Understanding gum disease
Gum disease happens when plaque goes unnoticed. When you eat and drink, bacteria gets caught between your teeth and under your gums. If left too long, it turns into plaque; a soft, yellowish film that can be brushed and flossed away. If left for even longer, it begins to harden. The plaque will start to inflame the gums, making them swollen, sensitive, and prone to bleeding.
What about my heart?
Sometimes the swelling can go unnoticed until the pain starts. The pain is from the infection and bacteria. Your soft gum tissue starts to deteriorate, causing tooth loss and bone loss in the jaw. If the infection goes even further, the bacteria can travel via the blood stream and attach to deposits in the blood vessels near the heart, leading to blood clots. Another connection between gum disease and heart disease is diet. An unhealthy and high-in-sugar diet will contribute to both maladies, so keep the sugar to a minimum. The American Academy of Periodontology says that those with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease!
What can we do about it?
The prevention of gum disease is the priority. Your dentist can help you determine the best course of action for your oral hygiene. But if gum disease is already developing, let’s consider the LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure). A laser (less than the width of a human hair) is inserted between the tooth and the infected tissue, lasering the bacteria and damaged tissue around the root. This clears the area for tiny ultrasonic root cleaners that vibrate the deposits off the tooth’s root. The laser is then used a second time to clean out the remaining damaged tissue and sterilize the pocket. This makes the blood around the tooth coagulate and form a seal, developing the proper environment for healing to begin.