The Mouth-Lung Connection

Recent research studies have linked periodontal disease to a number of different respiratory diseases. While the connection might not seem obvious at first, think of what might happen if you breath in bacteria from infected teeth and gums over a long period of time. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which generally begins with a bacterial infection. Generally, bacterial respiratory infections occur due to the inhalation of fine droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can spread and multiply within the lungs to impair breathing. Researchers have concluded that periodontal disease may actually play a causal role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema. Research has also shown that bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract and worsen existing lung conditions. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition characterized by blockage of the airways, and caused mostly by smoking, has been proven to worsen if the patient also has periodontal disease.
The fact that respiratory disease and periodontal disease are linked may seem far-fetched, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. While the presence of bacteria is a determinant of disease, it is often the inflammatory response to bacteria that is essential in the initiation and progression of disease states. Both periodontal disease and respiratory disease are classified as inflammatory conditions, so it may be possible that inflammation is a factor in the link between the two.  Another reason for the connection between respiratory problems and periodontal disease may be low immunity. It has been shown that most patients who experience chronic or persistent respiratory problems have low immunity. This low immunity allows oral bacteria to grow above and below the gum line without being challenged by the body’s immune system.  Not only does this accelerate the progression of periodontal disease, it also puts the patient at increased risk of developing emphysema, pneumonia and COPD.
Respiratory infections like COPD and pneumonia can be severely debilitating and are a major cause of death in the United States. The benefits of controlling periodontal disease are twofold.  First, any discomfort in the mouth will be reduced and the gums will be healthier. Second, the frequent respiratory infections associated with COPD and other common lung problems will reduce in number. These studies provide yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy.

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The Mouth-Heart Connection

Heart disease is America’s number one killer. Did you know that heart disease and oral health are linked? There are two different connections between heart disease and your oral health:
Link #1: How gum disease increases risk of heart attacks
Studies have shown that people with moderate or advanced gum disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% of people with no heart disease. Because the mouth is a gateway to the body, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
Studies have not established that either heart disease or gum disease actually causes the other. Though the reasons are not fully understood, it’s clear that gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand.  The two conditions have several risk factors in common, such as smoking, unhealthy diet, diabetes, and excess weight.
Link #2: How oral health warns about heart disease
Oral health holds clues to overall health. Studies have shown that oral health can provide warning signs for other diseases or conditions. More than 90% of all systemic diseases, including heart disease, have oral symptoms. In addition, dentists can help patients with a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth and gum infections in some of these patients have led to a decrease in blood pressure medications and improved overall health.
Gum disease affects 80% of American adults. Warning signs that you may have gum disease include red, tender or swollen gums, bleeding gums while brushing or flossing, gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth, chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, and teeth that are loose or are separating from each other.
Prevention is the best medicine
Although gum disease seems to be associated with heart disease, more studies are needed to know exactly what the relationship is. Research has not shown that treatment for one of these diseases will help control the other, but we do know that regular dental checkups, professional cleanings and good oral hygiene practices can improve oral health and that good oral health contributes to good overall health.

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The Mouth-Body Connection

Your dentist has been urging you to brush twice a day and floss daily since you were a kid. While these habits are key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, it turns out that how well you take care of your mouth can actually affect your entire body.
Not only can your oral health offer clues about the rest of your body, but problems in your mouth can affect your overall health. The mouth-body connection is more important than you might realize. Regular dental care is vitally important in the management of your overall health.
So, what is the connection?
Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria. Most of these bacteria are harmless, and normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral hygiene can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper dental health care, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with severe gum disease might play a role in other diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe. Your saliva protects you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease, by washing away food and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Certain medications  – such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics – can reduce saliva flow, which diminishes this defensive mechanism.
Why it matters
The American Academy of Periodontology states that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. Another study published in the Journal of Periodontology uncovered a suspected link between periodontal disease and pulmonary disease, such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis. A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found a relationship between people who lost more teeth before the age of 35 and an increased risk of dementia.

Because of these potential links, you should tell your dentist if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health, especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition such as diabetes. To protect your oral health, you should practice good dental hygiene every day, and contact your dentist as soon as any problem in your mouth arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

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Why Gold?

If a dental crown is needed, gold crowns or restorations are what more dentists choose for themselves than any other type of material. Gold fillings have excellent durability, wear well, and do not cause excessive wear to the opposing teeth. Gold restorations are more expensive, but they last a very long time, making them less costly and painful in the long run.
There are many advantages of cast gold crowns and restorations. Gold does not change color, and will not discolor the teeth. Gold does not chip or fracture, even when it is very thin. Fragile areas of remaining tooth structure can be protected by covering them with a thin layer of gold. Gold onlays and partial crowns can be used to hold a tooth together and prevent it from fracturing, and relieve sensitivity from tooth fractures that are just beginning.
Gold can be polished and finished to a higher degree than other materials. The edges of gold crowns and restorations can be made almost imperceptible. This results in a juncture that is less likely to decay or harbor plaque. The normal tooth anatomy can be more nearly reproduced with a casting. It will feel more like a real tooth to the tongue, as well as during chewing.
You must visit the dentist at least twice to receive a gold filling. At the first visit, the dentist makes an impression of your tooth and places a temporary filling. The gold filling is made from the impression and is placed at a second visit. Because of the extra time involved, and because of the high cost of gold, these crowns and restorations necessarily cost more up front. However, given their predictable life span, they are the best value in restorative dentistry today. Gold crowns last the longest and wear the best.
When properly prepared and placed, gold is the most durable material there is for a dental crown or restoration. Dr. Jon Engelby is accomplished in gold restorative dentistry. He is a member of The Academy of R.V. Tucker Study Clubs, an international group of dentists who are committed to excellence in the placement of conservative cast gold restorations. For more dental crown information or to learn if gold crowns are right for you, contact our office today.

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Sedation Dentistry

A significant number of Americans do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety.  Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist. If you have put off dental care for years because of dental anxieties, we can help.  You will be treated in a relaxed, caring and comfortable environment, and with the use of sedation dentistry, it is likely that you can have your dental care completed in fewer visits.
We have several sedation options available depending on your needs and level of comfort.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) provides mild sedation for the dental patient that is anxious about the visit and needs some help relaxing. Nitrous oxide is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the procedure. The patient is conscious and able to respond. Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being. Most importantly, it relieves anxiety and reduces pain during the procedure. It has been used safely in dentistry for many years, and has few side effects.
Oral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles. Oral sedatives are taken by mouth, meaning no injections, no anxiety and no pain. Oral sedation is accomplished by taking a pill that has been prescribed for you prior to your appointment. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses. Many patients have no sense of smell or sound, as well as no sense of time while under sedation. The patient is conscious and able to respond, but may not remember much of the actual dental procedure.  Oral sedation requires you to have a family member or friend accompany you to your dental appointment.
Intravenous sedation is a deeper type of sedation. During this process the patient is in a  very pleasant, deeply relaxed state. Medication is administered via direct injection into the bloodstream, which means the effects are immediate. The patient is conscious and maintains the ability to respond. Sometimes patients feel groggy and sleepy when the IV sedatives are withdrawn.  IV sedation requires you to have a family member or friend accompany you to your dental appointment.
We understand that for many people, going to the dentist can be a traumatic experience. Our primary goal is to provide a safe, comfortable, and pain free experience during your entire visit.

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It’s Spring Cleaning Time!

Spring is the season for new beginnings! We invite you to take this opportunity for spring renewal to invest in your dental health.
While cleaning up the rest of the house, take a moment to consider how long it’s been since you’ve had a new toothbrush. Buy new toothbrushes and change them out on a regular basis – every three months is a good guideline.
If you’ve slipped out of good habits like brushing and flossing regularly, re-establish these good dental habits now that spring has arrived! Start with brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. It’s essential for good dental health to floss once a day – before bed is the easiest way to make it part of a good dental routine!
As you prepare for the excitement of the warm weather ahead, why not add a dental visit to this year’s spring-cleaning list? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year can improve your oral health. A dental exam and cleaning may seem like a little thing, but regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings can prevent major oral problems, or at least arrest them in their early stages.
Periodontal disease causes more tooth loss than tooth decay. Many Americans have periodontal disease and don’t know it because it’s painless in the early stages. Regular brushing and flossing will help you avoid periodontal disease, but home care alone will not prevent it. A professional dental cleaning is designed to preserve good dental health, prevent the spread of disease and give the dentist an opportunity to locate other areas in the mouth that may need attention. If gum disease is diagnosed early, it can be treated and reversed.
No matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen the dentist, we offer professional cleaning with a gentle touch and a thorough comprehensive oral exam. If you’re spring cleaning, start with your mouth!

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Digital x-rays are here!

CE Family Dental has recently installed digital equipment in our offices. This technology will significantly decrease radiation exposure for our patients, as well as providing improved imaging quality. This was an issue where many of you expressed your concerns to us, and we have listened. We want you and your family to know that your comfort and safety are very important to us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to seeing you soon.

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Concern about dental x-rays

pril 10, 2012

Recent Study Questions Safety of Dental X-rays

Contact Information:

Telephone: 312-440-2806
E-mail: (Journalists) or Contact ADA (All Others)

CHICAGO, April 10, 2012 —The American Dental Association (ADA) is aware of a recent study that associates yearly or more frequent dental X-rays to an increased risk of developing meningioma, the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor. The ADA’s long-standing position is that dentists should order dental X-rays for patients only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Since 1989, the ADA has published recommendations to help dentists ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable.

The ADA has reviewed the study and notes that the results rely on the individuals’ memories of having dental X-rays taken years earlier. Studies have shown that the ability to recall information is often imperfect. Therefore, the results of studies that use this design can be unreliable because they are affected by what scientists call “recall bias.”   Also, the study acknowledges that some of the subjects received dental x-rays decades ago when radiation exposure was greater.  Radiation rates were higher in the past due to the use of old x-ray technology and slower speed film.  The ADA encourages further research in the interest of patient safety.

As part of the ADA’s recommendations to minimize radiation exposure, the ADA encourages the use of abdominal shielding (e.g., protective aprons) and thyroid collars on all patients. In addition, the ADA recommends that dentists use E or F speed film, the two fastest film speeds available, or a digital x -ray.

In addition to the X-ray recommendations, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs will publish clinical guidance on the use of cone-beam computed tomography in an upcoming issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association. The ADA will share these recommendations as soon as they are available.

Dental X-rays are valuable in helping dentists detect and treat oral health problems at an early stage. Many oral diseases can’t be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone, and dental X-rays are valuable in providing information about a patient’s oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections or some types of tumors. How often dental X-rays should be taken depends on the patient’s oral health condition, age, risk for disease and any signs and symptoms of oral disease that the patient might be experiencing.

The ADA encourages patients to talk to their dentists if they have questions about their dental treatment. As a science-based organization, the ADA fully supports continuing research that helps dentists deliver high-quality oral health care safely and effectively.

Additional information about dental x-rays is available on

About the American Dental Association

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Medical Insurance vs. Dental Benefits

What’s the difference between Medical Insurance and Dental Benefits?

Insurance protects you in the case of RARE, CATASTROPHIC events.  If your house burns down, your homeowner’s insurance will pay to replace it.  If you break both your legs skiing, medical insurance will cover a large portion of your costs.  If you fall and break your two front teeth, will dental “insurance” protect you? NOPE!

Dental Benefits pay for REGULAR, ROUTINE events.  They typically cover cleanings, exams, and x-rays usually at 80-100%.  When Dental Benefit plans were first introduced in the 1960′s they had annual maximums around $1500.00  Fast forward 50 years, and the annual maximum of most plans is still $1500.00.  One badly broken tooth will cost more than that.

Are Dental Benefits a good thing? Absolutely!  They allow many people to regularly see the dentist and get routine care .  Insurance may help out with a few fillings or a single crown.  If you need a bridge or an implant you are probably over your yearly maximum.  If your employer provides dental benefits, consider yourself lucky, but remember you are not “insured” for anything except routine care.

Your dental team is here to help educate and guide you, and to provide the best care for your teeth and gums.  Your insurance company is there to earn a profit for their shareholders.  Our recommendation, especially for smaller employers or individuals, is to consider direct reimbursement plans, or dental membership plans like QDP.  These plans are simple, tax free, give employees better options, and save money.

If you have any questions regarding direct reimbursement, or QDP, please contact us at our Sedro-Woolley office 360-856-6358 or Bellingham office 360-738-9791

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Jingle Bells Run – We had a Blast

We had a great time at this years Jingle Bell Run.  Even our pooches had a great time and were on their best behavior.  That is until Loki discovered the miniature horses, he then decided it was a good idea to try to herd the horses.  I guess he mistook them for sheep?  I recommend everyone get involved next year it was a good time.  check out our Facebook site for updated pictures of the event.

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