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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.




Periodontal disease, comes in two (2) forms gingivitis (earliest form and 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.

 




Diabetes (also called diabetes mellitus) is a chronic systemic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugars in your food. As a result, a diabetic patient will have a high blood glucose (sugar) level which can cause a host of issues including problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart. Diabetes can also lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. Diabetes can also affect your oral health in many different ways.

Fast Facts About Diabetes

-Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.

-Diabetes currently affects over 371 million people worldwide and is expected to affect over 550 million by the year 2030. In the United States, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed once every 30 seconds and more than 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

Types Of Diabetes

-Type 1 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce insulin. About 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.

-Type 2 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. About 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.

-Gestational Diabetes – In this type, pregnant females are affected

Common Diabetes Symptoms

1) Frequent need to urinate (polyuria)

2) Intense thirst (polydipsia) and hunger (polyphagia)

3) Unexpalined weight gain

4) Unusual weight loss

5) Fatigue (tiredness)

6) Cuts and bruises that do not heal

7) Male sexual dysfunction

8) Numbness and tingling in hands and feet

-If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life with little to no complications.

-Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.

-As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is crucial that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly.

-As smoking might have a serious effect on cardiovascular health, diabetics should stop smoking.

-Hypoglycemia – low blood glucose – can have a bad effect on the patient.

-Hyperglycemia – high blood glucose – can also have a bad effect on the patient.

How Is Your Dental Health Affected By Diabetes?

-Periodontal Disease. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, diabetics have an increased risk for developing gingivitis (earliest and most treatable form of periodontal disease), an inflammation usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line. Without regular dental check-ups, periodontal disease may progress if left untreated. It also can cause inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums, bone and fibers that hold the gums to the teeth. Research has shown that treating periodontal disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.

-Burning Mouth SyndromeBurning mouth syndrome is a chronic burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. The discomfort can affect your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your oral cavity. Burning mouth syndrome appears suddenly and can be severe, as if you burned your mouth.

-Fungal infections (such as thrush and oral candidiasis). Since diabetes weakens your immune system, you may be prone to developing fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Dry mouth (xerostomia). Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease salivary flow, which can result in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, oral ulcers, oral infections, and increased incidence of tooth decay.

-Infection and delayed healing. People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.

Dental Care Tips For Diabetic Patients

-Maintain Good Blood Sugar Levels.

-Keep your healthcare team informed including your dentist.

-See your dentist regularly for dental hygiene visits as well as oral examinations. It is recommended that you visit your dentist and hygienist at least every 6 months. For many diabetic patients, it is advised that they go on a more frequent schedule to maintain proper oral health.

-Brush and Floss Daily. This is to prevent plaque build up and keep periodontal disease away. In fact, it is recommended that diabetic patients brush following every meal to ensure good dental hygiene.

-Denture wearers should remove their dentures and clean them daily. Do not sleep in them.

-If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

-Maintain regular visits to your diabetes doctor to ensure there are no conflicts between dental treatment and your general treatment.

-Remember that healing may take longer in people with diabetes. Follow your dentist‘s post-treatment instructions closely.

-Patients with diabetes with orthodontic appliances should contact their orthodontist immediately if a wire or bracket results in a cut to their tongue or mouth.

Conclusion

Diabetes can be a scary diagnosis but with proper monitoring and care it does not have to be. A well controlled diabetic can leave a very normal life and stay healthy for a long, long time. Dental care should never be compromised even for healthy individuals.

 


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.