Gum Disease, Inflammation & Foods To Pass Up

Posted on Apr 29, 2013 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that causes loss of the bone that support teeth.  Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and infection. However, chronic inflammation creates an over-production of immune cells that actually damage, rather than repair. Rampant inflammation can lead to cancer, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, as well as other major health problems.

To aid your body’s ability to keep inflammation in check, it is important to maintain a healthy mouth. Your mouth can be a tremendous source of bacteria, which can develop into gum disease. When gum disease weakens oral tissues, this bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Research has already associated the inflammatory reaction of oral bacteria with a list that includes coronary artery disease, stroke, memory loss and diabetes.

This information, in itself, should be enough to motivate adults to brush (at least twice daily) and floss every day. However, it is also important to keep those six-month dental exams and cleanings. This allows removal of bacteria-laden plaque, which can occur between visits (even for diligent brushers and flossers).  Plaque build-up is what your Hygienist is scraping off, and no amount of brushing or flossing will remove it.

In addition to maintaining good oral health, you may be interested in a list of foods that may actually add to harmful inflammation. While everything in moderation is always wise, some foods are more irritating and tend to exaggerate inflammation. They include:

MSG – This preservative and flavor enhancer is a chemical that has been shown to have inflammatory responses. While more research is needed to understand why MSG causes inflammation, we already know that the human body does not tolerate it well.

Sugar – Excess sugar in the body creates havoc in a number of ways. While the body goes through intricate maneuvers to process it, the end result is inflammation.

White Bread – White bread is refined to nothing more than fast-digesting carbohydrates that irritate the body. Both white bread and pastas break down quickly into sugar, leading to higher sugar levels in the blood.

Gluten – Sensitivity to gluten can lead to bloating or digestion problems. It is believed that these symptoms could be an inflammatory response.

Alcohol – Alcohol becomes sugar as soon as the body begins to break it down. A small amount of alcohol is tolerable – even beneficial. However, too much allows bacteria to easily enter the linings of the intestines. This can lead to irritation and inflammation.

Trans Fats – Many processed foods are full of hydrogenated oils (manmade fats), which can damage the cells that line your blood vessels.  This results in ‘plaque buildup’ in arteries.

We’ll keep you posted on new findings as they are published. In the meantime, if you’ve been irregular with oral hygiene at home or infrequent with your dental check-ups, call us for a periodontal exam. It’s one of the wisest ways to help protect your overall health and well-being! Call (828) 274-9440 to schedule.

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