Gum Disease and Gastrointestinal Ulcers: Are They Related? Part 4

Greetings to our returning readers and newcomers to this blog site!  As always, we like to introduce new readers to Dr. David Scharf. For those “seasoned” readers, you already know that our Dr. Scharf is a Periodontist in Long Island, and he loves to engage his readers and patients in discussions on various health conditions which concern all of us, especially when health issues about overall general health, related to dental health, oral health, and gum disease, are the topic at hand.  We recently began a new article series on gum disease and gastrointestinal ulcers, and how they are related.  In our last segment, we discussed peptic ulcers and some of the symptoms you might notice if you’re afflicted with this condition.  Today, we’d like to continue on that topic, discussing the causes of them to clear up the misconceptions about those causes. Won’t you join us as we continue to explore this topic?

Brief review

Last time, we explained that peptic stomach ulcers are sores that develop on the lining of the upper part of the small intestine and the lining of the stomach. We also pointed out that the most common symptom is stomach pain, but many people also experience “heartburn”, bloating, belching and transient feelings of nausea.  

A common misconception

One of the most common misconceptions about peptic ulcers is that they are caused by stress and the consumption of spicy foods.  While these conditions can certainly exacerbate the symptoms, gastro-intestinal evidence reveals that they are not causative factors.  There are several known culprits in this popular mystery, and we will talk briefly about each of them in the coming weeks, but first, let’s talk a bit about why they happen.

Normal biology

The digestive system operates using stomach acids to break down and digest what you eat and drink.  The various parts of the digestive system are designed with a mucous lining that is intended to protect the lining of those parts from the strong acids needed for digestion.  A peptic ulcer forms when the stomach acid erodes the inner surfaces of the stomach and small intestine. Normally, the mucus layer protects those inner surfaces from damage, that is, unless something else is interfering with the harmony between the stomach acid and the mucus layer. When that sensitive balance is upset, it is generally caused by an increased amount of stomach acid in the system or a decrease in the mucus layer.  

There are several reasons for the disruption of the interaction of these biological substances, and next time, we will talk about them.  In the meantime, we urge you to call Dr. Scharf and meet his staff. He wants to be your Periodontist in Long Island and wants to identify and treat gum disease in any of its various stages of development in every member of your family.  Contact us so we can tell you how we treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

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