Do you have “leaky” gums?

I am a big believer that our mouths can create a whole malady of systemic issues and started referring patients who have high hsCRP inflammatory markers to Dr. Debbie Ozment, DDS years ago to help link this together.  She has not only found countless connections but dove into the research head on and discovered even more dental links to systemic illnesses.  I have asked Dr. Debbie to share some of her knowledge today.  Don’t miss out on her TedX talk about this, too!

From Dr. Debbie……

An energetic, vibrant, clear-headed life is not the result of just one single thing.  It can’t be found in a secret habit or pill. It’s a lifestyle “symphony”, with an array of different habits all working in synergy.  Nutrient-dense food, relaxation, hydration, movement, restorative sleep, social connectivity and targeted supplementation are familiar common denominators to produce the harmony that we all desire.  But there is one impactful area that is commonly dismissed and overlooked: Leaky Gums. Healthy gums do not bleed. Bleeding gums, even in the very early stages, have a tremendous impact on your level of chronic inflammation and therefore, on your vitality.  Take heart! You can easily impact your health trajectory by knowing and doing just a few things. READ ON…

The inflammation originating in the mouth is the easiest to treat.  Consider bleeding gums as an early warning sign of impending disharmony.  Gum diseases such as gingivitis (which is reversible) and periodontitis are inflammatory disorders with a bacterial biofilm origin.  Plaque biofilm accumulates below the gums, triggers an immune response and can keep the immune system on high alert, rendering you susceptible to other chronic inflammatory problems.  The DNA of these bacteria have been found in the brain, the gut, the liver, and throughout the cardiovascular system. There is a direct correlation between certain pathogenic bacteria and specific disease states.  When left untreated, gum disease becomes irreversible and negatively affects your entire body.

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Here are four strategies for assessing “leaky” gums:

  1.      Have your hs-CRP evaluated. Miles routinely measures high sensitivity C-reactive protein; in fact, she inspired my interest in this biomarker!  Found in blood plasma, this protein rises in response to a wide range of acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. Research suggests that elevated levels are associated with increased risk of stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
  2.      Open wide and take a critical look. Using a wooden toothpick, gently probe between your teeth and under your gums.  If you have any bleeding at all, acknowledge that this is absolutely impacting your vitality.  Deal with it by getting a thorough teeth cleaning, to include a Comprehensive Periodontal Exam.  Once the biofilm has been removed, commit to disrupting it daily via a systematic home-care routine.
  3.      Have your saliva tested for bacterial DNA.  This is a simple swish test to identify specific offending bacteria.  A common oral bacteria, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, is associated with gut problems, including colorectal cancer and chemotherapy resistance.  Another oral pathogen included in this test is associated with memory problems. This technology allows a personalized treatment approach, which is typically more conservative in the long run.
  4.      Watch my TEDx Talk called “The Forgotten Orifice.” Just 14.5 minutes long, it will give you a good overview of the significance of bleeding gums.   Here’s the link.

Remember, any bit of bleeding around your teeth can negatively impact your vitality “symphony.”  View your gums from the vantage point of total body health. Because early gum disease is painless and easily ignored, you must be proactive.  My practice is now limited to oral-systemic assessment and treatment. Let me know how I can help you.

Start Somewhere!

Debbie Ozment, DDS, MS