Dental Health

Investing in your teeth is an investment in your health. Aren’t you worth it?

At South Coast Dentistry in Aliso Viejo, our dental team is committed to staying abreast of current research in dentistry. Here are a few things that we felt our patients should know about dental health:


More than 400 species of bacteria live in the human mouth, where some can infect the gums and underlying bone that support the teeth. Gingivitis is an infection that sometimes renders the gums tender and susceptible to bleeding when they are irritated. Gingivitis is also the first stage of periodontitis, a disease that affects millions of Americans. Gradually, as infected gums pull away from the teeth, ever-deepening pockets form. These pockets allow the infection to spread and eat away at the bone, causing teeth to loosen in their sockets.

Recent studies show that teeth are not the only organs endangered by this oral disease. Infections in the tissues of the mouth are easily spread into the bloodstream. Even brushing, flossing, and chewing can prompt body-wide invasion when periodontal disease is advanced. Recent research is yielding some frightening links to such problems as HEART DISEASE, STROKE, DIABETES, PNEUMONIA, PREMATURE BIRTHS, and LOW BIRTH-WEIGHT BABIES.


All other things being equal, people with periodontal disease are one and a half to two times as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times as likely to suffer a stroke as those without periodontal disease. The association with heart disease is especially strong in people under 50. Studies have indicated that chronic oral infections can foster the development of clogged arteries and blood clots. Substances produced by oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can precipitate a chain of reactions that result in a build-up of arterial deposits, and several common oral bacteria can initiate the formation of blood clots and disrupt cardiac function.


It has long been known that diabetes predisposes people to bacterial infections, including infections of oral tissues. But recent studies strongly indicated that periodontitis can make diabetes worse. Diabetic patients with severe periodontitis have greater difficulty maintaining normal blood sugar levels and treatment of periodontitis often results in a reduced need for insulin. Experts now urge that periodontal inflammation be treated and eliminated in all people with diabetes, especially since such treatment may reduce the risk of injury to the retinal and arteries that is a common consequence of diabetes.


Bacterial pneumonia results when bacteria that live in the mouth and throat are inhaled into the lungs where immune defenses fail to wipe them out. Several agents that cause pneumonia can thrive in infected oral tissues of people with periodontal disease. Other respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, may be worsened by oral infections when the invading bacteria are inhaled.


One study found that mothers of prematurely born small babies were seven times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease as mothers whose babies were normal weight at birth, even though all mothers in the study were not otherwise at risk of having a premature baby. Oral infections can also induce premature labor.


Of course, prevention is always the best bet. Prevention means establishing a routine of daily brushing and flossing and professional periodontal cleaning every three, four, or six months, depending on your individual periodontal health and risk. Keep in mind that early stages of periodontal disease often produce no symptoms.

It is our belief that the prevention of gum disease is an important step in maintaining overall health, as well as the function and beautiful appearance of a healthy smile.