Preventing Cavity Formation, Gingivitis and Gum Disease Maintains Healthy Teeth

Healthy Teeth - Healthy Body

In years past dentistry and medicine have been practiced without much consideration for the other but the last few years more and more studies have shown a very close relationship between what goes on in our mouth and what happens to our body. The reverse is also true; what happens to our bodies also affects our mouths. This intimate connection between our mouths and our bodies cannot be broken.

Research has shown that harmful bacteria and the compounds they produce can leak into the blood stream from infections in our mouths. When this occurs they trigger our immune system to raise the level of inflammation in other areas of our bodies such as our coronary arteries. This increased inflammation seems to result in the build up of atherosclerotic plaques in our arteries or any number of other effects.

Chronic infections in our mouths have been shown to be related to infective endocarditis (infection of the sack around the heart), difficult diabetes control (brittle diabetes), weakening the immune system, pancreatic cancer, higher risk of delivering a premature baby and lung infections, as well as the increased risk for heart disease and stroke mentioned above.

Science is just beginning to explore the relationship between our mouths and our bodies and likely will discover more connections.

For A Healthy Body

In America and Western Europe we suffer mostly from chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity. These conditions are related to diet and lifestyle and therefore are under our control. They are caused, or prevented, by what passes under our eyes and between our lips.

If our diet consists of things which make up the "average American Diet" like animal proteins (meat, fish, poultry, seafood, dairy) then we are much more likely to develop one or more of these conditions. It's the fat, cholesterol and protein from animal (non plant) sources which is responsible for the state of health in America.

Much research has shown that if you were to replace the protein from animal sources with starches like pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, etc. that these chronic conditions listed above (and more) would largely go away. By replacing the animal protein with the starch you would be removing from your diet the things that caused the problems in the first place giving your body has a chance to heal. For more information go to: A book that I consider the primer on the relationship between diet and disease is "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. Dr Campbell was Director of Nutritional Research at Cornell University for many years and explains very clearly this relationship. It is a "must have" for anyone wanting to live the healthiest life possible while also reducing medical costs and risks to a minimum.

Add exercise (outdoors when possible) to your lifestyle changes and you will be on your way to a higher level of health and vitality.


For Healthy Teeth

Our mouths harbor many species of bacteria. These bacteria move around the mouth in our saliva attaching themselves to different surfaces. Some bacteria attach to teeth and begin the formation of plaque which is a film of bacteria, food particles and other materials. A cavity develops when the plaque of bacteria remains on the teeth. The plaque produces acids which begin dissolving the enamel surfaces of our teeth.

Cavities, once thought to be on the way out, have made a startling comeback. The number of cavities in children ages 2 to 5 years decreased significantly in the 1970s and 1980s because of the increase in fluoridation of municipal water supplies and advances in prevention and dental care.

Recently a CDC survey found that in the five years ending in 2004 there had been a significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with cavities, up 28%.

Toxins in the plaque at the gum line irritates gum tissue resulting in gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue). Gingivitis, a condition which can develop in several days, is reversible. Removing the plaque daily will eliminate the gingivitis.

Over a period of time the plaque, if left undisturbed for weeks or months, changes in composition until it can infect and break down the fibers (periodontal ligament) which attach the tooth in the socket. As these fibers are infected and destroyed by the infection the bone support around the teeth is jeopardized and can be lost (as in periodontal disease, or gum disease) sometimes resulting in loose teeth that cannot be saved. Periodontal disease affects approximately 80% of the adult population to some degree.

Smoking is also a very important risk factor for gum disease. Rarely do you find a smoker that does not have gum disease.

Preventing or detecting tooth decay and gum disease early can help preserve your teeth for a lifetime! In-office professional cleanings do what you can never do at home!

Of course scientists are looking for more effective ways to interrupt and stop the decay and periodontal disease processes. Until they are able to do so you and I will have to continue to brush and floss, stop smoking, eat healthfully and do whatever else is needed to eliminate tooth decay and gum disease.

In most cases, tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease (gum disease) are preventable and with the proper care our teeth can last as long as we need them. Take care of your teeth and gums now to prevent tooth and bone loss later.

Tips For Good Oral Health

Recommended Equipment

  • Use soft-bristle toothbrushes. Brushes with stiffer bristles are more prone to damage your teeth and gum tissue. Choose a shape and size which will enable you to reach all areas of your mouth.
  • Your toothbrush should be replaced when the bristles become splayed out, usually every 3-4 months or sooner. Use one brush for the morning and another brush for the evening. This will give the brush time to dry and to maintain the proper amount of stiffness.
  • Use a toothpaste which does not irritate your tissue and which has the American Dental Association's "Seal Of Approval". This indicates the paste has been shown to be effective in helping to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth Brushing

  • Brush your teeth at least two times every day. After you get out of bed in the morning and after you finish eating before you go to bed. Try to be conscious of your brush cleaning all tooth surfaces.
  • Hold your brush bristles at the gum line at a 45ยบ angle. Clean your teeth using small back and forth, or small circular strokes, trying to work the bristles between your teeth and under the gum line. Brush for 10-15 cycles then move your brush to the next spot being careful to overlap the brush placements each time so as not to miss any areas.
  • Brush the chewing surfaces of the back teeth with a back and forth scrubbing motion.
  • Parents should help small children with their brushing. The use of a disclosing solution or tablets to stain the plaque will help you to identify areas that were missed during brushing and flossing. Disclose the plaque in the evening when brushing because it can stain lips, tongue and gums.


  • Plaque builds to harmful levels in about 24 hours so daily flossing is recommended. Evening is the best time to floss. The floss should curve around one side of a tooth gently slipping between the tooth and gum tissue to clean the enamel between teeth.
  • Flossing action should be in an up and down motion, being careful not to place undue pressure against the tissue. Dr Weikum or one of his dental hygienists can instruct you in the proper procedures.

Other Tips

  • Eating a balanced diet will help your teeth and gums be their healthiest. Keep between meal snacks to a minimum.
  • Get regular professional checkups and cleanings at least every 6 months. Only your dentist or hygienist can detect periodontal (gum) disease unless it becomes quite advanced.
For exceptional, professional care, call Dr Weikum's office now at 989-792-6621 to schedule your examination and cleaning or use our convenient CONTACT FORM here.