Dental Disease 101
Get back to the basics!
The dental community has always believed dental diseases could be related to other disease processes around the entire body. It has been fairly well publicized that dental diseases play a role in cardiovascular diseases and diabetic control. With all the excitement about new scientific information we tend to forget our dental basics.
We are born with a sterile mouth, so how do we end up with a complex community of over 500 different microbes in our mouths? The answer is as close as our parents, caregivers and loved ones. Those babies are so kissable, we taste their food to make sure it is not too hot, share drinks with them, etc. Caregivers with active decay in their mouths have even higher numbers of those bacteria to share with their children. However, that is not the entire story.
We have to provide the microbes with a comfortable environment in which to live and prosper. These acid producing bacteria need to adhere to tooth structure. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily disrupt those bacteria from the tooth surface and keep their numbers under control. Frequent sipping or snacking on sugary drinks/foods gives them their favorite food. When they have their favorite diet, they can multiply rapidly and produce even more acid. The longer these acids are in contact with our teeth, the greater risk for developing dental decay.
Let’s not forget about gum disease. A different group of bacteria live under the edge of the gums. When their growth goes unchecked, the body does what it can to fight this infection. The blood vessels swell to bring antibodies and white blood cells to fight the invading bacteria. At first those bleeding puffy gums have what is termed “gingivitis.”
Long term deposits of bacteria under the gums eventually become hardened into calculus, which is commonly called “tarter.” This can lead to a deeper infection causing bone loss around the teeth. If enough bone is lost, there is nothing left to support them. Very often people who have had very few cavities in their lifetimes have difficulties with periodontal disease. Why? The environment we discussed earlier is better for the gum disease microbes than the decay bacteria. Dental disease ultimately comes down to this complex community, which microbes are most dominant, and how well your body is able to fight the infection.
The best treatment is still preventing the disease in the first place. Daily brushing, flossing and eating a diet that is low is sugars are the basics to good dental health for a lifetime. Regular professional dental cleanings keep the areas under the gumline free of calculus. Riverbend Dental is committed to prevention of all dental diseases and are excited to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy!