Fight Off Bio Films!
Fighting off bio films is the latest number one health priority among many dentists today. First, let’s clear this up- what are biofilms? Biofilms are an unhealthy layer of bacteria pathogens, fungi and poisonous microbes that form in the gums and mouth. Research has mounted to prove that biofilms can enter the body, cause inflammation and contribute to several diseases.
When biofilms are found in the mouth, they can localize in pockets between gum tissue and teeth which can cause periodontal disease. When biofilm bacteria are present in the mouth, the same bacteria is also found in the lungs of lung abscess patients. When biofilms from the mouth come in contact with brain tissue, the result is beta amyloid- the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. When biofilms enter the body, they contribute to plaque build up which disrupts blood flow. Hence, biofilms are associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. When biofilms are not managed through dental treatment, diabetics have higher sugar levels. In the end, biofilms can create a pathway for medical conditions and diseases.
BioFilm Warning Signs
Dentists are the best people to diagnose your risk for biofilms. If you have periodontal disease, you most certainly have biofilms. Since 75% of the population has gingivitis (precursor to periodontal disease) or periodontal disease itself, here’s a fast glance at some of the signs of periodontal disease.
- Bad breath or halitosis
- Gum bleeding
- Puffy gums
- Reddened gums
- Shifted teeth
- Loose teeth
No one is immune to biofilms. And most people do have biofilms to some degree. The trick is in managing biofilms. The goal is to prevent biofilms from entering the bloodstream to avoid harm to your health.
Biofilms can be fought off by maintaining adequate saliva flow in your mouth. Saliva contains an antibacterial agent called lysozyme. So,avoiding dry mouth syndrome is highly desirable. In addition, two new products have been introduced to control biofilms, Carie Free and Perio Protect. Carie Free offers an at home approach with an assortment of gel toothpastes, mouth rinses and gums that combine fluoride, xylitol and pH neutralizing technology to prevent and treat dental infections. Perio Protect uses a tray of oxygenating agents to kill bacteria in the mouth. The technology works by having the patient place the tray in their mouth each day for a few minutes. The results of Carie Free and Perio Protect have been remarkable. Patients have remarked that their mouth feels cleaner after using the products. Dentists have remarked that the products provide a healthier environment for the mouth. The benefits of disease prevention and caries treatment have been known to stimulate healthier teeth and jaw bones through products like Perio Protect.
Dentists work to manage biofilms in the office as well. The first professional call to action is dental cleanings twice a year for general dentistry and more often when prescribed. Secondly, dentists can perform root planing and scaling to improve the depth of pockets containing harmful bacteria. Antibiotics may be placed in the gum pockets to attack infected areas. Periodontal flap surgery may be performed to reduce the pocket size located between the teeth and gums. Bone surgery may be necessary to fill holes in the jaw bone that contain bacteria. Laser treatment may be used to reduce gum pocket size as well. Biofilms can grow back in three months following treatment. So, it’s important to continue with dental treatments every three months in order to maintain the benefit.
Dentists suspect that the public will learn much more about biofilms in the years to come. The National Institutes of Health has been dedicated to biofilm research because of the risk that biofilms represent to the public. Their research has been leveraged since the advent of laser technology, digital imaging, scanning electron microscopy and fluorescent probes which are used to identify locations of biofilms with specific gene expressions.