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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.

Thyroid disease makes it difficult for the body to produce and regulate the normal amount of important hormones. Thyroid disease is quite difficult to diagnose and it can have a ripple effect throughout the body throwing systems out of balance. Approximately 30 million Americans have thyroid disease ( more than half of them undiagnosed). Subtle changes in thyroid function can have a significant impact on our health. Women’s risk of developing thyroid problems is seven times that of men. A family history of thyroid problems and increasing age affect the chances of a woman developing thyroid problems. A woman has almost a one-in-five chance of facing some type of thyroid disease in her lifetime. The question we ask…Does thyroid disease also affect dental health? Read below to find out….

Possible Dental Health Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease

-Increased risk of periodontal disease. Thyroid conditions may inhibit the body’s ability to heal wounds. This can be quite dangerous for dental health as our gum tissues are constantly in a state of rebuilding and repair. If the gum tissue is in a weakened state it becomes more prone to infection than healthy gum tissues. With an increased risk of periodontal disease also comes an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). It is believed that oral bacteria passes into the bloodstream which can then attach to fatty plaques leading to clot formations. It has been shown in research that stroke victims are more likely to have an oral infection present vs. those who have not suffered from a stroke.

-Enlarged Tongue. This is also called Macroglossia. This can be a common symptom of thyroid disease sufferers. The swollen or enlarged tongue can make it difficult to perform simple activities like talking, eating, and swallowing. Sleep patterns can also be disrupted as those suffering from macroglossia may also find it difficult to fall asleep as the tongue can block the airway and wake the person with a gasp for air. Sleep deprivation can lead to its own disorders including mental fatigue and early development of Alzheimer’s disease.

-Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). Saliva acts as a buffer for our teeth and gums. The saliva constantly washes and coats our mouth maintaining a delicate balance. If salivary flow is reduced it can lead to increased tooth decay. Saliva also adds nutrients to our teeth keeping them strong to defend against attack by oral bacteria.

-Burning Mouth Syndrome. This is a condition that causes a burning pain in the mouth and tongue.

-Change In Taste Sensation. This is also referred to as Dysgeusia. Thyroid disease may cause your sense of taste to become distorted or just change over time. This may make healthy eating difficult which  leads to a decreased quality of health.

-Accelerated Dental Eruption. This pertains to children with thyroid disease. It is possible for teeth to erupt earlier and faster than normal creating an issue in proper development for those children.

Thyroid Disease Conclusion

Thyroid disease must be accurately diagnosed with blood work, usually by an endocrinologist.  The endocrinologist will monitor the disease, and update changes to thyroid medications to help them to maintain patient’s oral health. Due to the manifestation of oral signs, the dentist may be the first to suspect a serious thyroid disease disorder and play a key role in early diagnosis. If you notice any of these changes speak to your dentist and medical doctor.  Be proactive in your dental and overall health care.

Most men tend to be a little less attentive to their personal hygiene compared to women and this is true for dental hygiene as well according to recent studies. Recent surveys from the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association, show men are less likely than women to visit the dentist for preventive dental care and will often neglect their oral health for years.

Findings From Study

-Brushing After Meals. The average male is less likely to brush his teeth after every meal. Approximately 21% of men in the study said they brush after every meal while almost 30% of women said they did. The results are close but still a significant gap. Both genders need to improve on this number.

-Daily Brushing. The average male is less likely to brush his teeth twice a day. Almost 50% of the men in the study said they brush twice a day whereas almost 57% of the women said they did. Again the numbers are quite close and both genders need to improve but women outperform men again in this category.

-Development of Periodontal Disease. Men are more likely to develop periodontal disease than are women:

30 to 54 years old: 34 percent of men compared with 23 percent of women

55 to 90 years old: 56 percent of men compared to 44 percent of women.

This really should come as no surprise based on the lowered brushing numbers for men. If basic dental hygiene is not maintained you will most likely develop some form of periodontal disease.

Assessing Men’s Dental Risk

Recent studies suggest there may be a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. As we know, cardiovascular disease can place people at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. Because of this, men should be especially vigilant for signs of periodontal disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.

While it is important for all men to be on top of their dental hygiene some men should be even more diligent due to medical histories. These include:

-Men who take prescription medications. Some medications (blood pressure medications and antidepressants) can cause dry mouth. Men who take these medications could develop decreased salivary flow, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Saliva helps reduce the cavity causing bacteria found in the mouth by washing away food particles and neutralizing acid found in drinks and food and formed by plaque bacteria.

What To Do If You Have Dry Mouth?

Men who have dry mouth may need to drink more water to ease their symptoms. Other ways to relieve dry mouth include:

-Chewing sugarless gum. A good example is chewing a gum with xyltiol. Xylitol has ben proven to inhibit the creation of acid in your mouth thereby protecting your teeth.

-Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages. All of these beverages tend to dry out your mouth as well as increase exposure to acids in the mouth.

-Do Not Smoke! Smoking causes increased risk for periodontal disease, delayed healing, and increased risk for developing oral cancer.

-Avoiding overly salty foods. Salt tends to dry you out enhancing the feeling of thirst.

-Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse.

Men who have inhibited saliva flow should also ask their dentist about saliva substitutes or other alternatives to promote salivary flow.

Tobacco Use in Men. Men who smoke or chew tobacco have a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Men in general have higher risk for developing periodontal
disease or cancer, so tobacco use just increases that risk even further. Age is also a factor, as 95 % of oral cancers occur in those older than 40 years of age. The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, the lips and gums. Oral Cancer must be diagnosed early for a successful treatment outcome. If it is not diagnosed early and treated in its early stages oral cancer can spread very quickly leading to chronic pain, loss of function, and even death.

For that reason it is very important for men who use tobacco to see a dentist on a regular basis for dental examinations and cleanings and to ensure their mouth remains healthy. A general dentist can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer. Try to find a dentist using the Velscope oral cancer screening system. The Velscope is a quick, painless test using a special light to find cancerous and precancerous cells at the earliest possible stage but it cannot be diagnosed if you do not visit your dentist.

Men who play sports. Men who partake in sports have an increased potential for trauma to their mouths and teeth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, it is important to use a mouthguard, which is a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. These mouthguards should be custom made by your dentist for best protection. Men who ride bicycles or motorcycles should wear a helmet.

Dental Hygiene Tips For Men (and Women!)

The following are some tips to improve your dental hygiene:

-Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. (Using a toothpaste with fluoride can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent.)

-Use a soft bristled toothbrush and use proper tooth brushing technique by positioning the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet.

-Replace your toothbrush regularly. It is recommended to replace your brush every 2-3 months or after you have been sick.

-Floss daily. Use the proper technique and gently insert floss between teeth using a back and forth motion. Curve the floss into a C shape against one tooth and then the other.

-Visit the dentist at twice a year for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Conclusion

There is no reason why men cannot have better dental hygiene. It takes a commitment to make dental hygiene a part of your daily routine. This commitment to dental health will give men a better chance of living a long, healthy life.