Oral Health and Overall Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers have uncovered potential links between periodontal disease and other serious health conditions. In people with healthy immune systems, the influx of oral bacteria into the bloodstream is usually harmless. But under certain circumstances, the CDC says, the microorganisms that live in the human mouth can cause problems elsewhere in the body "if normal protective barriers in the mouth are breached."
If you have diabetes, for example, you are at higher risk of developing infections such as periodontal disease. These infections can impair the body's ability to process or use insulin, which may cause your diabetes to be more difficult to manage. Diabetes is not only a risk factor for periodontal disease, but periodontal disease may make diabetes worse.
However, the CDC cautions that there is not enough evidence to conclude that oral infections actually cause or contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other serious health problems. More research is underway to determine whether the associations are causal or coincidental.
Other Common Measures for Treating Gum Disease
- Curettage -- a scraping away of the diseased gum tissue in the infected pocket, which permits the infected area to heal.
- Flap surgery -- involves lifting back the gums and removing the tartar. The gums are then sewn back in place so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth. This method also reduces the pocket and areas where bacteria grow.
- Bone grafts -- used to replace bone destroyed by periodontitis. Tiny fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone are placed where bone was lost. These grafts serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone, which restores stability to teeth.
- Soft tissue grafts -- reinforce thin gums or fill in places where gums have receded. Grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is stitched in place over the affected area.
- Guided tissue regeneration -- stimulates bone and gum tissue growth. Done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.
- Bone (osseous) surgery -- smoothes shallow craters in the bone due to moderate and advanced bone loss. Following flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped to decrease the craters. This makes it harder for bacteria to collect and grow.
- Medications -- in pill form are used to help kill the germs that cause periodontitis or suppress the destruction of the tooth's attachment to the bone. There are also antibiotic gels, fibers or chips applied directly to the infected pocket. In some cases, a dentist will prescribe a special anti-germ mouth rinse containing a chemical called chlorhexidine to help control plaque and gingivitis. These are the only mouth rinses approved for treating periodontal disease.