Are Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 8

Hello again to all of our returning readers as well as to  our new readers and patients.  If you have been following this blog,  then you are likely aware that Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys providing easy to understand and informative articles about all things dental.  We do that with an article series writing method that educates our readers in smaller bites about complicated and involved health conditions.  As we promised last week, we are going  to conclude this particular subtopic on hiatal hernia with a discussion ways to decrease or control the symptoms of this sub-topic of GI problems and the relationship to gum disease.

In Our Past Installments

In our previous installments to this subtopic on hiatal hernia, we have talked about just exactly what a hiatal hernia is and how it develops.  We have discussed the “regurge” and what is going on when it occurs.  The damage that is being done to both the esophageal (throat) tissues as well as the oral tissues has been discussed as well.  Having discussed all of this, now it is time pass along some things you can do to help manage the condition.

A Few Lifestyle Changes May Help

Once your hiatal hernia develops, there is surgery to attempt eliminate it but that may not necessarily end all the symptoms. But, take heart, there are some lifestyle changes which may help to control the condition and reduce the symptoms and the damage they are causing.  

  • Elevate your head when sleeping – this step allows naturally occurring gravity to help keep the stomach acid from refluxing into your esophagus when you are sleeping or otherwise reclining
  • Eating smaller and more frequent meals will help ease the pressure in the stomach which helps to move the acid upwards into the esophagus
  • Avoid certain foods which are generally known to aggravate the condition.  For those of  you who have had a hiatal hernia for awhile,  you probably already know what foods can trigger  the symptoms.  But, for those newly diagnosed sufferers and for the possible further education of those longer-term sufferers, here are some of those foods which are recommended to be avoided:
    • Spicy foods
    • Greasy foods
    • Acidic foods like onions, tomatoes and citrus

Other Treatment Options

It is likely that, once you have been diagnosed with hiatal hernia, your medical doctor will give you some recommendations of his own for management of the symptoms.  If you watch TV, you already know there are a number of oral medications on the market these days which are advertised as heartburn control medications.  Some of these are still available by prescription only while others are now available as over-the-counter medications, and they work well to manage the symptoms to prevent or reduce the reflux and the discomforts and damage associated with it.  Your medical professional will provide guidance about which are most likely to provide the best relief for your particular situation.

In our next installment on GI problems and gum disease,  we will delve into another subtopic of interest to your health.  In the meantime, please don’t continue to put off that call for help.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  He can help to identify and treat any gum disease 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 Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 7

Hello again, to all of my returning readers as well as to my new readers and patients.  If you have been following this blog,  the you already know that Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island whose goal is to provide easy to understand and informative articles about all things dental.  We have been doing that via the method of article series writing  in an attempt to educate our readers in smaller bites about complicated and involved health conditions.  With that in mind, this current article series is covering many facets of GI issues and gum disease and the ways they are related.  Our segment today will continue this series on hiatal hernia or GERD with the discussion of what is going on in your mouth when that stomach acid escapes through your esophagus .  

First, Let’s Very Briefly Recap

In the past several weeks, our series segments have talked about what a hiatal hernia is and some of the damage that can occur when the escaped stomach acid gets into the esophagus tissues which were not designed for its abrasiveness.  Today, we are going to discuss the damage being done inside your mouth when that stomach acid infiltrates those sensitive tissues.

The Rates of GERD Patients Increasing

Here are some statistics from  2007:  For example, did you know that, in 2007, it was estimated that about 36% of American adults who were otherwise healthy  suffered from episodes of heartburn at least one time a month? Or, how about the fact that 7% actually suffer from heartburn on a daily basis? Or, that the risk of experiencing heartburn escalates after the age of 40 years? Or, that infants as well as children can also have GERD?  Those statistics are ten years old now and the numbers increase annually of both diagnosed as well as undiagnosed cases.  

Now, for the Real Oral Damage

 How does the damage occur?  The culprit is the regurgitation (the effortless return of esophageal or gastric contents into the pharynx) that occurs without nausea or retching which results in the acidic gastric contents getting into the throat and mouth.  This action causes a sour taste or burning in the mouth or throat and may even contain particles of undigested food. Though this is certainly unpleasant, the damage that is being done to those precious dental tissues is even more unpleasant.

Enter the Damage from Dental Enamel Erosion

Did you know that the enamel of your teeth is made up of approximately 97% (by weight) of a form a calcium phosphate which is generally insoluble?  It is the pH level in your mouth which keeps it insoluble.  However, if the oral pH level decreases, the solubility increases.  How does this happen, you ask?  When you consume fruit based drinks or carbonated drinks, the acidity levels in your mouth change…and this can happen when that stomach acid gets regurgitated up into your throat and mouth.  The higher acidity levels in the mouth will erode the enamel of your teeth, going deeply into those bony tissues, making them more prone to cavity damage, a less than desirable surface appearance of the teeth and decreased overall strength of the teeth.

As the dental enamel erosion continues, it will continue to breakdown your teeth, causing more than just a less brilliant smile to be sure!  Next time, we will finish up this sub-topic of hiatal hernia with a discussion of ways to decrease or control the symptoms of the condition.  Until then, please make that call!  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in that role, he can help to identify gum disease and periodontal disease, and yes even that dental enamel erosion.  He can provide treatment for every member of your family.  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 Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 6

For all of my returning readers, those new followers as well as my patients read regularly, I welcome you all back!  It is our hope that this blog series has helped gain new and important information about GI problems and gum disease and  how gum disease can have an effect on other areas and systems in your body.   As a brief review,  you may recall, we have been discussing  a very common GI issue called hiatal hernia.  The reason we have been focusing on this GI issue is because it is so common and  because it is one which most people seemingly blow off as being unimportant.  In the past couple of  installments of this series,  we devoted a good deal of time to educating you on what a hiatal hernia is as well as some contributing factors to its development.  Today, as promised in the last installment, our plan is to discuss the dangers that this condition can pose for you and your loved ones.  So, without further ado, let’s begin.

If You Have a Hiatal Hernia 

If you have a hiatal hernia, chances are that you may not even be aware of it.  For the hiatal hernia itself, there are usually no real “symptoms” to tell you that you have one.  The problems suffered with when one has a hiatal hernia stem from the GERD condition described in previous segments of this series.  When GERD is present it means that the esophagus is allowing stomach acid to get up into the throat area where it isn’t supposed to be, an action called “refluxing”.  It is when this stomach acid gets into the throat area that the burning and discomforts begin for the host.  

Now  the Problems Begin

For those of  you who suffer from the symptoms of GERD, you may or may not know that you most likely have a hiatal hernia.  But, you probably know that GERD can cause the heartburn, chest pain or burning that you’re likely suffering from.  But are you aware that the reflux of that stomach acid can also cause nervous responses which can cause a cough or a lung spasm similar to an asthma attack? And did you know that, if acid droplets are refluxed into the back of your throat, as happens in some patients,  those droplets can be inhaled or aspirated into the the lungs, leading to coughing spasms, asthma or repetitious lung infections which include pneumonia and bronchitis.  This danger is very real for people of all ages, from infancy to old age.

Have You Had Pain Similar to Heart Attack?

For some of those people who suffer from GERD and hiatal hernia symptoms, the pain they feel in their chest has been described as that which is commonly described as the crushing, can’t hardly get a breath kind of pain that I’m sure you’ve heard about that which one having a heart attack experiences.  And, because this pain is so similar, it is easy for many people to blow off the pain thinking it’s just heartburn when it could actually be a heart attack symptom when, in fact, it could be signalling some underlying cardiac or cardiovascular problems.  I’m sure you can see why getting this malady diagnosed is vital to decrease the danger of death or disablement by a heart attack versus simple heartburn.

Not the Only Dangers

There are other dangers related to untreated acid reflux due to hiatal hernia.  These dangers all stem from the inflammation from the presence of the stomach acid in an area not designed for their abrasiveness.  Over time, the inflammation caused by the acid reflux can cause:

  • Esophagitis – inflammation of the esophagus
  • Esophageal ulcers – ulcerated areas that develop on the esophagus from extended exposure to inflammation from the acid reflux
  • Bleeding and scarring of the esophagus – also emanating from the constant exposure to inflammation from the acid reflux
  • Cancer of the esophagus – yes, the constant exposure to inflammation can also cause cancer to develop here

I hope you can readily see that ignoring those heartburn and chest pain symptoms as well as ignoring the fact that you might have a hiatal hernia, could result in some very major health problems, some of which could be fatal.  Add to this with the fact that gum disease causes major inflammation in your mouth which travels to all parts of the body in the bloodstream, changing how various parts of it function, and  it adds up to a dangerous formula.  This dangerous formula does have a resolution, however… make that call and get established with a dental professional who can identify and treat the oral inflammation and infection as a step in the resolution direction.  Dr. Scharf  wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can function in that “ID and treat” role.  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.  You’ll be glad you did!


Are Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 5

Hello, again, returning readers!  We are so happy to have you return for this installment of this important dental and health topic of GI problems and gum disease.  For those of you who have been faithfully (or even not so faithfully) following  with this blog,  we don’t have to tell  you know two things about it:

  1. Our focus  has been on gum disease and how it can relate to general health problems
  2. And that Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who has a deep desire to educate and inform his readers and his patients on things which could rob them of an otherwise happy healthy and fruitful life.

With that being said, let’s get started on today’s article segment…

A Slight Change in Plans …

For those of you who are more regular followers of this blog, you know that our most recent topic within this blog series has been how GI problems can be linked to gum disease.  For today’s blog post, the initial plan was to have a discussion with you about what other health issues can stem from the relationship between GI problems, specifically hiatal hernia, and gum disease.

In the last installment, we provided some insight into  what a “hiatal hernia” is, in addition to,  the resulting development of a hiatal hernia, which allows stomach acid  to leak into areas of the throat and esophagus which were not designed for this abrasive and acidic substance.  At the end of the last installment, we stated that the plan for today’s blog post would be on the dangers of the development of a hiatal hernia.  In retrospect, it was felt that it would be more beneficial and educational to first go over what can cause the condition to develop.  By adding this information, it is our hope that  the foundation will be laid for the actual discussion of the dangers in our next installment.

That Being Said… Now for Some of the Causes of Hiatal Hernia

Let’s be clear …not every human being develops a hiatal hernia.  So why do some have them while others do not?  What causes a hiatal hernia to develop?  Our goal for today is to answer these questions.  While some of the below listed conditions, which are known to contribute to the development of hiatal hernia, are out of your control, some others are not.  Here are some of the more common causes of this GI problem:

  • As you age (an we all do), the esophageal sphincter begins to lose muscular tone, which increases its laxity – this is a part of the complex aging process over which you have no control
  • Also as you age, the muscle tone of the abdominal muscles also decreases and this increases their laxity – then, any increased intra-abdominal pressure can help a hiatal hernia to develop – examples of things which increase intra-abdominal pressures are  obesity or even pregnancy
  • Frequent bouts of vomiting and/or constipation coupled with the straining needed to pass a bowel movement and to eliminate the vomit are other contributors to development – the straining involved in these situations increase the intra-abdominal pressure  and can weaken the phrenoesophageal membrane (the thin tissue which seals the opening through which the esophagus passes through the diaphragm to allow food to pass into the stomach)
  • Ascites – this is an abnormally increased amount of fluid which has collected in the abdomen, usually a result of liver disease or failure – this also increases the intra-abdominal pressures to help push the stomach up into the esophagus, creating the hiatal hernia.

So, Really … Next Time the Dangers

Now that you are aware of some of the causes of the muscular laxity of the esophageal sphincter, you have a better basis for the discussion which we will have next time on why this condition can be dangerous for you and those you love.  Until then, please don’t put off that vital phone to schedule your first visit (or ongoing care) for a dental evaluation.  Dr. Scharf  wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any stage of development in any member of your family.  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 Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 4

Hello again to my returning readers!   It is our hope that you are  learning more about GI problems and gum disease  as well as enjoying reading this article series.  Today, our plan is to  continue with another installment in this article series with a discussion of a new subtopic,   the GI problem called Hiatal Hernia.  So, if you’ll follow along with me, we’ll begin!

First, Let’s Explain the Hiatal Hernia

For me,  the best way to begin this subtopic, or any topic for that matter,  is to get a better idea  of just exactly what a  “hiatal hernia” is.  This physical “beast” is a condition that dominates  so much of media advertising today, promoting ways to control the discomfort of the condition but providing little in the way of description of what they want you to treat.  So, today, we’re going to remedy that situation with a fairly simple discussion about  hiatal hernia, what it is and what it does in your body.  Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a part of the stomach pushes up through a small opening in the esophagus called the hiatus.  To understand the “hernia” part, let’s stop here and explain that whenever an internal body part thrusts itself into an area in which it does not belong, it is called a “hernia”.  Hence, the term “hiatal hernia” means that a part of the stomach has forced itself up through the hiatus opening in the esophagus, creating the “hernia”.

Now For What It Does

Again, to help you understand what is happening, let me share that the “hiatus” is a small opening in the esophagus which allows the food coming down the throat to enter the stomach as part of the digestive process.  When food travels down through the food pipe (throat) and enters the esophagus tube, there is a sphincter muscle which goes around the esophagus which relaxes to open, allowing the food to pass into the stomach through the hiatus opening.  This activity is accomplished by a mechanism in which the stomach moves up to meet the esophagus for the exchange of food for digestion.  The normal healthy sphincter muscle around the esophagus hiatus opening then closes or constricts, squeezing the stomach back down to its normal position. Hiatal hernia condition occurs when the stomach gets lodged into the hiatus opening and doesn’t return to its normal position — generally this is a direct result of the laxity of the sphincter muscle reducing its ability to squeeze the stomach back into its intended home in the body.  This allows the contents of the stomach, which includes the acid required for digestion, to escape upwards into the esophagus where it was never designed to go.

So, now that you know what a hiatal hernia is, don’t you feel smarter?  Next, you’ll need to know why it is so dangerous for various parts of your body, and that will be our focus for the next installment of this subtopic. So be sure to tune in again next week for …”the rest of the story”…  In the meantime, Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify gum disease as well as the more severe periodontal disease in any member of your family.  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 Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 3

Hello again!  For those of you who are among my returning readers and who have been following this article series,  you know that we have been discussing gum disease and GI disease and the last installment was specific to the condition called GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease).  If you are a follower of this blog site,  you also know that Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who strives to make available instructional information to my readers as well as my patients.  As promised last time, today it is my plan to discuss various issues which can cause the GERD condition to develop.

First, Let’s  Briefly Review

As you may recall from past installments of this series, GERD (a.k.a. Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disease) is caused by the laxity or loss of muscle tone in the lower esophageal sphincter.   As a result of this laxity , the sphincter becomes “floppy”, not fully closing and allowing the digestive acid produced in the stomach to get up into the esophagus to cause the burning discomfort associated with GERD.

Is This This Laxity Normal?

The quick answer is NO!  And here is why it is not normal.  While the deterioration of the muscle tone in the lower esophageal sphincter is not a  normal stage in the digestive process as designed by the Creator — it is pretty common, though generally acquired.  This means that it develops as a result of things we choose to do.  Here are some known contributors to your GERD symptoms:

  • Certain lifestyle activities – these activities include alcohol or cigarette use, obesity and poor posture (this refers to that slouching that your mom used to bring to your attention in your younger years)
  • Certain types of medications – these categories of medications include:
    • calcium channel blockers
    • beta blockers, theophylline (i.e. Tedrol, Hydrophed, Marax, Quibron)
    • nitrates
    • Antihistamines
  • Dietary behaviors – this includes consumption:
    • fried and fatty foods
    • chocolate, garlic and onions
    • caffeinated drinks
    • acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes
    • spicy foods
    • Mint flavorings
  • Certain eating habits – this includes eating large meals in general and/or eating just be going to bed
  • Other medical conditions and diseases – this can include hiatal hernia, pregnancy, diabetes and any rapid weight gain (and any condition which causes rapid weight gain)

Now … a Homework Assignment …

Yes, I said “homework” assignment!  We have just listed some external behaviors and activities are known to  contribute to GERD symptoms and discomforts.  We feel it is vital for you to understand that it isn’t just the discomfort which isn’t in your best interests, as that stomach acid is damaging other very important tissues and structures as it travels and frequently occupies spaces which were not designed for it.  It is our plan for the next installment in this series  to talk about the condition known as “hiatal hernia” since it is also very common, especially among those who have celebrated over 50 birthdays.  In the meantime, your “homework” assignment is to take note of how many of the above contributors are part of your life.  See how many of them you can change or eliminate, or how many you are willing to change or eliminate, for improved oral and overall general health.  Your second recommendation is to establish and maintain a regular routine regimen with a dental professional.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help you achieve this goal with evaluations and treatments for every member of your family.  Call him 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 Your GI Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 2

Welcome back, returning readers!   For those of you who have been following this blog site, then I don’t have to tell you about the articles that we post on a regular basis.  You already know that those articles are aimed at educating you with information, which may be unknown to you,  about various health conditions and any risks you and those you love may face for those various health conditions.  Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who chooses to educate not only his patients but also the reading public in this vane.  As you may recall, last week, we began a new blog series on the effects of gum and periodontal disease  on your gastrointestinal system and, today, we will enlarge upon that topic while we continue with part 2, which is specifically aimed at educating you about he damage done to the oral tissues when a GERD condition exists.  So,  if you’ll follow along with me, we’ll get started !

First, Let’s Review 

As you may recall, last week, we talked about GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) and discussed some of the effects which this condition can potentially have on your oral health.  We discussed how the acids from the stomach get into the oral cavity as a result of the laxity of the esophagus, which allows a “regurge” of stomach acid to move up the throat into an area of the body the Creator did not design for it to occupy.  Today, as promised last week, we will  talk about some of the damage that occurs with this upward movement.

A Flaw in the Design

Did you know that there is ongoing research into the possible relationship between GERD and chronic periodontitis, especially in adults? Well, it’s true and that research is strongly suggesting  that decreased salivation is at least one part of the problem .   A very brief anatomy lesson reveals that, under normal circumstances, the salivary system produces a mixed formulation of saliva which forms a protective coating layer over the oral mucosa and other oral tissue types.  This coating of mixed saliva offers a diffuse barrier of protection for those oral tissues, protecting them from any potential mechanical, thermal, chemical and microbial damage as well as providing internal antacid protection for those same oral tissues.  The research data has found decreased amounts of this mixed saliva in GERD patients who suffer from chronic periodontitis.  The original design of the salivary system  allows for the activation of the salivary system to produce this mixed saliva when it is stimulated by the presence of esophageal reflux of stomach acid.  However, this process is somehow interrupted in patients with GERD and the quantity of mixed saliva is decreased, providing less protection for those precious oral tissues.  

The Next Part Isn’t Pretty

This is what happens in a healthy mouth:  when the stomach acid reflux gets into the oral cavity, normally, that mixed saliva would be stimulated to provide sufficient saliva to coat the oral tissues and thus provide a measure of protection against the corrosive action of the acid reflux as it interacts with those oral tissues.  However, if the salivary system isn’t producing enough of the mixed saliva to allow an ample coating and barrier of protection, the corrosive acid reflux will literally eat away at that precious oral tissue.  And, don’t be deceived, the bony structures of the mouth which provide support for the teeth aren’t immune to this damage!  The destruction caused by the chronic presence of acid reflux results in inflammation and leads to the gradual erosion of all types of tissues which will not regenerate.  

And, the Cycle Repeats and Repeats…

As the inflammation continues its cycle, it progresses more deeply  into the underlying support structures and vascular system,  allowing infection and bacteria to get into the bloodstream where it is transported throughout the body.  Your result is swollen, pink, bleeding gums, pocketing alongside the teeth which harbor even more infection and inflammation and eventual bone and tooth loss.  Oh, and did we mention that all of that nasty bacteria gets transported EVERYWHERE in your body?  What that means to you and those you love is, quite simply,  EVERY organ and EVERY tissue type in your body gets the privilege of having the potential for development of infection and continued cycles of inflammation from the process that began in your mouth.

While this has not painted a pretty picture for you and your loved ones,  it has painted an accurate one. Next time, we will expand a bit more on GERD and talk about some of the things which can cause it to develop. In the meantime, it is vital for the long term health of you and those you love to establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with a dental professional who can help.  Dr. Scarf  wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and he can help to identify gum disease in any stage of development in each and every member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are Your G I Issues Related to Gum Disease? Part 1

Hello, to our returning readers!  It is our hope that  you’ve enjoyed learning new and interesting facts about your health as you have read the posts on this blog .  Dr. Scharf  is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island  who has, as  one of his goals,  the desire to help his readers, as well as his patients, understand the effects of gum disease and periodontal disease can have  on various seemingly unrelated health conditions.  Today,  our plan is to begin an article series on G I problems, giving you information on connections those gastrointestinal problems may have with oral health and vice-versa.  Today, our specific topic of discussion is called GERD,  one of the more commonly experienced G I problems.

What “GERD” Means

In an attempt to assure that we’re all on the same page and for those of you who may not have heard the term “GERD” previously, we will offer an explanation: the term “GERD” is an acronym for “Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disease”.  This term might be better understood by the more familiar term  “heartburn”.   The condition called GERD is quite simply defined as a condition of the esophagus which allows stomach acid to escape into the throat area, causing the uncomfortable andpainful burning sensation which most people call heartburn or indigestion. This condition is not only painful and uncomfortable for the patient, as it burns along its path, it allows the stomach acid to come into contact with tissues which were not designed for this contact.  And, just as the stomach acid is quite effective in breaking down foods in your stomach for processing by the digestive system, it is also just as effective at damaging or destroying sensitive tissues with which it was never designed to have contact!

Are You Wondering How This Damage Happens?

OK, since many health conditions and medical terms can be quite complicated, we will keep this discussion very basic.  Here is how the whole process works:

  • The food you eat gets chewed, swallowed and then goes down your throat to the esophagus. In a healthy patient, this is where a special valve opens and closes to allow the bolus of food you just swallowed to pass through into the stomach for further digestive processing
  • Once it gets into the stomach, the next step in the digestive process involves stomach acid, enzymes and duodenal bile to further break down the food you have just eaten
  • From this point, the food is further digested and is pushed along through the rest of the gastrointestinal tract for eventual elimination from the body

That is how it works in the healthy person!  The problem happens when that special valve in your esophagus gets floppy and doesn’t work as intended, allowing partially digested, now acid-laden liquid food to come back up throat through the valve, escaping into the esophagus where is doesn’t belong!  And, this is where the damage really begins….

Next time

In our next installment, we’re going to talk about that damage…to both throat tissues and oral tissues…and what it can mean to you and your health.  Until next time,  don’t put off getting established and maintaining a regular dental check up routine with a dental professional.  This is so very important for you and those you love.   Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any stage of development in you and your family members.  Call Dr. Scharf 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 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.