Gum Disease and Your Health in Santa Monica


We most closely associate dentists with our teeth, but the fact is that a good portion of what we do here at Dr. Carol E. Follette’s office pertains to keeping the gums healthy, too. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease can cause significant health issues if left unaddressed, though a visit to your Santa Monica, CA dental office to address problems as they arise is a great way to help keep those health issues from arising.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease amounts to an infection of the gum tissues that hold teeth in place. It most often occurs due to poor oral hygiene habits, as brushing and flossing twice per day are considered the best defense against gum disease. The main cause of gum disease is a buildup and hardening of plaque on the teeth, especially near the gumline, and it can lead to sore, bleeding gums, issues with chewing, and in the worst cases, the loss of teeth.

Signs of Gum Disease

What are some of the indicators that you may be dealing with periodontal disease? Symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums that make the teeth appear longer than they should

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s possible you could have at least some mild periodontitis.

What Other Health Problems Can Arise from Gum Disease?

An increasing number of studies have proven that periodontal disease has a clear correlation to other, non-oral health problems. Some of these include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dementia
  • Premature birth and low birth weight (for pregnant women)

Why do these correlations exist? According to WebMD, there isn’t a clear answer, but the best guess has something to do with the bacteria that builds up in the gums and slowly escapes into the bloodstream, where it does more widespread damage.

In these studies, the most common symptom is gum inflammation, most notably in heart disease and arthritis. In short, taking better care of your gums could mean you stay healthy in ways that have seemingly nothing to do with your teeth.

What Dr. Carole E. Follette Can Do to Help

If you are diagnosed with gum disease, what options are available to you? Well, if the symptoms are not severe, Dr. Follette will most likely encourage a more regimented brushing and flossing routine. Often, regular brushing and flossing can alleviate minor symptoms.

In cases that are more severe, however, some dental intervention may be necessary. For starters, Dr. Follette is a certified Santa Monica laser periodontal dentist, which means she can use innovative, non-surgical periodontal treatment options to improve gum disease symptoms. Laser therapy can eliminate harmful bacteria while also strengthening gum tissue regeneration. It’s a great way to get your gums in better shape before the worst symptoms can set in.

If you think you may be experiencing gum disease and would like a consultation to discuss laser therapy or other options, simply contact Dr. Follette’s office and we’ll get you back on track to having healthy gums and an overall healthier you!


It seems like every year, around this time, our kitchens, and, frankly, our lives are flooded with candies, cookies, and indulgent drinks. And for that reason, the fun and festive holiday season can seem downright scary when it comes to maintaining oral health. Keep reading to learn more from our Santa Monica dentists about protecting your smile during the holidays…

Be Aware Of Problem Ingredients

Sometimes it seems impossible to avoid all of the sugary treats that seem ubiquitous during the holidays. Whether it’s candy, cookies, cake, or sweet sips like cocoa, the oral bacteria in your mouth are able to use the sugars and refined carbohydrates that you consume as fuel to flourish. That is why it is so important to be mindful about the sugar you are consuming. Keep in mind also that acidic substances make dental enamel temporarily more porous than usual, so your teeth are at greater risk for about 20 to 30 minutes after acid exposure. 

Rinse On A Regular Basis

If you want to make it more difficult for oral bacteria to flourish, try to get into the habit of rinsing your smile with water throughout the day. Thoroughly rinsing your smile clears away oral bacteria and food particles, which may otherwise cause unpleasant odors. Plus, every time that you rinse your mouth, you encourage healthy saliva production, which further neutralizes oral bacteria.

Indulge Thoughtfully

As you might imagine, continuously indulging in sugary and acidic holiday treats is pretty bad for your smile. Now is the time to boost your oral health by planning a specific time of day during which you will consume sugary and acidic substances. By being thoughtful and strategic about your consumption, and limiting it to one portion of the day, you decrease the number of hours available for oral bacteria to feed on the sugars in your mouth.

As always our Santa Monica dentist is here to answer all of your questions, and to help you schedule a personal consultation. The best way to get in touch is to give us a call or use the Contact Us page on our website! 


If you have noticed that your teeth feel sensitive, or that you’re regularly battling dental discomfort, our Santa Monica dentists are here to help. Today we are going to be talking about why sensitivity develops, as well as what you can do about it. Keep reading to learn more…

What Causes Dental Sensitivity?

Dental sensitivity can develop for a number of reasons, some more serious than others. Some people, for example, find that their teeth are temporarily sensitive after a professional cleaning or after using whitening formulations.

More long-term, chronic sensitivity, however, is an indicator that some part of the protective layers of your smile have broken down. If you grind your teeth, your enamel may have worn down. Enamel can also weaken due to regular exposure to acidic foods and drinks. And, of course, if one of your teeth is infected, you’ll likely experience tooth pain.

Discomfort occurs when your dental nerves are no longer adequately protected by enamel or gum tissue. So, the first thing that our dental team will do is to take a look at your smile, and pinpoint the underlying cause of your sensitivity.

Are There Treatments Available To Me?

The short answer is, “yes!” The longer answer is that in order to achieve lasting relief, you have to tailor your treatment protocol to meet your needs.

One option is to use products that contain nerve-soothing ingredients. Switching from a standard toothpaste to one that is safe for sensitive teeth, for example, can make a big difference, especially for patients who are dealing with occasional discomfort.

Another way to move forward is to undergo treatments that strengthen your natural dental or gum tissue. Generally speaking, people with periodontal disease experience much less discomfort once their gums are healed and more resilient again. Topical fluoride treatments are used to encourage dental enamel remineralization.

Finally, restorative dental treatments can build-up and replace missing tissues, thus repairing the insufficient protective layers of your smile. If your gums are damaged due to periodontal disease, it might be time to ask your dentist if gum grafts are right for you. Repairing damaged teeth with composite resin or porcelain restorations will likewise shield the more sensitive layers of your teeth.

Our Santa Monica dentists are happy to help you in any way that we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to get more information, and to schedule a personal consultation.