Gum Disease (cont.)
Steven B. Horne, DDS
Dr. Steve Horne began his career at Brigham Young University obtaining his BA in English. He earned his doctorate of dental surgery in 2007 from the University of Southern California where his pursuit for academic excellence landed him on the dean's list. He was recognized for his superior clinical skills and invited to help teach other dental students in courses on restorative dentistry, prosthodontics, and tooth anatomy. During dental school, he provided dental care for underserved populations of Los Angeles and Orange County, Mexico, and Costa Rica with the international volunteer organization AYUDA. After graduation from USC, Dr. Horne entered active duty with the U.S. Army and practiced dentistry at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for four years. During this time, in 2010, he was deployed as part of a medical unit to Baghdad, Iraq, to provide dental and triage support to military and civilian workers who were involved in the effort there. During his military service, he received multiple Army Achievement Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, and served as company commander. After leaving the Army in 2011, Dr. Horne joined a private practice in La Jolla, Calif., and became credentialed with Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla as a dental consultant. Health and education are of paramount importance to Dr. Horne, and since 2012, he has been writing dental articles for MedicineNet and WebMD to provide accurate information about oral health to the public. He is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), California Dental Association (CDA), and the San Diego County Dental Society and American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is a preferred provider with Invisalign and spends countless hours each year pursuing continuing education in order to maintain a standard of excellence in dentistry. Dr. Horne has been married for 15 years to his wife, Christy. They have 3-year-old twins, Camille and Trent, and very recently welcomed their third child, Colette Elise, on July 6! The heart and soul of the family is Roscoe, their chocolate Labrador.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is gum disease (gingivitis)?
- What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease?
- What causes gum disease?
- Does gum disease cause bad breath?
- What does gum disease look like? What are gum disease symptoms and signs?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose gum disease?
- What is the treatment for gum disease?
- What types of specialists treat gum disease?
- What types of medication are used to treat gum disease?
- Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for gum disease?
- Is it possible to reverse gum disease?
- Is gum disease associated with other health problems?
- How is gum disease managed in children?
- How is gum disease managed in pregnancy?
- Is it possible to prevent gum disease?
- What is the best toothpaste to use to prevent gum disease?
- Is gum disease contagious?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for gum disease?
There has been evidence to suggest the effectiveness of the following over-the-counter and natural treatments for gum disease:
- Green tea has antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body.
- Hydrogen peroxide helps kill bacteria when used as a mouthwash or as a gel in a custom fitted tray, but it cannot be swallowed.
- Warm saltwater rinse reduces inflammation and kills bacteria, but daily use will damage the teeth.
- Baking soda and water can be used to brush the teeth to help neutralize the acids that can cause gum disease.
- Oil pulling (swishing or rinsing) -- there has been little evidence to prove that sesame oil or coconut oil can help reduce bacteria that cause gum disease, but this is a popular practice. On a case by case basis, people have noticed improvement with this treatment.
- In addition, see the section on prevention of gum disease and on toothpaste.
Is it possible to reverse gum disease?
As long as the causes of gum disease are correctly identified and the patient is persistent in improving their oral hygiene and seeking necessary treatment, gum disease can be reversible. The prognosis is best when treatment is obtained in early stages of gingivitis. At this stage, the affected person usually just needs a professional dental cleaning and more thorough brushing and flossing to reverse disease. As the condition turns from acute to chronic (chronic gingivitis), and from gingivitis to periodontitis or to ANUG, the prognosis gets less predictable. Therefore, it is very important to catch and treat gum disease as early as possible.
Is gum disease associated with other health problems?
There have been many attempts to understand the link between gum disease and other systemic health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease. Comparing the bacteria that cause dental plaque with the bacteria involved in heart disease suggests a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, but researchers have been unable to establish a cause and effect relationship. These types of relationships are difficult to prove or disprove, so it is fair to assume that aiming for a life free of gum disease will only help in leading a generally healthier life.
While it may be hard to prove what health problems gum disease directly causes, it is known that certain health problems can cause gum disease. If there are any sudden changes to a person's medical condition, they should ask their primary-care provider or dentist if there might be any effects on oral health. Healthy gums can quickly become threatened when the body's overall health diminishes or changes for any reason.
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