Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

Dr. David Brownstein, M.D.

Gum Disease Can Kill You

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 04:19 PM

By David Brownstein, M.D.

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Periodontitis refers to a number of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis can result in loss of bone around the tooth and in the loosening and possible loss of teeth.
 
What causes periodontitis, also known as gum disease? Infection is the most common cause. Poor dentition — the makeup and arrangement of teeth in the mouth — can result in excess bacterial overgrowth in the periodontal tissue. This can cause the body’s immune system to respond to fight these bacteria.
 
Many times, you can see periodontitis by visually inspecting the gum tissue and seeing the signs of inflammation that are present, such as redness and swelling.I look at every new patient’s mouth during our initial visit. I have seen many patients with gum disease,and I counsel them to see their dentists and improve their oral hygiene.
 
Up to half of the adult population of the United States suffers from some degree of gum disease, according to estimates.
 
Some of the signs of gum disease include bleeding of the gums while brushing, redness or swelling of the gums, bad breath, recession of the gum lining, and loose teeth.
 
Gum disease frequently is not painful; however, many patients feel some discomfort drinking or eating cold or hot items.
 
What is the big deal with gum disease? Well, it can kill you. It is well known and accepted that bacteria from gum disease can travel through the bloodstream and can lodge in an organ, creating a focus of infection — an abscess. Furthermore, it is known that these bacteria can attach to the heart or heart valves, creating a serious condition known as bacterial endocarditis, which can kill you. Gum disease also has been linked to low birth weight babies, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
 
Furthermore, gum diseases in dogs have been associated with pulmonary fibrosis and chronic bronchitis.
 
What else can cause gum disease? There are many risk factors including:smoking or chewing tobacco, stress, systemic diseases such as diabetes, improperly fitting bridges, crooked teeth, and defective fillings. However, medications also can cause gum disease, such as oral contraceptives, steroids, some anti-epilepsy drugs, chemotherapy drugs, some antidepressants, and some calcium channel blockers.
 
Medications can cause gum disease by decreasing saliva, which protects teeth and gums.

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