How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 4

Greetings, returning readers and those of you who are new readers!  We’re so happy you chose to join us today for the next sub-topic in our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you’re already very well aware that Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist  who likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health as they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  And so, we welcome new readers to join us as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s started on sub-topic of how to avoid periodontal disease and the complications it has for your unborn child.

Infection in the Gums – What It Is

As we have already shared, you know that gum disease is an infection which has taken up residency in your gums, festered and grown within your gums, has gotten into the bloodstream and then transported throughout your body and, ultimately for those who are pregnant, throughout the body of your unborn baby.  This infection didn’t happen overnight but has, instead, taken a period of time to develop into something that needs to be treated as soon as possible.  

How Did It Begin?

It began as seemingly harmless bacteria which found its way into your mouth by a variety of routes (eating, drinking, old nasty toothbrushes, insertion of foreign objects, etc.), and, once in this warm, moist and perfect environment, has found a niche in which to nest, grow and replicate. The replication of the bacterial inhabitants signals your immune system that something foreign is present and kicks it into gear.  The immune system’s response to this “invader” is inflammation and it is designed to aid in healing or eradicating the “invader”.  

How Does It Progress?

Since the “invader” has hidden itself in the hundreds of tiny cracks and crevices in your mouth, your normal toothbrushing can’t get at it to remove the irritants that are causing the inflammatory response.  Some of these cracks and crevices are not even very reachable with your normal flossing techniques, making it even harder for those with even the best of oral hygiene practices to eliminate all of them.  A dental hygienist has some interesting tools of the trade which, when used appropriately, can more successfully get at these hidden irritants and remove them.  This is what is happening when you have your teeth “cleaned” professionally.

Then Where’s the Problem?

By this time, I can imagine you’re wondering why there is a problem.  The problem occurs when you don’t get regular checkups and dental cleanings so the irritants and infection can’t be removed and treated.  Once the infection develops to a certain stage, it gets into the very vascular network that inhabits your oral tissues, into the bloodstream, and that same infection is transported to all parts of your body (and your baby’s if you’re pregnant) and wreaks havoc in every major organ and tissue type it touches.

Your dental professional can treat the gum disease quite successfully, whether it’s gingivitis (the earliest stage of the disease) or whether it’s severe periodontitis, though the more severe the case, the harder and longer it takes to get under control.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, and he can provide the treatment you need.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 3

Greetings to our returning readers as well as to those of you who are new readers!  We’re so glad that you chose to join us today for the next sub-topic in our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health as they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  We welcome those of you who are new readers and encourage you to follow along with the subsequent segments as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s started on sub-topic of low birth weight.

Risks of Low Birth Weight

What are the health risks to having a baby with a low birth rate?  Studies are showing that mothers with active gum disease are apt to deliver babies earlier than full term or to deliver babies that have a low birth rate than mothers who have healthy gums.  Per the findings of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, babies who are born weighing less than 5.5 pounds are predisposed to higher risks of long-term health problems like delayed motor skill development, delayed social growth and learning disabilities.  These same potential health risks are present for babies delivered pre-term, at least 3 weeks (less than 37 weeks gestation) earlier than term.  Additionally, pre-term birth problems can include respiratory problems, vision and / or hearing loss, and feeding / digestive problems.

How Does This Happen?

Basically, gum disease is defined as an inflammatory reaction within the oral tissues which, if left untreated, progresses to an infection state.  During pregnancy, the bacteria at the root of this infection, due to the higher hormonal levels that are present during pregnancy, are allowed entry into the blood vessels which have become more permeable.  The bacterial infection then travels at breakneck speed through the body in the bloodstream, into every tissue type, organ and system in its path.  That same bloodstream flows through the umbilical cord and the tissue which surrounds your baby in the womb, allowing that bacteria the opportunity to wreak havoc in your helpless unborn child.  This process affects how your baby develops in the womb as well as when birth occurs and the risks mentioned above could affect your child for a lifetime.

What Can You Do To Prevent This?

This is a serious situation for the life within you who has no choices or options of protecting itself.  It is your responsibility, as the mother and protector of your child, to take steps to get yourself healthy and maintain that improved health throughout the term of your pregnancy…all for the sake of that helpless unborn child.  Gum disease is a condition which affects a large percentage of people and it is one which can be treated and managed successfully.  That being said, your first step should be to establish with a dental professional who can help.  Dr. Scharf wants to be  your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in you and other members of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 2

Greetings to our returning readers and to those of you who are new readers!  We’re so happy that you joined us today for the next segment on our newest article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  For those of you who have been following this blog for any period of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health because they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  We welcome those of you who are new readers and encourage you to follow along with the subsequent segments as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something new or be able relate some old information to pregnancy.  So, if you’ll follow along, we’ll get today’s segment started.

A Brief Review

As you may recall from part 1, our previous segment, we started with the basics of what periodontal and gum diseases are, explaining that they are rooted in bacterial induced inflammation which, when left untreated, can eat away at all of the oral tissues, especially those bony structures which support your teeth.  We mentioned that not all bacteria is bad, stressing that the body needs good bacteria function properly.  We explained some of the consequences of the bad bacterial growth that remains unchecked and listed some major diseases and health conditions which can result from this unchecked bad bacteria.  We also mentioned two specific conditions which have a direct impact on pregnancy and the health of the onboard baby…low birth weight and preterm births.  Today, our topic of discussion in this series is pre-term birth.

What Is Meant By “Pre-term” Birth?  

Just to assure that we’re all on the same page, let me briefly define this term.  It is basically a delivery which occurs earlier than 37 weeks of gestation.  Pre-term births, also referred to as premature births, continue to increase each year, compromising the health of the newborn as well as the mother.  Your baby needs 37 weeks of gestation to ensure that all systems, organs and tissue types have ample opportunity for development and growth so they’re able to safely support the vital functions of your infant after birth.  Any birth which occurs prior to 37 weeks of gestation decreases or interferes with the body’s normal development process of your onboard infant, increasing the health risks both immediately after birth and potentially for life of your child.  

What Causes Pre-term Birth?

The bacterial occupation in the oral tissues that we talked about in part 1 occurs in most of us.  The problem exists when that bacterial infection gets mixed up with hormonal swings that accompany the various stages of pregnancy.  The increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which is circulating in the bloodstream, has an effect on the periodontal system and the maternal immune system which work together to promote inflammation.  Studies are showing that this periodontal infection can lead to placental issues and subsequent fetal issues, causing an early delivery, potentially before some vital systems are completely developed. Additionally, animal studies strongly suggest that there is a link between maternal periodontal infection and adverse effects on the infant’s long term development after birth.

In our next segment, we will discuss low birth weight and its relationship to pregnancy and periodontal disease.  In the meantime, it is vital for everyone to establish with a dental professional who can provide ongoing, routine dental care…especially if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in every member of your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease? Part 1

Hello to all of our returning readers and also to those of you who are new readers!  We are happy that you joined us today because we are beginning a new article series on the topic of pregnancy and periodontal disease.  If you have been following this blog for any period of time, then you’re well aware that Dr. Scharf likes to educate his readers and patients in areas of general health because they are related to oral health, his realm of expertise.  We welcome new readers and encourage you to follow along with the subsequent segments as we take this topic in small bite sized pieces in the hope that you will learn something previously unknown to you or relate something that you had not previously realized to the health condition of pregnancy.  So, let’s get started, shall we?

The Basics

First, we’d like to make sure everyone is on the same page in regard to what we know about gum disease and periodontal disease.  It only makes sense that, before you can take the steps to prevent something, you should know what it is that you’re preventing…right?  Anyway, it makes sense to me and so we’ll talk briefly about what periodontal or gum disease really is and a little bit about why you want to avoid it in regard to your general health.

Gum Disease:  What It Is

Gum disease is quite simply an infection in the oral tissues which lie beneath the gum line.  The particles and residue which are left in your mouth after eating and drinking can cause a bacterial infection.  These particles get into the spaces between your teeth and hide in all of the nooks and crannies in your mouth, and what doesn’t get food particle deposits seems to get coated by  the residue from the food and beverages you consume.  Both the food particle deposits and the residue coatings create an environment for bacteria to grow. As they grow and develop, gum disease begins as gingivitis, a condition characterized by the dreaded “pink toothbrush”, swollen and red gums which bleed easily when brushed.  This is treatable but, if not properly and timely treated, gingivitis can progress to the more serious periodontal disease stage.

The Importance of Good Bacteria

There is bacteria everywhere in the human body, some of it good bacteria and some of it not so good.  The body needs the good bacteria to perform many of the Designer’s planned functions, making it necessary to preserve some types but not others.  It is when the bacteria that isn’t good for you gets a foothold in any place in the body that problems ensue, and such is the case in the oral tissues.  Bad bacteria can come into the body through many mechanisms:  food, beverages, toothbrushes … you can introduce them into your mouth virtually from anything that you put into your mouth!  

The Consequences of Bad Bacteria

Once they are in your mouth, the bad bacteria can inhabit all of the food particles in those nooks and crannies we just mentioned and the residue that literally coats everything in the mouth.  The oral cavity is a great incubator for the growth and development of all types of bacteria — good and bad — and this natural incubator only does what it was designed to do.  The bad guys grow and develop into inflammation which will lead to active infections which will lead to some nasty guys getting transported to all parts of your body, all tissue types and even major organs via that internal superhighway we call the bloodstream.  

The Health Consequences

The health consequences of these bad guys traveling throughout your body are things like heart disease, cardiovascular diseases of all types, kidney problems, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and the list goes on and on.  And, this is the most important thing … if you’re pregnant, that same superhighway runs through your onboard baby and those bad guys don’t really care how helpless your baby is.  You can experience low birth weight and pre-term births … both of which have health implications to your baby.  

We will be discussing them in our next segment.  In the meantime, the most important thing that you can do to protect your overall general health and, for those of you who are pregnant or plan to be, the future health of your baby, is to get established with a dental professional and keep up with those vitally important dental cleanings and checkups.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in that role, he can help to identify gum disease in any stage of development and treat it.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

 

Are You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 7

Welcome back to those of you who are returning readers as well as those of you who are new readers to this blog. Dr. Scharf enjoys educating and updating his readers and patients about all things dental and, if you have been following this blog for any period of time, you are well aware of this fact. But, for those of you who are new to this blog, I hope you’ll allow me the opportunity introduce Dr. Scharf. He is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys educating his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to their overall general health. With that intention in mind, we have been involved in an article series dealing with the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. Some things we have discussed in the earlier segments of this series have been what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” or ignored, but instead should be taken seriously; what diabetes is in an attempt to help you understand why it should be taken seriously; and, the types of periodontal disease. Today, we will conclude this article series by discussing some suggestions which can help you reduce your potential for the development of both periodontal and gum disease as well as diabetes.

Prevention

The things that you can do to prevent diabetes and periodontal disease can work together to keep you safer from the evils that lurk within. There are some lifestyle changes, which, if you can modify in your life, will help prevent or reduce the development of these conditions if you are currently healthy.

  • Smoking: I’m sure you expected this one to be at the top (or very near the top) of the list. Risking redundancy, let me assure you that this is no intentional active vendetta against the tobacco industry but, rather, is a recommendation that has been consistently supported in research for decades! Research has repeatedly shown that not only does smoking have some devastating effects on your heart as well as increasing the risks for heart disease and cancer, it has also been markedly shown that smokers have about five times the increased risk of gum disease development than do non-smokers. And, if you’re a diabetic and a smoker, your risk increases to about twenty times, especially for those over 45 years of age.
  • Teeth Brushing and Flossing: This is an easy one and it’s not expensive either in time or money. The American Dental Association recommends brushing and flossing your teeth at least two times a day. If you’re in a life situation which allows you to brush and floss after every meal, then that’s even better for you. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps to remove films and residues which collect on your teeth surfaces and hide between them, eventually causing the development of plaque, and the development of bacterial colonies within that plaque, which can lead to the destructive mechanisms which will rob you of your oral health as well as eventually your overall general health.
  • Decrease sugary and starchy foods: This recommendation will help in several ways. First, it will reduce the sugary and starchy films and substances which can coat your teeth and gums, leading to that plaque we talked about above. Secondly, it will help to keep your body’s reaction to the glucose that comes from the digestion of these foods, causing chain reactions which will eventually lead to insulin resistance and/or a full blown diagnosis of diabetes. As an added advantage…you’ll be better able to control your weight which is another contributor to diabetes, heart disease and periodontal disease.
  • Regular dental exams and cleaning: You knew this one was coming, right? Yep! This is a biggie for avoiding both gum diseases in its various stages of severity and it can help you dodge the diabetic diagnosis, too. All of the best and most careful and meticulous oral cleaning regimens which are done at home on a daily basis cannot fully protect you from gum and periodontal disease. You need to be routinely examined by a dental professional who can x-ray and deep clean those pearly whites, getting into the areas where you cannot, to keep your oral tissues healthy.

Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island. In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any of its various stages of development for your whole family. It is vital to establish with a dental professional who can help. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at https://drscharf.com 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 You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 6

Welcome, returning readers and new readers!.   If you have been following this blog for awhile, then you are aware that Dr. Scharf enjoys educating and updating his readers and patients about all things dental.  However, if you’re new to this blog, then please let me  introduce you to Dr. Scharf.  He is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys educating his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to their overall general health.  With that intention in mind,  we have been involved in an article series dealing with the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.  In the earlier segments of this series, we discussed what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” or ignored, but instead should be taken seriously.  In our past segments, we had a discussion of what diabetes is in an attempt to help you understand why it should be taken seriously.  In the last segment, we talked about  the types of periodontal disease. Today, we will go into how the infection caused by the bacterial invasion of your oral tissues affects your overall general health.  Please follow me down this road of understanding how your body works.

Not Just for Diabetics

First of all, let’s establish that periodontal disease is NOT just a disease which affects those with various stages of diabetes!  This is an important issue to understand because, if you have a mouth and oral tissues (teeth, dentures, gums, jaw bone, etc), then you are also at risk for development of periodontal disease (a.k.a. gum disease) and the health complications about which we will be discussing today.  While the medical research community has established a definite link or correlation between diabetes and periodontal disease which basically is based upon the fact that poor blood sugar control puts diabetics at increased risk, they aren’t the only ones at risk.  Having clarified that issue, now we will move on to our discussion for today.

It’s All In Vein

The biological effects of poor dental health are purely vascular — it’s all in the veins (and arteries, capillaries etc)!  What does this mean?  Well, basically, what is happening inside your mouth when oral hygiene isn’t adequate creates a situation which is spread throughout your system via your bloodstream.  Here is a simple description of what’s going on inside your mouth:

  • In the normal process of life, you eat and drink to consume food and beverages from which your body derives fuel and nutrients to power the various parts of the body, every tissue type and every cell in the human body.  This is accomplished by the chewing and swallowing mechanisms which have been designed into your body by the Creator.  
  • As you chew your food (and drink your beverages), particulate matter and residues from the food and beverages coat your teeth and gums.  One of the jobs assigned to the saliva is to wash this debris and residue away, down the throat and into the stomach for further digestion.  Unfortunately not all of the debris gets washed away by the saliva and your subsequent teeth brushings.  Instead, this debris nestles comfortably into the nooks and crannies in the teeth and gums and takes up residence in an environment that is ripe for bacterial development and growth.
  • If the debris is not adequately removed, the bacteria continues to grow and fester, diving deeper under the gum line where is can grow exponentially, attacking the soft connective tissue and the bone which support the teeth.  Wearing away of these tissues can eventually cause the teeth to loosen and fall out, leaving you with fewer teeth with which to chew your food.  
  • The unchewed, or inadequately chewed, food goes into your stomach and through the digestive system in a less digested form, for which the system was not designed, and can cause multiple types of digestive issues and diseases.

What happens in the bloodstream?

Well, all of that bacterial action that is taking place in the mouth will eventually get into that super highway which courses throughout our bodies — a.k.a the bloodstream.  The bacteria travels at great speed through every blood vessel to every tissue type, every major organ and into every cell in the body, leaving a trail of inflammation and infection in its wake.  The bacteria then takes up residence and continues to grow, causing more and more inflammation and more and more infection wherever it goes.  Some of that inflammation presents in our bodies as arthritis, blood vessel changes in every part of the body (and there are few places in the body where there are no blood vessels), causing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems, circulatory issues and even eye problems.  

Why Is It Different In Diabetics?

The major difference in diabetics lies in the blood sugar control or lack thereof.  It seems that studies show that when blood sugars are well-controlled, the rate of periodontal disease development in diabetics is quite similar to the periodontal disease development of those who are not diabetic.  And, inversely, when blood sugar is not well-controlled, the rate of periodontal disease development increases along with the loss of teeth and bone.  This hastens the progression of the diabetes and vascular concerns which increases the inflammation and the cycle continues.

Next time, in the final segment of this article series, we will discuss some things that you can do to reduce or eliminate your risks of developing periodontal disease and even some things you can do to control your blood sugars, whether you’ve been diagnosed with the disease or not.  In the meantime, please don’t wait any longer to call Dr. Scharf.  He 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 other family members.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 5

Welcome back, my returning readers and to my new readers as well.  For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf enjoys educating and updating his readers and patients about all things dental. If you’re new to this blog, then I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Scharf.  He is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who enjoys educating his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to their overall general health.  With that intention in mind,  we recently began an article series on the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.  In the earlier segments of this series, we discussed what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” or ignored, but instead should be taken seriously.  In our past segments, we had a discussion of what diabetes is in an attempt to help you understand why it should be taken seriously.  Also, in the last segment, we talked about what periodontal disease is and how it develops.  This week, we are going to talk about the types of periodontal disease.

Gingivitis: Pink Toothbrush

The earliest form of gum disease is called gingivitis and it is characterized by the “pink toothbrush”.  The pink toothbrush is most likely the first thing you’ll notice when you have gingivitis.  The “pink” color on your toothbrush is the result of your gums bleeding onto it when you brush.  Another sign of gingivitis is red, swollen and puffy gums, which bleed easily when you brush or floss. This cause of this early type of gum disease is predominantly inadequate oral hygiene.  This early type of gum disease is quite treatable as well as quite maintainable with proper dental intervention in the office and improved oral hygiene at home.  

Periodontitis: The Devil in the Depths

For anyone who is diagnosed with periodontitis, be assured that it started as gingivitis.  As suggested by this statement, if gingivitis remains untreated, it will definitely progress to the more serious stage which I have called “The Devil in the Depths”.  This “devil” is the bacterial interaction and infection which, because the gingivitis has been left untreated, has traveled below the gum line, more deeply than the gingivitis has gone.  The “depths” includes all of the tissue types (soft gum and connective tissue and bone tissue as well) which lies deep below the gum line.  This area contains the tissue types which are responsible for the strength and stability of your teeth, the biting and chewing teeth alike. As the bacteria continues to grow and infection rages, it eats away at the stabilizing tissue, compromising the integrity of your teeth and, ultimately, the health of every organ and tissue type in every area of your body.

Other Causes and Possible Factors for Development

I mentioned earlier that the predominant cause for gum disease development is inadequate oral hygiene, but I must point out that this is not the only cause of it.  You may have very good oral hygiene habits while still developing gum disease and may be wondering why this is so.  Some of the other factors which may be coming into play are: smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, aging, genetic predisposition, systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infections and certain medications.  Please don’t take offense at the “inadequate oral hygiene” statement if your dental professional is happy with your oral hygiene regimen at home.  We want you to be aware that, while you may be keeping your mouth quite clean, there could be underlying causes which could be conflicting with your attempts to keep a healthy mouth.

Next time, we will go into how the infection caused by the bacterial invasion of your oral tissues affects your overall general health.  Today, your most important takeaway from this segment in this article series is that you need to have an ongoing relationship with a dental professional who can identify and treat the gum disease which is present and follow the condition of your oral tissues regularly.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and, in the role, he can help to identify, treat and monitor the condition of the oral tissues in you and your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Are You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 4

Welcome back to all of my returning readers as well as to those who are new readers.  For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf enjoys educating and updating his readers and patients about all things dental. If you’re new to this blog, then allow me to introduce you to Dr. Scharf, who is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who desires to educate his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to their overall general health.  With that intention in mind,  we recently began an article series on the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.  In the earlier segments of this series, we discussed what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” or ignored, but instead should be taken seriously.  In our past segments, we had a discussion of what diabetes is in an attempt to help you understand why it should be taken seriously.  Also, in the last segment, we talked about two of the four types of diabetes which are, perhaps, less publicised, specifically gestational diabetes and prediabetes.  As promised in our last segment, today we will discuss periodontal disease and how it can influence your overall health situation.  So, let’s get started, shall we?

What Is Periodontal Disease?

You may or may not hear this term frequently, but it is an important one for all of us, regardless of age or health status.  Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is quite simply a term used to describe a chronic state of inflammation of your gums which is characterized by destroying the structures which support your teeth.  Severe cases of periodontitis is said to affect 10% to 15% of the adult population and the numbers grow each year, with some statistics showing that over 3 million cases are treated each year.  

The Stages

Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease.  Gingivitis causes the gums to be red, swollen and to bleed easily.  The cause of gingivitis is frequently caused by inadequate oral hygiene.  Gingivitis also has some other potential causative factors, which include:  smoking, diabetes, aging, genetic predisposition, a variety of systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection and the use of certain medications.

It’s Treatable

This mildest stage of periodontitis is totally treatable and can be reversed with timely and appropriate treatment.  The gingivitis can be prevented for re-occurring by learning and adhering to strict oral hygiene methods at home and regular and routine dental cleanings and examinations.  Without proper identification and treatment, gingivitis can advance to the next and more serious stage — periodontitis.

Periodontitis

The condition of periodontitis happens when the untreated gingivitis causes plaque development, which travels below the gum line, irritating the gums with the bacteria contained in the plaque.  Toxins in this bacteria begins the chain reaction of inflammation which eventually leads to destruction of supporting tissue and tooth loss over time.

Next time, we’re going to talk about the types of periodontitis and how they influence your health.  Until then, please get established with a dental professional if you don’t already have one.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, and in the role, he call help to identify and treat gum disease in any stage of development in your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

 

Are You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 3

Welcome back to all of my returning readers as well as to those who are new readers.  If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you already know that Dr. Scharf enjoys teaching and updating his readers and patients about all things dental. For those of you new to this blog, allow me to introduce you to Dr. Scharf, who is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who desires to educate his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to overall general health.  With that intention in mind,  we recently began an article series on the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.  In the earlier segments of this series, we discussed what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” but instead should be taken seriously.  In our last segment, we continued the topic with a discussion of what diabetes is in an attempt to help you understand why it should be taken seriously.  Also, in the last segment, we talked about two of the four types of diabetes Diabetes 1 and Diabetes 2, and today, our intention is to talk briefly about the other two, less publicised types of diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes. So, away we go!

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type which, just as the name suggests, develops during gestation or pregnancy.  This type of diabetes can occur during any pregnancy in any female and it basically affects the way the mother’s cells use sugar or glucose.  It can affect both the pregnancy itself as well as the health of the baby.  But, the good news is that, generally speaking, blood sugar levels return to pre-pregnancy levels fairly quickly after the birth of the baby.  It does, however,  provide a warning sign of the increased potential of the mother to develop type 2 diabetes in the future.  There are steps which can be taken to adjust the dietary and exercise habits during the pregnancy to help control the blood sugars and extra care should be taken to continue to apply appropriate eating and exercise habits lifelong to avoid the development of type 2 diabetes later in life.

Prediabetes

This type of diabetes is arguably a “pre” state as opposed to “full fledged” stage of the disease.  But make no mistake, this is a step toward the full fledged disease and needs to be taken quite seriously.  Just because your hemoglobin A1c (the blood test which reveals the stability of the blood sugar over about a 3-month period of time) remains below the current “official” threshold of  being actually being diagnosed with diabetes, doesn’t mean that you’re safe!  This prediabetic stage should be viewed as a warning sign that things inside your body aren’t working correctly and changes need to be made immediately.  This prediabetic stage can be very short-lived (weeks or months) or it can exist for years — it all depends on what steps are taken to get control over the blood sugar situation and how faithfully those steps are followed.  It all depends on how seriously the host takes the diagnosed health situation.  It is for this reason that many medical practitioners will begin oral medications sooner than what was done in the past.  Getting a handle on the behaviors of the patient and the blood sugar is vital to avoidance of the next step into the the “big D” zone, which is a place from which many, many people never return.

In our next segment, we’ll talk about what periodontal disease is and  how it can influence your overall health situation.  In the meantime, Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island, and in the role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease in any of its stages in you and your family.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

Are You Aware of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease? Part 2

Welcome back to all of my returning readers as well as to my new readers.  For those of you new to this blog, you will find that Dr. Scharf is a licensed Periodontist in Long Island who desires to educate his readers about dental issues especially as they apply to overall general health.  With that intention in mind, last time, we began an article series on the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.  In the first segment of this series, we discussed what diabetes isn’t and shared that diabetes is basically not a condition or potential condition which should be “blown off” but instead should be taken seriously.  Today, we will continue with what diabetes is to help you understand why it should be taken seriously.  

What Is Diabetes?

The dictionary definition of diabetes (or diabetes mellitus) reads like this: “a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.” From this inability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin as designed by the Creator, comes several types of diabetic conditions and, to understand the importance of having the proper attitude toward the condition, we will briefly explain each of those types of diabetic conditions. Research has shown that, for many people, diabetes doesn’t just “magically” appear overnight but instead has stages of pre-development and development at which appropriate intervention can turn the tide of serious and irreparable damage to the human host.

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes.  It is a type in which the pancreas (the bodily organ responsible for insulin production) either produces little or no insulin, a hormone the body needs to permit sugar (also known as glucose) to enter the individual cells in the body.  Since every cell type in the body needs sugar/glucose to perform its intended function, regardless of which system or organ it is a component, this is a pretty major problem.  Although type 1 diabetes is more common in children and adolescents, it is a disease which can afflict adults as well.  This type of diabetes has no cure and can only be managed throughout the host’s lifetime.  The good news is that only about 5% of the people diagnosed with diabetes are afflicted with type 1 diabetes.  

Type 2 Diabetes

In this type of diabetes, the body makes insulin but the cells don’t utilize the insulin as designed by the Creator.  This is called insulin resistance and it causes the pancreas to increase its production of insulin.  Initially, the pancreas tries to fix the problem by increasing its production of insulin to no avail.  Because the cells aren’t recognizing the insulin appropriately, it doesn’t change the way the glucose is being taken up by the cells so the blood sugars remain high.  The higher blood sugar levels continue to trigger more insulin production which still doesn’t fix the problem and the cycle continues.  The excess glucose builds up in the blood and eventually becomes fatty deposits, usually ending up around the midline/waist of the body.  A reduced insulin production also creates excess glucose in the blood because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough to deal with the excessive amounts of glucose in the system.  Regardless of the reason why there is excessive glucose, the result is still the same: fat stored around the midsection, elevated triglycerides and cholesterol and blood pressures, creating a condition called metabolic syndrome.  The bad news is that this is the type which afflicts most adults and is even becoming a disease of children and adolescents which is coupled with childhood obesity.  The only type of diabetes which afflicts a higher number of people is pre-diabetes.

 

These are just two of the four types of diabetes about which we wish to educate you.  These are the two that you probably hear the most about but there are two others which can be just as dangerous.  Next time, we’ll talk about the remaining two types of diabetes, but in the meantime, Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island.  In that role, he can help to identify and treat gum disease and periodontal disease in your family members.  Call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at https://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.