Written by: Debbie Bittke, RDH, BS, Dental Hygienist and Dental Industry Expert.
Overall Health Includes Your Body and Mouth
When you see your healthcare provider and they ask you, “How is your health,” what comes to mind?
Do you think about your total health including your mouth, or do you think your physician is only asking about your body, not including your mouth?
Your oral health is a Very, Very, important part of your total health, and well-being.
Your total health includes not just how you are feeling today but it includes the health of your mouth and body. Your oral health today (or lack of) determines if you will be healthy in a year and especially in 20, 30 or even 50 years from today.
Now, if I ask you, “How is your health,” will your answer include how you are feeling today? Will your answer now include your teeth, gums, and mouth?
The next question you may ask yourself is, “How do I know if my teeth, gums and mouth are healthy?”
Keep reading and get the very best answers to this question.
You may just find out how you can live a longer, healthier life!
"Your mouth is the window to your body."1
Signs of Poor Oral Health2
What does a healthy mouth look like and what are signs you have poor oral health?
- gums that bleed easily
- red, swollen, tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath or bad taste
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- any change in the fit of partial dentures
Risk factors for poor oral health and gum disease include:
- poor oral hygiene (lack of routine, effective flossing and brushing)
- use of tobacco, cannabis, chewing tobacco and vaping
- misaligned teeth (they are hard to keep clean)
- pregnancy, menopause, menarche (think hormone changes)
- diabetes and various undiagnosed systemic diseases
- medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, radiation, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants and oral contraceptives, are only a few mentioned here
What are Signs of Gum Disease?
Sore, bleeding gums, are a sign of poor oral health. Some people will have a heart attack or high blood pressure, yet they feel no pain and gum disease is also something that you may not feel in your mouth or body. It’s one of those “silent diseases."
Therefore, it becomes very important to see your dentist and a dental hygienist routinely. Comprehensive dental exams are a must to prevent gum disease and other oral diseases.
A dental hygienist should complete a comprehensive periodontal (Gum) exam each year. Always ask your dental hygienist what the numbers mean when they do complete the comprehensive gum exam.
Oral cancer is on the rise so it's important to have an oral abnormality screening completed annually at your dental appointment.
Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene, a lack of daily flossing and brushing, among other factors listed here in this blog.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and this includes red, inflamed, bleeding gums, and can include malodor.
Gingivitis is reversible and this is one more important reason to routinely see your dentist and dental hygienist.
Slight to moderate and especially advanced gum disease, may include recession which is when the root of your tooth is exposed. Think of the term, “long in the tooth.”
More advanced stages of gum disease will include the above and, this advanced stage is when your teeth may become loose. If you have an infection in your gums you may also notice pus or suppuration around your gums And of course bleeding of your gums will be prevalent.
Treatment of Gingivitis
If you suspect that you have gum disease always schedule a comprehensive exam with a dentist. This exam must include an exam of your gums.
Be sure that you have a comprehensive gum exam annually and understand what the outcome is (the numbers the dentist or dental hygienist will record) so you are aware if you have gingivitis, moderate, sight or healthy gums.
If you do have any form of gum disease, gingivitis (slight, reversible gum disease) or moderate-advanced gum disease you will need more than "just a cleaning."
More Than JUST a Cleaning: What is This?!
Gingivitis is treated with ultrasonics, use of special dental instruments and a soft-tissue laser is very helpful to reduce the bad bacteria and inflammation.
You will return in 4-6 weeks for an evaluation, to be sure the gingivitis has resolved and at this time you will have a final "cleaning," polishing of your teeth, and a soft-tissue laser is also used.
The soft-tissue, diode laser helps destroy infectious bacteria and remove heavy amounts of plaque and tartar buildup. Incorporating a soft-tissue, diode laser with your gingivitis or gum treatment can improve your response to periodontal care.
As a result, pocket depths (this is what your dentist or dental hygiene will measure during the comprehensive gum exam) can be restricted and the gum tissues are more likely to reattach to the roots of teeth.
Moderate to advanced gum disease requires more appointments with a dental hygienist. Usually your dentist or dental hygienist will use a local anesthetic to numb the teeth she/he will be working on that day.
The dental hygienist will use ultrasonics and this may have a special antiseptic in the ultrasonic that helps reduce inflammation and support healing.
The dental hygienist will also use special instruments that are specific to remove the tartar and infectious bacteria under the gums. The soft-tissue, diode laser will be used and your will be sent home with post-op instructions.
Post-Op Care For Gum Treatment
As a dental hygienist, I recommend that my patients rinse with warm water that includes a teaspoon of salt. Patients also receive a Celebrity Smiles Teeth Whitening kit because the main ingredient "Carbamide Peroxide" works to disinfect your gums.
Other ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwash that can help heal your gums include; zinc, xylitol, and various essential oils.
I recommend these home care products to all of my dental patients.
The Celebrity Smiles LED mouthpiece not only helps to BOOST the teeth whitening process (The least of our concerns when you have gum disease) but the LED Blue lights disinfect (think cleanse your gums and inhibit plaque build-up), and inhibit bacterial growth.
LED Red lights will calm and heal heal gum inflammation, bleeding gums, and even mouth sores, or a canker sore(think dentures or any type of dental treatment, such as an implant, or a crown, bridge, etc.).
Once you do have gingivitis or periodontitis (bone loss of your jaw around the teeth), you are always are risk for future gum problems. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend more frequent dental hygiene visits; 3-4 months after your gingivitis and gum treatment.
80 Percent of the Outcome
80 percent of your oral health outcome is what you do at home. Only 20 percent of your oral health is what your dental hygienist can do when you keep your scheduled dental appointments.
Super important is to floss at least once a day. Brushing does not clean between your teeth. This is where gum disease and cavities occur.
Watch this floss video for effective flossing techniques: https://youtu.be/Re_tQzNi708
Twice a day, use a power toothbrush.
Power toothbrushes have been a lot more effective at removing the plaque which crystalizes into tartar (a rock formation).
BURST ORAL CARE has a very good power toothbrush and there are so many reasons why I recommend this to my patients!
This is the link if you want to learn more about it or try the power toothbrush. The link provides a 40% OFF Promo Code for any of the BURST oral care products.
One fact about the BURST power toothbrush I will mention, is the lifetime warranty.
When you sign up to have the brush head automatically shipped to you every 2 (I recommend changing your brush every 2 months), or 3 months, your brush is guaranteed for life! This is their current policy at the time I am writing this July 2022.
Yes, you read that right!
The brush is guaranteed for life if you will set up auto-ship and replace your brush head (about $7 every 2 months. That's a no-brainer; right?!) using the auto-ship.
Please note that once you have a diagnosis of gum disease or gingivitis, you must see a dentist and registered dental hygienist for gum treatment. The gum treatment will always be followed up with a 4-6 week re-evaluation to be sure the disease is no longer active.
Next, after the re-evaluation, if your gums have improved, routine and more frequent dental hygiene appointments will be recommended.
Periodontitis. AKA: Gum Disease
The next stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. This affects the gum tissue, gum line, and teeth.
This stage of the disease can progress rapidly and will deteriorate your jawbone. As you lose the bone inside your jaw, what holds your teeth in place, your teeth become loose and can fall out.
Symptoms include, receding gums, bad breath, sore gums, infection with pus, and gum pockets which are measured by your dental hygienist.
People who use tobacco, are obese, suffer from diabetes, or are pregnant are more prone to inflammation in their mouth. Older people have a higher risk for experiencing gum disease.
Think of the 80/20 rule as mentioned above.
80 percent of how you care for your mouth and body creates either health or disease.
20 percent is what your dental hygienist can do when you see them routinely for preventive care.
Short list of other preventive suggestions to follow:
1. Floss once a day (Brushing alone does not clean between your teeth)
2. Brush after breakfast and before bed
3. See your dentist and dental hygienist routinely (As recommended)
4. Schedule routine physical exams with blood panels to check your cholesterol and other recommended tests
5. Exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes
6. Eat a healthy diet, low sugar, and fat
7. LED Red lights (See the LED Lights in the Celebrity Smiles Mouthpiece) help heal gum inflammation as well as canker sores, denture sores, etc.3
8. LED Blue lights inhibit the bad bacteria in your mouth that leads to gum inflammation and heavy plaque build-up.4
Prevention costs less money than treating disease.
Your overall health includes the health of your teeth and gums, not just the other parts of your body.
If you want to live a long, healthy life, it’s important to routinely see your dentist and dental hygienist for exams and preventive care.
When you have a diagnosis of gum disease, cavities, etc, make sure you schedule the recommended appointments to halt disease, inflammation, and infection. Treating any stage of gum disease will cost less money than treating advanced gum disease.
Worse yet, is losing your teeth which requires painful dentures, various appliances and implants.
A healthy mouth will help reduce your chances for a heart attack, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many other systemic diseases.
Routine dental exams by your dentist and cleanings from a dental hygienist, mean that if you do begin to have any gum or teeth problems, they can be fixed at an early stage which not only means spending less money than treating disease, but a healthy mouth will lead to a longer life.
Infection in your mouth travels into your blood stream and can cause other serious, life-threatening systemic diseases.
"A Healthy Mouth Leads to a Longer, Healthier Life!"
- Oral Health Accessed July 27, 2022.
- Signs of Gum Disease Accessed July 27, 2022.
- LED Red Lights Accessed November 2021.
- LED Blue Lights Accessed May 2022.