June 30th, 2015
Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.
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March 4th, 2014
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.
January 16th, 2014
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.
November 24th, 2013
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.