"Brush and floss... Avoid too many snacks... See your dentist regularly" How many times have you heard that?
Obviously, taking good care of your teeth and gums will help to prevent cavities and gum problems. Your mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Daily removal of these bacteria will hopefully keep your mouth in good health. Keep in mind, too, that your mouth is a window into the health of your body. Nutritional deficiencies, infections and other systemic diseases will sometimes first appear as problems or abnormalities in your mouth.
Researchers have found that periodontitis (the advanced form of gum disease that can cause tooth loss) is linked with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk for delivering pre-term or low-birth weight babies.
Regular dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are an essential part of preserving your teeth for your entire life. Professional dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar (calculus) from teeth. Plaque is a sticky network of bacteria that clings to teeth and gums and is normally found in everyone's mouth. If left unchecked, the bacteria in plaque can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) and even more serious gum disease. Acids produced by the bacteria in plaque cause tooth decay (cavities). Calculus is simply mineralized or hardened plaque. This mineralization occurs if plaque remains on the tooth surface for a prolonged period of time. Only a professional dental cleaning performed by a dentist or dental hygienist can safely remove calculus from your teeth. Polishing removes any remaining surface stain.
Oral Hygiene (Home Care)
Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop. Patient education in preventive care is an important part of what we do. We partner with patients to plan for good oral hygiene:
- Brush thoroughly (for two minutes) twice a day and floss daily
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
- Rinse with a fluoride mouth rinse if your dentist advises you to
- Make sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if you live in a non-fluoridated area
- Visit us regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
Halitosis is a sophisticated word for “bad breath”. Bad breath may be caused by the following:
- Poor dental hygiene – poor oral hygiene can leave food particles to decay in the mouth
- Infections in the mouth such as periodontal (gum) disease
- Respiratory-tract infections such as throat infections, sinus infections, lung infections
- External agents including foods such as garlic, onions, and coffee, as well as cigarettes and chewing tobacco
- Dry mouth caused by salivary gland problems or by breathing through the mouth
- Illnesses such as diabetes or reflux disease
- Seasonal allergies
The first step in treating bad breath is to determine its cause. If it is determined that the odor problems are coming from the mouth itself, several treatment options are available. These include different cleaning techniques for teeth, gums and tongue. Many new products such as toothpastes, rinses and cleaning gels especially formulated to eliminate odor problems are now available and are quite effective.
Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body
More and more research today is showing a direct link between good oral health and general health. Research supports the idea that the bacteria and inflammation that is linked to periodontitis (gum disease) also plays a role in many systemic diseases or conditions. In turn, diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, and others can lower the body's resistance to infection. Unfortunately, this decreased resistance to infection may therefore lead to a more severe level of periodontal disease.
To be more specific, several studies have linked the development of cardiovascular problems with the chronic inflammation that is present in periodontitis. Therefore, studies suggest that oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, stroke, and artery blockages. Next, studies have shown that patients with diabetes often also have periodontitis. If so, it is also more likely that these patients will have more severe cases of periodonititis than non-diabetics. For diabetic patients, studies have also shown that periodonititis may make it more difficult to control their blood sugar.
Our overwhelming message to our patients is that by reducing inflammation in your gum tissue, you may be doing your heart and body a big favor. Prevention of gum health issues is a key step in maintaining your overall health.