Hi there! Welcome back. As you may recall, we were previously discussing periodontal disease and how, if left untreated, it can result in some pretty serious health conditions as we age. We told a little story about “Bob” and how he intentionally took “good” care of his teeth…or so he thought…and wound up being sent to a periodontal specialist by his local dentist for treatment for periodontal disease. This week, we will discuss how your gums are under attack. Let’s get started and learn more about gambling with gum disease and other serious diseases.
Your Gums Are Under Attack!
How does it start? From where does the attack come? Well, the answer to these questions is pretty basic — it starts when you put food and drink into your mouth. Almost everything you eat and drink contains starches and / or sugars that hook up with the bacteria in your mouth and produce a substance that we’ve all heard about called plaque. This plaque is described as a colorless and sticky film, so, it isn’t something that you can identify yourself when you open your mouth to have a look inside. However, your dental hygienist or your dentist can definitely see it because it will accumulate and harden on your teeth surfaces and become calculus or, a more common term you may have heard, tartar. This tartar formation creates an environment that encourages more tartar to form. After that, it’s all down hill with the plaque and tartar causing inflammation that leads to swollen and painful gums that accompany gingivitis, the earliest stage of periodontal disease. The on-going buildup causes more buildup and the vicious cycle continues until moderate to severe periodontal disease causes tooth and bone loss.
The Body’s Self Defense Mechanism
And, those swollen, painful and bleeding gums are only the tip of the iceberg! Gingivitis is generally a progressive issue, the plaque spreads and begins to grow below the gum line. When this is allowed to progress, the body will automatically step in to fix things. The anti-inflammatory cells that are being sent to the gums are being dispatched by the body’s immune system to fight the invading inflammatory process. At some point, the body begins to engage in a sort of “friendly fire” and pretty much turns on itself, breaking down the bone and other tissues that support the teeth. Pockets are created when the gum pull away from the tooth surface and more bacteria develop in this pocket. If there is no intervention, eventually, enough bone loss will occur that your own teeth will likely fall out on their own.
There is More to the Story
As I am sure you can readily see from the information I have provided above, the plaque and tartar that forms on your teeth can lead to some pretty uncomfortable and unsightly issues with your oral health, but, this is only part of the story. There are some major risks for serious systemic illnesses that lurk in the background as well. Come back next time and we will talk about some of those systemic illnesses. In the meantime, if you don’t have a relationship with a dental professional, I urge you to get established with a good dentist. Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in any member of your family. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.