Gum Disease - The Silent Killer

by Victor Zeines, DDS and Nutritionist, as seen in Food Matters

The mouth is the gateway to the body because all cellular function and major systems begin with fuel that is processed in the mouth.  Poor nutrition and body health starts with a poor environment in the mouth – the proverbial “Garbage in, Garbage out€.  Interestingly enough, the mouth is the last place to receive nutrition for its own function - the gums, teeth, etc - even though the process starts in the mouth.  Therefore lack of nutrition becomes a never-ending cycle of poor health leading to more poor health – all from poor health of the mouth. DR W Loesche at the Michigan School Of Dentistry associates poor dental health with “early death from any cause€ and DR Jack Caton President of the American Academy of Periodontology states that “avoiding periodontal disease is not just important for keeping teeth for a lifetime, but also in keeping the rest of the body healthy.€
It all begins in the mouth!

According to the American Dental Association approximately 75% of our population has periodontal problems.  This statistics has widespread implications for our general population. Do your gums bleed? Are they red or puffy? Has you dentist ever told you that you need to brush better or see the hygienist more frequently? If your answer to any of these questions is "yes", then you have some form of periodontal or gum disease. However because symptoms of gum disease are often silent until the later stages, you are likely to have gum disease even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.

What exactly is periodontal disease? As part of the answer, we need to understand how teeth are held in the mouth. Teeth are not embedded in the jawbones but are totally surrounded by tissue called the periodontal membrane. Each tooth is totally surrounded by this tissue. The tissue acts as a shock absorber for the tooth. Periodontal membrane is actually a continuation of the gum tissue that covers all the bone and tooth parts in the mouth with the exception of the crown of the tooth (the part we see). The periodontal membrane has thousands of tiny fibers called periodontal ligaments that go from the membrane and attach to the tooth and the bone.

In a normal healthy mouth there is always a slight space between the tooth and the bone called a pocket, which is usually about 1-2mm (about an eighth of an inch). Poor oral hygiene and/or poor nutrition will allow plaque, or hard deposits to form on the teeth. These deposits allow for the growth of bacteria that cause inflammation of the gum tissue. The bacteria also release toxins that help break down the tissue, helping the infection to progress. As the infection progresses, the gum tissue becomes red instead of its normal healthy pink color and will get puffy.
As the infection continues, bleeding will occur, especially when you floss or brush. Aside from these effects the bacteria migrate into the pocket and begin to destroy the periodontal membrane. The toxins produced by the bacteria will also destroy the bone in the immediate area. The process can be seen by a deepening of the normal healthy pocket from 1 to 2mm to 3 to 4mm and in severe cases 7 to l0 mm or more. The effect is that the teeth involved are loosened and will eventually fall out.

What can you do about Gum Disease?

Hippocrates said "Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine, And Thy Medicine Be Thy Food." He was one of the great doctors of all time because he believed that a well-nutritioned body can heal itself without the need for the synthetic medication that we use so often today. These poisons are just treating the symptoms, masking the real problems and creating other problems through terrible side effects.

Our bodies consist of trillions of cells working in miraculous symmetry. For these cells within our body to stay healthy, we must supply high quality nutrients. Unfortunately, most modern-day food is processed, bleached, refined, adulterated, irradiated, pasteurized, homogenized and are at least a week old by the time you eat it. This food cannot furnish all the wholesome necessary nutrients you need. It is thus of paramount importance to choose organic, nutrient-rich foods.