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Periodontal disease is common and unpleasant ranging from its earliest form of ginigivitis all the way to advanced periodontitis. According to ever mounting evidence, it could also play a role in a whole host of seemingly unrelated health problems.Periodontal Disease is a slow, progressive disease that has the capability to destroy our oral and systemic health. Many of the underlying symptoms of periodontal disease take time to manifest themselves and are often ignored. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease shows itself in many different forms including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases. Each type of periodontal disease has its own set of characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt, individualized treatment by your dentist to help slow the progression and hopefully halt the subsequent bone and gum tissue loss. Risk of periodontal disease increases with age. For younger people, dental caries are a more important risk for tooth loss, while for older people, periodontal disease is the more important risk factor. Studies have shown that over 70% of all Americans aged 65 and older have some form of periodontal disease.

The underlying mechanisms behind periodontal disease progression are relatively well understood, and newer research shows that this health problem may play a role in the development of a number of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.

Periodontal Disease And Effects On The Brain

Neurological conditions and periodontal disease are not normally associated together even though they are in close proximity to one another. Recent scientific research has found a link between periodontal disease (and associated tooth loss) with cognitive function. These researchers found that the risk of cognitive decline in older men increases as more teeth are lost. So therefore they concluded that periodontal disease is related to cognitive decline. The research also linked periodontal disease with an increased build up of beta amyloid in the brain. If you are unaware this is the neurological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Similar studies have also found evidence that one type of bacteria found in advanced periodontitis can also be found inside the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Heart Disease Linked To Periodontal Disease?

This area is not 100% linked but correlations can be made between the two. The two diseases share risk factors such as alcohol abuse and using tobacco products. It is believed the 2 diseases are inter related thru inflammation. Inflammation is the bodies protective response to an irritant or pathogen. If left unchecked it can lead to damage to tissues and organs. There are two thoughts on this. One is that the inflammation in the oral cavity ultimately sparks inflammation in the cardiovascular system. The other is that the bacteria related to periodontal disease is also related to heart disease. Bacteria in the gum tissues can enter the blood supply and reach distant destinationsin the body, including the heart, where they can cause inflammation and damage. Researchers have shown evidence that this is possible. Researchers have shown that P. gingivalis (a gram-negative oral anaerobe and considered as a main etiological factor in periodontal diseases) is the most commonly found bacterial species in the coronary artery.

Increased Cancer Risk

Periodontal disease has been found to be associated with a small, but significant, increase in overall cancer risk. Studies have also found a strong link between periodontal disease and overall cancer risk. The link was also significant between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer.

Conclusion

While we are learning new things about the links in our body every day, we need to follow what our doctors and dentists tell us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Most people do not realize that our dental health and our general health are inherently linked. Below is a discussion of the various links to be aware of to maintain your health.

Oral Health = Overall Health?

 Just like most areas of the body, your mouth is full of various bacteria — most are just harmless but others can be far more dangerous. Your mouth is the beginning or entry to the digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these dangerous bacteria have been found to cause disease in the body.
In normal situations, a person’s natural immune system and maintaining good oral health can keep this bacteria in check. However, not following dentist recommended protocols can allow bacteria levels to reach new heights leading to oral disease and infections such as tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Prescription medications can also play a role — such as decongestants (example Sudafed), antihistamines (example Benadryl), painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can cause a condition known as dry mouth. Saliva is necessary to wash away food and neutralizes the acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth. Saliva plays an important role in helping to protect you from bacteria that can quickly multiply and lead to disease in the mouth and body.

Recent scientific studies have been released suggesting that bacteria found in the mouth and the inflammation associated with the severest form of periodontal disease (periodontitis) might play a factor in some systemic diseases. General disease also has an affect on the oral cavity as well. Diseases such as diabetes and HIV(AIDS), can lower the body’s immune reaction to infection, making oral health problems even more severe.

Conditions can be linked to oral health?

Oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
-Endocarditis - This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) and typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body(possibly even the mouth) spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
-Cardiovascular disease(Heart Disease) - Although this connection is not yet fully understood, there has been some research suggesting that heart disease, clogged arteries and even stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
-Pregnancy and birth complications - Gum Disease (specifically Periodontitis) has been shown to be linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
-Pneumonia - Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Certain conditions also might affect your oral health, including:
-Diabetes - Acts by reducing the body’s resistance to infection, diabetes can put your gums at risk. Periodontal disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Studies have shown that diabetics who have periodontal disease have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can aid in diabetes control.
-HIV/AIDS - Oral issues, like painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
-Osteoporosisis a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. This disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain prescription drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
-Alzheimer’s disease - Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses probably due to inability to maintain proper dental regimen at home.

Other conditions that are believed to be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome).

It is important that you tell your dentist about the various medications you take and about any changes in your overall health, especially if you’ve recently been ill or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.

How can I protect my oral health?

 To protect your oral health, practice and maintain a good oral hygiene regimen.
-Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush using fluoride toothpaste.
-Floss after every meal.
-Use an antiseptic mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
-Eat a balanced diet and limit food with excessive sugars.
-Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
-Maintain a regular schedule of dental checkups and dental cleanings.
-Avoid tobacco use. This includes chewing tobacco.

Conclusion

 Contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. The longer you wait the bigger than issue it may become both for your dental health as well as your overall health. Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

 

The new year is fast approaching and it may be time to start thinking about what your New Year’s resolutions should be. These usually include losing weight,

Have A Healthy, Happy New Year!!

striving for a better job, or maybe even just being  a better friend or partner. Many people also set new goals for leading a healthier life going forward. So why not make some New Year’s resolutions regarding your dental health?

Making dental health resolutions can keep your teeth healthy, and studies have shown it can keep your entire body healthy as well.

Dental Health New Year’s Resolutions

Eat A Well Balanced Diet including Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a well balanced diet is important for yourdental health. If your body is not getting its propernutrition it can affect your entire immune system. Poor nutrition, increases susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including periodontal disease and tooth decay. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation. Healthy eating helps to protect your teeth and gum tissues. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery can actually help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath as well.

Quit Smoking or Using Other Tobacco Products

Using tobacco has been proven to be bad for your dental health as well as your general health. Some of the dental issues associated with smoking include:

-Tooth Discoloration.

-Tooth Decay.

-Gingival Recession.

-Periodontal Disease.

-Increased risk for cancer. This includes oral cancer as well throat, lung, and other systemic cancers.
People who smoke are almost twice as likely to lose their teeth as non smokers. It is not just smoking tobacco that has negative effects on your oral health: use of smokeless tobacco can be just as damaging to your dental health. The good news is, that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.

Use Alcohol in Moderation

You may already know that excessive alcohol intake can have an effect on your overall health, but did you know that it may also affect your dental health? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who use tobacco products, are more likely to maintain poor nutrition. Drinking excessive alcohol also  increases gum recession (periodontal pocketing). Studies show that smokers who regularly drink alcohol are less likely to brush and floss their teeth regularly and are less concerned about their basic health than non smokers.

Improve Dental Hygiene: Brush and Floss Regularly

Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from tooth decay and periodontal disease. These are caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque. Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health. Studies have shown that only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gum line,areas  where tooth decay and periodontal diseasebegins.

Without proper brushing and flossing, you may develop bleeding gums and gingivitis. Gingivitis is the earliest form of periodontal disease and is reversible. If untreated it will worsen to severely swollen, red, bleeding gums and, eventually, advanced periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to your general health, therefore, it is doubly important to maintain good dental health at all times.

See Your Dentist for Regular Examinations and Cleanings

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year for dental examinations and cleanings, you can help prevent any dental health issues before they cause pain or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment. Regular visits allow your dentist to keep track of your oral health and recommend an individualized dental hygiene maintenance regimen to address areas of concern.

Happy New Year!!

For the new year and for years to come you should resolve to improve your health, dental hygiene habits, quit smoking, drink in moderation, and improve your overall diet. Your teeth and body, and loved ones will thank you for it for many years to come!  Bring in the new year with a smile!


Maintaining good dental health can be quite challenging for all of us but it can be especially challenging for women. Women’s bodies have major changes that occur throughout life including monthly hormone cycles and pregnancy. These changes are due to changes in hormones. As you may know, hormones can be responsible for dramatic shifts in our bodies chemistry.

Recent studies have shown an increased risk for periodontal disease in women due to hormonal changes. Fluctuations in female hormones seem to be the main risk factor. For women, this means it effects them over the course of their entire lives. Female sex hormone changes occur at puberty, menstruation, during pregnancy, and throughout menopause. The study found that as female sex hormones fluctuate throughout a woman’s life they can change conditions in the mouth that allow bacteria to grow and enter the bloodstream. This development can and usually does intensify certain health issues like bone loss in the body and especially the mouth.

Female Changes Through Life

Below you will find a list of some of the major hormonal events that a female must deal with that can affect her dental health as well as her overall health.

-Menstrual Cycle. Is the regular natural changes that occurs in the uterus and ovaries that make pregnancy possible. The menstrual cycle is required for the production of eggs, and for the preparation of the uterus for a possible pregnancy. About 80% of women report having some symptoms during the one to two weeks prior to menstruation. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes. These changes can also include increased inflammation of gum tissues and sensitivity to your gums. Maintaining dental hygiene is even more important during the menstrual cycle changes to keep symptoms to a minimum.

There may also be an increase in the development of canker sores and blisters at this time. It is probably a good idea to watch these sores and ensure they go away in a  timely manner. If the sores become inflamed or linger for longer than 5-7 days it is best to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Pregnancy. Another major period of change within a woman’s body. During pregnancy, hormones like estrogen, progesterone, as well as others, rise and fall on a weekly basis. Because of this, dental problems can be intensified and made more serious. Problems that were once unrecognizable before pregnancy may become unbearable during it.

When you’re pregnant, you become very aware of how important it is to take extra special care of your body. You should also know that pregnancy is a time to take extra special care of your teeth and gums. That’s because hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can increase your chances of developing tooth decay, pregnancy gingivitisand advancement of periodontal disease .Studies have shown that women with existing periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have preterm births and low birth weight babies.

Preventive dental cleanings and regular dental exams during pregnancy are not only completely safe, but are highly recommended by both dentists and physicians alike. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes to a  woman’s body. This increase in hormones causes the gums to bleed easily, become inflamed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gingival tissue.

Researchers believe that periodontal disease may lead to premature birth by the spread of oral bacteria to the placenta or amniotic fluid. Systemic inflammation caused by periodontitis may also lead to preterm labor and membrane rupture. The probable culprit is a chemical called prostaglandin, released into the bloodstream during inflammation, which can induce labor. Prostaglandin is released in very high levels in severe cases of periodontal disease.

Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor oral hygiene and gum disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists.

If you are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to see your dentist prior to trying to concieve to ensure your oral health is fine. You should have a complete dental exam at this time along with a dental cleaning and complete treatment on any other issues you might have to ward off complications during pregnancy.

-Menopause. Menopause may also contribute to some oral ailments such as the following:

1. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). As a woman’s estrogen levels decrease it can lead to a drier mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping our mouth clean and hydrated. Without sufficient amounts of saliva our teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal infections. Dry mouth can also come from many medications (prescriptions or over the counter) that are commonly prescribed as we get older.

2. Menopausal Gingivostomatitis. This can occur to a very small percentage of women but can be very damaging. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red are hallmarks of this condition. Estrogen supplements are usually able to help to relieve these symptoms.

3. Bone Density Changes. The decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density. Loss of bone in the jaw area can lead to tooth loss. Gum recession can also be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay by exposing more areas of the tooth to the acids in the mouth. Gingival grafting may be necessary to cover the receding areas.

4. Change In Taste. This is especially true for salty, peppery or sour.

5. Burning Mouth Syndrome. This can affect the tongue, gum tissues, lips, and possibly the tissues inside the cheeks of the mouth. The burning mouth sensation generally occurs from changes in taste and the sensory nerves in the mouth. It can also be caused as a result of dry mouth, poor nutrition, and even allergic reactions to food or drug. If you note any of these symptoms contact your dentist immediately for help in relieving the discomfort.

6. Eating Disorders. Nutritional changes can occur from a woman’s change in her own body self image. These changes can lead to poor nutrition and improper eating habits. These changes can make our teeth more susceptible to teeth damage.

-Birth Control Pills. Another factor that may also contribute is the use of oral contraceptives or birth control pills. These pills trick the body into thinking it is pregnant through the use of hormones so that ovulation does not occur each month. Because the body believes that it is pregnant, the same problems that women experience during pregnancy may occur if the woman is taking birth control. Utilizing this medication makes it even more necessary for you to take good care of your oral hygiene and to pay close attention to any sensitivity, swelling, or discomfort in the mouth.

Female Dental Health Conclusion

As noted above, it is important for women to see their dentist regularly for examinations and dental cleanings as well as to maintain diligent dental care at home. Make sure to follow proper brushing and flossing habits, as well as using a strengthening fluoride rinse, and your teeth and gums should feel comfortable and healthy!