Tag Archive for: gum disease

Very recently, dentistry was flagged as a high-risk profession; however, less than 1% of dentists in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19.  How is that, when during a dental appointment aerosolized respiratory droplets are created? Somehow, dentists seem to have discovered immunity. Here’s how they’re staying safe and keeping you safe, too. 

Don’t Gamble with Your Oral Health

During the pandemic, it’s not only safe, but very important to go to the dentist – for more reasons than one. Poor oral hygiene can have serious ramifications. These consequences spread far beyond bad breath and tooth pain. Bacteria in the mouth can easily enter the bloodstream through something as simple as brushing your teeth and can lead to a serious infection in your heart. It can also be inhaled and cause infection in your lungs. The last thing you need during the COVID-19 pandemic is the development of a condition that puts you in an at-risk category, or worse: a lung infection that collides with the virus.

Lower That Bacterial Load

Gingivitis. Periodontitis. These multi-syllable words are not meant to terrorize us into proper oral care. Instead, they’re inflammatory diseases that alert dentists to the possibility of major health crises waiting to happen, including:

  • 3x increased risk of diabetes
  • 25% increased risk of heart disease
  • 20% increased risk of high blood pressure 

These diseases put you in an at-risk category for contracting COVID-19. While there are many manifestations of COVID-19, certain factors can ramp up the severity of the symptoms you experience. What can turn an initially mild case of COVID into a severe case? A high bacterial load. That’s right. A higher bacterial count in your body and in your bloodstream, introduced by gum disease, can increase the impact of COVID-19 on your body. 

COVID-19 Complications

Inflamed lungs. When it comes to people with conditions that put them in at-risk categories, such as those with asthma, life can be much more challenging during the pandemic.  Complications occur when bacteria in your mouth is inhaled into your lungs, causing a secondary bacterial infection on top of a COVID-19 viral infection and your already at-risk condition. The results can be disastrous. 

Take Care of Your Oral Health 

Poor oral hygiene exacerbates pre-existing conditions. This increases your COVID-19 susceptibility and your chances of contracting a secondary infection. Bacteria that are a byproduct of poor dental health can inflame the lungs. Of course, this causes your symptoms to become more severe than they would have been otherwise. So what can you do to prevent this? 

Take care of yourself. 

Overall health starts with what you put in your mouth. Eating healthy and a rigorous hygiene routine is paramount. Staying hydrated is extremely important, too. 

Brush your teeth twice a day. If you’re stuck at home to work or attend online classes, you likely have the ability to brush three times a day. If that’s the case, take advantage of it! And don’t forget to floss daily! Studies have shown that when patients with pneumonia implement a regimented hygiene routine, mortality rates are reduced. If you’ve been slacking on your oral hygiene routine, jump back on the bandwagon right now!

Go the Extra Mile in Oral Hygiene 

From dental cleanings to regular X-rays, these ordinary procedures are important. It’s only a matter of time before elective work blossoms into major issues. And if the cost is an issue, remember: when a problem becomes more extensive, it becomes more expensive. Most offices have some type of financial assistance to allow you to get your mouth back to 100% healthy!

Let’s Get Healthy

As we’ve discovered, dentists and COVID are unlikely opponents. Dentists are some of the least-risk groups in America, though. You should feel comfortable going to see your dentist even if you’re high risk. After all, they were wearing masks before it was ‘in’! And making sure your mouth stays it’s healthiest could help save your life.

What’s next? Schedule that appointment and follow through. Follow social distancing and masking procedure guidelines to help protect the people around you. Make sure you’re following the individual protocols set by our office, too. 

We’re ready to serve you with the same compassion, knowledge, and gentle care that you’re used to. By maintaining your oral health, we’re also helping to protect you from COVID-19.

From masks, to hand hygiene, to social distancing, that extra barrier of protection is something that we could all use a little more of these days!

Contact us to schedule your appointment and we’ll get you on the books. We look forward to taking care of you!

 

 

Your dental health is far more important than you may think. The condition of your teeth and gums impacts your overall health. Poor oral health contributes to heart disease, stroke, diabetic complications, respiratory complications, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, pre-term birth and low birth weight, and certain cancers such as kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers. Studies show that it also puts you at a higher risk for contraction of COVID-19! In addition, having an attractive smile helps boost your confidence in both social and professional situations, which can lead to new job offers, salary increases, and happier relationships. In the next few paragraphs, we will describe the top 10 dental problems that you may have to deal with, and how you can overcome them so you can live life as the happiest and healthiest version of you!

1. Cavities

Cavities are one of the most common reasons people visit the dentist. Cavities are caused by bacteria that eat healthy tooth structure. They often don’t hurt. However, if they are left untreated, cavities can get larger and affect the nerves, leading to more extensive and more expensive treatment, such as root canals and extractions. Cavities develop for multiple reasons. Genetics, poor oral care (not flossing and brushing), a diet high in sweets and carbohydrates, and dry mouth are among the top reasons decay develops. Dentists typically treat cavities by filling them with a tooth-colored filling material. To avoid cavities, make sure you see your dentist regularly, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, avoid letting sugars and carbohydrates sit on your teeth for long periods of time (this includes bread, pasta, Gatorade, milk, and juice), and talk to your dentist about ways to protect your teeth (prescription topical fluoride), ways to combat dry mouth, and ways to decrease the amount of the bad bacteria in your mouth.

2. Gum Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a condition that affects millions of people. Symptoms include bleeding gums though, in the early stages, you may have gum disease without any obvious symptoms. Left untreated, gum disease leads to bone loss, which can then lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetic complications, respiratory complications, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, pre-term birth and low birth weight, and certain cancers such as kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers, and, most recently, contraction of COVID-19. Consistent and good oral hygiene practices can help to prevent gum disease. Once it has progressed, however, it needs to be treated by a dental professional. Periodontal disease will not disappear, but it can be halted and maintained through teamwork – you do your part at home, and your hygienist will do their part on a more frequent interval. This is paramount to keeping the disease under control.

3. Tooth Sensitivity

If you have sensitive teeth, you may experience tooth pain when eating sweets or consuming something very hot or cold. Sensitive teeth can be caused by a multitude of factors such as cavities, root exposure from brushing too hard, or loss of enamel from misaligned teeth. In mild cases, you may be able to correct the issue by using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. If the issue is caused by cavities or misaligned teeth, your dentist may recommend other solutions to resolve the problem and prevent further damage. 

4. Misaligned Teeth

Most people are not blessed with perfectly aligned teeth. Crooked or misaligned teeth are often considered a cosmetic issue as many people are self-conscious about their smile and would prefer to have straighter teeth. However, misaligned teeth can make chewing more difficult, contribute to periodontal disease and make your teeth more susceptible to injuries, including tooth loss. Aligning teeth is easy to do using Invisalign, and is one of the most important things you should do to keep a healthy mouth.

5. Stained or Yellow Teeth

Aside from misaligned teeth, having stained or yellowing teeth is one of the biggest obstacles to having a perfect smile. Stained teeth can be caused by smoking or regularly drinking beverages such as soda, coffee, tea or wine. Even certain fruits and vegetables can, over time, discolor the teeth. As almost everyone partakes in some of these foods or beverages, it’s difficult to maintain perfectly white teeth. Daily brushing along with regular professional teeth cleaning is the best way to maintain whiter teeth. Dentists can also “bleach” the teeth to give you a brilliant smile. Be careful about over-the-counter whitening products as overuse can cause problems such as damage to healthy tooth structure, damage to previous dental work or gum irritation.

6. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed at every six-month hygiene appointment. If you have dentures, it is still important to see your dentist yearly to get an oral cancer screening and check for other tissue issues. Factors that increase your risk for oral cancer include smoking, a history of smoking, and alcohol use. If you have anything abnormal, such as sores that don’t heal, lumps in the mouth or difficulty swallowing to name a few, you need to make an appointment to see your dentist.

7. Bad Breath

Halitosis, better known as bad breath, is a common ailment that can be embarrassing. Strongly flavored foods and spices such as garlic and onions can temporarily cause bad breath. It’s also typical to have sour-tasting breath in the morning before brushing your teeth. However, a more persistent condition is often indicative of an underlying problem such as cavities, gum disease or other dental issues. In some cases, digestive ailments can cause bad breath. Remedies such as mouthwash, gum and mints can temporarily mask the problem but if you consistently have bad breath you should ask your dentist about it.

8. Canker Sores

Aphthous ulcers, commonly known as canker sores, are small, often painful sores that can occur in various places in the mouth. They may also be present on the tongue. They may be red, white or yellow in color. Canker sores can have many causes, including allergies, immune disorders, smoking, stress, physical trauma, and reaction to certain medications. You can buy over-the-counter medications that can help to treat them. If you have canker sores that persist for more than a few weeks, or that occur frequently, you should consult with your doctor or dentist. One reason to seek professional help is that cold sores, a more serious and contagious condition caused by the HSV (herpes simplex virus), can be mistaken for canker sores.

9. Cracked or Chipped Teeth

Teeth can crack due to sports injuries, accidents, crooked teeth, old fillings, cavities, or biting into something hard. A chipped tooth can be annoying and unsightly, depending on its location. It can also be painful if the injury exposes a nerve. A dentist can fix a cracked or chipped tooth with a filling or veneer. Large breaks can require crowns and sometimes root canal therapy in addition to the crown. If the tooth is damaged beyond repair, it may need to be removed and replaced with another option, such as an implant.

10. Teeth Grinding and TMD

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a practice that can cause damage to your teeth over time. If you grind your teeth, it could be due to stress or a misalignment of your teeth. People often grind their teeth while sleeping and don’t know it. If stress or an underlying sleep disorder is present, you may need to make dietary or lifestyle changes. For example, excessive caffeine intake can contribute to insomnia and teeth grinding at night. A dentist may recommend alignment of your teeth or a mouth guard to prevent grinding your teeth while sleeping. TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is a condition that can cause headaches, neck pain and jaw pain, as well as teeth grinding and tooth pain. In addition to a mouth guard, TMD can be treated by performing certain jaw, head and anti-stress exercises, or other methods.  See your dentist so they can determine the best remedy for you.

 

Your dental health contributes to the status of your overall health and your confidence level. You now know how to overcome the top 10 dental issues so you can live life as the happiest and healthiest version of you!

“Brushing my teeth can really make me healthier? How can my teeth affect my body?”

I get these questions all the time. For a long time, dentistry and general healthcare have been treated as separate entities. I am here to guide you and help you to see how the health of your body relies on good dental hygiene. When dentists and hygienists examine patients, we are able to screen you for key overall health conditions based on your mouth health and refer to a healthcare provider who can help you further.

Gum disease is something that affects at least 75% of the general population, but what is gum disease? Most people assume that if they had gum disease it would hurt, but in reality, it’s considered a silent and deadly disease. People often ignore the early signs and symptoms, including bleeding every time you brush, bad breath that won’t go away, red swollen gums, loose teeth, pus between the gums and teeth, and even sores in the mouth. Many of you are probably thinking, “I would notice that!” Sometimes it is subtle… until it’s not, and we have to talk about treatment to stabilize your mouth. What’s more concerning is where else that bacteria can go.

The bacteria that causes gum disease can travel through the bloodstream throughout your body and affect other organs and functions. Blood pumps throughout your entire body and your heart is the engine that runs the car. Your heart is one of the most crucial organs, as it allows oxygen and blood to travel throughout the body and keep you running. The inflammation in the gums in the mouth influences inflammation in the heart and plaque build-up in the heart, which can lead to cardiovascular disease or even a stroke. The best way to avoid complications from gum disease is to treat it and then maintain a stable mouth, in addition to seeing your physician regularly for blood work and dental hygiene check-ups.

Diabetes is something that can also link directly to mouth health and oral bacteria. One of the common issues patients with diabetes have is the inability to heal quickly and well. Therefore, people with diabetes are more likely to develop infections, such as gum disease. Gum disease is considered a complication of diabetes (especially uncontrolled diabetes) and diabetes can be difficult to control when gum disease and infection are present, putting patients at an increased risk for diabetic complications.

There’s no bones about it! Osteoporosis can be linked to oral health too! All jokes aside, we examine the bones in your jaw and how they influence your ability to keep your teeth. Over time osteoporosis can affect the density of the bone in your body, including your jaw bones. If the density of the jaw bones decreases enough, you can end up losing teeth.

So who can gum disease really effect?

Virtually, everyone. If it seems like I have already given you enough incentive to take care of your mouth, take a deep breath, because I’m not done yet!

Men with gum disease are more likely than women to develop gum disease AND certain types of cancers. They are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers than men without gum disease.  Gum disease in men can also affect prostate health and cause impotence.

Women, you’re not off the hook either. Gum disease can occur with hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and after menopause, putting women at a higher risk for breast cancer, heart disease (the leading cause for death in women in the U.S.), diabetes, pregnancy complications, and osteoporosis. Women with gum disease have a 3-5 times greater chance of pre-term birth, which often means a low birth weight for the baby. Pregnant women also have a higher risk for cavities, gum disease development, and even development of pregnancy tumors (which are not cancerous). Babies are perfect and wonderful and worth every second of everything we go through to get them… but they sure do a number on the body!

dental hygieneThe saying “you are what you eat,” applies to your mouth as much as the rest of your body. The food and drink you consume directly affect the mouth and, more specifically, the teeth. Eating disorders can significantly affect your oral health. Often times when we do our exams, we see early signs of eating disorders or severe acid reflux wearing away the tooth structure. Bulimia is a condition where someone eats and then vomits up the food. This results in acid from the stomach sitting on the teeth and wearing off the enamel, the hard structure that protects teeth from significant wear and cavities. Anorexia, where someone eats very little, is also destructive. It can deprive the teeth and gums of nutrients they need to stay strong. Our goal as dentists and hygienists is to help guide you on a path to treat these diseases, help prevent the long-term damage, and to repair some of the physical damage that may have already occurred.

Oh yes, there’s more. In addition, people who have gum disease and a history of lung problems can actually aspirate oral bacteria into their lungs and cause infections like pneumonia! There are also links between oral health and Alzheimer’s, dementia, and HIV. Early signs of HIV often manifest in the mouth first, which is one reason why oral cancer screenings are so important. An increase in gum disease bacteria can potentially increase the risk for development of cognitive impairments associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

As you can see, there are so many reasons that dental hygiene is important. So now you know – brushing your teeth CAN really make you healthier, because dental health and general health are not separate entities. They have a symbiotic relationship. We don’t treat just your teeth. We treat you as a whole person.

A healthy mouth leads to a healthy body, and a healthy body can keep your mouth healthy.

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