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!

 

Back to School Smiles

It’s that time of year again! Parents everywhere have picked up school supplies, packed lunches and sent their little darlings off for another year of school. Did you remember to include a new toothbrush in that list of school supplies?

Continuing good oral health habits, like brushing and flossing twice a day does more than send your little one to school with minty fresh breath. Studies have shown that kids with healthy pain-free teeth have more success in school because they leave the classroom less and are able to concentrate on their studies and not their bothersome teeth.  Scary as it seems, tooth decay is now the No. 1 chronic infectious disease in children. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is five times more common in kids than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
Parents should realize that a child’s mouth is a gateway for their entire body and overall health. If a child’s tooth decay goes untreated, the child is subject to many harmful infections.

The care of primary teeth is just as important as the care of permanent teeth, so parents should make sure their child’s first teeth are kept healthy. There are many ways that parents can ensure the best dental health of their kids:

  • Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush; hard bristles can break down the teeth and gums and cause infection. Don’t forget the floss! Many companies make fun, kid friendly flossers now, making the whole process so much easier.
  • Make sure your child is drinking enough water; it contains small levels of fluoride, which protects teeth.
  • Don’t use bottles or sippy cups as a way to keep your child busy as these containers allow sugary drinks to attack the teeth from behind.
  • Choose healthy snacks for your kids. Fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses and nuts are best. Avoid sugary foods and even carbohydrates like crackers which can stick to the teeth giving plaque fuel for causing cavities.

The Bitter Truth About Our Sweet Tooth

As your dental health providers you have heard us talk to you about the effects of sugar on your teeth, but did you know that the negative effects of sugar go far beyond your mouth? We just read an interesting article in the August 2013 issue of  National Geographic Magazine written by Rich Cohen. Cohen tells us that as far back as 10,000 years ago, New Guinea Islanders domesticated sugar, chewing on the stem until the sweet elixir was released, using it as a tonic of sorts to cure all manner of ailments. Sugar slowly spread across the islands until around the year 500 AD when India began processing sugar as a powder. When sugar first spread to the west in the 1400’s it was so rare it was considered a spice and only consumed by nobility. The allure of the sweet plant was enough to entice Europeans to find new ways to produce their own supply and they went in search of tropical territories where sugar cane would thrive, thus changing Jamaica, Brazil, and Cuba into boom colonies with over 100,000 slaves churning out tons of sugar. By the mid 17th century, sugar had changed from a rare spice to a staple, consumed by every class of people. At that point in time people were consuming 4 pounds of sugar per year, but of course our appetite for sugar could not be satiated. Today the average american consumes over 77 pounds of sugar per person, per year! That is 22 teaspoons of sugar per day! Sugar is one of the major components in many, if not most, food and beverage products from obvious junk foods to so-called health foods, and even foods that aren’t considered a sweet.

We know that too much sugar is bad for us, so here are the top 5 reasons we believe it would be beneficial to cut back on sugar consumption.

1.  Sugar is bad for your heart

Research shows that a diet high in sugar is associated with a reduction in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Further, according to the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on sugar, a high intake of added sugar increases the risk of high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, as well as inflammation, which is also associated with heart disease.

2. Sugar contributes to weight gain

Many foods that are high in added sugar are also high in calories. Consuming too many calories is the primary cause of weight gain and obesity. In addition, added sugars provide calories but no nutrients. Sugar-laden foods, particularly those that lack fiber, can cause carb or sugar cravings that keep you eating nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods and perpetuating a cycle of overeating and weight gain. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests drinking water instead of sugary beverages and limiting foods with added sugars as a means to promote health and healthy weight maintenance.

3. Sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes

Since consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, it can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting sugar intake and opting for artificial sweeteners as a way to satisfy your sweet tooth, curb cravings and control your blood sugar. Limiting your sugar intake and monitoring your calories can help prevent, as well as manage, type II diabetes.

4. Sugar drains your energy

That energy drink or specialty coffee may sound like the best solution to boost your energy, and you will get a surge of energy, but the high sugar content in these drinks is also going to lead to a drastic energy crash, creating an even lower energy low, once the sugar (and caffeine) is out of your system. You’ll end up more lethargic and even hungrier for something high in sugar or empty carbohydrates. Instead, choose whole foods with natural sugars, such as fruit, plain yogurt or even a raw trail mix for sustained energy.

And of course, nearest and dearest to our hearts….

5. Sugar is bad for your teeth

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), foods and beverages high in sugar can promote cavities and tooth decay. Sugar feeds the bacteria that produce acids that erode your tooth enamel. Frequent snacking or drinking of high-sugar items increases your risk of cavities and eventually dental disease because it repeatedly exposes your tooth enamel to these acids. The ADA suggests limiting foods with added sugars, brushing and flossing regularly and chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to help prevent tooth decay.

Anxiety Free Dentistry

If we told you there was a way for you to have your dental treatment accomplished in minimal visits with no pain and little memory of the experience what would you say?  Research shows that almost 30% of the population avoids going to the dentist due to fear. Some studies show this number to be closer to 50%, but whatever the actual number is, no one should avoid protecting their dental health because of fear or anxiety. It is our goal to serve all of our patients with compassion and to meet their needs for emotional well being as well as to keep their mouths healthy. We understand that fear comes in all shapes and sizes, it knows no age limits, nor is it something that is foolish or silly. It is real, and we offer a very real solution. Dr. Glass can provide Conscious Oral Sedation for all of your dental treatment, making your visit a pleasant and stress free experience.

Conscious Oral Sedation creates the most relaxed and comfortable appointment possible while you, the patient, remain awake and conscious. It is referred to as a moderate level of sedation. You will be given an oral medication, your vital signs will be closely monitored and you will be brought to a level of sedation that allows you to maintain your own airway and reflexes, and respond to verbal and physical requests. Although you remain awake for the entire procedure, the amnesia effects of the medication leave many patients feeling like they slept through the entire appointment.  So, who are the best candidates for Conscious Oral Sedation? Well, anyone with a severe gag response, anxious or fearful patients, anyone who is resistant to local anesthesia,  patients who have extensive treatment planned but do not want to come in for multiple visits, and anyone who is sensitive to post operative pain would all be considered good candidates. Even better, we offer this service at a very minimal cost to you. Most insurance companies do not cover sedation, but at a fraction of the cost of intravenious sedation (less than $40.00) it is a fee that our patients are happy to pay for a relaxed dental experience.
            It is our sincere hope that by offering this service to our patients, everyone can have a healthy and pain free mouth without fear or anxiety attached. If this sounds right for you, talk to Dr. Glass at your next appointment, and get started on the road to great oral health!