Periodontal Disease and Inflammation
Your Immune System, Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmune Conditions: how they are all related.
What is an autoimmune-related condition?
Allergies, Asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Celiac Disease, Thyroid Disease, Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Periodontal (Gum) Disease are all autoimmune conditions, and at their roots they are connected by one central process: an overworked immune system response. This is also known as systemic inflammation and results in your body attacking its own tissues.
What is chronic inflammation and how does it lead to autoimmune disorders?
Inflammation is characterized as acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is a normal and short-lived response to injury, irritation, or infection that typically lasts minutes to days. The symptoms of acute inflammation include redness, swelling, heat, and pain at the affected site.
Chronic inflammation is a long-term response that lasts weeks or even years. Chronic inflammation can be caused by environmental toxins, a bacterial or viral infection, poor nutrition, stress, and processes related to aging. Chronic inflammation is activated when the mechanisms of acute inflammation fail to stop infection or heal an injury.
Prolonged inflammation can generate a series of destructive reactions that damage cells, eventually leading to the clinical symptoms of the disease. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system fails to maintain homeostasis.
Our Mouth and its relation to Inflammation
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is not only about preventing cavities, gum disease, or bad breath. The mouth is a window into the body and can show signs of total body inflammation or distress. Two of the most common signs of overall body inflammation are gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is an acute inflammatory condition without bone loss and is caused by bacteria that live in bacterial biofilms, known as plaque. Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth and tissues in the mouth. The bacteria in plaque irritate the gums causing them to become red, tender, and more likely to bleed.
Gingivitis can be reversed if plaque is removed before it builds up. Plaque can be removed by brushing twice a day, daily flossing, and having your teeth cleaned regularly in the dental office.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease is a Chronic Inflammatory Condition
Medical doctors consider gum disease an inflammatory condition that results in bone loss and eventually tooth loss. Research has shown the periodontal disease is related to other inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid
Arthritis, Celiac Disease, Thyroid Disease, Heart Disease, Atherosclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Periodontal disease is a form of chronic inflammation in the mouth that causes bone loss to occur. Bone loss causes gums to recede and pockets to form between the teeth and gums. These pockets trap tartar, plaque, and other debris that can lead to infection and abscesses. Advanced gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Watch the “Why Are Dental Crowns important?” Video
Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Condition “Periodontal Disease.”
The goals of treating gum disease are to remove bacterial biofilms and promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth. Treatment of gum disease helps eliminate swelling, reduces infection, and stops bone loss. Treatment for active periodontal disease consists of two appointments; one side of the mouth is addressed at each appointment. Anesthetic is administered to ensure patient comfort, and a special ultrasonic instrument is used to remove bacteria beneath the gums and smooth the root of the tooth to help prevent bacteria from adhering to the tooth again.
What can you do at home to keep Periodontal Disease in Remission?
Once the deep cleaning is complete, it is important to keep bacterial biofilms from building back up. Many things can be done at home to keep periodontal disease stable and under control.
HOME CARE INCLUDES:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss or use soft picks daily
- Use mouthwash daily
- Brush your tongue gently twice a week and drink at least 64 oz water daily
Importance of scheduling Periodontal maintenance appointments
Doing these things will help to keep plaque build-up from coming back above the gum line. It is important to come in for periodontal maintenance cleanings every four months to remove the plaque buildup from below the gum line.
Working together with your Lincoln dentist you can keep the periodontal disease in remission and in an inactive state.
Decreasing Overall Inflammation, Preventing Autoimmune Disease and Keeping Periodontal Disease in Remission State
Periodontal disease is a serious inflammatory condition that impacts a patient’s overall health and consequently, your Lincoln dentist may refer you to a medical doctor for a medical examination. Your dental provider may also suggest additional lifestyle changes that can positively impact your overall health by decreasing your inflammation levels.
Smoking or vaping tobacco can significantly increase overall systemic inflammation and the risk of developing periodontal disease.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet and eating foods rich with antioxidant properties, such as Vitamin D and Vitamin C can help your body repair damaged tissue and decrease inflammation. Vitamin D containing foods include vegetable oils, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C containing foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, and peppers.
The following lifestyle choices can decrease the risk of developing periodontal disease and can help keep it in remission in patients who have been diagnosed.
- Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in fatty fish (herring, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna) or fish oil, and flaxseed.
- Avoid eating processed foods.
- Avoid eating foods with added sugars, such as fructose. Stop drinking soda or energy drinks.
- Take probiotics with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria. Take Vitamin C and D daily.
- Eliminate any food that you may be sensitive to as it potentially creates inflammation in your gut, such as dairy or gluten containing foods.
- Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, as stress worsens the immune response.
- Sleep at least 7 – 8 hours each night
CAQ for your Lincoln Dentist on Inflammation
Can gum disease cause inflammation in the body? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Gum disease not only causes damage to the gums and bone around the teeth, but can also play a role in the inflammation present in other parts of the body. Current research suggests that the bacteria that causes gum disease can also cause inflammation of the heart and other organs.
How do I get rid of inflamed gums? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Make sure you brush and floss gently each day. Rinse with warm saltwater, drink plenty of water to help your body eliminate toxins, avoid using tobacco or drinking alcohol. Make sure you see your Lincoln dentist regularly for treatment and prevention of gum disease.
Can you fix gum disease? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
The early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is completely reversible with professional cleanings, good home-care and by maintaining a healthy diet. Periodontitis is a chronic type of gum disease that causes bone loss around the teeth. It is not possible to reverse periodontal disease, but there are treatments your Lincoln dentist can perform to stop the progression of the disease and put it in remission.
How can I cure gum disease naturally? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing every day help to prevent gum disease by controlling the amount of bacteria that is present in the mouth. For patients who already have gum disease, it is a good idea to see a your Lincoln dentist to evaluate the extent of any bone loss and the potential need for professional periodontal therapy.
What is the best antibiotic for gum infection? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
In most cases, periodontal disease does not require patients to take an antibiotic. Non-surgical therapy in the dentist office combined with good home-care and following a healthy diet are usually sufficient to help control the inflammation. There are some rare cases of gum disease that are treated with a combination of antibiotics and traditional therapy.
What causes pockets in your gums? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Some strains of bacteria can cause the body to react by creating inflammation in an attempt to fight off the bacteria. Over time, the gum tissue begins to pull away from the roots of teeth, creating a space between the tooth and gum where more bacteria can grow. When this occurs, it usually causes bone loss around the teeth. These areas may have hard deposits of tartar that accumulate due to the deeper spaces where toothbrush bristles and floss don’t reach. If you have periodontal pockets showing active signs of inflammation, they may require periodontal treatment from your Lincoln dentist.
Can periodontal disease cause health problems? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Research shows that the health of a person’s mouth can affect their entire body. There is a strong association between untreated periodontal disease and other chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, early pre-term labor for pregnant women and other conditions.
What are some of the early warning signs of periodontal disease? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Periodontal disease usually does not hurt in the earlier stages. Patients may notice that they have chronic bad breath or red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Gum tissue that has pulled away from the teeth are signs, loose teeth or mild aching and cold sensitivity can be signs of more advanced gum disease.
Can mouthwash help cure periodontal disease? Your Lincoln dentist answers:
Using an anti-microbial mouthwash like Listerine on a daily basis along with good oral-hygiene habits like thoroughly brushing twice a day and flossing can help to control the amount of harmful bacteria present in the mouth. Patients who have periodontal disease cannot reverse any bone loss that has already occurred, but you can work with your Lincoln dentist to keep your periodontal disease in remission by being seen regularly for periodontal maintenance visits and practicing good home-care. Your Lincoln dentist may also recommend trying some lifestyle changes like lowering your sugar intake, exercising, taking vitamin D and Omega 3 along with a good probiotic.
More CAQs and links to learn more
Inflammation and healing in periodontics
Inflammatory and immune pathways in the pathogenesis of periodontal disease
Inflammation in periodontal disease slideshare
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