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.
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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 a dental professional 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 dental provider 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.