I’ve read that gum disease can contribute to heart disease and even stroke. Is this true?
Yes. Recent medical research has caused many doctors to reach a startling conclusion: gum disease, stroke, and heart disease are linked. Since heart disease is usually fatal, it is clear that gum disease is a serious matter. The American Dental Association estimates that 8 out of 10 Americans have periodontal (gum) disease. If this were any other affliction, such as AIDS or tuberculosis, it would be considered an epidemic! Most dentists think it is just that. They also knew that gum disease would never be labeled epidemic because “no one ever dies from it.” The worst is that you lose your teeth. Not pleasant – but certainly not life threatening. But that’s all changed.
The American Academy of Periodontology reports:
“studies found periodontal infection may contribute to the development of heart disease, increase the risk of premature, underweight births, and pose a serious threat to people whose health is already compromised due to diabetes and respiratory diseases.”
Periodontal disease is characterized by bacterial infection of the gums. These bacteria can travel into the bloodstream – straight to the heart.
Now the Good News
With advanced periodontal disease, the treatment is surgical. Gum surgery is never fun, but it is almost always successful in controlling the condition, and it’s usually covered by common insurance plans. With mild periodontal disease, there are very effective NON-surgical procedures which, coupled with improved dental hygiene, can virtually halt the spread of the disease. This, too, is usually covered under most dental insurance plans.
Does the doctor check for oral cancer?
Yes, we do. Dentists and hygienists are your first line of defense in detecting and treating oral cancer. Each year in the US, approximately 30,000 people are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Worldwide, the problem is far greater, with new cases annually approaching 300,000. In the US alone, a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the sub category of laryngeal cancers, the rates of occurrence (about 10,000 additional new cases per year) and death are significantly higher. The good news is, when found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90% cure rate.
What causes people to lose their teeth? Many people assume that tooth loss is due to decay. It’s not. It’s because of gum disease. And it can be completely painless right up until you lose your teeth. Symptoms include bleeding gums when you brush or floss and loose or shifting teeth. If you’ve been told you need gum surgery, you will be glad to know that it’s possible to control gum disease with a variety of non-surgical methods.
Why is it important to have regular teeth cleaning?
Did you know “teeth cleaning” does more than just clean your teeth? Removing plaque is absolutely essential if you want to preserve your teeth. It builds up on the tooth surfaces and between the teeth. Brushing and flossing are, of course, vital, but everyone needs their teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Remember – only a dental hygienist can completely clean your teeth.
Tongue piercings seem to be a very bad idea. How bad?
Yes, they can look cool, but they can also fracture your teeth as well as make it much easier to get a nasty infection of the tongue and lips. Dentists have estimated that up to 40% of people who have metal rings or other oral piercings have had big problems from tooth fractures and infection.
Is fluoride bad for you?
Topical fluoride treatments at recall (cleaning) visits can help strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay. Kids (and even adults) often use way too much toothpaste (a pea-size drop is plenty). A little goes a long way. Excessive fluoride can cause tooth enamel irregularities. Young children, especially, often swallow too much toothpaste while brushing. So parents, supervise your young kids while they brush.
I think I grind my teeth at night. What can I do about this?
Do you wake up with pain in your jaws or a persistent headache? If so, you may be grinding (called bruxing) while you sleep. Persistent bruxing can damage teeth and cause them to get shorter and shorter. It can also damage your temporomandibular (jaw) joints and even affect your hearing. If you suspect that you are a bruxer, tell your dentist. He or she may recommend a night guard or other oral appliance.
Why are soft drinks bad for your teeth?
Sugar and acids are your teeth’s worst enemies. What are we talking about? Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and candy. Because of the acid content, Mountain Dew seems to be the worst of the worst. Dentists even have a name for the damage it does – they call it “Dew Mouth.” These soften the tooth enamel, making it highly susceptible to decay. Parents, watch your kid’s consumption of these, because young children’s enamel hasn’t developed fully. This makes these drinks even more damaging for kids. As well as eliminating the above (or at least reducing their consumption), use a sugar-free xylitol chewing gum after meals. Also, rinse your mouth with a high-quality dental mouthwash.
What’s so bad about losing a tooth?
Teeth can be lost due to an accident or other trauma, but the most common reason people lose a tooth is because of gum disease and/or decay. Losing even a single tooth can cause the other teeth to shift and move around – not good. This can affect chewing and your ability to absorb nutrients from your food. Other bad things can happen; your face will change shape, often looking “sunken.” This can make you look much older than you really are. Your speech can be affected. Because it’s harder to chew with missing teeth, you may find yourself favoring softer foods and more carbohydrates, which can cause you to gain weight. The best way to treat a missing tooth (or missing teeth) is with dental implants. An implant can replace one tooth or many. They can be made to look so natural that even a dentist has to look hard to tell the difference..