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Gum Health and Its Connection to Overall Health Explained

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This article was last updated on: 3/27/2023.

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Gum Health

and Its Connection to Overall Health Explained

Gum health, the health of your teeth, and overall oral health are essential to our general health and well-being at every stage of life. A healthy mouth enhances social interaction and promotes self-esteem and feelings of well-being. It also contributes to the health of the physical body. The mouth serves as a gateway or “window” to the rest of the body by providing signs and signals of health disorders.

For example, mouth lesions could be the first signs of HIV, and aphthous ulcers are occasionally a manifestation of Crohn’s disease or Coeliac disease. Bleeding and pale gums can indicate blood disorders, loss of bone in the lower jaw could be an early sign of skeletal osteoporosis. Changes in the appearance of teeth can indicate anorexia or bulimia.

Many compounds (e.g., opiates, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, environmental toxins, hormones, and antibodies) can be detected in the saliva. With that being said, gum health is critical to our overall health and we’ll let you know why.

In our article, we’ll answer the following commonly asked questions:

Can I reverse gum disease?

Is periodontal disease contagious?

How do dentists treat gum disease?

What is the cost of periodontal scaling and root planing cost without insurance?

Oral conditions have an impact on disease and overall health. Bacteria from within the oral cavity can cause infection in other areas of the body. Infection(s) can occur due to the immune system being compromised by medical treatments or diseases.

Systemic conditions and their treatment have also been known to impact oral health using an altered balance of oral microorganisms and reduced saliva flow.

Several systemic conditions have been associated with periodontal disease (gum disease). Though the biological interactions between oral conditions like periodontal disease and other conditions are still not fully understood, it is clear that chronic diseases – chiefly heart disease and cancer – share common risk factors.

Recognition that general health and oral health are connected is essential for determining the appropriate oral health care strategies. To say that the body and mouth are integral to each other significantly underscores the importance of adopting a collaborative “Common Risk Factor Approach” to promote oral health.

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Maintaining Gum Health

Preventing Gum Disease And
Maintaining Gum Health

Oral disease is one of the most widespread chronic diseases; even though it is incredibly preventable.

Common risk factors that oral disease tends to share with other chronic conditions/diseases are:

  • Diet: Risk factors for coronary heart disease, oral cancer, and other types of cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and periodontal disease.
  • Tobacco Smoking / Chewing: Risk factor for oral and other cancers, periodontal disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Risk factor for various forms of cancer, liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, and trauma.
  • Hygiene: Risk factor for inflammatory and bacterial conditions as well as periodontal disease.
  • Injuries: Risk factor for trauma, including dental trauma.
  • Control & Stress: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease.
  • Socio-Economic Status: Independent risk factors, as well as an underlying determinant of other risk factors.
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Diet and Gum Health

How can diet affect gum health?

Diet, as we know, is a risk factor for many things such as stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and dental caries.

The foods and drinks we consume to aid in nourishment, and our eating habits in general, have a vital influence on our overall health.

A proper, well-balanced diet will provide the body with the appropriate quality and quantity of nutrients required to sustain health. However, deficiency diseases, such as osteoporosis and anemia, result from inadequate intake of essential specific nutrients, also called undernutrition. Being obese or overweight increases the risk of stroke, Type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Image of the food pyramid. The food pyramid shows a diagram of foods and the amounts in which theyshould be consumed to help maintain optimal oral and gum health and overall health.

The Food Pyramid, in short, is designed to help people eat a balanced diet. The Food Pyramid’s top shelf represents foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat and are not necessary for health. Foods at the bottom of the pyramid, or those on the bottom shelf, represent foods that are high in nutrition such as vegetables, fruits, and salad.

In addition, studies have also shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can have a protective influence against cancers and systemic inflammatory (including periodontal) diseases.

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Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

I’m curious about my gum health…”

How do I get periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease can be acquired by an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria within the oral cavity. When harmful bacteria gain the opportunity to reproduce in the mouth, the immune system responds by creating an inflammatory response. If this response becomes chronic or ongoing, the result is bone loss around the teeth.

These bacteria can be mutations of naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth, or they can be transmitted from one person to another via saliva. Patients who suffer from other inflammatory conditions are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease due to their immune system’s exaggerated response to bacteria or viruses.

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Is there pain with periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is a silent disease that rarely presents symptoms until it is in its late stages. Sometimes, however, you can experience signs and symptoms before it has progresses to an advanced stage.

What are gum disease symptoms?

In some cases, gums can be tender or bleed during flossing and brushing; gums can also appear swollen or red. On occasion, some might experience bad breath, or they may experience gum tissue recession.

Usually, mild to moderate cases do not exhibit gum disease symptoms aside from slight bleeding when brushing or bad breath.

In more advanced cases, patients may notice aching, cold sensitivity, or tooth mobility. This condition can go unnoticed for many years without causing discomfort. Ultimately, once patients seek care, there is advanced bone loss and a poor prognosis for teeth.

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How do dentists treat gum disease?

In general, most cases of periodontal disease can be managed in a general dental practice. Initial non-surgical therapies like the placement of antimicrobials and deep cleanings can be very successful. In some cases, further treatment beyond maintenance cleanings can be required to maintain the level of bone. In short, periodontists are gum and bone specialists who can offer further treatment in more advanced cases that require periodontal surgery.

Who is the “best dentist for gum disease near me?

When it comes to the “best dentist for gum disease near me,” everyone’s definition of “best” varies, so be sure to do your homework. Look online for dentist reviews and ask friends, family, or coworkers for their input. Remember, you as a patient, always have a choice.

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Commonly asked questions about Periodontal disease:

Treatment and Prevention

How do I get rid of gum disease?

It is crucial to asses gum health and have a thorough exam of your gums and teeth by your dental provider in which they can determine the appropriate treatment. Your dental provider can recommend ways to treat your condition, and they can also help you assess your lifestyle and other risk factors that can influence the outcome of treatment. Should you need further treatment from a periodontist, we’ll kindly refer you.

It’s important to know, however, a diagnosis of periodontal disease will stay with you for your dentition lifetime. By managing the condition with regular maintenance cleanings, excellent home care habits, and lifestyle changes, it is possible to keep the inflammation under control and keep the disease state inactive.

“To improve my gum health I was told I need a special cleaning.”

My dentist told me I can’t have a regular cleaning; I have to do a deep cleaning, why?

This is likely because your dental provider has found active inflammation in the gum tissue and changes in your bone levels on your x-rays. Thus, indicating a chronic inflammatory condition called periodontitis. If periodontitis goes untreated, patients can lose a significant amount of bone around their teeth, leading to tooth loss. It is critical, however, to pursue periodontitis treatment before losing too much bone. Managing the various types of gum disease will also help improve your overall health and well-being because there is a connection to numerous systemic conditions. A general dentist can asses your situation and refer you to a periodontist, should you need a more specialized level of care.

What is a periodontal maintenance cleaning?

Periodontal therapy or periodontal maintenance cleanings are generally done every 3-4 months to help control the bacteria responsible for creating inflammation within the gum tissue. By disrupting bacteria at regular intervals, we can also reduce the body’s need and desire to create inflammation.

During periodontal therapy maintenance cleanings, your hygienist can access the tooth and gum spaces where the bacteria are more destructive and concentrated. Because your hygienist can thoroughly debride these areas, it will help keep your disease state inactive. Insurance typically covers periodontal treatments differently than preventive cleanings.

Patients often have small copays for this procedure. With the help of a patient following strict home care and attending periodontal therapy / periodontal maintenance cleaning appointments, it is our goal to keep periodontal disease inactive.

How do I treat my periodontal disease?

The initial phase of treatment involves a non-surgical method called scaling and root planing. This is essentially a deep cleaning in which the hygienist anesthetizes the area and thoroughly removes tartar and bacteria formed below the gum line. After the first phase of treatment, recommendations will be to return every 3-4 months for maintenance cleanings to keep the bacteria under control. There could be recommendation of further treatment depending upon the severity of bone loss.

Can I reverse gum disease?

Can you cure periodontal disease?

Gingivitis is a condition in which gums are swollen, red, and inflamed due to an accumulation of plaque near the gum line. Hormones or medications can also cause gingivitis. Typically gingivitis has no association with bone loss around the teeth. After the removal of plaque, gingivitis treatment is usually successful. At this point, the condition is generally reversible. However, periodontitis results from the body’s response to specific bacteria causing chronic inflammation and bone loss around the teeth.

Once patients have lost bone around the teeth, there is no way to grow it back. Treating periodontitis includes deep cleanings and regular continuing care visits to control the bacteria and avoid further bone loss. Periodontitis is not reversible but is manageable if treated appropriately.

How to get rid of pockets in your gums naturally? 

Unfortunately, there is no way to get rid of periodontal pockets by merely applying a topical treatment or taking vitamins. However, adopting specific lifestyle changes in conjunction with Periodontal treatment can positively influence the outcome of treatment. Taking Omega 3, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can boost your immune system.

Flossing once a day, brushing two times per day, and using a mouth rinse, can help maintain teeth and gum health. It is also critical to see your dental provider twice a year for a professional cleaning and oral exam. This is important to help clean bacteria below the gum line and areas that we have a hard time reaching at home.

“I have a recent diagnosis of periodontal disease.”

How often should I see my hygienist or dentist if I have periodontal disease?

It is important to regularly see your dental provider monitor your condition and avoid any further disease progression. Your provider will help you decide how often you need to be seen to maintain the bone levels and control inflammation if you have periodontal disease. Usually, the frequency you need to be seen depends on how advanced your disease is and its current state.

Also, other factors such as genetics, smoking, and other inflammatory medical conditions can determine how often a patient needs to be seen. Your dental provider, either a general dentist or periodontist), will work with you to help prevent your condition from progressing. Some patients are seen two to three times per year, and others might be seen four times a year.

Curious about…

What can a dentist do for periodontal gum disease?

How do dentists promote gum health?

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Commonly asked questions about Periodontal disease:

Overall Health Connection

Is periodontal disease contagious?

The cause of periodontal disease is the body’s response to specific strains of bacteria found within the mouth. Technically, it is not a contagious disease because periodontal disease depends specifically upon how an individual responds to the bacteria. However, it is critical to note that these bacteria are transmissible through saliva. So, it is good to avoid sharing eating utensils or oral hygiene items like toothbrushes with people who have this condition to avoid introducing these specific bacteria into your body.

Is there a link between diabetes and periodontal disease?

Research suggests that there is a link between diabetes and periodontal disease. People who have diabetes are more likely to have problems with periodontal disease. This is likely because they are more susceptible to infection. Periodontal disease is among one of the top six complications from diabetes. The relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes is correlative. In the same way that diabetes can increase a person’s risk of developing periodontal disease, research shows that well-managed cases of periodontal disease have a positive impact on blood sugar levels among patients who have Type II diabetes.

Gum Health Periodontal Disease

How does lifestyle affect oral health?

Inflammation that is a result periodontal disease can affect overall health, so making some changes to your lifestyle can improve your gum health and the health of your entire body. Tips for reducing inflammation within the body and the gums include:

  • Avoid eating processed foods, foods with added sugars, pop, or energy drinks.
  • Avoid smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco.
  • Eat a diet rich in Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and take probiotics and multivitamins.
  • Exercise regularly and practice deep relaxation techniques like Yoga or meditation.
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours each night.  

“I have concerns about my gum health. Why do dentists ask if I have heart problems?”

“How are gum disease and cardiovascular disease connected?”

Is there a link between heart disease and periodontal disease?

Multiple research studies have indicated that heart disease and gum disease could be linked. Researchers suspect that general inflammation within the body could be the reason. It is an excellent idea to mention this to your dental provider if you are at risk for heart disease or have concerns about gum disease. Together, they can work with your primary care physician to help you manage both conditions and help you find ways to stay healthy. Periodontal disease that goes without treatment can increase inflammation in the body, increasing the risk of more severe health complications.

Gum and Health are Connected

In regards to maintaining gum health in kids, is it possible for children to be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

Generally speaking, periodontal disease is uncommon in children. But, periodontal disease can be found in teenagers and adolescents. Even though this condition is rare among children, it is still critical for children to learn about, and understand the importance of, caring for their teeth and gums. Both flossing and brushing promote teeth and gum health, preventing periodontal disease. Bleeding, red, or swollen and persistent bad breath are some signs of periodontal disease in children.

cost of dental care

Commonly asked questions about periodontal disease:

Cost of Treatment

What is the cost of periodontal disease treatment without insurance (deep cleaning cost without insurance)?

Periodontal treatment varies in cost depending on the severity of the case and the necessary treatments. Deep cleaning costs, without dental insurance, in Lincoln, NE, are between $600- $1000.

“What about the cost of periodontal scaling and root planing cost with insurance?”

The cost of “periodontal therapy” such as scaling and root planing, for example, depends on the individual insurance plan, the severity, and extent of the areas involved in the patient’s case. Each dental insurance plan offers different percentages of coverage for periodontal therapy. Most dental insurances cover about 80% of the cost for periodontal cleanings, leaving a copay of approximately $150-$300.

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The information on this page was written by
Dr. Christine Bergman.

This gentle Lincoln, NE dentists, says: “My team and I will go out of our way to ensure you feel at home. We take the time to understand all of your concerns because we genuinely care. Let us help improve your health with the most advanced dental techniques in a soothing, relaxing environment. We are the gentle dentists in Lincoln, NE.”

You can schedule with this Lincoln, NE dentist, or her partners, online 24/7 at a Nebraska Family Dentistry Location near you. This “dentist near me” serves the local communities close to Lincoln. Some of the communities include Waverly, Davey, Raymond, Garland, Ceresco, Greenwood, and Malcolm, Roca, Bennet, Firth, Crete, Hickman, and many more!

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