How Gum Disease Can Affect
Your Overall Health

How Gum Disease Can Affect
Your Overall Health

gum-disease-health

Gum Disease Can Be Hiding in Plain Sight!

Gum disease is all too common, and so often has no health symptoms associated with it at the early stages. As much as individuals seek their doctors’ advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle, oral health professionals are increasingly concerned that most people avoid going to the dentist and they do not associate their oral health with their general health. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich talked to Radio Station 2HD Host Brent Bultitude recently. They discussed how gum disease and oral health are closely connected to general health.

People want to be healthy and enjoy life, which is why they are becoming more aware of the harmful impact that poor food choices, poor eating habits, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive drinking may have on their bodies and general wellbeing.

The Value of Regular Health Checkups

Therefore, they are preemptively seeking health checkups to help them identify very early signs of systemic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease which are easier to treat and manage when detected early.

Why do people avoid going to the dentist? 

According to a report published by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) in 2020, more than half of the population has not visited a dentist in the previous year or more.

  • Many people avoid going to the dentist because the mouth is such a sensitive part of the body, and not everyone wants to sit in a chair, open their mouth, and let someone poke around in it.
  • People are frequently put off by the high expense of dental services and avoid going to the dentist regularly.

Gum Disease and these statistics are particularly telling because, even though several journals have been published since the mid-1990s on the connections between gum health and systemic diseases, people’s attitudes toward their oral health have largely remained unchanged.

The Oral Health and Whole Body Health Connection

At Sydney Holistic Dental Centre we have taken a holistic approach to our dental approach for over 35 years because we understand the treatment we conduct in the oral cavity has the power to affect the entire body and vice versa. 

While it sounds obvious we understand that the body is connected and that we are dealing with the whole person.

As a result, every patient has a comprehensive oral health examination which together with our hygienist/oral therapists includes a thorough assessment for gum disease. 

Typically, this evaluation would involve the following:

  • Oral cancer screening
  • Gum health screening
  • Screening for tooth decay
  • Ensuring any existing restorations (fillings, crowns, implants) are still sound
  • Assessing how well you sleep
  • Assessing how well you breathe
  • Assessing if are you a mouth or nasal breather
  • Assessing if you suffer from head, neck, or jaw pain

Dr Ron strongly advises you to have regular dental checkups to remain on top of your oral health and prevent the chance of gum disease, which can lead to other health problems…don’t wait for pain.

What are the early signs of gum disease? 

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Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone. Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Bleeding when you brush or floss 
  • Bad breath 
  • Bad taste in the mouth 
  • Swollen, red, and tender gums 

Dr Ron advises you must not ignore these simple signs that indicate there is something wrong. He gives the analogy to provoke people who assume that skipping flossing for a few days will prevent their gums from bleeding.

 “Imagine if every time you wash your hands your cuticles bleed,
would your response be to stop washing your hands for a few days?”

You would most certainly rush to the nearest clinic! We encourage you to do the same for your oral health by having a comprehensive oral examination at least once in your life as a start. This helps to ‘benchmark yourself’ and prevent gum disease.

What are the dangers of gum disease?

Gum disease has visible symptoms but they are not usually accompanied by pain, which is why many overlook the condition. 

What you need to know is that gum infection is connected to so many dangerous health conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases 
  • Cancer 
  • Autoimmune conditions

Dr Ron narrates the case of his 62-year-old patient who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, 

I had a patient who couldn’t walk a few years ago, and it came to the point where he couldn’t even get out of bed to go to the bathroom until his doctor made the dental connection. He had been like that for two years and was not responding to medications or supplements. His medical practitioner thought there might be a dental connection….there was. We diagnosed him with advanced periodontal disease and found a significant amount of infection, which we were able to treat, allowing the patient to not only walk  but actually  cycle from Sydney to Perth and back ….not all periodontal treatments have that outcome but it highlights its importance .

Can brushing and flossing teeth prevent gum disease?

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Brushing our teeth and flossing is something we do habitually to maintain good oral hygiene and to contribute to the prevention of gum disease. 

At SHDC we recommend these oral hygiene practices to our patients:

  • To avoid gum disease, floss gently once a day at night, rinse your mouth, and brush your teeth
  • Whether you use an electric toothbrush or a handheld toothbrush, you should focus on physically removing bacteria that might cause gum disease and tooth decay off the surface of your teeth…use the two minutes as a mindfulness exercise….a win-win-win. 

How do you treat gum disease?

You may believe that brushing your teeth thoroughly every day will prevent gum infections, but brushing your teeth is not a 100% guarantee of preventing gum disease. Tooth brushing is a habit and if we miss 10% of the tooth surfaces we have in our mouth one day, then it’s likely we do that every day. It’s that 10% that could develop into inflammation or infection like: 

  • Gingivitis 
  • Gum infection 
  • Periodontitis 

Once you have determined you may have gum disease, you must begin taking measures to treat and prevent it, such as:

Here at SHDC, we have figured out how to better fulfil our patients’ needs by realising that whatever work we do has the potential to affect the entire body, and it has been a wonderful experience for us to see the dental profession in general progressively evolve toward a more holistic approach.

We urge you to discuss not just your oral health but also your overall health with our qualified dental professionals at SHDC.

Thanks to Brent Bultitude for Hosting Dr Ron

Follow Brent at Radio Station 2HD for all his latest shows, including several with Dr Ron.