Why am I still suffering with gum disease? This is a question that about 80% of Americans are asking themselves. In an effort to educate ourselves, we read many articles, use our common sense, try and follow the instructions for good dental hygiene that our dentist, parents and schools have drilled into us. Despite all the education and our best efforts, we find ourselves, as well as our children, having problems with gingivitis, cavities, inflamed and bleeding gums and cold sores. We properly brush 2 to 3 times a day. We floss daily. We watch our sugar intake. This is common sense and lessons we have been taught all our life. The question then becomes, “What am I doing wrong, and is there anything else that I could do to improve this situation?” There are some other factors that affect oral health.
Diet. Good nutrition is critical in the fight to keep your gums healthy. Poor dietary habits weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection. Adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet, especially green leafy vegetables are great for your teeth! Occasionally, we must give in to our temptations for sugary snacks, just remember to rinse your mouth with water and brush as soon as possible. Remember though, just removing sugar from the mouth is not enough, Refined sugars and too much red meat cause an over acidic condition in the body that encourage bacteria. Certain nutrients are essential for a healthy immune system, for many reasons, we may not get those nutrients in our diet so we also need proper supplementation. Supplements needed would include Vitamins A and C. also an absorbable form of Calcium. Antioxidants are vital as well, when antioxidant level drops, inflammation is less easily controlled. CoQ10 is beneficial in the reversal of gum disease.
Genetics. Some people are genetically predisposed to gum disease, a prominent periodontist once told me “you either have good gums or good teeth.” If one of your parents had gum disease, chances are you may have a challenge with it as well. You can have perfect pearly whites throughout your mouth and have unhealthy gums.
Medications. Some medications may make it harder to keep gum disease at bay. These would include medications that reduce the power of white blood cells to function properly. It has been observed that calcium channel-blockers can cause gingival overgrowth, which creates pseudo pockets, little gum overgrowths that give bugs a great place to hide.
Tobacco. For those of us still smoking, you may have to make the decision to keep smoking or keep your teeth. Smoking weakens the natural ability of white cells to fight infection by preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching gum tissue. It also makes the periodontal pockets more susceptible to bacteria, the tars and chemicals in cigarettes deposits a film in the mouth that leaves it vulnerable to attack. Also, people exposed to passive or second hand smoke have a significantly increased risk of serious gum disease than those not exposed.
Alcohol use. “All things in moderation” certainly would apply to the link between alcohol use and gum disease. Alcohol depletes B vitamins and protein components necessary for healing, this depletion reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and form new bone.
Alignment of Teeth. Crowded or improperly positioned teeth can create food traps, producing breeding ground for bacteria. Teeth that hit incorrectly can wear or injure other teeth resulting in pain or loose teeth. The area around these teeth injured teeth is tender and more vulnerable to infection.
Hormones. Changing hormone levels can cause gingivitis. This can happen during pregnancy, as in Pregnancy Gingivitis, and goes away after the mother gives birth. Hormone loss in menopause can contribute to gingivitis. It is the interplay of hormones that regulates the way we absorb calcium. Balancing hormones can help to improve gum health.
Cleanse. “My knees and elbows are sore” what would sore joints have to do with your gums? Many people that suffer with gum disease build up toxins in the body, which can contribute to painful joints. Cleaning up the internal environment can help the body to heal. A good colon cleanse is most helpful, and can be found at your local health food store. Drinking an adequate amount of water is important, as well as making sure that you are getting enough fiber. Most of us think we do, but do you really know how much fiber you eat every day?
Toothbrush and Tooth Brushing. We know we must brush our teeth 2 to 3 minutes but not much longer so we don’t damage our teeth by removing your teeth’s protective enamel. We need to change our toothbrush frequently. Bacteria and germs are transferred to your brush every time you use it. A good rinsing removes some, but not all bacteria and fungus. As your damp toothbrush dries in that toothbrush holder, the germs and bacteria grow. The dampness of the bathroom helps the germs breeding ground. In a recent study it was shown that flushing the toilet with the lid up allowed bacteria airborne spread up to 6 feet! It is recommended to keep your toothbrush in an enclosed toothbrush holder or medicine chest away from the open air. Pick a good, soft brush with bristles of various density and lengths. Change or sterilize your brush every month.
Mouthwash. Careful selection of your mouthwash is critical! Just because they have the flashiest ad on TV doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Read the label and ingredients. If you haven’t taken the time you are in for a shock! Many mouthwashes use large amounts of sweeteners and/or alcohol (up to 20%!) to make their product taste good. Your favorite mouthwash could be doing much more harm than good. There are plenty of great healthy, natural mouthwashes available.
Toothpaste. The same can be said about your toothpaste selection as your mouthwash. Do not fall for the hype. Read the labels! It can be an education! Most recommend a “pea” sized amount on your toothbrush. Why? Most likely due to the dangers of using this product. Does it have “keep out of reach of children” and the poison control center phone number? Your mouth and skin are porous. What you put in your mouth is absorbed into the skin. You do not have to accidentally swallow to ingest many of the chemicals within your toothpaste. Be smart about picking toothpaste that is effective and safe.
Gums. Gum disease can lead not only to tooth loss but can conduce to other problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and problems during pregnancy. You should brush and massage your gums every time you brush. Remember your gums are porous! Use safe and healthy toothpaste and really work on those gums and tongue!
Keep your teeth and your health! Becoming a senior no longer means imminent dental problems. Becoming pregnant no longer means “giving up my teeth for the baby”. Save hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars for preventable health and dental expenses. Keeping your great oral-care habits and using the limitless wisdom and information available to us to be smart on our healthcare product selections will ensure that great smile continues throughout your life.