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Periodontal Disease: Did The Romans Really Have Less Gum Disease Than Us?

Gum Disease: Why Romans had teeth to smile about

A recent article in The Times newspaper claims the Romans suffered from  less periodontal disease than we do today. Really? We know they didn’t have access to the same modern dentistry and mouth-care techniques back then, so what was their secret? Was it really all down to not smoking and less sugar in the  diet, or are there other factors at play? Dr Galgut challenges some of the views proffered by Professor Frances Hughes and suggests some other reasons for the lowered incidence of periodontal disease found in our ancient forebears.
Read More “Periodontal Disease: Did The Romans Really Have Less Gum Disease Than Us?”

The Effects of Tobacco on Our Teeth and the Oral Cancer Connection

Are you aware of the link between smoking and gum disease, or the link between gum disease and cancer?

When it comes to our general health and well-being, it doesn’t take a medical genius to work out that in order to be fit and healthy, we need to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We should cut out junk food, or at least cut right back on it. We should eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and fresh and natural produce. We should drink more water, and we should get more exercise. Whilst all of those things are constantly stressed to us, and every day we hear more and reasons why we need to heed that advice through media and television, there is another factor that we should address:  The effects our lifestyles in general, or more specifically, our lifestyle choices and habits, have on the health of our teeth and gums, together with the further ranging consequences of that. Read More “The Effects of Tobacco on Our Teeth and the Oral Cancer Connection”

Preventative Dentistry: Everything You Need To Know About Dental Plaque

Dental plaque is not just about the build-up of film on your teeth caused by bacteria or bad brushing. It is the first line in a whole array of oral problems, including gum disease and periodontal disease, which left untreated, can cause other more serious illness throughout the body. Preventative dentistry is about just that: preventing oral problems from developing in the first place, rather than just treating the symptoms as they appear. Nothing in the body is isolated. In terms of “good health”, it is important to remember the whole body functions as one unit. Each process is inter-connected to another in some way, shape, or form. That means if you want a healthy body, you can’t ignore your teeth!
Read More “Preventative Dentistry: Everything You Need To Know About Dental Plaque”

Why Do I Need A Gum Disease Expert? What’s Wrong With My Regular Dentist?

Gum disease is a common problem that can indicate the presence of a serious infection. Amazingly, even after all of the advances in modern medicine, over half of all adults in the UK will suffer from gum problems at some time. However, far more worrying is the fact that if you are suffering from gum disease, or periodontal disease as it is also known, it’s not just your teeth that are at risk. Although gum disease can be something people fear more from a cosmetic point of view than a medical point of view due to its unsightly disfigurement of the teeth and gums, this is a very misguided viewpoint. Latest studies have linked this disease to other serious health concerns such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and degenerative ailments. Therefore, quickly identifying the signs of gum disease is the best way to prevent the condition worsening and causing serious lasting damage. Read More “Why Do I Need A Gum Disease Expert? What’s Wrong With My Regular Dentist?”

Is Too Much Sport and Exercise Giving You Gum Disease?

The number of people exercising to stay healthy is at an all time high. And the health industry is at its peak because everybody knows sport and exercise is a major component in avoiding disease and leading a healthy lifestyle. However, is there a darker side to all that exercise that the health industry and the exercise professionals are not telling you about?  Exercise may be good for your bones but what about your teeth? Could all that exercise really be bad for you teeth? What if too much sport was actually giving you gum disease?  Researchers have found a distinct correlation between the consumption of sports and energy drinks and an increase in gum disease, particularly amongst the teenage population. Read More “Is Too Much Sport and Exercise Giving You Gum Disease?”

The Mouth Is The Mirror Of The Body

Most of us do not pay much attention to our mouths, we clean our teeth in the morning and evening, and some of us use dental floss or interdental brushes to make sure that our teeth are clean and then rinse out and that’s it!

However, a recent UK Adult Dental Health Survey (*1) showed that most of us have gum disease so there is obviously more we should be doing.   Gum disease is an infection caused by dental plaque bacteria which creep in underneath the gums. This infection slowly erodes away the foundations of the teeth. Then the gums start shrinking, the teeth get loose and wobbly, and if left untreated, finally we end up with abscesses and tooth loss.  But that is not all!

Published research has shown that gum infections have very harmful effects throughout  our bodies. Did you know that there is a major connection between gum disease and heart disease?  It has been shown that the bacteria from gum disease can settle on the heart valves and damage them permanently. Once this happens the heart is unable to work efficiently and the heart becomes more susceptible to other infections.

Also, that women who have active gum disease during their pregnancy are more likely to have preterm and low birth weight babies!  The body cannot concentrate all its resources on the baby while it has to continuously fight off an-ongoing infection in the mouth.

It is well known that people with uncontrolled diabetes are more susceptible to infections. If these people also have gum disease, either it gets worse, or the diabetes becomes more difficult to control, or both.  So if the immune system has to struggle to control two problems at the same time to try and maintain health, it often fails to manage either.

New findings:  Links between gum disease and bowel cancer, asthma and even erectile dysfunction

The list of how a compromised immune system due to gum disease is associated with other serious diseases is growing daily. Rheumatoid arthritis has been linked with gum disease, and more recently bowel cancer, asthma, and even erectile dysfunction.  As more and more medical conditions are associated with this ongoing silent infection that most of us have in our mouths, it is clear that although gum disease does not cause pain or swellings or any other alarming symptoms in its early stages, the effects of the infection from the highly toxic bacteria lodged underneath the gums echo throughout our bodies and can cause or contribute significantly to other illnesses in other parts of the body.

However, gum disease may not be causing any of these diseases; it may be the other way around!  If you have a medical condition which is compromising the immune system the body becomes increasingly unable to control the dozens of species of bacteria that normally inhabit the mouth.  So, if you suddenly develop the signs of gum disease, is that because there is something going on somewhere else in your body which has weakened the immune system’s ability to keep your mouth healthy ?

If this is so, then the mouth is the mirror of the body.  A healthy mouth may well be a reflection of a healthy immune system and a mouth with swollen, red, or bleeding gums may well be telling us that all is not well somewhere else.  So if you have the signs of gum disease, or you suddenly develop them for no apparent reason, you should take this very seriously and get it dealt with by a dentist, hygienist, or periodontist (a dental specialist in managing gum conditions), but more importantly you may need to ask yourself when you last had a check-up at the doctor!  When did you last have a blood test to check your sugar levels or have your blood pressure taken? Is there something else going on that the symptoms in your mouth are telling you?

Making sure that your immune system is in tiptop condition gives your body the best chance of maintaining wellness and successfully dealing with other conditions and diseases if and when they occur.

So, when you look in the mirror, look in your mouth too, and if you see the signs of gum disease, think about your general health and how this may be affecting you, because it might just be reflecting some nasty little surprises that you can get under control before they become major problems.

Tips For Recognising Gum Disease:-

1.  Do your gums bleed for no apparent reason?
2.  When you brush your teeth is there some pink staining of your toothpaste, when you spit
out in the basin?
3.  Are your gums sore and swollen?
4.  Do your teeth feel loose?
5.  Are your teeth moving out of alignment?
6.  Do you suffer from bouts of bad breath or bad tastes in your mouth?
7.  Are your gums shrinking (receding)?

If you have any of these symptoms or if you think you may have periodontal (gum) disease, see your dental professional and ask specifically for a periodontal (gum) examination.

Be aware that early periodontal disease is symptomless so you should have this checked out even if your mouth seems healthy.

This advice is provided by a well known periodontist, Dr Peter Galgut Ph.D., M.Phil., M.Sc., BDS, MRD.RCS, LDS RCS, MFGDP (UK), MF Hom. (Dent) FHEA CUEW

Peter Galgut is a well-established clinical periodontist with a specialist practice in Golders Green, North-West London. He is a world-renowned lecturer and research scientist in periodontology and twice winner of UK Dentist of the Year.  If you would like more specialist advice from Dr Galgut please click here to contact me

1 Adult oral health survey 2009

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