Expert Commentary: Zack Zaibak, DDS - 11/10/2009

Posted by Admin on November 10, 2009
This new study couldn't be timelier. Growing evidence suggests gum disease increases your risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and even premature birth. Why? Because having gum disease (or periodontal disease) is like having an open, untreated wound. That wound constantly seeds your bloodstream with oral bacteria and suppresses your immune system. Over time that bacteria injure your blood vessels and cause disease. Frankly if that open wound were any other place on your body, patients wouldn't hesitate to get it treated.

All of which explains why many of my colleagues, only half-jokingly, now tell their patients to “floss or die.”

This new study further confirms just how dangerous that open wound is. In fact, the research suggests many of Green Tea’s age-old benefits may be due to its healing effect on gum tissue.  Periodontal disease, however, requires far more than just green tea to prevent and treat.

The most basic treatments are daily flossing, antiseptic mouthwash, and twice-yearly dental exams. During that exam we gently probe your gum line to detect the earliest signs of disease.  Such early disease can usually be treated with regular brushing, mouthwash, and flossing. If, however, there’s significant bleeding or loosening of the teeth you may need antibiotics or ultrasonic or minor laser surgery to clean out the tiny pockets of infection in the gum. I also tell all my patients to avoid cigarettes, pipes, or cigars.

Gum disease is so dangerous, even doctors outside dentistry are concerned.  My physician  colleagues now routinely send me patients with periodontal problems.  Why? Because they’re concerned it may contribute to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other medical problems. In some cases, treating gum disease, a dental condition, is even covered by medical insurance.

Any pregnant woman should also be checked for periodontal disease. That’s because studies now prove  gum disease increases your odds of a miscarriage, premature baby, or low-birth weight baby.

For all these reason every patient should know the earliest signs of gum disease. Those signs include gums that are red, puffy, or swollen; gums that bleed during brushing or flossing, and constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.

If you notice any of those symptoms, see a nearby dentist immediately. This new study shows once more that the stakes are far greater than we thought.

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