Can You Reverse Gum Disease?

Posted on Mar 03, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Our bodies are miraculous machines. They not only provide mobility and enable various functions, the human body is designed to heal itself.

When bacteria enter the body, white blood cells are the microscopic soldiers that surge in for battle. Their job is to attack the bacteria and destroy it. As with any battle, however, when the odds are in favor of the enemy, the ‘good guys’ don’t always win.

Bacteria reproduce very rapidly. When they become too much for your body’s defense mechanism to overcome, infection begins. Just as a cut or scrape on the skin can become infected, oral bacteria can cause infection in the mouth. This overload of bacteria can evolve into periodontal disease, which is an inflammation that attacks teeth, oral tissues and the bone structures that support teeth.

Gum disease is characterized by sore gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, gums that recede from teeth and turn red in color, and pus pockets that form on the gums at the base of some teeth. In latter stages, gum disease will cause teeth to loosen and eventually require removal.

Most gum disease occurs because people are often unaware that bleeding gums or gum recession is not normal. Insufficient brushing, failing to floss and missing 6-month dental cleanings can lead to a build-up of bacteria that forms, at first, plaque. This is a sticky film you feel on teeth. When plaque is not removed on a regular basis, it forms a cement-hard colony of oral bacteria, known as tartar or calculus.

As your mouth is enduring the repercussions of oral bacteria accumulation, gum tissues and tooth enamel are being eaten away by the bacteria. There is a point where only dental treatment can eliminate the bacterial onslaught, especially when it has penetrated below the gum line. However, with prompt attention and proper measures, you can halt and reverse the need for dental treatment and the progression of gum disease.

Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease. Your symptoms will probably include gums that are tender in spots and some bleeding when you brush. These are warning signs that signal an immediate need for attention.

Begin by twice daily brushing with a soft bristle tooth brush and use a fluoridated tooth paste. Brush for at least two minutes per time. Floss daily. Be sure not to pop the floss between teeth to avoid damaging the gums. Move the floss in a back-&-forth motion between teeth to ease it down so you can scrape the sides of each tooth.

You can remove a tremendous amount of oral bacteria by using a tongue scrapper daily. Or, brush your tongue with your tooth brush at the end of each brushing. This helps to dislodge bacteria that is embedded in the grooves of the tongue.

Drink lots of water during the day. This will aid saliva flow that is designed to move oral bacteria from your mouth on a consistent basis. Avoid foods and beverages that are drying to oral tissues. These include coffee, colas, alcohol and spicy foods. Also, try to minimize the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume. These foods energize the reproduction of oral bacteria.

If you smoke, consider using an oral rinse that will replenish the mouth with moisture. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are terribly drying to oral tissues. Some oral rinses are specifically designed for producing moisture. This is helpful since dryness provides oral bacteria with a favorable environment for reproduction.

When these steps are taken for initial levels of gingivitis, your gums should be less tender and bleeding should cease in a week or so. If you do not see improvement after 1-2 weeks of implementing these measures, see a Periodontal specialist as soon as possible. This dental specialist can determine the precise level of gum disease you are experiencing and provide appropriate treatment.

The key is to act sooner than later. Gum disease only worsens without treatment. In the U.S., it is the leading cause for adult tooth loss. Your natural teeth are precious and worth saving. With a healthy mouth, having your natural teeth all your life is a reasonable expectation.

The oral bacteria of gum disease is also harmful to your health in other ways, too. This bacteria has been known to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. It can contribute to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, preterm babies and impotency.

Call 828-274-9440 if you have questions about your gums or if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with gum disease.


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