What is Gum Disease?

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What is Gum Disease and How is it Treated? in Winston-Salem, NC

Girl with gum disease in Winston-Salem, NCPeriodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of your gums that begins when bacteria accumulate at and below the gum line. Your immune system reacts as it would with any bacterial invasion. The process of inflammation starts and then the white blood cells start moving in to do battle with the bacteria.  All this chemical warfare destroys the attachment of the gum tissue to the root of the tooth and can eventually dissolve the bone that holds your teeth in the jawbone.  When bacteria has been undisturbed, it begins to mineralize and this hardened material above and below the gum line is referred to as tarter or calculus. This build-up of calculus irritates the gums further and is a great place for new plaque to form and cause more problems.  It is a vicious cycle and is often painless until the later stages. Periodontal disease can have wide spread negative effects on your health, but the good news is that Dr. Peavy uses many ways to treat this very common and devastating disease that are more comfortable and effective than ever before!   

Periodontitis (gum disease) is a complicated relationship between the billions of bacteria in your mouth and your immune system. When bacteria attaches to the root of the tooth and penetrates into the tissues below the gum line, the immune system launches an attack to try and stop the infection. The key to the immune system getting starting is called inflammation and a full explanation of how this works can be found in the book, Inflammation Nation by Dr. Floyd Chilton. Simply stated, all this chemical activity causes the delicate gum tissue attachment to break down and eventually results in tooth loss. This process is often painless until the advanced stage when abscesses begin to form and cause swelling.

Since no one can brush and floss away every bacterial cell from around their teeth, what is a person to do? The answer lies in the relationship to the immune system alluded to above. You don’t have to get rid of them all to have healthy gums because some are good” bacteria and we can usually count on our immune system to keep the bad ones in a balance. When the “bad” bacteria get out of balance and get the upper hand, the gum tissue starts to detach from the root of the tooth. These are a few things that cause an imbalance:

  • Poor home care that allows bacteria to buildup below the gum line. 
  • A weak or over burdened immune system as in a patient who smokes, or a person who is battling other chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity (more than 30% of your body weight is made up of fat), cancer, etc. 
  • Stress 

Once you have been diagnosed with gum disease, we try and identify the causes and recommend an approach that usually includes: 

  • Professional care: treatment, patient education, and training in self care 
  • Home care: Sonicare Diamond Clean tooth brush and some cleaning technique for in between your teeth that must be done twice daily! 
  • Strengthen your immune system by reducing your system wide levels of inflammation: Details on how to do this can be found in several books written recently on the relationships of food to health and immune status: Super Immunity and Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, & The Gene Smart Diet by Dr. Chilton are great resources. 
  • Long term supportive care (hygiene visits) every three months 

For more details on the various treatment options, go to our website at www.thehappygumshop.com and at www.LANAP.com and click on the “patient consultation” found in the upper left corner of the home page.