It is estimated that nearly 70% of all adults have currently some form or degree of periodontal disease. Periodontal, or gum disease, is caused by a chronic bacterial infection and can range from mild gum inflammation to severe jawbone and tooth loss.
Many factors play a role in the severity of the disease and can affect how a patient responds to the bacteria in their own mouth. Genetics, overall systemic health, medications, smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol excessively, poor oral hygiene, hormone changes, and chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, can all negatively affect a person’s gum and jawbone health.
Is there a cure for gum disease?
At this time, there is no cure for gum disease, but there are actions patients can take to improve their oral health and periodontal status.
One way a person can prevent gum disease or improve their statue is to adopt a good home oral hygiene care regimen. Brushing, flossing, and using rinses and power toothbrushes or irrigators can assist in the removal of gum disease-causing bacteria. In addition, visiting your dentist, periodontist, or hygienist regularly for cleanings and periodontal maintenance will reduce tartar and plaque buildup.
In addition, patients can better fight the disease when their own immune system is operating at its highest. A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, plenty of water, reduced stress levels, exercise, and adequate sleep all allow for the body’s immune system to function properly. Patients with properly controlled diabetes are more likely to maintain ideal gum health over those with uncontrolled diabetes.
Other methods proven to improve oral health conditions by removing plaque and tartar are scaling and root planning treatments and periodontal surgeries. There is limited scientific data supporting the long-term success of soft tissue lasers, but short-term studies do show a reduction in inflammation and deep gum pockets when a laser is used during treatment.
Many non-conventional therapies are becoming popular as well. The recommendation to consume food and drinks high in antioxidants is also building momentum. New studies reveal that drinks such as coffee and green tea reduce inflammation levels in the gums and have a positive impact on the patient’s periodontal status. Patients who consume these beverages had fewer deep pockets and less periodontally-involved teeth. The benefits, although not fully understood yet, appear to be in the anti-inflammatory properties of coffee and tea. At this time, green tea boasts the most significant benefits. Coffee, although less exceptional, still shows impactful gum tissue improvements that are of scientific substance.
While dentists are unlikely to start recommending copious amounts of tea and coffee drinking merely to improve a patient’s periodontal health, it appears that drinking moderate amounts of these liquids does not harm the gum tissue and surrounding bone structure. Since both tea and coffee cause surface staining on teeth, they are frequently assumed to be “bad” for your teeth. However, staining is not necessarily a sign of disease, and clearly, studies now reveal that coffee and green tea may actually have some significant oral health benefits.
Because periodontal disease is incurable and difficult to treat, any new treatments that may improve a patient’s gum health or prevent further worsening of gum disease is worth evaluating and promoting.
A recent study has confirmed that men are less likely to visit the dentist than their female counterparts. Traditionally speaking, women are the healthcare schedulers and advocates in their households and men tend to delay treatment.
Why, you ask? Well in a study, 45% of men did report value and a need to visit the dentist, 30% of men are afraid or embarrassed, 18% just don’t have the time, and about 5% don’t even have or know a dentist.
However, this trend may be disappearing as more men are back in the dental chair, and the reason is interesting. Experts believe this resurgence of men visiting their local dentist is due to the changing landscape of the American workplace. Basically, gentlemen are finally understanding the powerful and positive effects that their colleagues get from an improved smile. How so? They realize that a great smile has a lot of value in the workplace. We know this because in addition to just coming in more regularly for routine dental checkups, men are also requesting more cosmetic treatment and procedures, such as bleaching, bonding and even veneers.
Think about it this way: In the past, most men worked for one or two employers their entire life. So, the consideration of how their appearance affected their professional life and ability to stay employed was not necessarily important. But that is not the case today, with lay-offs and company closings across the board. Today, middle-aged men are aggressively competing against younger men for the same jobs, making appearance an important factor. Employers repeatedly say that appearance does affect hire-ability of job candidates. Hence, offices are reporting an increase in male visits to the dentist.
Now, ladies, don’t get too excited. It will be a long time before all the guys out there figure it out and willingly run to their nearest dentist. Until then, keep encouraging the gentlemen in your life to see their dentist regularly for check ups and preventative care.
Grand Dental – Channahon
Some studies suggest that chocolate can protect against tooth decay. It is widely understood that foods which contain fermentable carbohydrates have the potential to contribute to cavity formation. Fermentable carbohydrates are present in most starches and all sugars, including those naturally found in foods and those added to processed foods. The frequency and duration of tooth exposure to these foods have been identified as factors promoting dental cavities.
Although chocolate contains fermentable carbohydrates, many dental research studies suggest that chocolate may be less apt to promote tooth decay than it was traditionally believed. Research studies have shown that chocolate has the ability to offset the acid-producing potential of the sugar it contains. Acids produced by certain oral bacteria that digest the sugars may damage tooth enamel and cause decay.
At a study conducted at the Eastman Dental Center, it was shown that certain chocolate products tested were found to be among the snack foods contributing least to dental decay. The research reported that milk chocolate’s protein, calcium and phosphate content may provide protective effects on tooth enamel; and, because of its natural fat content, chocolate clears the mouth relatively faster than other confections.
Chocolate is so successful in combating tooth decay that some scientists believe that some components of chocolate may one day be added to toothpaste and mouthwash. The cocoa bean, which is the main ingredient in chocolate, seems to be an agent that thwarts mouth bacteria and dental caries.
So, the good news for chocolate lovers is this: Most of the bad effects regarding eating chocolate are either overstated or entirely false. Chocolate has many antioxidants and disease –fighting chemicals that combat cell damage leading to chronic diseases. Disease prevention and fighting tooth decay makes chocolate even more delicious than we thought it was!
Of course good oral hygiene, rather than eating lots of chocolate, is the way to healthy teeth. If it is true that chocolate does help reduce dental decay that can only be a good thing, but chocolate does contain sugar. You should still limit sugary sweets, and visit your dentist regularly.
Kim M, Dental Hygienist