Episode 013 | WHY Gum Disease is a systemic disease


Hello again and a warm welcome to today’s episode with lucky number thirteen of Elmar´s Tooth Talk. The missing link to total health. I am Dr Elmar Jung.

So, before we start, let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:

We talk about:

  • What is gum disease
  • What are the first signs of gum disease
  • Stages and symptoms of gum disease
  • How a tooth is held in the bone
  • What is Plaque and Calculus
  • Reasons for gum disease
  • Why a water-flosser can make gum disease worse
  • What are contributing factors
  • How to prevent gum disease
  • How to treat 
  • Why it is important to clean your toothbrush after each use

An interesting question to start with

How can it be that despite high tech toothbrushes, constant development of new toothpastes and mouth washes, the incident of gum disease is higher than ever before? 

Is it because the average time people spend cleaning their teeth is a mere 40 seconds? 

Or is it because they only clean their teeth but not the rest of their mouth? Did you know that teeth only make up about 10% of your mouth? 

What about the rest of your mouth? Gums, cheeks and tongues?

Have you ever been recommended to clean your tongue, daily? Have you already got a tongue scraper?

Or is it about lifestyle, too little sleep, unrestful sleep and unrelaxing sleep?

Or is it because the food we consume is so poor in nutrients due to the soil it is grown on has been so demineralised in the last 50-60 years and therefore doesn’t provide the same nutritional benefit for us anymore?

Or is it a combination of all that adds to the stress encountered from work, family, finance, or other health issues and obviously one of the main factors that influences our health is our nutrition?

What we know as a matter of fact, if your gums are looking far from perfect, your overall health is also far from perfect. 

What we see on the outside is always a mirror for what is going on inside. 

Therefore, no matter whether it is tooth decay or gum disease, they are both far more than just local symptoms of an inflammation or infection. They are clear indicators of a decline in overall health. 

What is gum disease? 

We can distinguish between two kinds of gum disease. One that comes with inflammation and one that comes without. 

Yes, you heard correctly, your gums may recede even without gingival infection, leaving the roots of the tooth more exposed. The teeth may then develop sensitivity to cold temperatures, as well as to sweet or sour foods.

This can be caused by brushing your teeth too aggressively, clenching or grinding your teeth, poor orthodontic treatment and piercings in the lip or tongue. 

Today we look at the kind of gum disease that is based on inflammation. 

Stages of gum disease

This inflammation affects the tissue surrounding your teeth. In the early stage it is called gingivitis. 

In the more advanced stage, it is called periodontitis. 

In the very advanced stage, the teeth become wobbly and even fall out.

The first signs of gum disease

The first signs of gum disease are easy to diagnose. Regardless of how old you are if your gums start to bleed when you clean your teeth properly, gum disease has set in. 

Next is swelling, change of colour to high red and if the inflammation keeps going the bleeding will increase, as will the swelling and pockets will develop. 

A pocket in this regard is a gap in the space between the surrounding gum. If this gap is only affecting the gum it is called a gingival pocket. 

Once the attachment fibres, these are the fibres that hold the tooth in its socket, if they are damaged, then this is referred to as periodontal pocket.

The gums pull away from the tooth, we can see bone loss.

Once the disease is quite advanced, pus can build, and the affected tooth can become very painful and loose. 

In advanced stages, the bleeding may stop but the teeth begin to move apart, and the gums and bone recede even further, eventually to the point where they can no longer support the teeth.

Did you know that patients who suffer from gum disease also complain about bad breath?

Here is a list of questions you can ask yourself to determine if you might suffer from gum disease:

  • Do you experience bleeding gums when brushing, flossing or eating? 
  • Do you have dark red, swollen or receding gums? 
  • Do you have pus coming out of crevices in the gum? 
  • Do you have excessive formation of tartar? 
  • Do you have drifting or loosening of teeth, causing spaces? 
  • Do you experience pain or are your teeth sensitive to the touch? 
  • Do you have bad breath? 

If you answer yes to any of these questions, it may be wise to consult your dentist.

How gum disease develops

To fully understand how gum disease develops it is important to understand the anatomy of the tooth/gum relationship. 

A tooth protrudes into the mouth from the jawbone socket through the gum. Healthy gums form an elastic seal around each tooth protecting the roots from plaque and bacteria. 

This seal also guards the roots against liquids and change of temperature when eating or drinking. 

The tooth itself is attached to the jawbone by tiny filaments also called the periodontal ligaments, which give the tooth a certain mobility and acts as a buffer for example when you chew your food.

If these tiny filament alongside the root get destroyed a pocket is forming.

Once this destruction moves further down alongside the tooth the bone will be destroyed so that over time the teeth then become loose and in the worst case fall out.

WARNING for all water-floss user

If you use a water-flosser ALWAYS| make sure that the beam of the water is parallel to the gum level. Never, ever direct the beam into the gum crevice. This can push debris and bacteria deep into a pocket or even create a pocket by destroying the tiny filaments.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is that sticky, white substance that forms on teeth, between them and in the area between the teeth and gums, called the sulcus or crevice. 

Plaque is seen as the main cause of gum disease. Look into a mirror and run a fingernail along the baseline of your teeth. If you see a white deposit. This is plaque.

Plaque can normally relatively easily be removed from your teeth using an appropriate technique.

Now if we have a closer look, we can see what plaque really is. 

It is a mixture of different sorts of bacteria, protein strands, fluids, cells and biofilm. 

And there are two forms of plaque. A healthy plaque and a not so healthy one.

Dr Ellie Phillips in her book “Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye” describes healthy plaque as a kind of bed comforter that covers and protects teeth. 

As long as plaque is healthy it will actually protect the underlying tooth and contain harmful bacteria.

However, if too many bugs invade this comforter the whole situation changes and the comforter is no longer protective but a source of risk and damage. 

The bacteria harboured in plaque turn sugars into acid. Enzymes and the bacterial toxins in the plaque attack healthy gums causing inflammation.

Normally this acid is quite weak and won’t seriously affect your gum or the enamel of teeth. Yet, under plaque, these acids are not eliminated by saliva and can therefore take on a new intensity.

Eventually the gum will swell and bleed, pockets are created as the gums loosen and the gums pull away from the tooth. 

Just remember: For any kind of disease to appear the pH must move from neutral to acidic. 

Removing the plaque will eliminate the acid-forming bacteria. 

In a plaque-free mouth, even sugary foods are less damaging to the teeth.

I guess it is obvious that eating healthy foods is one step to keep your mouth healthy and therefore helps to keep plaque healthy and stimulate production of good saliva.


Calculus, or tartar or built-up as it is also called, is a hard coating that forms mainly on the inside of your lower front teeth and the outside of your upper molars.

Why there you may ask. Because these are the areas where your saliva glands are.

Why calculus develops

In their book ‘Toxic Dentistry Exposed’, Drs Graeme and Lillian Munro Hall write “If the pH of the body is more acidic than it should be, the key pH regulator mechanism removes calcium phosphate from the bones and uses the phosphate to regulate the blood pH. 

The calcium part is a waste product and is dumped; some of it around the necks of the teeth.

The removal of calcium phosphate from your bones weakens them.”

Deprived of calcium, the bones are prone to developing osteoporosis, a disease of civilisation. Osteoporosis is not found in “primitive” societies.”

Gum disease and tooth loss are associated with all causes of mortality. Gum disease is a ‘co-morbidity that increases the burden of systemic inflammatory conditions and may increase your risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

You can now imagine that gum disease is not a mysterious disease that strikes at random or without warning. 

How to get rid of plaque and calculus

Normally a thorough cleaning by the dentist or hygienist with hand instruments or ultrasound will help to get rid of plaque and calculus.

Some dentists also ozone after the clean to reduce the bacterial load enhance the oxygen supply in the gum areas and therefore improve the healing. One can add calcium preparations to support alkalising of gum pockets. In very rare occasions even surgery is recommended. We look into this in our next podcast.

However, these procedures on their own will not make enough changes to the body chemistry to heal the inflammation.

This can only be achieved by changing your lifestyle.

Acid – Alkaline Balance

Like with all diseases, no matter what kind of disease it is, it can be tooth decay, gum disease as well as arthritis, rheumatic diseases, heart disease, Diabetes or Cancer, only if the acid/alkaline balance is disturbed can disease develop. 

Gum disease is a ‘co-morbidity’ that increases the burden on your immune system. This is due to its chronic and systemic inflammation. 

Gum disease is a systemic disease.

Gum disease increases the risk and the severity of other conditions. 

It is time all health practitioners, dentists, medical doctors, homeopaths, functional medicine and so on are told about this influence during their education.

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Do you have an idea what the most effective, healthiest and free-from mouthwash might be? 

You’re right!

It is your Saliva. Saliva is the most effective mouthwash available!

Other contributing factors to gum disease. 

Obviously, there are factors which contribute to poor gum health such as poor eating habits, carbonated soft drinks with diet sodas being the worst because of their high acid content and also poor oral hygiene can wreak havoc in the mouth.

One big and often overlooked factor are misaligned teeth.

When you chew, the lower jaw brings the lower teeth into contact with the upper teeth. If the teeth meet properly the resulting pressure is absorbed correctly by the periodontal ligaments. If mismatching occurs, the force of chewing or external impacts to the jaw may loosen the individual tooth and therefore can. 

The reasons for this can be manifold such as:

  • A ‘too-high’ filling/crown, bridge, causing so called traumatic occlusion
  • Poorly fitting crowns, bridges or dentures 
  • Result of orthodontic tooth movement

More contributing factors to gum disease can be

  • Fillings/crowns with an overhang, where food and plaque accumulate
  • Clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism) 
  • Different metals in the body / teeth causing a current flow (electro-galvanism) such as amalgam silver and gold fillings or a combination of fillings with metal braces 
  • Mouth breathing which is drying out the oral tissues resulting in the saliva being incapable of removing the bacteria
  • Hormonal imbalances, especially during puberty, pregnancy and menopause 
  • Use of oral contraceptives, tobacco, alcohol
  • drugs especially drugs or treatment of epileptic seizures which can cause increased bleeding and swollen gums and it also increases the risk of cavities
  • teeth chip more easily probably due to the lack of Vitamin D
  • Persistent stress (eg. high stress jobs, tension in the family or school) 
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies 
  • Trauma caused by forceps birth or mechanical/chemical method.

Summing this up we can say, your gum health is in your hands as far as keeping teeth, gums, tongue and all soft tissue clean and it is in your dentists hand to provide you with best fitting, toxin-free restorations so no further harm is posed onto your chewing system.

And again, it is important to 

How to prevent gum disease from happening? 

I’m repeating myself here, but it is for a good cause, with a healthy diet and lifestyle you lay the foundation for a gum disease-free life. 

And, whenever you have had dental treatment and something “doesn’t feel right” go back until it does feel right!

The main foods to ban from your life are sugar, artificial sweeteners, white flour and dairy. 

Milk from grass fed cow´s might be ok. However, you must understand that milk is not a drink but a food. Cow’s milk is the food for baby cows.

Therefore, it should be eaten by the spoon rather than gulped down in litres.

The foods you want to increase are organic vegetables as varied as possible and for meat eaters it is about choosing famers that offer the highest welfare to their year-round grass-fed herds and give the factory raised meat in the supermarket shelves a miss.

Following these simple steps, you are likely to see a transformation in your health.

Just give it go for three months and see what happens.

What to do if you already suffer from gum disease?

If you are already suffering from gum disease try oil pulling with organic coconut oil. Swish the oil thoroughly around the mouth and pulling the oil in between the teeth first thing in the morning for approximate 20 minutes on a daily basis. Always dispose of it in the bin as oppose to the sink, rinse, then brush your teeth, mouth and tongue thoroughly afterwards.

Why you must clean your toothbrush?

Imagine for a moment. You have just brushed your teeth from the debris that finds its way on the teeth during the night. That furry feeling on your teeth is gone. Where did it go. Down the sink? All of it? All the time?

If you would dip your toothbrush into a dye that illuminates bacteria on the bristles you could properly light your garage for several hours.

It is obviously important that you clean your toothbrush after every use to remove bacteria. And you can do this very easily by placing the toothbrush into 15% hydrogen peroxide.

You get it in your pharmacy or online – make sure it is aluminium free-. Dip your toothbrush into the solution and leave it there for a few minutes, rinse the brush thoroughly and dry it. Ready to be used again. You can actually use the 15% Hydrogen Peroxide a couple of times – it is strong enough.

Also, replace your brush every 3-4 weeks and or when the bristles look more like a bunch of flowers rather than a toothbrush. 

Ok that’s it for today. 

In the next podcast you will hear about a little know fantastic mouth cleaning method you can clean your teeth, gums, tongue and cheek. Forget water-flosser or dental floss just use this weapon of plaque destruction.

It was  invented in the 1960’s by an American Dentist specialised in gum disease. With this Mouth Cleansing Technique he achieved the almost impossible. He achieved that none of his patients that suffered from sometimes severe gum disease had to go through any surgical procedure. 

Until next time thanks for listening. This is Dr Elmar Jung – The Missing Link to Total Health. Bye for now.

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