The Story of Clark Gable’s Periodontal Gum Disease

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The Story of Clark Gable’s Periodontal Gum Disease 2017-11-30T08:44:37+00:00
Creve Coeur Dental, Periodontal Gum Disease

Periodontal Gum Disease (AJ Cann: Creative Commons License)


Your Gums Are Like Your Car Dashboard Lights

Stinky breath. Puffy, red, gums that bleed when you floss. Like the indicator lights on your car dashboard, these are signs telling you it’s time for a dental checkup.

What is Periodontal Gum Disease?

Infection, otherwise known as periodontal gum disease, manifests in the symptoms described above. Gums should be pink, attractive and hug your teeth. When the sticky, colorless film known as “plaque” isn’t removed from your teeth with brushing and flossing and allowed to remain, the bacteria that lives in it causes tooth decay and irritates gums. The irritation causes an inflammatory reaction that can eventually lead to gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease. Since plaque begins to form 4-12 hours after brushing, it’s important to brush at least twice a day.

When plaque accumulates on the teeth, it hardens and moves into a second stage called “calculus” or the more common term, “tartar.” This quickly leads to tooth decay and requires removal by a professional. For many of us, this seems to build up faster as we age.

Earlier stages of buildup are called “gingivitis,” and a good professional cleaning can clean out the buildup and restore gum health. Gum tissue that has pulled away from the teeth (called “pockets”) will normally re-attach.

As the disease progresses and gets further below the gum line, however, the bone, gums and fibers holding teeth in place are affected. Untreated, it is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Called “periodontitis,” it can be treated with aggressive professional treatment and diligent home care.

Inflammation is the hallmark of  periodontal disease. It is thought that this inflammation is not just limited to your mouth, and can spread throughout your entire body.

The Story on How Clark Gable Lost his Teeth

Creve Coeur Cosmetic Dentist, periodontal gum disease, Clark Gable

Clark Gable Had Periodontal Disease

As the story goes, Clark Gable, the dashing ladies’ man, was not an adherent of dental maintenance. His oral hygiene (or lack thereof) led to a “raging infection of the gums” (which we’d refer to today as “periodontal disease”) during the filming of Dancing Lady in 1933. He was hospitalized and all of his teeth extracted. He then had to wear dentures, or, as they said in those days, he was “fitted with false teeth.” He was off the production set for a month, only to fall sick again his first day back. Turns out the infection was in his entire body. In Mr. Gable’s era, the relationship between dental and systemic health was not as known as it is today. However, had he kept a regular dental maintenance schedule, his dentist would have had the opportunity to check the disease in its earlier stage

Steps to Prevent Periodontal Gum Disease

Cleaning, when necessary, is one of the most therapeutic health treatments you can get. Good gum health is a foundation of good overall health.

Keep plaque from building up with diligent home care that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day. The use of a tongue scraper keeps bacteria nestled on your tongue from getting onto your teeth as well.

Get your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. The instruments a hygienist uses will get into crevices and under the gumline where you can’t reach yourself.

Should you have some inflammation, catch it early with a deep cleaning that eliminates trapped bacteria, plaque and any calcification. Gum tissue can then reattach to the bone and close up any pockets allowing bacteria underneath the gum line. 

If you’ve been told you need a deep cleaning, also known as “scaling and root planing,” it’s important to understand what this procedure is and why it is absolutely vital to your dental and overall health to get it done — if you need it.


For an excellent cleaning utilizing state of the art equipment in a high-touch dental practice in St Louis, give us a call.