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Periodontal disease is a slow, progressive disease that can wreak havoc on our oral and systemic health. Many of the symptoms of periodontal disease sneak up on us and are often ignored. It is important not to ignore these signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss. Periodontal disease comes in many different forms including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases.  Each of these types of periodontal disease has its own distinct characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt treatment by a dentist to help halt 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.

Risk Factors Of Periodontal Disease

-Age. Studies have shown that over 70% of all Americans aged 65 and older have some form of periodontal disease.

-Tobacco Use (including smoking). We are well aware of the health effects of smoking on our overall health. These diseases include various types of cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular (heart) disease. Research has also shown that tobacco use also increases a persons risk for periodontal disease.

-Family History (Genetics). Some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others. This is because of our genetic makeup.

-Stress. Studies have shown that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, this includes periodontal diseases.

-Prescription Drugs (Medications). Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dentist.

-Bruxism (Teeth Grinding). Bruxism can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

-Presence Of Systemic Disease. Many systemic diseases can interfere with the inflammatory process. These include cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

-Poor Diet/ Nutrition. A diet low in important, essential nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.

Periodontal Disease Signs And Symptoms

-Bleeding Upon Brushing, Flossing, Or Even Eating. This is one of the most common signs that periodontal disease is active. It is often overlooked as not a big deal. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. As the bacteria and toxins build up in the mouth, the body responds by activating the inflammatory process, rushing our cells to stop the attack. This will cause the gum tissues to become inflamed and red. It is important to also note that bleeding gums can also be the sign of something more sinister like leukemia and blood platelet disorders.

-Unexplained Pain Or Swelling. Periodontal infections present in this manner. When an oral infection occurs, it is essential that you get to a dentist as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. If the infection is left unchecked it will cause damage to the gum tissues and the bone supporting your teeth. It can also be carried to other parts of the body through the blood stream affecting your overall health.

-Persistent Halitosis (Bad Breath). Bad breath can occur from many things but peristent bad breath can mean progressive periodontal disease . As the gum tissues are destroyed, the areas where the oral bacteria can flourish will increase causing a foul odor in the mouth. There are other causes of chronic halitosis that should also be ruled out by your dentist prior to treatment.

-Change In Your Smile Or Loose Teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, your teeth will loosen and move out of position. This will effect the way your teeth fit together and even alter your smile.

-Teeth Become Longer In Appearance. As periodontal disease progresses it will lead to destruction of the bone and gum tissues. This will show up as gum recession. Once the gum tissues pull back they expose more of the tooth and root, making them appear longer than before.

-Pus Drainage. This goes along with the periodontal infection mentioned previously. An active periodontal infection will create pus which can ooze out from between the teeth and gums causing a bad taste and bad breath (malodor).

Periodontal Disease Prevention

Dental and Periodontal Examinations

Your dentist will complete a thorough examination with x-rays and periodontal charting. Notations about the visual condition of the gum tissue will also be recorded. In its earliest stages the gum tissue is usually red, puffy, and painless or slightly tender at this point. Plaque and tartar will more than likely be present to some degree. A periodontal probe will be used to measure around the teeth to see if your periodontal disease has progressed and to what degree. It is important to note that once bone loss has occurred you now have a more advanced form of periodontal disease.

Following the examination, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment for your periodontal disease. This will include a professional cleaning along with extra home care instructions. The goal in treatment is to reduce the inflammation and not allow progression of the disease. An antibacterial rinse (example, Listerine) may also be recommended for at home use. Your dentist may also recommend repair of misaligned or crooked teeth to aid you in your home care efforts. Your dentist may also recommend a more frequent schedule(every 4-6 months) to control your periodontal disease.

Following removal of plaque and tartar, bleeding and tenderness of the gums should begin to subside within 1-2 weeks after professional cleaning and careful dental hygiene. Warm salt water or antibacterial rinses can also reduce gum inflammation. Taking an over the counter anti inflammatory medication can also aid in pain and inflammation reduction.

Healthy gums should look pink and firm with no bleeding upon brushing, flossing, or eating. Good oral hygiene must be maintained for your whole life, or periodontal disease will come back and possibly advance past the gingivitis form into advanced periodontal disease (also called periodontitis).

Steps to prevent periodontal disease should include:

-Routine dental visits. Usually recommended every 3- 6 months for examination and professional cleaning.

-Maintain At Home Dental Care. Brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day.

-Rinsing with an antiseptic rinse as recommended by your dentist. Choose one with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval.

Consult your physician if the bleeding is severe or chronic, gums continue to bleed even after dental treatment, or you have other unexplained symptoms along with the bleeding from your gums. These could all be the sign of a more serious condition than periodontal disease and should be checked out as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Preventing periodontal disease is up to the patient. Luckily, it is preventable with diligence and effort. Maintaining good dental hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly will lead to a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Maintaining our oral health can be challenging at times. We all live busy schedules but research has shown that good oral health can lead to good overall health. Below are some tips to help embrace your oral health today!

Top Oral Health Tips

-Brush at least twice a day and floss daily before bedtime. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are major issues as we get older. Almost 75% of all teenagers have gums that bleed. This is one of the first signs of the development of periodontal disease. In its earliest form (gingivitis), the damage is reversible so it is best to catch it early. Other brushing tips include:

-Change your toothbrush at least every 6 months.

-Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth.

-Older people with arthritis or other problems may have trouble holding a toothbrush or using floss. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush.

-Become A Gum Chewer. Chewing sugar free gum (or gum with xylitol) after a meal can also protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.

-Do Not Smoke (Or Use Smokeless Tobacco). Not only will using tobacco products stain your teeth but their use will significantly increase the risk of periodontal disease and oral cancer.

-Eat A Well Balanced Diet. No matter your age, a healthy, well balanced diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet of whole foods (this includes whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and cheeses) will provide all the nutrients you need. Research has also shown consuming more fish (omega-3 fats) may actually reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. It is believed the omega-3 fats will lower inlfammation in the body including the gum tissues.

-Avoid Sugary Foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode your tooth’s enamel, opening the door to tooth decay. Sugary drinks, including colas and fruit drinks, pose a special threat because people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a long period of time. Sticky candies (like gummy bears and fruit roll ups) are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces.

-Play Smart. Sports help maintain our body and mind health, but they can pose a major threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear mouth guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skateboarding and roller blading can also result in injuries. An over the counter mouthguard can help soften the blow from theses traumatic injuries. A custom made sports mouthguard made by your dentist can be even more effective as research has shown a well fitted mouthguard can actually help reduce incidence of concussions.

-Maintain A Regular Appointment Schedule. It is recommended to have a dental examination every 6 months — more often if you have problems like periodontal disease. During a routine exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will:

-Check For Tooth Decay.

-Remove plaque and tartar that cannot be brushed or flossed away.

-Check For Early Signs Of Oral Cancer. Most cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat. Once oral cancer progresses it becomes very very difficult to effectively treat.

-Wear and tear from tooth grinding (also called bruxism). Teeth grinding may be caused by stress or anxiety. Over time, it can wear down the biting surfaces of teeth, making them more susceptible to tooth decay. If your teeth show signs of bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard worn at night to prevent grinding.

-Signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (also called gingivitis or periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss. Unfortunately, by the time most people notice any of the warning signs of periodontitis, it’s too late to reverse the damage.

-Interactions with medications. Older patients, especially those on multiple medications, are at risk of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of tooth decay and gum problems. As many as 800 different drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. Always tell your dentist about any medications you take. A change in prescriptions may help lessen the problem. Saliva like oral mouthwashes are also available.

-Get Children Started Early. 1 in 4 young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have tooth decay. Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months.

Oral Health Conclusion

Maintaining good oral health should become a habit from an early age. The earlier we get into the routine the easier it will be to stay healthy throughout our lives.

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, 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 disease begins.

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!

It is Holiday time again…holiday parties, office parties, and social occasions with friends. Time to get yourself ready for these holiday events with a bright, shiny smile and clean, fresh breath.

Start with the Basics for Best Holiday Dental Health

The basics include brushing at least twice a day (for at least 2 minutes each time) and flossing daily. This is the foundation for a healthy smile and fresh breath. Brushing and flossing properly allow you to remove the food debris and plaque that builds up each day from our daily activities. This plaque and food debris, if left, will eventually cause tooth decay, periodontal disease, and bad breath.

Tip for fresh breath: Brushing your teeth and flossing work very well to reduce bad breath, but did you know there was another way to freshen your breath? Tongue cleaning or scraping removes dead cells and unwanted food particles from the folds of your tongue. The debris on your tongue is responsible for a good portion of bad breath.You can buy a specially designed tongue scraper or just use a separate toothbrush after brushing your teeth. Studies have shown this can improve breath by as much as 20%.

Choose Healthy Snacks this Holiday

Make a conscious choice this holiday to choose healthier options. These options can include a carrot, a stick of celery, or even an apple. These types of snacks also work well to help clean stickier foods and plaque off your teeth. They also have an added benefit of increasing salivary flow which will help neutralize acids and wash away bacteria from your teeth, gums, and tongue.

Tip for fresh breath: Chew on some garnish! You will usually find garnishes of parsley or mint on a holiday tray of food. Parsley is a breath saver because it contains chlorophyll, a well known breath deodorizer. Chewing on a few raw mint leaves will freshen your breath very quickly.

Choose the Right Drinks

As many of us are aware drinking certain beverages will lead to staining of our teeth. These beverages include soft drinks, black tea, coffee, and red wine. If you do choose to partake in these beverages try to use a straw to limit exposure to your teeth, or swish and swallow water directly after. This will not only help reduce stains but also lower the acid and sugar exposure on your teeth. Drinks high in sugar dry your mouth and make you thirstier, a dry mouth generally leads to bad breath.

Tip for fresh breath: Choose to drink water instead! Water will not stain your teeth and it helps keep bad breath under control because it washes away food particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. It also helps you avoid “dry mouth,” another cause of bad breath, by staying well hydrated. A good tip is also to try drinking green tea: gargling or rinsing your mouth with green tea suppresses the growth of bacteria that cause mouth odor as well as decrease your risks of tooth decay.

Quick Tips For a Pre Holiday Freshen Up

Some mouth rinses or breath fresheners may actually worsen a bad breath problem by irritating oral tissue with their high alcohol content. For an emergency freshen-up, try a quick rinse with a mix of water and a few drops of peppermint oil. Or, you can eat a piece of sugarless candy or chew sugarless gum. Sucking on a piece of sugarless candy or chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva flow, which will help to wash away food debris and bacteria that cause bad breath. A breath spray can also help. most are minty and cover odors briefly, but you can try something like closys which actually neutralizes mouth odor.

If you follow these tips throughout the holiday season, you may find that not only will you enjoy your holiday festivities, confident in your bright smile and sparkling fresh breath, but also that you have improved your oral health for the coming new year. Remember the holidays are a time to smile joyously so feel comfortable knowing you have healthy teeth and fresh breath. Enjoy the holidays!!