Gum Disease●It Is Not Just Your Teeth●Your Entire Body May Be Affected

Dr. Barbara A. Tarnoski Dentist | General Practice Drexel HIll, PA

Dr. Barbara Tarnoski is a Dentist practicing in Drexel Hill, PA. Dr. Tarnoski specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases and conditions associated with the mouth and overall dental health. Dentists are trained to carry out such treatment as professional cleaning, restorative, prosthodontic, and endodontic... more

Gum disease affects our gums and teeth. I am not sure that patients really understand why flossing and brushing has to be done every day. Every day plaque, a sticky whitish mass of living bacteria forms at our gum line and on our teeth. Whether we eat or not, plaque forms. 

We may see plaque on our gum line tissue because our gum tissue is pinkish in color, and the plaque that forms on our teeth is hard to see because our teeth are white. Plaque crystallizes in 24 to 48 hours. Once plaque crystallizes, only dental instruments can remove it.  

Plaque, that sticky mass of living bacteria, is eating small amounts of the same foods you eat. The bacteria in plaque can penetrate tartar and get close to your tooth surface. Plaque bacteria gives off acids, this can weaken your enamel and cause cavities. These bacteria are multiplying and giving off toxic waste products and toxins. This is why you need to brush and floss twice a day. 

Now in your saliva, you have calcium. This calcium will harden, and hardened calcium is known as calculus or tartar. You have two different processes taking place. The hardened calculus or tartar keeps building up. Tartar is a mechanical irritant, it traps food particles and other debris. This can start a local infection. 

Your body has a defense system and sends fighting cells to fight this bacteria assault. This fighting comes at a cost. This causes chemicals that irritate your gum tissues and destroys them. As your gum tissue is slowly being worn away, your tooth's supporting tissues and bone may become involved as this process continues.  

The most important fact that we have to remember is that - there is no cure for gum disease. We control it with good oral hygiene. Plaque formation occurs daily and that is a fact, as does saliva. We need our saliva to help with our food digestion. Plaque that forms on our teeth can cause harm to our mouth and bodies heath. 

Poor home dental care creates dental emergencies. Pain and swelling are serious issues, and can cause a cosmetic emergency. Plaque forming every day, crystallizing, along with calcium in your saliva hardening is an ongoing process. It is a slow process that can be corrected with flossing and brushing daily. 

We can't stop plaque from forming, as well as calcium, but we can control it. Some patients say they don't want to even look after their teeth. For example, if your or someone you know has a pet. If that pet is older than three years old, they have a buildup of tartar as well. What is above the gum line is also below your pet's gum line. Dogs and cats often don't have dental care. So, you have to start brushing their teeth when they are young. 

Everyone should brush their teeth. If you see what is collecting above your gum line, image what is below your gum line. This is a slow process and starts when we are young. Everyone has that band of attached gingiva that keeps food and bacteria from going down towards the tooth roots. We can't clean below our gum line, so if the attached gingiva is worn away, bacteria will form. 

We all have an immune system to protect us from attacking bacteria, viruses, etc. As we get older, our body has more demands of our immune system. Our body's immune system was not made to just care for our health. The human body is constantly being attacked by bacteria, viruses, etc. 

For those patients who have been flossing and brushing daily, their gum issues are minor. Some of these patients are in their 40's. The percentage of dental patients who floss and brush daily are small. Patients come into our office for emergency treatment.

Some of these patients mention how much they spent of their teeth and that they are still a mess. Natural teeth, crowns, facings, and braces are in your mouth 24/7. If you are not brushing and flossing daily, dental hygiene issues will arise. 

The repetition of plaque buildup and the need to floss is added to emphasize flossing is the key. You have top understand that with flossing you have to do it correctly. You need to floss as far down as you can. Move the floss to a clean area and then move to the next tooth. Those plastic flossers are mainly good for front teeth only. As you move towards back teeth they are less effective.

You have to treat your teeth like precious gems. If you have large fillings, you don't bite into apples, or chew hard candies or ice. Even having hard nuts can split the teeth in half. If you are biting down and get that splitting feeling, stop biting. 

Your teeth are a part of who you are. Take care of them.