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Periodontal disease, comes in two forms gingivitis (reversible) and periodontitis (treatable but non reversible), is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. Recent studies have shown between 50-75% of people have some form of periodontal disease. More statistics show that approximately 30% of Americans are at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease due to genetic factors. These statistics show how much a health concern periodontal disease can be especially when you add in even more research showing periodontal disease links with systemic diseases.

Factors in Development of Periodontal Disease

-Poor Oral Hygiene.

-Tobacco Use.

-Medications.

-Teeth Grinding or Bruxism.

-Genetics.

-Poor Immune System

-Systemic disease.

The earliest and mildest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, where the gums redden and bleed easily. If not treated, inflammation of the tissue occurs, resulting in progression of  the disease to periodontitis. Gingivitis is characterized by receding gums, loose teeth, sores, sensitive gums, swollen gums, red or discolored gums, chronic bad breath, change in teeth alignment and teeth movement. The ultimate consequence of advanced periodontal disease is loss of teeth, which occurs when the tissue and bone supporting the tooth breaks down.

Periodontal disease was previously thought to affect only the teeth and gums, but researchers have discovered that periodontal disease influences the overall health and well-being of an individual. Research has shown that gum disease is a risk factor for many health conditions throughout the body. The gum disease causing bacteria that normally resides around the teeth can enter the blood stream and reach other organs and tissues in the body. Once there, the bacteria  release disease-causing agents that can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions that can include:

Diabetes Mellitus (or simply Diabetes)

Periodontal disease impairs the body’s ability to maintain blood sugar levels making you more prone to diabetes or making diabetic symptoms worse. On the other hand, diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease due to a weakened immune system, making it easier for them to catch infections, viruses, and exhibit delayed wound healing.

Stroke

According to scientific studies, gum disease increases the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. A chronic infection of the gums can be directly related to an increased risk of reduced blood flow to the brain. Stroke and gum disease have similar risk factors and severe inflammation from periodontal disease increases the risks of having a stroke.

Heart Disease

Having periodontal disease puts you at higher risks of heart disease. Just like periodontal disease, heart disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which can be greatly impacted by periodontal disease. The more severe the periodontal infection, the higher the risk of developing heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acute coronary syndrome.

Respiratory Infections

When the bacteria in the plaque that causes gum disease goes to the lungs, it can cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. This explains the increased cases of pneumonia and other respiratory conditions in people with periodontal disease. This also is in conjunction with patients with lowered immune systems which makes it easier for them to be susceptible to these bacterial attacks.

Cancer

After considering risk factors for cancer including age, diabetes, smoking, BMI and more, experts found periodontal disease as a risk factor for lung, kidney, pancreatic, head, neck and hematologic cancers. Inflammation caused by periodontal disease is a major contributing factor to these cancers.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Periodontal disease can result in chronic bad breath which is more of a social issue than a medical one. Bacteria deposits on the tongue can also cause bad breath. This is one of the few conditions caused by periodontal disease that can be treated at home by practicing proper dental care to control halitosis (brushing, flossing, mouthrinses, tongue scraping).

Complications with Birth and Pregnancy

Periodontal disease in pregnant mothers has been shown to increase the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. The  periodontal bacteria involved cause inflammation of the uterus and cervix. Periodontal disease also increases the risk of developing preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. The relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease goes both ways as each increases inflammation in the other. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are faced with increased risks and severity of periodontal disease and treating periodontal disease can relieve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion

The best and easiest way to prevent and control periodontal disease is by maintaining a good oral hygiene program which includes regular dental visits as well as diligent at home care. This includes brushing, flossing, use of mouth rinse, and tongue scraping. Your health is important, taking care of your dental health is a great way to start taking care of your overall health.

 

For most of us the mere mention of cancer is frightening. However, with today’s medical advancements many types of cancer of very treatable and curable. Unfortunately, oral cancer is not one of those types of cancer. In fact oral cancer kills one person per hour every day of the year in the United States alone. Another issue with oral cancer is it is often not detected until the later stages when it is most deadly.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer includes any cancer that begins and develops in your mouth. This can mean the throat, cheeks, tongue, hard and soft palates, floor of the mouth, or lips. Oral cancer usually begins as a sore in the mouth that does not heal. Unfortunately, many assume it is just a canker sore or a pizza burn and ignore it. This usually leads to a much later detection of the disease. The majority of oral cancer is classified as squamous cell carcinoma, which attacks epithelial cells.

Males are most at risk of developing oral cancer. They run 2x the risk as females do of developing oral cancer. That may be because many of the top causes of oral cancer, such as smoking, are more widely practiced by men than women. As for age, people who are middle-aged and older are most likely to develop the disease.

Oral cancer kills more than 8,000 people every year in the United States. Some 43,000 are newly diagnosed each year, but many others go into remission only to have the cancer come back a few years later. The oral cancer survival rate is 57 percent, and this has actually improved over the past decade (used to be 50% survival rate) as people become more vigilant about getting screened.

A disturbing trend is that an increasing number of oral cancer cases are being caused by HPV16 (a type of Human Papilloma Virus) that effects the mucus membranes and skin. It tends to affect the back of the mouth, including the oropharynx, the tonsils, and the base of the tongue.Unfortunately, since these types of cancer are in the back of the mouth, the color changes and lesions that often signal the presence of oral cancer can be more easily overlooked by patients. They may not know that their mouth has undergone any chance and not seek professional care.

Oral cancer has a high risk of recurring for the first 10 years after diagnosis. Patients are up to 20 times as likely to get cancer again as those who have not been diagnosed with oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are many risk factors and these can include:

-Smoking (Tobacco use).

-Excessive Drinking Of Alcohol.

-Smog.

-Herpes Infections.

-Age.

-Periodontal Disease.

-Poor Nutrition.

Oral Cancer Signs And Symptoms

The most commons signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:

-Oral sores lasting for 2 weeks or more without healing.

-Facia or oral numbness.

-Unexplained facial or oral pain.

-Unexplained lingering sore throat.

-Changes in your voice (increased hoarseness).

-Ear pain.

-Unexplained weight loss.

-Frequent oral bleeding with no apparent cause.

-White or red patches in the mouth.

-Crusty lesions inside or outside the mouth.

Oral Cancer Screening By Your Dentist

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations at least twice a year. A manual and visual examination is necessary. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. The use of the Velscope oral cancer screening system has been proven to diagnose precancerous as well as cancerous changes in the tissue as early as possible to give you the best chance for recovery and survival from oral cancer.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

If during your dental examination your dentist finds anything suspicious they will recommend that you have a biopsy performed of that area. The biopsy of the lesion will be used to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. If it is confirmed that you do indeed have oral cancer you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumors. Radiation or chemotherapy may be also used in the course of your treatment.

Oral Cancer Conclusion

If you have any concerns about your oral health or have any of the warning signs listed above, see your dentist immediately. As in any disease, an early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. So be vigilant and, even if you do not have any warning signs, visit your dentist for routine oral cancer screenings.

As summer gets underway, the oppressive heat can wreak havoc on our dental health. Dry climates and extreme heat can damage your teeth and surrounding tissues. High humidity causes excessive sweating and loss of hydration, also damaging oral tissues. Below are a list of some simple tips to keep you and your family healthy while having fun this summer.

Summertime Oral Care Tips

-Keep Hydrated. This helps stave off tooth decay and also protects your skin (lips) and gum tissues. Drink lots of water and stay away from sugary drinks. Lemonade is a summer favorite, but citric acid + sugar + dry mouth = tooth decay. Sucking on hard candies that are artificially sweetened or chewing on sugar-free gum (preferably xylitol) is ideal to help promote the production of saliva which can prevent tooth decay.

-Use Protection. Summer heat can cause dry, chapped lips. It is important to protect your lips with lip balm or lip gloss. Use products that provide moisture and SPF protection. It will also ward off possible skin cancer. Your lips are more susceptible to burning than most parts of your body, yet many people don’t even consider protecting them from the sun. Damage to the lips over an extended period of time can lead to skin cancer. Use a lip balm or lip gloss with an SPF of at least 15.

-Snack Wisely. A popular summer snack is fresh fruit. It is important to choose the right fruits to help your teeth. Watermelon is an excellent choice as it helps clean your mouth due to its high water content. On the other hand, citrus fruits are highly acidic and can cause tooth enamel erosion. If you choose citrus fruits, brush and rinse often to keep the acid from harming your teeth. Stay away from fruit gummies and roll ups as they will stick between the teeth and stay longer in a dry mouth causing in-between the teeth cavities.

-Humidify Your Home. To prevent our mouth and skin from drying out use a humidifier filled with distilled water. This will keep your lips from chapping and your mouth from drying out.

-Protect Your Teeth. Summertime includes playing outdoor sports. It is important to use a mouthguard for proper protection. Mouthguards are fairly inexpensive and can protect your teeth as well as your lips, cheeks, and gums. Wearing a mouthguard will also prevent grinding of teeth during play.

-Swim Wisely. Excessive swimming in a pool can erode and weaken our teeth. This is due to the high content of chlorine in most pools. On the other hand swimming in the ocean, can actually help decrease the oral bacteria. This is due to the oceans salt water content. If you choose swimming in a pool, remember to brush following swimming to limit damage from the pool’s chemicals.

-Pack healthy picnics/lunches. Try to limit sweets when you will be outdoors for an extended time. Chips are better than cookies, water is better than juice which is better than soda pop. Increase protein and decrease white carbohydrates. White carbs are broken down into sugars in the mouth immediately and can begin to break down enamel.

-Don’t Forget Breakfast. We tend to be a bit relaxed in the summer, but breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. When we skip breakfast we tend to snack on more unhealthy items throughout the morning. If you start with a healthy breakfast, and brush after, you won’t be tempted to cheat.

Summertime Smile Conclusion

Summertime presents its own challenges in maintenance of your smile. Understanding the above information can help you make good choices to help yourself and your family to get through summer cavity free. The above tips will help you to maintain your dental health while having a fun summer and continue your excellent dental health throughout the year.

 

Many of us have long known the benefits of drinking tea regularly. Some of these benefits include improving our immune system, building stronger bones, and protect against aging (anti-oxidants). However, drinking tea regularly can also help our dental health. Recent research suggests drinking black or green tea daily can give you amazing dental health benefits. Below you will find a few that might make drinking tea daily a worthwhile endeavor.

Oral Health Benefits Of  Tea

Tea As A Natural Antibacterial Rinse. One of the main componenets of  tea is polyphenol. Recent research has shown that polyphenols (specifically catechin and theaflavin polyphenols) can inhibit the growth of oral bacteria. The antibacterial action can take place over a 48 hour period.

-Reduction In Bad Breath (Halitosis). Research has also shown that these polyphenols also help to eliminate bad breath. These compounds have the ability to inhibit the proper functioning of the enzymes that act as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen sulfide. Production of hydrogen sulfide contributes to bad breath.

-Eliminate Oral Infections. Just as black or green tea can inhibit your oral bacteria they can also inhibit bacteria present in oral infections such as strep throat and tooth decay. Tea is also a natural source of fluoride which can promote healthy dental enamel. Another compound present in tea called tannins can inhibit the growth of plaque causing bacteria as well.

-Clotting Aide. The tannins in tea may help reduce bleeding and aid in clotting.

-Help Stop Oral Cancer. Black tea can also help in the prevention of oral cancer. Research has shown that black tea has the ability to reverse cancer causing changes to the DNA of cells lining the oral cavity.

Black/Green Tea Conclusion

The health benefits of black and green tea consumption have been found through research. So, sit back, sip on a cup of tea, and begin to improve your oral health.