Chronic Inflammation, Cosmetic Dentist Charlotte
(Note: This page gives an overview of chronic inflammation. If you
need moredetailed information on chronic inflammation hit the
“chronic inflammation in more detail” link on the bottom of this page.)
Chronic inflammation is very bad for your body:
“While short-lived acute inflammation is crucial to keep us alive, chronic
inflammation that persists for a long period can also kill us slowly over
time. When low doses of pro-inflammatory substances continued to be
released into the body for an extended period, they attack healthy cells,
blood vessels and tissues instead of protecting them. These attacks may
not always trigger pain and are nowhere to be seen, unlike a bruise or a
cut sustained to the skin. Like a slow poison, overzealous inflammatory
cells and hormones destroy our body gradually as we continue to live, work
and play with a false sense of good health.”
“In the past few years there have been studies suggesting that chronic
inflammation lies at the root of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis,
Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis,
and many other immune disorders. Many of the diseases and complaints
associated with aging — including aging skin — can also be attributed to
The above statements emphasizes the importance of minimizing chronic inflammation in the body. So what
is chronic inflammation? To understand chronic inflammation we need to review the general process of
inflammation. Inflammationis a response of blood vessels to tissue damage. The area of tissue damage may
be microscopic and involve only a few cells or it may involve a much larger area of tissue. Tissue damage
may be caused by:
1) Physical trauma (a sprain, a laceration, a bruise, etc.)
2) A pathogen (material/chemical or microbe)
3) The body’s own immune system
When any cell in the body is damaged, it releases chemicals that cause the blood vessels in the area to
vasodilate or become “leaky”. This process of vasodilation is inflammation.
The above diagram shows a normal blood vessel (left) and a dilated blood vessel (right).
When there is tissue damage, the initial vasodilation that occurs is a good thing. When the walls of the blood
vessels become leaky, they allow good “stuff” from the blood to pass through the wall of the blood vessel
into the surrounding tissue (where the damage is). This cleanses the tissue of 1) damaged cells and tissue
and 2) pathogens. Once the site is completely cleansed, inflammation (vasodilation) will cease and tissue
repair will continue. Short term or normal inflammation is a healthy aerobic (oxygen rich) process that leads
to healing of the tissue.
In an unhealthy situation, inflammation does not “shut off”. When inflammation does not stop the tissue
site becomes diseased. The site becomes more anaerobic, acidic, infected and toxic. This environment
causes continuous and accelerated tissue damage in the site and causes toxins, microbes and chemicals to
be released from the site to the rest of the body causing tissue damage and inflammation in other locations.
Essentially chronic inflammation will “jump-start” other disease in other areas of the body.
How does dentistry relate to chronic inflammation? Chronic inflammation routinely occurs 1) in the mouth,
2) in the jaw muscles and 3) in the jaw joint (TMJ). Chronic inflammation can and often does go
unnoticed for years because, unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation does not cause pain until the
tissue damage becomes extreme. Before symptoms occur, it takes a skilled and experienced dentist to
diagnose chronic inflammation and bring it to the patient’s attention.
Excluding certain genetic diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arththritis and other auto-immune diseases), chronic
tissue damage, and therefore inflammation, in the oral structures is caused by:
1) An unbalanced bite (Functional disharmony between the bite (occlusion), jaw muscles
and jaw joint (TMJ)).
2) Bruxism (excessive grinding of the teeth, particularly at night).
3) Microbial infection (gum tissue, ligaments around teeth, jaw bone, jaw joint)
Bacteria in the mouth will not only cause tissue damage in the mouth, but will also escape from the mouth
and cause tissue damage in other parts of the body. Bacteria in the mouth will cause inflammation in the
mouth. The chemicals from this inflammation will escape the mouth and cause inflammation in other parts
of the body.
Inflammation occurs in the TMJ (jaw joint) as well as the mouth.
The picture below shows a thermogram which reveals inflammation in the TMJ (jaw joint) in red.
An unbalanced bite will continue to damage the jaw joint structures and cause more inflammation. The
tissue becomes more infected and toxic. Like infection and inflammation in the mouth, bacteria and
proinflammatory chemicals will excape and cause damage to other parts of the body.
A Damaged joint caused by an unbalanced bite.
One of many serious consequences of chronic inflammation from dental disease is atheroma
When toxins enter the blood stream they can damage the cells lining the artery walls. Common toxins
include oxidized lipids (such as cholesterol), toxins from cigarette smoke and bacteria from the oral
structures. When artery wall cells are damaged, they release signals that start the inflammation process.
White blood cells enter the site to remove the toxins and damaged tissue. Regardless of what toxin
caused the initial damage to the artery wall, cholesterol in the blood will always make its way into the
site of injury. White blood cells (mainly macrophages) are normally able to remove and degrade toxins
that cause tissue injury. However, they cannot process the oxidized cholesterol and so the cholesterol
builds up in the macrophage. The macrophage then dies and the cellular contents are releases it cellular
contents into the extracellular space. This promotes further inflammation, macrophage entry and death
and further fat (cholesterol) buildup. When macrophages (and other cells) accumulate large amounts of
cholesterol they are called foam cells.
Thrombus formation (above) is the usual cause of heart attacks
One last point about inflammation:
Foods we eat can promote inflammation in two ways:
The following website gives important nutritional information for all foods.
One important piece of information is the inflammation factor of each type of food:
The formula used to calculate the IF Ratings measures the effects of more than 20 different factors that
determine a food’s inflammatory or anti-inflammatory potential, including:
- amount and type of fat
- essential fatty acids
- vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
- glycemic index
- anti-inflammatory compounds
(To more completely understand the information about fatty acid content and the inflammation factor
contained in the above site you should continue onto the link below.)
For more detailed information on
inflammation click on the following link: