Why are dentists serious about gum disease?
Gum disease or gingivitis is present in ninety percent of the population. The disease is painless and seems to have no effect on our daily routine. Besides bad breath the consequences of gum disease seem remote. Why then is your dental team so concerned about gingivitis?
Research is showing that the bacteria that live between your gums and teeth can become very toxic to your immune system the longer they are left alone. In other words they get nastier and more menacing to your body.
How long of a timetable remains uncertain and varies with the individual. However, the research shows that so called good bacteria can change into bad bacteria over time. By disturbing and mixing up the bacterial colonies in your gums with brushing and flossing seems to reset this timetable back to square one. If this reset mode occurs a few times a day we hope that the bad bacteria are selected against and will not pose greater problems down the road. It is your dentist’s hope that this routine becomes a daily habit.
People who brush only once a day or once a week put themselves at greater risk of developing a more serious condition. If left undisturbed the bacteria will become more virulent and become more damaging to the surrounding tissues and immune system. It is much harder to reverse this condition and some people never respond well to our best therapies.
Oral therapies include prescription rinses, more frequent dental cleanings, antibiotics, and gels. Gum surgery and bone grafting may be needed to hopefully keep teeth longer. Extractions may be required. This is serious dentistry that could have been prevented with good habits. But what happens to the immune system?
Research has shown that chronic inflammation (i.e. arthritis and infection) increases the load on the body’s immune system. The immune system can become overloaded and not respond well to other conditions that may arise. A weakened immune response can allow opportunistic oral bacteria to have a more devastating effect upon their host (you).
This is where gum disease can take someone who is not vigilant about their oral health. Your dentist is your guardian against this outcome.