Bleeding Gums and Heart Disease

What if every time you washed your hands, your cuticles bled? Would you be concerned? We bet so, and yet, every day people brush their teeth and are not at all alarmed by the blood they spit. If it were your fingers, you would probably run to the doctor, but some people rarely if ever visit the dentist. You may not realize that persistent sore, swollen, red, or bleeding gums as well as bad breath are warning signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) - a serious infection that, left untreated, may lead to tooth loss as well as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and premature/underweight newborns.

Gum disease can affect one tooth or the whole mouth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed. The plaque produces a biofilm which is a magnet for those toxin producing bacteria.

In the least harmful form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. There is little to no pain or discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene and it is estimated that up to 90% of the adult population may suffer from some form of gum disease. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

If untreated, gingivitis usually advances to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gum tissue. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Bad breath, while unpleasant, is not exactly an emergency situation. Right? But it is probably the first sign of progressing gum disease. Left untreated, teeth become "loose" in their pockets and the progression to tooth loss is inevitable.

Did you know that the expression "looking long in the tooth" is actually describing gum disease? As the infection progresses and gums recede, the teeth look longer. So an age old expression actually relates to an age old problem. The good news is, if caught early enough, we can treat and reverse the infectious disease process. And with the latest technology, we can treat this disease comfortably and with minimal discomfort. Read about our laser gum therapy, the Millenium Periolase or LANAP.