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Bleeding gums

More than 80% of adults have some form of periodontal disease and 99% of those have no signs to indicate they have a problem. Your mouth is a portal to your body. More than 90% of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations!
bleeding gums

When you research the problem of bleeding gums, you will quickly realize that EVERYONE has a toothpaste solution to this problem.

Other than seeing your dentist, which should be your first step, exactly what can you do on your own to help with bleeding gums?

The first line of defense is proper dental hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal.
  • If any bleeding is noticed while brushing, this means you need to brush and floss more often or more thoroughly and that you need your teeth professionally cleaned.
  • Floss at least once/day using proper flossing methods. By not flossing you allow the bacteria to build up to dangerous levels.
  • Decrease the quantity and frequency of your consumption of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year.
  • Mouth rinse containing chlorhexidine, an anti-microbial agent, which removes excess bacteria.
  • use a high quality electric tooth bruth such Sonicareicon, which uses sound waves to remove plaque, or the Braun Oral-B OxyJet Oral Irrigator icon to massage the gums.

 

The control of plaque is the key to maintaining healthy gums

GINGIVITIS is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth due to improper cleaning of the teeth. Although systemic factors and general health can modify the tissue reactions to local irritants, gingivitis at all ages is caused primarily by local irritants. Gingivitis is nearly always reversible. The usual signs of gingivitis are gums which are swollen and bleed during brushing.

Failure to rinse the mouth after meals and brush the teeth results in a thin layer of food and bacteria covering the tooth surface. This bacterium is the chief culprit behind the inflammation known as gingivitis. The gums during this stage of infection become soft, spongy and swollen.

Is bleeding of the gum a serious problem?

Yes, bleeding gums is a serious problem. It is either indicating the beginning of the destructive process involving the supporting tissue around the tooth or some serious underlying systemic problems. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that damage the gums.

The adage “To keep your teeth, take care of your gums.” has a basis in reality. Gingivitis is one of the most common forms of gum (periodontal) disease. Gingivitis affects the tissues that surround and support your teeth. The bacteria which causes gingivitis, can turn into tartar buildup, irritate your gums and lead to bleeding. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. This long-term infection can eventually cause loss of your teeth. Gum disease - not decay - is the #1 cause of tooth loss. Gum disease generally doesn’t hurt. You may have it for years before you feel discomfort. Don’t wait until you feel the pain.

When plaque has hardened on your teeth, it will be necessary for a dental hygienist or a dentist to scrape this material off your teeth.

Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent bleeding gums, gingivitis and periodontitis.

 

Research reveals that diseased gums pump high levels of harmful bacterial components into the bloodstream

The skin of the oral cavity is known as "Oral Mucosa". It is very rich with blood vessels and if outside bacteria and the toxins which they produce get into the blood stream, they are off and running throughout your body.
oral mucosa

 

Recent research in Europe and the U.S. have proven a link between an increase in oral sulfur compounds in the mouth, which then initiate gum disease and bleeding gums (which are truly open wounds in your mouth). These open bleeding sites allow other dangerous toxins to enter the body's bloodstream. And as we will examine later in this page, this infiltration of the bloodstream can eventually to systemic problems such as heart disease, strokes, and pneumonia.

Anaerobic bacteria produce sulfur compounds. These sulfur compounds allow toxins to enter your blood stream through swollen gums.

These anaerobic bacteria have the ability to extract sulfur compounds from proteins which are produced when your gums are swollen and bleeding. Some of these sulfur compounds are classified as "Thiols". These dangerous sulfur compounds have recently been found to allow other bacteria – and the toxins they produce – to infiltrate below the gumline. It is argued that these bacterial toxins may get into your bloodstream and travel throughout your body, most significantly to your brain - increasing the risk for strokes, or to the heart - increasing the risk for heart attacks!

Professors Robin Seymour and James Steele of the University of Newcastle Dental School in England say that you are less likely to get coronary heart disease if you have healthy gums. In fact, these 2 specialists reviewed 10 studies dating back to 1965. Two of the larger studies, done here in the U.S., showed striking evidence proving this point. Their analysis was reported to the British Dental Journal. Their article stated that periodontal disease (gum disease) may be a factor as significant as smoking and high cholesterol when it comes to heart disease!

As the doctors stated, "An interaction between specific bacteria in dental plaque (anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria) and platelets (the components of blood involved in blood clotting) has also been suggested as contributing towards the association between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease."
platelets

A 1996 study involving over 1,100 individuals found that the incidence of coronary heart disease, fatal coronary disease, and strokes were all significantly related to their baseline periodontal status. Of course, diabetes and smoking have been implicated in both heart disease and gum disease.

Professors Robin Seymour and James Steele suggested that periodontal disease should be looked at as a chronic infection. They stated that there is a lot of evidence now indicating that chronic infections may be an important trigger for "atheroma" formation (degenerative changes in the arteries). The link between heart disease and strokes and bleeding gums appears most obvious in men aged 40-50 years old.

More research about gum disease - this time from the U.S.

According to a recent study at the University of Minnesota, 2 kinds of bacteria breeding in dental plaque around inflamed gums can bring about "blood clumping". This is technically speaking the first step towards forming a clot that can trigger a heart attack.

At the university, experiments on rabbits found that these bacteria, which originate in the mouth, also caused abnormalities in the heart. Again, it appears that we should add "periodontal disease" to the standard risk factors like high cholesterol, lack of exercise, poor diet, and being overweight.

Research was done in Finland which presented evidence in 1989 that even when conventional risk factors for strokes and heart attacks were taken into account, dental infections were associated with strokes (1) and heart attacks (2). Another study examining 9,760 men during a period spanning 1971-1987, confirmed the conclusions of the Finnish study which linked coronary artery disease and gum disease (3). The most noteworthy finding was that gum disease and poor oral hygiene are stronger indicators of risk of total mortality than were coronary artery disease. Other research has shown a strong association between bone loss from gum disease and both fatal coronary heart disease and strokes (4).

By what mechanisms could gum disease cause heart disease?

Some of the proposed mechanisms of the gum disease (periodontitis) and heart disease association are:

A. Studies show that the oral bacteria, "Streptococcus sanguis" does cause the clumping of blood platelets. This clumping can be the first stage in the development of a blood clot -- the cause of a heart attack. The periodontal infection would reduce the health of the lining of the gum tissues which, in turn, can allow bacteria from the mouth to enter into the underlying tissues (5).

B. Patients with periodontitis have significantly higher levels of inflammatory products (fibrinogen and white blood cells) which are well known risk factors for acute heart attacks.

C. Dental bacterial components affect the body's response to infection and can play a role in the development of atherosclerosis.

D. New development in medical research is further raising concerns that bacteria can cause heart attacks. One bacteria, "Chlamydia pneumoniae" has been found in the walls of the blood vessel of patients who have had heart attacks (6).

 

 

 

Are there supplements/herbs which help with gum disease?

Coenzyme Q10 is reported to offer some benefits with regard to gum health. As early as 1973, Drs. T. Matsumura and Karl Folkers performed a double blind trial of CoQ10 versus regular periodontal treatments for serious periodontal disease.

24 patients suffering from severe periodontal disease which had not responded to extensive flossing and brushing were studied. 13 subjects received 50 mg of CoQ10, 11 received placebos. 9 of the 13 CoQ10 patients improved dramatically. Only 3 of 11 placebo recipients showed minor improvement.

In 4 of the CoQ10 patients, symptoms of the disease completely disappeared within 8 weeks. "The therapeutic improvement with CoQ10 was better both by the number of improved patients and the degree of improvement," reported the doctors.

 

Further studies at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center showed that periodontal patients dramatically improved the depths of their "pockets" by taking 75mg of CoQ10 a day.

How does co-enzyme Q10 work? Apparently by boosting the immune system to help battle the bacteria which can cause gum disease. The best price on the internet for coenzyme Q10 is currently hereicon

What about mouth rinses for gum disease?

For reducing plaque and gingivitis, mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine (such as "Peridex" and "Perioguard") appear to be the most effective. Dr. Sebastian Ciancio, chairman of the Department of Periodontics at SUNY Dental School in Buffalo, did a survey of studies involving anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis products. In 3 long-term studies of chlorhexidine, Dr. Ciancio found that patients using this product showed a reduction in plaque by 55% and a reduction in gingivitis by 45%. Chlorhexidine appears to kill bacteria by altering the permeability of the cell membrane of the bacteria. This alteration causes the bacterial cell to leak, which eventually kills the bacteria. Chlorhexidine mouthrinses are available by prescription only.

However there are drawbacks to the use of chlorhexidine:

Chlorhexidine may stain teeth. A "change in taste" is one of the side effects reported by chlorhexidine users. Also chlorhexidine should not be used if you are pregnant or nursing.

Although less effective than chlorhexidine, "Listerine icon" is a therapeutic antiseptic which contains phenolic compounds and which has been been shown to reduce plaque by about 28% and gingivitis by about 30%. Listerine also contains essential oils. These compounds appear to kill bacteria by causing a disruption in their cell membrane. "Listerine icon"'s alcohol contents is of some concern to some, although some flavors of "Listerine" contain less alcohol than others and are reported as being as effective.

"Scope" and "Cepacol" have given mixed results in studies done on their effectiveness against gum disease.

Ingredients which you DON'T want added to your mouthwash and other oral products

They are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Saccharin
  • Sodium Chlorate
  • Benzalkonium Chloride

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):

Unfortunately, the public is often unaware of the ingredients in products they use on a daily basis. For instance, many toothpastes contains an ingredient which has been proven to dry out the mouth, and is now scientifically linked to canker sores. It's called "Sodium Lauryl Sulfate" (SLS), and is put into toothpaste (and some mouthwashes) in order to create foaming! "Sodium Lauryl Sulfate" does nothing significant from an oral health stand point, except make your mouth more dry, because soaps are drying agents.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is also possibly one of the main ingredients in your shampoo - go check it out. The harshness of this chemical has been proven to create microscopic damage to the oral tissue which lines the inside of your mouth, which then leads to the production of canker sores.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) acts just like a detergent. It is used in the laboratory as a membrane de-stabilizer and solubilizer of proteins and lipids. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used in toothpaste to emulsify (mix) oil and water-based ingredients together. In your toothpaste Sodium Lauryl Sulfate creates the foam you get while brushing. Because it is classified as a soap, you can easily understand why this ingredient can cause drying inside the mouth for many people.

Saccharin:

Would you give Saccharin to your children? Well, you are - when you provide them with children's toothpaste from some of the major companies - take a look at their ingredients.

Sodium Chlorate:

This is a chemical that is NOT an oxygenating compound. It sounds like a chemical used in oxygenating products, but in order for it to even start to produce oxygenation, the solution would need to have a pH of -1 (that's right -1!). Historically, scientific papers refer to many cases of accidental Sodium Chlorate Poisoning. Consequently, oral products containing chlorates were taken off the market in the UK over 60 years ago!

Benzalkonium Chloride:

Benzalkonium Chloride has been used for many years as a preservative in eye drops and also in nasal sprays. Recently, researchers in Europe discovered that this preservative was causing a great deal of allergic reaction among users. It is now estimated that fully 10% of the population is allergic to Benzalkonium Chloride.

Based on these facts, pharmaceutical companies have started to produce eye and nasal drops WITHOUT Benzalkonium Chloride in order to provide better products to the public.

 

Gum disease and illness

The bacteria in gum disease can enter your bloodstream through damaged blood vessels which run through the gums. This can increase the toxin load in your bloodstream which increases your risk of:
gum disease

 

Resource: Dental Economics Aug 2000.

Systemic Release of Endotoxins Induced by Gentle Mastication: Association with Periodontitis Severity; Journal of Periodontology, 2002.

The most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque can cause blood clots that induce heart attacks when they escape into the bloodstream, researchers have reported.

Harvard Medical School researchers studied longevity and found that one of the most important contributing factors was daily flossing. Because it removes bacteria from the teeth and gums, flossing helps to prevent periodontal disease and gingivitis. Another study found that men with periodontitis had a whopping 72% greater risk of developing coronary disease. Gingivitis was associated with a 42% increased risk for men.

My favorite source for quality oral hygiene products which don't contain harmful ingredients is Anti-AgingCompany.com. I discuss their wonderful products more in depth on my "Hot Chicks and good oral hygiene" page.


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References:

1. Syrjanen J. et al: Dental infection in association with cerebral infarction in young and middle-aged men.J Intern Med 225:179-184,1989.
2. Mattila KJ, et al: Association between dental health and acute myocardial infarction. Brit Med J 298:779-782,1989.
3. DeStefano F, et al:Dental disease and risk of coronary heart disease and mortality. Brit Med J 306:688-691, 1993.
4. Beck J, et al: Periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. J Periodontal 67 (suppl): 1123-1137,1996.

5. Herzberg M and Meyer M. Effects of oral flora on platelets: Possible consequences in cardiovascular disease. J Periodontal 67 (suppl);1138-1142, 1996.
6. Shor A and Phillips J. Chlamydia pneumoniae and Atherosclerosis. JAMA 262;2071-2073, 1999.

McCann, Daniel, "Mouthwashes: How effective are they?," The Journal of the American Dental Association, July 1993, 55-56.

Genco, Robert et al, Contemporary Periodontics, C.V. Mosby Company, 1990, pp. 167-8, 368.

 
 

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