Dr. Nammy talks about gum disease, what it is, the treatments that are available including traditional treatments as well as laser treatments, and how gum disease can affect your overall health.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling book Age With Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living. Today our topic is gum disease treatments. Welcome Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John, thank you for having me.

What Is Gum Disease?

John: Sure. So, Dr. Nammy, what is gum disease?

Dr. Nammy: So John, gum disease is a disease that infects the gums, which is a surrounding structure for the teeth. What keeps the teeth in place is the surrounding bone and gum tissue. So when we say somebody has gum disease, we’re really saying that their foundation is broken or it’s infected with disease. And when that happens, you lose teeth, so it’s really important to make sure that gum disease is taken care of. The other aspect is that it impacts your entire microbiome, your entire gut system, because you’re swallowing all these snake-like bacteria that causes disease in your belly, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and also go into your brain, and cause Alzheimer’s and things of that nature. Gum disease is a very, very, very problematic and severe disease that need to be addressed, and it is a precursor to many other diseases. So it needs to go on their priority list to take care of yourself for overall health and wellbeing.

Treatments for Gum Disease

John: Let’s talk about some of the treatments that are available for gum disease. If you are suffering from this, were there some older methods for dealing with gum disease? And are you still doing those types of treatments, in addition to newer types?

Dr. Nammy: The traditional treatments for gum disease have been just cleaning the gums, and what we do in our practices is we use lasers, and we use lasers differently than traditional dentists do, which yields a better result. We use updated treatments, updated technology, to give better, long lasting results, which is also a better value for our patients, because we disinfect the entire gums plus the surrounding bone area in order to help them keep their teeth, and make sure that they’re disease free.

What Makes Laser Treatments for Gums So Good?

John: What is it about using lasers that’s just a step above just cleaning your gums in the way that we might have done it before?

Dr. Nammy: So in the past, a traditional dentist does cleanings with — it’s called the deep cleaning — which, what they’ll do is they’ll numb the gums, and then scrape away. The thing is that the bacteria and the snake-like little bacteria tend to get inside the gum tissue surrounding the teeth, and also at the base where it’s hard, where you can’t have access to. So what the laser light does is actually specific to just bad bacteria and the snake like bacteria. So what it does, it goes in there like a flashlight and it goes through the tissue down all the way to the bone to disinfect it.

Other Treatments for Gum Disease

John: And are there newer treatments other than using lasers for treating gum disease?

Dr. Nammy: Mostly it’s been lasers that really helped with gum disease. There’s also antimicrobial trays called the Perio Protect that can be utilized, which is a tray that you wear every night; there’s a special gel with peroxide that you put on the teeth, and you wear it every night for about 15 minutes or so. This special medicated — Perio gel is what it’s called — what it does, it kills bacteria, because it delivers oxygen underneath the gum tissue, and holds it there for about 15 minutes. And that oxygen kills bad bacteria.

What Other Health Problems Are Affected By Gum Disease?

John: And you mentioned before that this bad bacteria can get down into your gut and cause all kinds of other problems. What are some of those problems that arise in the rest of your body from having gum disease? So why is it so important that we treat gum disease at its source?

Dr. Nammy: The most common issues I see with people with gum disease is heart disease, heart attacks are very common because it’s a gum disease, when it grows, the bacteria will go into your belly, causes so much inflammation, and these bacteria also get to the bloodstream. So it causes so much inflammation in the blood arteries as well, that the common one is heart attacks.

Second is having issues with your gut health. Again, it’s these bacteria that are not supposed to be there, ended up being there. So people end up with irritable bowel syndrome, a lot of allergies, a lot of indigestion is very common, just a lot of gut issues, which impact our overall immune system because our immune system is our gut. And if that gets infected, we’re kind of messed up. That’s basically what happens with gum disease.

The other one we find is diabetes, and that’s very common as well with gum disease. Because of the way that the inflammatory response occurs as our body starts fighting these bacteria, the amount of sugar, or ATP, or energy we call it, that it takes to fight these bacteria off gets increased, and it influences diabetes.

It also influences hypertension, because when we have these bacteria in the blood vessels, our bodies are trying to fight that off, so it raises the blood pressure.

In essence, gum disease really is the common source, and it’s very common with patients with the five major killers in the US, right? We have cancer, we have heart attacks, we have auto-immune conditions, we have lung disease or respiratory diseases, and especially right now with COVID, it’s really fascinating to know that people who end up getting COVID, if they have gum disease, the bacteria will actually aspirate into the lungs and put them on a ventilator.

John: So there’s a real connection there between gum disease and more severe side effects from COVID?

Dr. Nammy: Yes. Significant side effects from COVID.

John: Well, that’s very interesting. Thanks again for speaking with me today, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy: You’re welcome.

John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.