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

March is National Nutrition Month

Making good health choices is encouraged year ‘round but March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has designated for focusing the public’s awareness on what they are eating.
The Academy points out that the foods you eat not only affect your weight and your health, but they have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. Paying close attention to not only sweets but highly processed foods like crackers and sugary and acidic drinks can help save your teeth.
Instead, turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, like cheese, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.
You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Some acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes should be eaten in moderation because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.
Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

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.

Do you suffer from Dry Mouth? You are not alone!

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. Many people with this condition are un-aware that it means more than just mouth discomfort or bad breath. Saliva is essential to lubricate and protect our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. Saliva is 98% water but the other 2% is made up of essential electrolytes, mucous, antibacterial components and various enzymes. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. In many cases, people that suffer from dry mouth are experiencing a side effect from some common prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, anti depressants and high blood pressure medications. It may also be a sign of a disease such as poorly controlled diabetes or other systemic conditions such as anxiety, stress or dehydration. As harmless as dry mouth may seem, it is not a condition to be overlooked. Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

If you suffer from Dry Mouth there are ways to manage the ill effects and protect your teeth from suffering decay as a result of lack of saliva production.

• Drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day.
• Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, gum containing xylitol can help stimulate salivary flow while preventing cavities.
• Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth. There are mouth rinses on the market that are made specifically for patients that suffer from Dry Mouth.
• Limit intake of salty and spicy foods
• Quit smoking
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
• Floss your teeth daily
• Most importantly, visit us at least twice a year to ensure your mouth is in good shape. If you are more prone to decay due to your dry mouth, catching and taking care of cavities early can prevent more costly and painful procedures down the road. To ensure maximum protection we may recommend a prescription toothpaste with a higher fluoride content to keep your teeth strong and aid in the prevention of cavities.

The Buzz about Xylitol

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fibrous vegetables and fruits, corn cobs and hardwood trees (like birch). It is used worldwide as a low-calorie sweetener, and has been clinically proven to reduce cavities and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Our bodies make up to 15 grams (four teaspoons) of xylitol daily. It looks, feels and tastes like ordinary sugar (sucrose), but has 40 percent fewer calories and 75 percent fewer carbohydrates than sugar. Additionally, xylitol is not easily converted to fat and has almost no effect on insulin levels, making it a great alternative for diabetics and dieters and also is considered safe for pregnant and nursing women, babies and children.
We all know eating sugar causes tooth decay by creating an acidic condition in the mouth. Acidity strips minerals from tooth enamel, causing it to weaken and be more vulnerable to bacteria, leading to tooth decay or demineralization.
So, how does Xylitol help? Bacteria is unable to metabolize xylitol and therefore won’t produce the acids responsible for demineralization and decay. Secondly, xylitol interferes with bacterial polysaccharide formation, which significantly reduces the adhesive capabilities of the bacteria. The bacteria literally lose their main mechanisms to cause dental havoc! In addition, xylitol stimulates saliva which is beneficial to the neutral alkaline levels in your mouth.
To help prevent cavities, you need approximately six to eight grams of xylitol taken (chewed or ingested) throughout the day. If used only occasionally or just once a day, xylitol may not be effective, regardless of the amount. Use xylitol at least three times each day – five times is preferable – for at least five minutes right after meals and snacks. Between meals, opt for xylitol-sweetened products that encourage chewing/sucking to keep the xylitol in contact with your teeth. The xylitol effect is long lasting and possibly permanent. So go ahead… chew gum, use breath mints, just make sure they contain xylitol!

Here They Are! The Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Dental Questions.

Q: I was told I have a large filling that needs to be replaced with a crown. Why can’t you just replace the filling?
A: When a tooth becomes structurally flawed from decay, a failing filling or a fracture there is often little tooth material left to work with. A crown becomes necessary because filling material can’t be sculpted to replace large amounts of tooth structure resulting in a quick failure. The tooth must be protected by a crown which encapsulates the remaining tooth to fit like a “cap” to protect and preserve the tooth.
 
Q: Can’t you just pull my tooth if its bad? Why should I pay to fix it?
A: It is always best to retain your natural teeth as long as possible. Pulling a tooth may fix the immediate problem, but it sets you up for future problems that can be far more costly. The space of the lost tooth will allow adjacent teeth to tip into the hole. This will affect how all your teeth fit and work together. In addition, missing teeth are not esthetically pleasing. In the event you do have to pull a tooth as a last resort, it is best to replace it in a timely manner. Something like a dental implant will maintain the integrity of the surrounding bone structure and will act much like your natural tooth did.
 
Q: My dentist told me that my tooth ache required a root canal, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Did it go away?
A: When the innermost part of a tooth is injured or infected debilitating pain can result. The pain is caused by damage to the nerve inside the tooth. Over time the nerve will lose vitality causing the pain to dissipate. During this process, however, toxins are released from inside the tooth and will ultimately result in a painful infection known as an abscess. The only way to resolve the issue is by removal of the nerve during a root canal.
 
Q: I was told I have cavities but I am too busy to come back for another appointment. What will happen if I just leave them?
A: The short answer is: they grow. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the weaker the tooth will become resulting in a larger filling than would have been necessary, or a crown. If the decay grows until it reaches the nerve a root canal will be necessary. It is always best to address dental issues when they are small and manageable. Allowing treatment to remain un-done almost always results in further pain and expense.
 
Q: I was told I need a night guard. Is that really necessary?
A: Tooth wear on biting surfaces is very common, and very damaging. People commonly clench and grind their teeth resulting in significant damage to their teeth, the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Clenching and grinding may cause teeth to break, become sensitive or infected. Pain in front of the ear and at the side of the face are common. Clicking and grinding noises in the jaw are also noticeable. Commonly a night guard provides relief of symptoms and prevention of further damage or wear.

Q: I have noticed my insurance won’t pay the full amount for white fillings on my back teeth. Is it worth the extra money to have white fillings?
A: The benefit of filling teeth with white (resin) fillings instead of silver (amalgam) fillings is well worth the few extra dollars it will cost you. An amalgam filling requires far more healthy tooth structure be removed, while a resin filling can be done much more conservatively preserving the structural integrity of your tooth. A resin filling will actually help to strengthen your tooth as opposed to weakening it. There is always the controversy over the mercury contained in amalgam fillings to consider. There is some research that suggests the mercury can leak out and can affect your overall health.
 
 

It’s New Year’s Resolution Time!

The time is fast approaching for us to make our New Year’s Resolutions. We all know the most common resolutions people make (and break), but here is one more argument for why “Exercise More” should remain on your resolution list!

There is no disputing that exercise is good for us, but did you also know that regular exercise can reduce your risk of contracting Gum Disease? In a recent Journal of Periodontology study, researchers found that individuals who work out regularly and maintain a healthy weight are 40% less likely to develop gum disease. Gum disease, (also known as Periodontal Disease) is an inflammation of the gums caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. It can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Regular exercise is known to reduce inflammation in your body, including your mouth. Exercise also helps improve digestion and can help your body make the best use of the nutrients you consume, protecting your mouth and your overall health.

Fitness can greatly contribute to dental health and your quality of life. It can help you manage stress, improve your mood and give you more energy. If you haven’t already added exercise to your list of resolutions, we encourage you to do so.

Prevention Magazine offers these 3 tips for making exercise a habit you can stick with:

  1. Do activities you enjoy. You’ll stick with it if its something you want to do.
  2. Commit to another person. Work out with someone else. If that’s not possible report your own efforts to someone who cares about you. You can also join a social website where registered users report in on their successes and offer each other support.
  3. Reward yourself. Sometimes the best way to challenge yourself to stick with something new is to offer yourself an incentive. A shopping spree, or a weekend getaway are always good suggestions.

Happy New Year!