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Recent research has begun to mount linking the oral health to the rest of the body. Did you know that more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms?  Oral health means more than just an attractive smile. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. In many cases, the condition of the mouth is a direct sign of the condition of the body as a whole. This means that it is even more important to seek regular dental care as your dentist might the one to notice oral signs of systemic disease developing.

Systemic Disease With Associated Oral Symptoms

-Heart Disease/Stroke – Recent research has proven a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. The research results find that the bacteria present in periodontal disease does not just stay in the mouth but can move and travel throughout the body. It is believed that the bacteria moves from brushing, flossing, or eating and causes inflammation. The process of inflammation that affects the tissues in the mouth are what causes the heart disease issues. In periodontal disease, the body goes into an inflammatory state to rid the offending bacteria but in the process they are destroying good tissues and bone. When bacteria goes mobile and travels throughout the body, this bacteria can irritate the arteries which in turn will respond by creating arterial plaques. These plaques lead to decreased or blocked blood flow which in turn can cause a heart attack.

-Diabetes – Diabetic patients are unique in that their disease reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. This reduced ability can lead to an increased occurence of periodontal disease. Diabetic patients need to increase their at home dental hygiene as well as see their dentist more often to ensure they do not succumb to their disease. Diabetics may experience burning mouth syndrome and fungal infections, such as thrush and oral candidiasis. Dry mouth may also develop, causing an increased incidence of tooth decay. To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, prescription mouth rinses, and more frequent dental cleanings.

-Gastrointestinal Diseases – These diseases include Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD). The oral cavity is the portal of entry to the GI tract. In the case of GERD it is not uncommon to see tooth enamel erosion from the acids in the stomach entering the mouth and for the other diseases, the presence of regular ulcers can be a sign of colitis or Crohn’s disease. Obviously these ulcers alone would not be a diagnosis for them in absence of other symptoms.

-Hematologic (Blood) Disorders - Mucosal conditions, such as glossitis, recurrent aphthae, candidal infections, and angular stomatitis may be more common in patients with anemia. Glossitis can be the first sign of a folate or vitamin B-12 deficiency. The tongue appears red, and the papillae produce a smooth appearance. Angular stomatitis is commonly caused by a candidal infection, and it has been linked to a deficiency in iron. If the anemia persists, a person may have decreased resistance to infection.

-Sjogren Syndrome – This disease predominantly affects women (9 women to 1 man) and primarily affects those over age 50. Oral changes can include difficulty in swallowing and eating, changes in taste and speech, increased tooth decay, and an increased chance of infection, all due to a decrease in saliva.

-HIV/AIDS – The oral symptoms include candidiasis (oral infection), Karposi’s sarcoma, increased herpes outbreaks, as well as human papilloma virus (HPV) infections.

Conclusion

The above list is by no means comprehensive, but it goes to show you how various diseases affecting different parts of the body can appear and affect the mouth. Scientific research continually furthers the evidence that the mouth is a window to your health. While your dentist may not be able to definitively diagnose any of the above diseases they can be an early communicator of the symptoms developing to give you a better chance of recovering from the effects of these diseases. Some believe that increased dental health and oral hygiene have led to an increased chance of autoimmunity to certain diseases and conditions.

For many of us, our ethnicity is not easily seen from outward appearances. As generations go by, the different ethnic backgrounds have been mixed to produce a large variety of people in the world. Recent research has shown that the diverse oral bacteria in our mouths is actually as powerful as a fingerprint. It turns out the bacteria deep within our gums can give clues to our unique ethnic origins.

Ethnicity Study And Oral Bacteria

Research completed at the Ohio State University periodontology department studied the oral bacteria found in different ethnic groups . The researchers identified about 400 species of oral bacteria in the mouths of 100 subjects. The study consisted of 4 ethnic groups: white, non-Hispanic blacks, Chinese, and Latinos.

More than 60 percent of oral bacteria in the human mouth have never been classified, named or studied. The reason being, that  many oral bacteria will not grow in a laboratory culture dish. To get around this problem, the researchers found a different way to identify the different oral bacteria. The solution was to identify different species by utilizing DNA sequencing.

The study found that only a small percentage ( 2%) of the oral bacteria were found in every one of the research subjects. Bacteria were found in different concentrations based upon the subjects ethnicity. The researchers found that each ethnic group was represented by their own unique signature of oral bacteria.

Another research of ethnicity and oral bacteria found that African Americans and Latinos are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

What Does This Mean?

-Some oral bacteria leave us highly susceptible to tooth decay, some to periodontal disease. Knowing who is more prone to which specific oral diseases can make it easier to monitor and prevent.

-Knowing which bacteria you have allows for specific antibiotic regimens to be customized to target your particular bad oral bacteria, and allows you to decrease your odds of succumbing to oral disease.

-Understanding the genetic basis of bacteria allows researchers to study particularly harmful bacteria, and find new ways to battle it.

-Knowledge of your ethnic background may help you understand why you are genetically prone to certain bacteria related diseases and what you can do to improve your overall oral health.

What Your Dentist Can Do For You

-Test your particular oral bacteria via saliva samples sent to MyPerioPath.

-Help you understand your risk factors.

-Custom design an antibiotic regimen to substantially reduce the dangerous oral bacteria present in your mouth.

-Oral hygiene regimen and instruction.

-Monitoring the mouth for disease progression.

 Effects Of Oral Bacteria On Dental Health

Bacteria are present throughout our body. Some bacteria are sticky and form biofilm. A thin grouping of oral bacteria, plaque biofilm, lives on gum tissue and teeth. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. The oral bacteria in the biofilm release acids that attack the enamel of our teeth, and break down tissue attachments in the gums. The plaque bacteria can cause tooth decay and periodontal disease. Knowing which bacteria you have present in your oral environment allows you to know what you are up against.

Conclusions From Research Study

Understanding the genetic basis to bacteria not only helps scientists study them and find cures, but can help you fight oral disease.  Being aware of your particular harmful bacteria and potential issues they may cause, could and should lead to a more personalized approach to dental and medical care.

Pregnancy is a time of drastic change and anticipation. With so many changes in your body, it is important to keep your overall health in check. This includes your dental health. Poor dental health can affect you and the child you are carrying. Many parents are unsure of how to proceed with dental care during this exciting time. Below you will find many common questions and the answers to  help you make your best decisions for optimum dental health.

Common Pregnancy Dental Questions

-Is Dental Care Safe During Pregnancy? YES!! There are some limitations but the main thing is to communicate with your dentist that you are pregnant. This allows the dental team to take all precautions for your health as well as your baby’s health. If you are planning to get pregnant, you should visit your dentist for a full checkup to ensure there are no issues and if there are have them taken care of. Dental cleanings should be done throughout any trimester of your pregnancy. This can help prevent pregnancy ginigivitis and periodontitis. Periodontal Disease in pregnancy has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight. The safest time to receive dental treatment for dental problems during pregnancy is during the second trimester. Cosmetic dental work and other elective dental procedures should not be done during pregnancy.

Marielaina Perrone DDS Pregnancy-Are Dental X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy? It is best to postpone all radiographs until after the birth of your child. That being said, the American College Of Radiology says that “no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause any adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. Treatment of decay, fracture, infection, or pain, should not be avoided.  You can put your baby in harms way if you do not treat a dental infection, do not eat properly due to pain, or do not sleep well due to pain. Treatment of such issues should be completed during the second trimester of the pregnancy if possible.

-What To Do For A Dental Emergency during Pregnancy? If you are experiencing a dental emergency while pregnant you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Never ignore dental pain especially during your pregnancy. The pain will cause increased stress on your baby as well as yourself. It is also important to not allow any kind of infection to spread, this can cause fever, spread bacteria to your child, and cause fetal distress.

If dental treatment is necessary, local anesthetic can be used in monitored amounts, but will still be enough to make you comfortable.  When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced. Also, the more comfortable you are, the easier it is for the anesthesia to work. If antibiotics are necessary to fight dental infection the choices include penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin. These have been classified to be safe for you and your baby while taking care of the infection.

-What If Toothpaste Sickens Your Stomach? Morning sickness is an individualized event. For many it could be the smell of mayonnaise while for others it could be toothpaste. If this occurs, try a few different flavors and brands to find the one that does not trigger your nauseousness. It is important to continue brushing your teeth and maintaing dental hygiene while pregnant. Not only will it hold back any tooth decay but it will also help control pregnancy gingivitis.

-After I Give Birth, Will Dental Work Affect Nursing? Studies have shown about 1% of any medication you are taking is excreted in a woman’s breast milk. This is a small amount but this should be discussed with your dentist or physician to ensure your baby’s safety.

-Can I Whiten My Teeth During Pregnancy? If you are pregnant, it is suggested to refrain from the use of bleaching agents, including whitening toothpastes. Cosmetic dentistry can be resumed after pregnancy.

Pregnancy Dental Questions Conclusion

It is important to remember to keep asking questions during your pregnancy. There are so many new things happening to a pregnant woman’s body, being informed can help make everything go much more smoothly. You need to know the difference between the facts and the myths in case a dental emergency arises. The most  important thing for you is to maintain your health and your child’s health and make informed decisions while dealing with any dental issue.

Wisdom teeth or third molars generally erupt into the mouth between the ages of 17 and 25. These molars come in behind our 2nd molars which came in at about 12 years old. Most people develop 4 wisdom teeth, while others may develop less or even sometimes more than 4. Wisdom teeth commonly become an issue because of lack of room or odd positioning. Wisdom teeth can affect other teeth in the mouth by moving them, damaging root structure or causing tooth decay or periodontal issue. Wisdom teeth can come in sideways, horizontally, backwards, or even become impacted (partially or fully  unable to erupt into the mouth). When these complications arise, it is recommended that the wisdom teeth are removed to avoid permanent damage to other teeth.

What To Expect Following Wisdom Teeth Extraction

While most wisdom teeth extractions go quite easily with little to no pain or complications. There can always be complications no matter how minor they may seem. These can include:

-Bleeding. This is quite normal following any type of oral surgery. It is not unusual to see slight bleeding or oozing into the saliva following wisdom teeth extraction. Excessive bleeding ( mouth filling with blood) is not normal and your dentist or surgeon should be contacted immediately. The general instructions given by your doctor to control this oozing or slight bleeding is to bite down on a fresh gauze pad for about 30 minutes. You can repeat if necessary. This usually does the trick but if more action is needed biting on a moist tea bag will help even further. Tea bags contain tannic acid which helps with clotting of the blood. Activity should be limited directly following surgery. If bleeding continues or you are unsure of what to do, call your dentist immediately.

-Pain/Discomfort. Some minor pain following wisdom teeth removal is normal. A dull ache is expected after the local anesthesia wears off. This usually will subside on its own over 8-12 hours following surgery. Your dentist or surgeon will evaluate what may be necessary for pain management based upon your particular surgery. For more severe pain your dentist or surgeon will give you a prescription pain medicine. It is important to note that most prescription pain medication is much stronger and will make you groggy and reduce your reflexive actions. Driving as well as alcohol intake should be avoided while on these painkillers. The pain should begin to subside within 8-12 hours and be almost gone by end of 2nd day. If pain persists call your dentist immediately as you may be experiencing dry socket. A dry socket occurs when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from area where the tooth was extracted. Symptoms of severe and/or throbbing pain at the surgical site 3-4 days following surgery, that does not respond to pain medication, can indicate a dry socket in the area of the wisdom teeth. If this occurs call your dentist so they can relieve your pain.

-Swelling. Another very normal complication of wisdom teeth removal. Swelling can usually be found around the mouth and sides of the face. The swelling can be controlled or minimized by the use of ice packs. After 36 hours, ice has little beneficial effect and can be replaced with the application of moist heat to the sides of the face. Moist heat has been found to be helpful in reducing the swelling and increasing the range of motion of your jaws. Most swelling will subside over the course of 3-4 days.

-Dietary Restrictions. Initial nutritional intake should be in liquid form or very soft foods. It is best to avoid chewing on side where wisdom teeth were extracted. Drinking fluids is especially important to avoid dehydration. Stay away from sharp, crunchy foods that can lodge themselves into the extraction site. You need to eat and drink so that you will heal and the stronger you will feel, but not too much if you are experiencing nausea. Do not use a straw when drinking as you may dislodge the clot and cause a dry socket or increased bleeding.

-Nausea/Vomiting. Developing nausea is a real possibility especially if general anesthesia was used. Limit food intake until nausea subsides and try to drink a carbonated beverage (coke or ginger ale) it will help ease your upset stomach.

-Maintain Dental Hygiene. Keeping the mouth clean is important. Rinsing should not be performed the day of surgery. The day after surgery you can rinse 5-6 times a day using a saltwater mix (cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt). Your doctor will let you know when brushing in the area can resume.

-Bruising/Discoloration. In some cases, this can happen and is very normal. Occurs when blood forms beneath the tissues causing black, green, blue, or even yellow discolorations on the skin. Usually occurs 2-3 days after surgery. Application of moist heat to the area may speed up the healing process.

-Infection. Your dentist may place you on a course of antibiotics if there is an infection present. The Antibiotic prescription should be completed as directed by your dentist and pharmaceutical instructions.

-Jaw Stiffness. This can occur from the jaws being open and stretched for an extended period of time. Normally goes away within a day or two.

Less Likely Wisdom Teeth Complications

-Numbness. This can happen and is generally temporary. Be aware that you can bite your lip or tongue while you are numb so be careful. If the numbness persists call your dentist immediately.

-Fever. Development of a fever is a rare occurence following wisdom teeth removal but it can happen. If the temperature lasts more than a few hours or does not go back down after taking Tylenol or Advil call your dentist.

-Dry, Cracked Lips. This can occur from your lips and mouth being stretched during surgery. Most dentists can minimize this by using vaseline on your lips and skin before surgery to keep them moist.

-Irregular Bony Projections. In some cases, patients may feel bony projections with their tongue. This is the bony walls that housed your wisdom teeth. These projections may need to be removed by the dentist if they persist.

Wisdom Teeth Conclusion

It is important to remember that we are all individuals and our bodies will react differently to different events such as wisdom teeth surgery. Many of us will have no complications beyond pain and slight swelling, but for others, bigger complications may arise. It is important to maintain an open line of communication with your dentist in case an issue arises.