant as it may seem, it is our hope this oft repeated information helps you to understand the importance of learning as much as possible about gum disease and how it is related to other health conditions.

March is “National Kidney Month”

Don’t you think It is appropriate for us to begin this series in the month of March since it has been designated at “National Kidney Month”? Let me explain that this designation serves to direct national attention to kidney disease, its causes and consequences and how it can be avoided.  It also serves to focus on how to deal with it if you (or those you love) are already experiencing it, as the prevalence of it, too, is increasing annually.  The primary goals of this article series are three:

  • To help you realize and understand what kidney disease is
  • To further your knowledge and understanding of gum disease
  • To help you understand how the relationship between gum disease and kidney disease influences the life and health of you and your loved ones

Next:  What is Kidney Disease

Now that we’ve explained the importance of this topic at this time of the year, let’s have a very simple anatomy lesson.  Here are some information tidbits about kidney disease:

  • First let us say that, while there may be some genetic anomalies, two kidneys have been given to each of us from birth.  The location of these two organs  is just under the rib cage, one on each side of the body.
  • Each kidney contains millions of tiny structures called nephrons,  and, designed to act as filters, they are responsible for removing various toxins, waste and extra water from the body.
  • This normally efficient system has the task of turning fluids into urine, and does so quite efficiently until  something upsets the function of those millions of little nephrons.
  • The efficiency of this system is decreased when the normal activity of the nephrons is interrupted or when something causes their destruction, renal disease ensues and the system becomes less efficient at removal of toxins and waste on its own.
  • Sometimes, depending on the cause of the interruption or destruction of nephrons, the disease can be progressive, making removal of waste and toxins even less efficient until it simply can’t do the job any longer.

Next time, I will talk more about kidney disease and we will learn what causes it to develop and how it progresses.  Until then, I’d like to remind you that good oral health is important and that appropriate daily cleaning regimens are also important to achieving and maintaining that good oral health for everyone in your family.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help you achieve this goal.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease and periodontal disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are Osteoporosis and Gum Disease Related? Part 4

Welcome back, my faithful readers!  We are very happy that you  returned for the final installment of this article series on osteoporosis and gum disease.  As we promised last week, our installment this week will be a discussion about the nutritional aspects of reduced calcium in our diets and how we can change that.  For those of you who have been with us through this series,  you may recall, we have talked about how osteoporosis and gum disease are related, citing that the root connection lies in inflammation and the “mining” of the calcium from your bones to feed the need of the various cells in your body to function as designed by our Creator.  Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island and it is his goal to keep you informed about topics which pertain to keeping you and your family safe and healthy.  So, today, let’s get started in our discussion on the nutritional aspects of this topic.

How About Those Calcium Supplements?

If you’re among the millions of women  who have taken calcium supplements for the prevention of osteoporosis,  we may have some information which may be new to you.  In the past, many if not all medical practitioners have been recommending taking calcium supplements to ward off the dreaded osteoporosis disease which is especially prevalent in women who are peri menopausal and postmenopausal.  But, recently,  research has shown that oral calcium supplements may not be the best advice medical practitioners can give to their patients.  As I’m sure you’ve been advised by your medical practitioner, that focusing on getting extra calcium into your diet sooner rather than later is important.  While it is true that waiting until menopause is better than not doing anything at all,  your risk of fractures is increased the longer your wait.   The statistics show that women generally live longer than their men but that doesn’t mean they have an appropriate quality of life after they outlive their men.  In fact, statistics show that one in three women over the age of 50 will experience the complications of bone fractures with the pain and inconvenience they bring.  Better solutions to osteoporosis prevention and management of fractures dilemma are being offered to women, especially those who are postmenopausal.

Next, The Cardiac Aspect

As mentioned in one of our previous installments, recent research has shown that, in addition to the normal uncomfortable side effects of calcium supplements (i.e. constipation, indigestion and increased kidney stone risks),the taking oral supplements for calcium can increase the risk for having a heart attack or other cardiac event!  The study to which we refer was quoted in JAMA Journal of Internal Medicine and revealed that more than 11,000 deaths which occurred as a result of cardiovascular disease were linked to increased and continued intake of calcium supplements! WOW! THAT got my attention…how about you?

Now for the Nutritional Aspect

When speaking nutritionally, diet books and dieticians will tell you that calcium is available in so many different types of foods.   Those foods are so much more readily available to we Americans  that it makes one wonder why calcium supplements are so necessary for the large segment of the American population who use them.  While we can readily understand that there are situations and circumstances which may require the use of calcium supplements, these cases are considerably more rare than one might think.  For most of us, increasing our calcium intake can be as simple as changing our diets to include foods which are actually healthier for us anyway.  Those changes could include but limited to:

  • Eating dairy products with high calcium content – cheese, yogurt, kefir, almond milk, soy milk etc – raw milk only as pasteurization destroys some of the nutritional value of cow’s milk
  • Eating more veggies which are fortified with calcium like broccoli and kale – many other green fresh veggies contain significant amounts of calcium as well as protein
  • Bok choy and watercress
  • Sardines with bones
  • Almonds

As a side note:  Increasing your activity levels will also help keep your bones strong and healthy.  Weight-bearing activities can include walking, running, bicycling, aerobic exercise, strength-building exercises, etc.

As you can see, simple changes can help you achieve increased calcium intake as well as keep your bones strong and healthy.  Maintaining good oral health can also help keep bony structures in your mouth strong and healthy.  One way to do that is to establish and maintain regular visits to your dental professional.  Dr Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help you achieve these goals for each and every member of your family, regardless of age.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Are Osteoporosis and Gum Disease Related? Part 3

Welcome back, faithful readers!  It is our hope you’re enjoying this article series and are learning a few things, too,  about osteoporosis and gum disease.   If you were with us last week, you may recall that we have been talking about the crimes going on inside your body as the calcium is stolen from your precious skeletal system to fuel cellular needs  all over the body so that those cells can function as designed by the Creator.  We also had talked about the increased risks of fractures and breaks of bones which can occur as the bones become less dense, more brittle and weakened as this theft of calcium continues.  Today, I’d like to talk about how osteoporosis can affect your oral health — and, yes, you will see how osteoporosis and gum disease are related.

Allow Us to Clarify

In the interests of crystal clarity, there is one particular point in this discussion about osteoporosis that we feel we need to stress.  Yes, it is a condition resulting from a deficiency in calcium in the body and what the body does to remedy that deficiency.  However and more importantly, it needs to be emphasized that the deficiency which causes the “mining” of the calcium from your bones is a direct result of not enough calcium being consumed in our diets.  The diets that most adult Americans consume really doesn’t supply enough of a number of nutrients, not just calcium.  This segment of this article series isn’t intended to cover that particular aspect but that will be covered next week in more depth.  We felt it was important to keep this fact upfront since you will see how it has a major impact on the whole topic.  Today, we’re focusing on how oral health is affected and next week we’ll get into the diet thing and how to improve it.

How About Those Oral Tissues

Did you know that your oral tissues include soft and bony tissue types and these tissues are living organisms which require nourishment, protection and appropriate care.  For example, your jaw is comprised of bony tissue as are your teeth, and as such, these structures are at risk for calcium “mining” just like any other bone in your body.  Osteoporosis and the body’s ability to weaken bony structures doesn’t really care where the calcium comes from, only that it can get it.  Each cell type MUST function as designed and that rule takes precedence over everything else, even  if it means sacrificing  your oral and overall general health in the process.

And then there’s inflammation.  Inflammation, another term used for gum disease, is another source of deterioration which can rob you of healthy bony structures in your mouth and virtually anywhere in your body.  And, did you know that both of these conditions could be working against your oral tissues simultaneously right now and you don’t even know it?  But your dental professional will!  Keeping up with those dental evaluations and cleanings will enable your dental professional to identify and treat those areas in which inflammation and bone loss are weakening the bony structures in your mouth.  Not attending to the health of your oral tissues puts you at increased risk of tooth loss and loss of bony support for the remaining teeth — even denture wearers will have problems with proper fitting plates, needing to replace their dentures more often than should be necessary.

Are you aware that inflammation that is eating away at your bony oral  tissue and is also providing a wealth of bacterial opportunity for infections which can be transported throughout your body, infecting every type of tissue and organ in its path!  The result can be heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, strokes and various cardiovascular diseases to name only a few disease which have been linked to gum disease and periodontal disease.

While we haven’t painted a very pretty picture to be sure, we hope you will join us next week as we will dig deeper into the nutritional aspect of this very important topic and we will provide some ways to correct that calcium deficiency that is wreaking havoc inside you.  In the meantime, Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Are Osteoporosis and Gum Disease Related? Part 2

Welcome  my faithful readers!  It is our hope that you enjoyed part one of this multi part series on osteoporosis and gum disease .     We are glad that you have returned for part two of our series today.  For those of you who were with us last week,  you may recall that in part one, a discussion was had  regarding what osteoporosis is and how it is caused — basically, it’s the result of cellular need for calcium to function as designed by the Creator  when not enough calcium or when not enough of the appropriate kind of calcium is available, which results in  the body “mining” the calcium from the bones to satisfy this basic cellular need.  And, as promised in part one,  our discussion today  will involve some recent research about calcium intake in the form of nutritional food consumption versus supplementation and how this figures into the overall general health and the oral health of each and every member of your family.   We have made it our goal to educate you on as many health issues as possible, especially those that apply to oral health and the various connections to overall general health.  So, if you’re with me, then let’s get started.

Osteoporosis, Is It Something to Anticipate?

Now, I’d like a show of hands here, how many of you are aware of how the number of people who suffer from osteoporosis in its various stages of development?  It is very important to note here that osteoporosis is a real condition of which we should all be more knowledgeable as research is reporting increasing prevalence here in the United States each year.  The estimates given are that by the year 2020, more than half of those adults in America over the age of 50 years will have osteoporosis to some degree!  Why this  concern about this prediction?   Since inquiring minds need to know, we’re so glad you asked!  The reason for the concern is this:  osteoporosis literally steals the calcium from your bones so that the needs of cells all over the body can be satisfied.  Yes, this is the same calcium needed to keep your bones strong and dense.  The theft that is occurring inside your body is causing your bones to become more fragile, less dense and more brittle.  What does this mean to you and those you love?  Basically, it means you and your family are at a significantly increased risk of bone fractures and breaks as well as longer healing times when those fractures and breaks occur.  I’m sure it is safe to say that we have all known someone who, after broken or fractured hip injuries, for example,  have taken a long time to heal and have not flourished in other health areas.  This is especially so for those elderly among us who suffer from other major health conditions as well.

Calcium to the Rescue?

So,  you understand the problem and now the answer seems simple — just bump up the calcium intake with a pill, right?  Well, yes … and no…while the answer may seem simple, the traditional method of doing so isn’t as simple as the medical community had previously believed.  Why not, you ask?  It seems that recent research is showing that getting more calcium into your diet by utilizing oral supplements seems to be paving the way for elevated risks of heart attack and other heart diseases!  How’s THAT for  getting your attention?  What, I don’t have your full attention yet?  OK,  then get this:  not only do calcium supplements have some rather unpleasant adverse side effects like minor constipation, increased risk of kidney stones and indigestion, a recent non  randomized study  done by JAMA’s Internal Medicine reported that over 11,000 deaths occurring in 2013 (data released in 2013) which were related to cardiovascular diseases were actually linked to increased and continued use of calcium supplements!  And, the research goes on with more and more data stacking up against getting that extra calcium from a supplement instead of nutritious food choices.

We still need to talk about how this calcium theft affects your oral health and changes or suggestions for changes that you need to consider in your diet and lifestyle to get the calcium required for all of those cellular functions that keep that biological engine we call your body running smoothly.  And to that end, I hope you’ll come back for the next segment to learn more about this important topic.

In the meantime, Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Are Osteoporosis and Gum Disease Related? Part 1

Welcome to all of our faithful readers and patients!  For those of you   who have become regular followers of this blog, you already know that we historically  begin these blog posts  with various questions which are designed to get your brain involved.  Our blog post today will follow that format…currently, the questions we want to ask  you pertain to osteoporosis.  Unless you live under a rock somewhere, and never watch any TV,  we will assume that you know there are probably millions of people world-wide suffering  from a disease called osteoporosis in one stage or another, some mild, some more severe.  Also, it is also likely that you’re potentially among those who suffer from this disease, and know how problematic it can be.  Today, our queries to you involve this disease.  Do you have osteoporosis or know someone who does?  Do you or someone you love have gum disease?  Are you aware that they could be related?   For those of you who answered yes to any of these questions,  I hope you stay with us in this article series while we talk about osteoporosis and gum disease and how they are related to each other. This will be a multi-part series to enable us ample time and space to give adequate discussion to this important topic.   Dr. Scharf is  a licensed Periodontist in Long Island and he wants to share some important health information with you today.

First, Let’s Get the Basics:  What is Osteoporosis?

Today, we’d like to begin by giving you a very simple definition of osteoporosis.  It is a much more complicated process but,  basically, it’s the result of a process that literally “mines” the calcium from our bones to make up for insufficient  calcium being available or when the quality of the calcium that is available in the body is not of adequate quality.   Please allow us to elaborate just a little  further by saying that each type of cell in the our bodies require calcium as one of its essential components for the various daily assigned functions within each body system.  Unfortunately, if you’re not consuming enough of the foods which contain calcium, then this essential mineral is not available for cellular use.  Because the cells MUST function in the way each of them was designed, when insufficient calcium is available in the body, the body “mines” the calcium from the only reliable source it has…the skeletal system (your bones)! The resulting condition is called osteopenia (early  or “pre”stage) or osteoporosis (more advanced stage) in which the calcium level in the bones is reduced, creating a condition involving reduced bone density, making fractures and breaks in the bones a significant risk.  This reduced bone density risk increases as we age and the elderly are at particular risk due to decreased calcium intake that seems to accompany aging.

Also Important is the SOURCE of Calcium

OK, so now that you “get” that you need to ensure your body gets enough calcium, did  you just make a decision to pick up a calcium supplement at the drugstore?  Wrong decision!   While this has been the recommendation of medical professionals for decades for people of both genders, especially women, to enable them to get sufficient calcium into their systems, recently released research doesn’t necessarily support taking calcium supplements for resolving the calcium insufficiency.  Interestingly, the reasons for their position, by making this statement, seem to hinge upon side effects  found  which apply to heart health.  In the next segment, we will discuss the research findings and the recommendations which result from those findings.

In the meantime, let us stress the importance of getting acquainted with a local dental professional  for each and every member of your family to identify and treat any existing gum disease or periodontal disease .   Dr. Scharf  wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help you identify and improve any oral hygiene as well as gum disease and periodontal disease issues which may exist.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.