September is National Gum Care Month!

We know that gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, can be difficult to recognize. Many people don’t realize that bleeding and swollen gums are a precursor to gum disease. This month, a national campaign is under way to raise awareness about gum health and periodontal disease, and we wanted to help do our part to spread the word.

Dr. Glass and Cindie will tell you early recognition and action are the most important steps to healthy gums, and ultimately a healthy body! Studies are published every year linking oral health to the overall health of your body. Studies have directly linked heart disease and diabetes to oral health. One of the most important steps to improving the care of your gums is recognizing the warning signs for gum disease. These include:
– Gums that appear red or swollen
– Gums that feel tender
– Gums that bleed easily (while brushing or flossing)
– Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
– Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
– Loose teeth
– Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If you happen to notice any of these signs with you or your child, or if it has been longer than 6 months since your last cleaning please call today to schedule an appointment. It is important to take proactive steps to prevent gingivitis and gum disease.

Sleep Deprivation Shown to Have Negative Oral Health Effects

Could inadequate sleep be a risk factor for periodontal disease? Over a third of US adults are chronically deprived of a full night’s sleep and new evidence suggests that it may be affecting oral health. Sleep is critical to physical and mental well-being, and evidence suggests that a combination of screen use, dietary habits and the prevalence of shift work may be interfering with access to a full night of restful sleep.

During sleep, the entire body experiences significant physiological changes that help re-organize and re-set for the next day. Core body temperature drops, metabolism drops by five to ten percent, and metabolic waste products are eliminated from the brain. Furthermore, sleep is critical in modulating the immune system. During sleep, the body works to reduce reactive oxygen species, downregulate inflammation and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In particular, signals (such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha) regulated by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis have been found to promote inflammation body-wide, playing a role in the development of periodontitis along with poor oral hygiene. In a preliminary study of 60 healthy subjects between 25 and 50 years of age, researchers found that when all other variables were controlled for, incidence of periodontitis and gingivitis rose as hours of restful sleep declined.

These findings may help explain in part the rising epidemic of periodontal disease, which is tied to a slew of unhealthy behaviors that are only becoming more widespread as time goes on. One of the best methods to address this broad-spectrum caries risk is to educate high-caries-risk patients on an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle,” that prioritizes adequate sleep along with diets rich in vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates. These actions have been proven to lessen the effects of other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, IBS, and heart disease, and may be effective in reducing periodontal disease along with good oral hygiene.

Understanding of the role habit- and environment-derived systemic inflammation plays in various health problems continues to grow, and we can expect more unique approaches to treating diseases like periodontitis through comprehensive, whole-patient approaches.

Sources:

CDC Press Releases. (2017). CDC. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html

Grover, V., Malhotra, R., & Kaur, H. (2017). Exploring association between sleep deprivation and chronic periodontitis: A pilot study. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from PubMed Central

Study Estimates Nearly Half of American Adults Have Periodontal Disease. (2017). Ada.org. Retrieved 24 May 2017, from http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/science-in-the-news/study-estimates-nearly-half-of-american-adults-have-periodontal-disease

Re-blogged with permission from DOCS Education

Are 6 month dental cleanings really necessary?

Your dentist says your teeth look great but wants to see you back in 6 months for a cleaning and check up. Your spouse also doesn’t have any cavities, but the dentist wants to see them 4 times per year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a checkup?

The fact of the matter is, there is no magic number of visits you should schedule per year. The industry standard dictates that for most healthy patients twice per year is optimal, however if you are prone to periodontal issues you may require more frequent cleanings to maintain optimal oral health. Dental cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.

Timing of dental visits can also be driven by your insurance plan, if you have one. There are people we want to see every three to four months, but their coverage is lacking so they ask to stretch the check-ups out a bit, but it isn’t wise to let insurance dictate treatment. Periodontal issues can advance quickly if left un-treated and the result can be devastating and irreversible.

With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you , your hygienist and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of twice per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems. Our best tip for reducing trips to the dental chair? Keep on flossing.

Your Evolving Toothbrush

If you are following your dentist’s advice, you are using your toothbrush faithfully twice per day, but how often do you actually think about the tool you are using? We thought it would be fun to explore how your toothbrush has evolved over the years.

It is believed that toothbrushing tools date back as far as 3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the end of a twig and scraping their teeth. Tombs of ancient egyptians have been found containing “tooth sticks” alongside their owners.

Around 1600 BC the Chinese developed “chewing sticks” which were made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath. It was also the Chinese who, in the 15th century, were thought to have developed the first natural bristle toothbrush resembling what we still use today. They attached the bristles from a pig’s neck to a bone or bamboo handle and used the tool to clean their teeth. When it was brought from China to Europe, this design was adapted and often used softer horsehair. Some early European toothbrushes even used feathers as bristles. The first toothbrush of a more modern design with 3 rows of bristles was introduced in 1844 in England.

Natural bristles made way to the more modern bristles in 1938 when DuPont invented nylon. By the 1950’s the bristles became even softer followed by the first electric toothbrush in 1960.

Over its long history, the toothbrush has evolved to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and safe and hygienic materials that optimize your oral health. Some more advanced electric toothbrushes are so smart they can tell us if we are brushing too hard, or not enough, they can time us and some can even communicate directly with your dentist! Today’s sonic toothbrushes are so powerful they deliver more brushstrokes in 2 minutes than a manual toothbrush can deliver in one month! They are able to remove far more plaque and bacteria from below the gum line and between the teeth than brushing and flossing alone. We offer a variety of models of electric toothbrushes for purchase in our office at a discount to you.
To find out which toothbrush would most benefit your oral health, talk to Cindie or Dr. Glass at your next visit!

SMOKERS: SO YOU THINK YOU’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE?

         We all know that cigarette smoking has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes, respiratory disease and premature babies.  If that information isn’t enough to make you quit, consider this…”Smokers who smoked less than half a pack per day were almost three times more likely than non-smokers to have periodontitis. Those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day had almost six times the risk,” explains Scott Tomar, D.M.D., Dr.P.H. of the Division of Oral Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  And don’t think these statistics are specific only to cigarette smokers.  Cigar and pipe smokers also have a much higher prevalence of moderate to severe periodontitis, compared to former smokers and non-smokers. Not only that, smokers are also at a higher risk of alveolar bone loss than non-smokers.  Carcinogens in smoke interfere with healing, making smokers more likely to lose teeth and not respond to treatment.
     That may not look all that bad to you at first glance, but lets elaborate on that for a minute. The toxins from use of tobacco products are actually melting the jawbone away, elongating the tooth surface, restricting blood flow and creating an unstable environment. The teeth will become loose and will eventually be lost, even if there is no decay and the tooth itself is not diseased. Even if you live with a smoker, you are at risk from secondhand smoke endangering your oral health. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that subjects with periodontitis who were exposed to secondhand smoke were more likely to develop bone loss, the number one cause of tooth loss.
     Most smokers are well aware of increased cancer risk being directly correlated to smoking, but studies show that 90% of people with cancer of the mouth and throat use tobacco. That number should be cause for alarm. 
     Smoking Marijuana (also known as Cannabis) can be just as detrimental. Cannabis smoke acts as a carcinogen and is associated with tooth decay, periodontal disease and pre-malignant lesions. Users are also prone to oral infections, possibly due to the drug’s immunosuppressive effects. 
      Just in case you are wondering if smokeless tobacco is a better option, the simple answer is no. Like cigars and cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products (for example, snuff and chewing tobacco) contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. In fact, chewing tobacco contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, making it harder to quit. One can of snuff delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes. 

Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed, creating an increased risk of tooth decay. Exposed roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.

     Regardless of how long you have used tobacco products, quitting now can greatly reduce serious risks to your health. Studies show that eleven years after quitting, former smokers’ likelihood of having periodontal (gum) disease was not significantly different from people who never smoked. If you need help kicking the habit, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or dentist for tips and resources. 

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. We are all aware that Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our nation, but do you know exactly what Diabetes looks like? For those that have been afflicted with the disease, they understand that it is more than just an inconvenience, it is a life altering, and in many cases, preventable disease. Diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes from the American Diabetes Association:
• Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
• Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
• The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $174 billion.
Type 1 (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes) is a genetic disease in which the body does not produce its own insulin. Insulin is the hormone that changes the sugars you eat into the energy that your body needs. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease, it is not preventable, but is treatable with insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown, although excess weight and inactivity seem to be contributing factors. Over 80% of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and those that exercise less than 3 times per week are 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though the types of food you eat do not actually cause diabetes, what you choose to eat is directly related to your health and  your weight. If your diet is high in calories and unhealthy foods (sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats), your diet could be contributing to your diabetes risk. It is a common myth that diabetes is not a deadly disease, but that is far from the truth. Many serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and neuropathy are associated with the disease. For more information on detection and prevention of Diabetes, visit http://www.diabetes.org.

So what does it mean for your dental health if you are diagnosed with diabetes?
According to the American Diabetic Association, if your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control. Other oral problems associated to diabetes include: thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.
People with diabetes have special needs and your dentist and hygienist are equipped to meet those needs – with your help. Keep your dentist and hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control and make sure to visit your dentist at regular 6 month intervals or more frequently if your dentist recommends that for you.

Periodontal Disease = Heart Disease? Maybe Not.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Many researchers have suggested that gum disease can be a cause of heart disease, and that treatment of gum disease and good oral hygiene can reduce a patient’s risk of getting heart disease. As a result of this research, certain companies have marketed their products like toothpaste as being good for the heart.
The American Heart Association has reviewed hundreds of papers and studies and in a scientific statement concluded that so far there’s no conclusive evidence that gum disease is a contributing factor of heart disease. Confusing isn’t it? While we know that it is plausible for oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect the heart, there is only enough evidence to show correlation between the two diseases, but not causation. We do know that diseases of the mouth and of the heart share many of the same risk factors including smoking, age and diabetes, and that may explain why they occur simultaneously in some people. It is possible that future research may find a cause and effect between these two diseases, but maybe not.

While it is comforting to know that periodontal health does not affect heart health, it is still important to maintain good oral hygiene. Most adults have some degree of periodontal disease and it is the most common cause of tooth loss. The condition ranges from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Symptoms can range from bad breath to bleeding gums, and in the worst cases, teeth are lost. That in itself should be reason enough to make good oral health a priority. Dr. Glass recommends routine dental cleanings every 6 months to maintain good oral health. If you receive a diagnosis of periodontal disease he may recommend more frequent visits to return your mouth to good health and prevent further progression of the disease.