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                                   By Kathleen Anderson, D.H.

Gum disease (a.k.a. periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and bone
surrounding your teeth. Just as a sinus infection can start in your head and move into your chest
as it worsens, gum disease starts in the soft gum tissues surrounding the teeth and moves into the
jawbone as it worsens. The infection response at first causes bleeding and puffy gums because
the body sends extra blood (with white blood cells, healing enzymes and nutrients) into the gums
to fight the bacteria. That is when you start to notice bleeding when you brush and/or floss. If
the infection worsens and more bacteria accumulate, your body can no longer fight so many
bacteria and their toxins. If the bacteria stay in that tissue and/or your immune system is not
functioning at 100%, the bacteria actually start to dissolve the bone. This process causes a
deeper space to form around the tooth underneath the infected gum tissue that is called a
“pocket.” The deeper this pocket is, the larger the problem/infection is that surrounds your teeth.
And the longer this slow, chronic infection stays around your teeth in the gum tissue and bone,
the more general health can start to be negatively influenced! The body’s response to the
bacteria will cause an increase in infection fighting blood cells and enzymes, which is what
nature intends to happen! However, these responses are supposed to be short-term reactions to
help the body heal quickly. Because bacteria in the mouth are always present, gum disease can
be a chronic, slow-moving infection. This is the body’s response to the long-standing, organized
bacteria that are present. And because these infection fighters from your body, and toxins
produced by the bacteria, cannot be contained ONLY to the mouth, they circulate throughout
your body. Infection fighters and toxins related to gum disease have now been related to heart
disease (C-reactive protein), osteoporosis and arthritis (Interleuken-6), diabetes (toxins that affect
the function of the pancreas), and low birth-weight babies (more stress on the mother because
she must use her energy to fight these toxins instead of nourishing her baby). Like many other
infections in your body, your response to gum disease is directly related to the kind of bacteria
present, your genetics, heredity and body chemistry, your environment, your diet, use of tobacco,
the way your teeth bite/function together, hormones, stress, your general health, medications you
may be taking, and quite importantly, your oral hygiene habits. Advanced gum disease is
periodic, episodic, and largely irreversible. That means it can happen at different rates and at
different times, and once you have it, it never entirely goes away. If your gums bleed when your
brush and/or floss, if they are red or swollen, feel “itchy” or have pulled away from the teeth, if
your teeth feel like they no longer “fit” together or feel loose, if you see pus around the gums, or
you notice bad breath, you probably have some stage of “gum disease”. Because of the many
influences on gum disease, multiple approaches should be utilized to control this problem.
Alternative practitioners recognize the whole-body connection, and now the conventional dental
community is beginning to recognize these relationships too. Many products and much
information are now readily available. We can provide you with information and resources that
can help you decide which areas of health to explore that may directly influence your particular
needs for better dental health.

We are dedicated to help you prevent gum disease, or to keep it from progressing to levels
where you are at risk of losing teeth!

                              MANAGING GUM DISEASE
Gum disease is the body’s response to the invasion of bacteria along the gum tissue and in the
area of the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. There are more than 400 kinds of
bacteria present and many of these are good, helpful “germs” that we need for bodily functions
(digestion), protection and health maintenance. But when the many bacteria remain undisturbed,
the 20 or so unhealthy bacteria can multiply under a protective “blanket” of food, plaque and
debris that help those bacteria grow more harmful and greater in number. Brushing and flossing
are important on a daily basis to interrupt these bacteria so they cannot start the inflammation
process. But when the inflammation response has started, when bleeding and redness are
present, and maybe even the pockets are 4mm or greater, brushing and flossing alone may be
ineffective to reach those bacteria. The following is a partial list of treatments, concerns,
adjuncts, aids & approaches that may be considered for optimal periodontal (gum and bone
tissue) health. But remember, the primary defense is to get rid of, or at least disturb, the harmful

_____ brushing - manual, battery, or specialty (sulcus, end-tuft, Collis, or sized) toothbrush

_____ flossing (many kinds of floss are available) - waxed, unwaxed, tape, threaders

_____ oral irrigators - to flush out the irritating bacteria and plaque from the gum tissue
        surrounding the teeth

_____ antibacterial agents to help reduce the number of harmful bacteria - essential oils (tea
        tree, eucalyptus, lavender), antibiotics (tetracycline), and chemicals (salt, stabilized
        chlorine dioxide, C31G complex, triclosan) can be considered

_____ vitamin & supplement therapy (Co-Q 10, grape seed extract, folic acid, vitamin C,
        calcium & echinacea)

_____ nutrition - balance, digestion, healthy food choices, plenty of water

_____ lifestyle - smoking, activity level, exercise, and sleep

_____ medications - ask your pharmacist about oral side effects and, if applicable, ask your
       prescribing doctor for alternatives

_____ general health – dysfunction, illness, pathology

_____ stress (physical, mental, emotional) - work, family & events

_____ dental materials toxicity, oral galvanism, allergy, or inadequate restorations

_____ environmental stressors – home, work

   Ronald L. King, DDS       Giang T. Pham, DDS       6100 Excelsior Blvd., Suite East       St. Louis Park, MN 55416
                Phone: 952-929-4545       e-mail:          Web site:

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