Healthy Body Begins With A Healthy Mouth

Posted on May 23, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a dental specialist, I diagnose and treat a number of problems in the mouth. A Periodontist has advanced training in treating all levels of gum disease and other problems associated with gum tissues. We are also the experts in dental implant placement and recontouring gum tissues (such as repairing gummy smiles or gum recession).

In my specialty, I see the origins that can destroy a smile as well as complicate one’s quality of life. What happens in the mouth can create a downward spiral for the entire body. For example, periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss can lead to eating a less healthy diet. Consuming a poor diet can lead to a decline in overall health and more gastrointestinal problems. And so on.

While tooth loss can be overcome with Dental Implants, the cycle of destruction that is possible from an overload of oral bacteria is a far deeper problem. As damaging as oral bacteria can be in the oral cavity (the mouth), the bacteria of gum disease can become bloodborne and cause severe reactions elsewhere in the body.

Here is how the problem begins: First, gum disease bacteria eats away at gum tissues in the mouth. This weakens the tissues, which are easily torn and bleed. Oral bacteria are then able to enter the bloodstream by penetrating these tears.

As the infectious bacteria travel through the body via bloodflow, they can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This inflammation has shown correlation to some serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, pre-term babies, impotency (ED) and more.

Although the destruction of oral bacteria can be severe, and even deadly, it is also rather easy to prevent. The bacteria of gum disease occurs when there is an accumulation of oral bacteria in the mouth, typically as a result of poor oral hygiene at home. The age-old urging from the family dentist to brush twice daily, floss each day, and limit snacking on sugary treats stands true today.

When bacteria in the mouth are not removed thoroughly each day, they band together to form a sticky film, known as plaque. As this film remains, it takes just days to harden into a cement-like substance that attaches to teeth. This is calculus (or tartar), which is actually a massive colony of oral bacteria that is so destructive it can eat into tooth enamel.

Mayo Clinic image showing perio disease

Mayo Clinic image showing perio disease

As the oral bacteria reproduce and thrive, they subsist on gum tissues as sustenance. Gums become weak and bleed easily when brushing. Gums become tender and darken in color. Persistent bad breath sets in and pus pockets form at the base of some teeth. If not treated, gum disease will eventually lead to teeth loosening, requiring removal.

How many times in our lives have we wanted to turn back the hands of time and take proactive measures to prevent costly and time-consuming problems? It makes perfect sense to us that a car needs regular maintenance, sufficient oil levels and proper tire tread. Yet, having 6-month check-ups and cleanings seem less necessary since “nothing hurts.”

The mouth has been described as the window to the body. As research continues to find links between gum disease bacteria and serious health problems, this is becoming a more profound statement. It can also be said that the mouth is the moat to the castle. It can either serve to protect the structure (your body) or pollute it.

Just as you are committed to maintaining good overall health, remember that your oral health is a key component in that goal. Take the proper steps to avoid the pitfalls of gum disease, for your smile and your whole-health. If you are experiencing signs of gum disease, call 828-274-9440 for an exam. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

The Mayo Clinic has excellent explanations of periodontal disease. Visit the site at:

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