How many times a day do you brush your teeth? Floss? Use a tongue scraper?
Twice a day is ok, but after every meal is even better.
Let me throw another question your way: How many times have you been to your primary care doctor and talked about your oral hygiene habits?
I bet the answer is never.
But at True Health, an extensive oral examination and assessment are part of our routine visits all the time.
And I'll tell you why. About 47 percent of people 30 and older have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's nearly half of all Americans! Even more shocking is that most people don't even know they have it.
So what is periodontal disease anyway?
There are millions of bacteria that live below your gum line and on the back of your tongue. It sounds pretty gross but it’s actually natural.
Here’s where it becomes a problem. These bacteria form a sticky substance on your teeth known as plaque. Yet if your oral hygiene habits are subpar, the plaque hardens and turns to tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist. If plaque and tarter build up, your gums get inflamed and you can get gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease.
Some of the early warning signs you should look for include red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, sensitivity, pain when you eat, or persistent bad breath.
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, the most severe form of periodontal disease. Periodontitis can cause the gums to actually pull away from the teeth and form pockets that are wide open to infection. It doesn’t sound too pretty, does it?
So if your dentist ever mentioned that you have pockets 4 mm or greater in depth, you already have the early signs of periodontal disease.
As plaque continues to infiltrate below the gum line, and the body's immune response leads to inflammation (link to blog post), the gums, bone and connective tissue can get damaged and you can actually lose your teeth altogether.
So even if your gums are occasionally puffy and sore, or even bleed slightly, you could have full-blown periodontal disease sooner than you think, if you don’t nip it in the bud now.
Poor oral hygiene is hands down the number one cause of periodontal disease. It’s also the easiest and most effective way to prevent and reverse it. Here are some others:
Periodontal disease can be a serious condition that can cause a host of other health problems. The good news is that it’s preventable and if identified early, can even be reversed.
(Kristine Burke, M.D.) Great medical practice and team. Dr. Burke's personal attention to detail and explanation to my questions are greatly appreciated. I'm so grateful I found Dr. Burke. Her enthusiasm and knowledge is refreshing as we dig through years of health issues I could not find solutions or causes for. I found out many of my issues resulted from damaging prescrip...
(Kristine Burke, M.D.) I love this practice model! I've never felt better. Find the problem and fix it instead of treat the problem with drugs - brilliant!
(Kristine Burke, M.D.) I greatly appreciate the availability of the Dr.'s time and short waits for appointments. I think being rushed in and out serves little purpose. From the day I started going to Dr. Burke I expressed my expectations of my doctor, which are what we get now. I'm sure there is a lot I don't understand in terms of insurance coverage and laws in this state,...
(Kristine Burke, M.D.) I am pleased with the practice because you are an essential part of my health improvement plan, my health is improving, I like the extensive nature of healthcare, the practice continues to evolve in a positive direction, the amount of time spent with Dr. Burke is excellent, I don't feel rushed and all questions are answered, and the staff is helpful, ...
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