Spotlight On: Gum Disease

When you get to feeling like your dentist sounds more like a broken record than a doctor, remember that we’re only looking out for you. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to remember to floss. And we mean it, not just for your oral health but for your whole body wellness. By now you are probably familiar with the notion of the mouth being the gateway to the entire body. More and more studies are being done that have found links between serious chronic conditions and gum disease. Gum disease is one of the most prevalent and preventable diseases we face today. Understanding how this disease comes about and what its ramifications are is the best way to understand how to prevent it and its consequences.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a blanket term for inflammation in the gums. Some people experience more severe disease than others. If understood and treated early, gum disease can  be remedied. However, if  periodontitis is diagnosed,  serious treatments must be administered  to save teeth and prevent a host of serious chronic illnesses.

Gum disease is caused  by bacteria in the mouth,  the same bacteria that causes cavities. If left alone bacteria becomes plaque then hardens into tartar. This build up of bacteria on the teeth causes inflammation of the gums. Further, if the bacteria is not removed for some time, it begins to affect the tissues below the gum line and possibly the entire body. 


Gingivitis is is the  earliest stage of gum disease. It is characterized by inflamed, swollen, and often bloody gums. It is recommended to brush, floss, and use a mouthwash daily to combat the onset of gingivitis. Scheduling an appointment with Dr. Shields in her Jacksonville office will help provide scope and reliable solutions to gingivitis. Professional cleaning removes plaque and tartar  that you are unable to with brushing and flossing  at home. Dr. Shields will also be able to give new insight on how to most effectively and efficiently floss your teeth.


If you do not treat gingivitis as soon as the symptoms become apparent, the disease may progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease that can cause bone degeneration and tooth loss. Infected gums pull away from the teeth and create pockets where more bacteria can pool and proliferate. It becomes more and more difficult to remove this plaque as it makes its way further into the jaw. Eventually  the bacteria can cause the bone around the tooth the weaken and become infected as well. At this point you may need teeth removed or be referred to a periodontal dentist for a deep cleaning.

Chronic Illness

As more research is conducted on the effects of gum disease on the entire body more serious conditions are being linked to the bacteria. The bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis which is strongly related to gum disease has been found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, and esophageal cancers. It has been associated with higher mortality rate in kidney disease patients, an increased rate of pancreatic cancer, and numerous links to heart disease. While there are no causal connections between gum disease and all these other chronic illnesses at this point, scientists are vigorously researching this overwhelming link.


Flossing is the easiest and most direct way to prevent gum disease. It enables you clean food particles and bacteria from in between your teeth where it is difficult to remove by brushing alone.  We agree with the ADA’s  recommendation that you floss  once before you go to bed. By removing bacteria causing plaque before you go to sleep,  a time when it is very easy for bacteria to proliferate and cause harm. However, the most important thing is that you floss. If it is more convenient for you to prevent gum disease by flossing in the morning, that is OK.

With gum disease affecting more than just the mouth and proving to be the gateway to the entire body.  It is now more important than ever to make sure you are taking care of your teeth and gums. If you have any questions about how you can ramp up your oral health routine to save your teeth, gums, and to prevent serious illnesses that are being linked to  gum disease, call and make your appointment with Dr. Shields today. At our practice we focus on whole body wellness and understand the critical role oral health plays in your well-being. We have said it before and we will say it again:  floss, floss, floss.


Contact us

Smiles by Shields
3940 San Jose Park Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32217