Our latest “Dentistry in Focus Article” from January 2017 is by our Oral Health Therapist & Hygienist Glenys Shelton and concerns how poor oral health can cause other health problems.
What is this stuff on the back of my teeth and why are they becoming loose? by OHT/H Glenys Shelton.
Bacteria, mucus and other particles in mouth form plaque, which is a sticky, colourless film on the teeth. If this is not removed by brushing and flossing it hardens to form tartar or calculus – which cannot be removed by brushing and therefore needs to be seen to by a professional who will remove the tartar.
The longer the tartar remains on the teeth, the more harmful it becomes and can cause conditions such as ‘Gingivitis’, which is redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. If not controlled by brushing and flossing, this can then develop into periodontal disease where the loss of bone and tissue causes the teeth to become loose. With this bone loss, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (or ‘pockets’). It is these deep pockets which result in the loss of teeth.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases, and if left untreated can become a serious and destructive chronic infection that can contribute with other major chronic diseases for example;
- Cardiovascular Disease – it has been well demonstrated that periodontal disease is associated with a greater risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
- Diabetes – uncontrolled diabetics are more prone to periodontal disease which makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Periodontal disease can also increase the blood sugar levels.
- Stroke – cerebrovascular ischaemic strokes are the most common strokes. They result from an obstruction or clot within the blood vessel which supplies blood to the brain. Periodontal disease may cause bacteria in the blood, causing an infection in the heart valves or blood vessels. Patients with abnormal heart valves require antibiotic cover for some dental procedures in order to prevent sub-acute bacterial endocarditis.
- Kidney disease – periodontal disease is common in patients with chronic kidney disease. This can contribute to an increase in inflammation, infections, protein energy wasting and complications with hardening of the arteries.
- Peripheral vascular disease (for example; legs) – hardening of the arteries, reducing blood flow – periodontal disease can contribute to this with bacteria and particle build up in the blood vessels.
- Dementia & Alzheimers – studies have shown that impaired delayed memory and calculation has been associated with periodontal disease.
- Adverse pregnancy outcomes – infection with bacteria from periodontal disease in the mouth may affect the health of the uterus which can lead to low birth weight and premature contractions. Association between periodontal disease and preeclampsia has also been found.
- Aspiration pneumonia – inhaling bacteria from gum disease can cause lung infection.
- Stomach ulcers – stomach ulcers are caused by bacterium (Helicobacer Pylori) which is found in mouth plaque on the teeth and stomach. This means it is potentially a source of transmission or reinfection.
- Oral cancers – bacteria in the mouth can harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing toxins that resemble proteins found in the artery walls or blood stream. The immune systems response could harm vessel walls or make clotting easier. Inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammation throughout the body and increasing chronic diseases such as cancer in the mouth and pharynx is increased 35 times more in conjunction with smoking and alcohol consumption. In addition, gum disease can impact everyday life by effecting eating, sleeping, your social life and loss of productivity with time off school or work.
Therefore, the importance of regular dental checkups and good oral health can detect and prevent problems that may cause or worsen health conditions.
To maintain optimal health and prevent disease, it is important to clean every surface of every tooth, every day.
About the Author
Dental Oral Health Therapist and Hygienist Glenys Shelton is one of the longest serving members of staff works across both practices for Robertson Dental Innovations. She is available for appointments weekdays except for Thursdays. Due to the amount of children seen by Glenys it is suggest to book early for school holiday or after school appointments as these are her most popular appointment times.