What other than poor tooth brushing causes gum disease? To prevent gum disease brushing your teeth is important but what other factors play a part?
Recently in my post Gum Disease Part 1, I talked about the signs and symptoms of gum disease and some of its causes. In this post, I am going to expand on the other issues that can add to or make gum disease worse.
Your gum health tells me a lot about your overall health, wellbeing and lifestyle and your risk for developing health problems so it is vital in holistic dentistry that gum disease is assessed, talked about and treated by your dentist.
Gum disease or gingivitis starts with plaque – an invisible sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. These bacteria lead to inflammation which damages the gums making them red, swollen and prone to bleeding. Poor or inadequate brushing, diet and ill health all play a role in gum disease.
Calcium and Vitamin D keep your bones strong including the bones that hold your teeth in. Vitamin C keeps the gum tissue intact and is a powerful antioxidant that offsets the effects of free radicals that can damage and destroy gum tissues.
Smoking – smoking and chewing tobacco increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth, weakens your immune system and limits the amount of oxygen and blood supply to your gum tissues. These factors increase inflammation and make you more prone to infection. It also makes treating your gum disease more complicated and less effective.
Medications – many prescription drugs like antidepressants decrease saliva production leading to dry mouth. Saliva helps clean your teeth and slow down bacterial growth. Without good quality saliva and good saliva flow plaque and tartar build more easily. (You are also more prone to tooth decay too).
Other medications like anti-epileptics, calcium channel blockers and ones like steroids that suppress your immune system can lead to overgrowth of gum tissue which makes your gums more fragile and harder to keep clean.
Talk to your doctor if you feel your medication could be making your dental health worse.
Infections – viruses and yeast or fungal infections can affect your gums. When we have a cold or flu our gum health worsens due to our immune system having to work harder. Oral thrush causes white areas on your tongue and cheeks which can spread to your gums and weaken your gum health.
Chronic Disease – chronic poor health, autoimmune conditions, anaemia, vitamin deficiency, toxins and chronic inflammation all have a knock on affect to your gum health. For anyone with compromised health it is vital that your gum disease is well controlled so regular dental visits are a must.
Diabetes – whilst diabetes is a chronic disease I felt to give it a special mention as with diabetes or pre-diabetes elevated blood sugar levels damage your body including your mouth. Diabetes increases your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss and infections like oral thrush. Dry mouth and diabetes go hand in hand adding to your risk factors for gum disease. Untreated gum disease adds to any inflammation in the body making it harder to regulate your blood sugars and manage your diabetes which leads to a vicious circle. For anyone with diabetes or elevated blood sugar levels regular dental checks and professional cleans are a must.
Hormones – this one applies more to women than men. During pregnancy, menopause and a times during your cycle your gums are more at risk to damage from plaque bacteria.
Morning sickness in pregnancy is an added problem as the nausea and vomiting make you less likely to be able to brush your teeth properly. Pregnant ladies and those going through menopause should not avoid visits to the dentist as this is a time when your mouth actually needs more support not less.
Weakened Immunity – if you have a weak immune system for whatever reason you are more susceptible to infection, including gum infections, mouth ulcers and gum disease. Once again regular dental care is a must not only to look after your mouth but to support your immune system by reducing some of the stress and work load it is under.
Mouth Breathing – breathing though your mouth drys out your gum tissues and allows bacteria to breed more easily which makes your gums more prone to gum disease. Nose breathing is the way to go here. As I like to say, nose for breathing, mouth for eating and drinking.
Lack of Sleep – lack of quality sleep weakens your immune response and makes you more likely to have bleeding gums. Sleep is important for repair and regeneration of your body. When we sleep we produce melatonin which is actually a really powerful antioxidant.
Stress – stress like poor sleep weakens your immune response and makes you body acidic both are a major factor in poor gum health and poor wellbeing. Finding ways to manage or deal with your stress are key and here at Evolve Dental Healing we can help support you with that.
So as you can see there is more to great gum health than simply brushing and flossing your teeth. Gum disease is caused by various factors, many of which go undiagnosed or are not seen as directly linked to your oral health.
Holistic dentistry offers a whole mouth, body and mind approach and may be just what you are looking for in the treatment of your gum health.
If you would like to know more about holistic dentistry and how it can help with your dental health and your wellbeing then please contact us to book a consultation.