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Diabetes & Gum Disease – A Two Way Street

By | Health & Wellness

Diabetes, which kills more people annually than breast cancer and AIDS, can weaken your mouth’s ability to fight germs, increase blood sugar levels, and can make gum disease more severe and harder to control. When diabetes is poorly controlled, high glucose levels in mouth fluids may help germs grow and set the stage for gum disease. These “bugs” sit below the gum line and act as termites, eating away at your bone. But tooth loss is not the only consequence of gum disease. New research has shown this link to diabetes as well as heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, and even increased risk for problems related to pregnancy.

The relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.

Smoking increases the risk for gum disease.  If you are a smoker with diabetes, age 45 or older, you are 20 times more likely than a person without these risk factors to get severe gum disease, bone loss and tooth loss.

Imagine life without gum disease.  Without gum disease, you can live longer, increase the quality of life, keep your natural teeth, taste food better, prevent other oral diseases, infections and cavities, and have increased salivary function.  Other symptoms such as poor wound healing, pain in the tongue and burning mouth can also be decreased by controlling gum disease.

Proper dental treatment and maintaining your healthy teeth and gums makes living life free of gum disease easy!

Use good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth after each meal and floss daily. Using a tongue scraper will also help to rid bacteria. To help prevent or control gum disease, begin a self care program today.

See your dentist regularly. How often you see your dentist depends on couple of factors: severity of periodontal (gum) disease, the rate at which plaque and tarter build up and how well you care for your teeth and gums at home. The Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health states that good oral health is integral to general health.

Control your blood sugar. Maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar will help control diabetes as well as helping your body fight off infections and may even lessen the severity of periodontal disease. Follow your physicians dietary and medication instructions and let your health care provider know if you are having problems controlling your blood sugar.

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Can Age Affect Your Smile? (Part 1)

By | Health & Wellness

By the time many women reach their mid 40s, hormonal changes and decades of wear and tear have left them with smiles that are a bit dingier then they were hoping.  Yellowing teeth, sore gums and a crowded mouth can make you look older than your years.  However, most of these age-related changes can be prevented or easily treated, thanks to a huge improvement in dental technology over the past 15 years.

We look at common problems and how to turn back the clock in this 6 part series.

Problem 1:  Gum Disease

About 38% of adult women suffer from gum disease.  Gum disease is chronic inflammation around your gums creating pockets (or gum loss) between your gums and teeth, as well as bone loss around your teeth.  Inflammation in the mouth is also an indication of inflammation in other parts of the body (such as your heart or arteries).

While early symptoms may not be easily detectable in the mirror, later stages of the disease may show up as sore, swollen or reddening gums, bleeding when brushing and bad breath.  Gum disease left untreated can lead to tooth loss and an increased risk of head and neck cancers, pancreatic and kidney cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and stroke.

The Solution

Gum disease screening should be performed annually at your regular dental cleaning visits.  If diagnosed, it is managed through periodic deep cleanings at your dentist.  Your dentist may also insert antibiotics at the infected site to help with healing.  Recent studies also suggest that probiotics may improve gum health.

Excerpts from:  More, September 2013

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Open Up And Say “Healthy”

By | Health & Wellness

At the end of a long day, it’s tempting to cut corners on the whole floss-brush-rinse routine.  But a study from the University of Minnesota reveals that skimping on your dental care can harm your joints along with your teeth.

Researchers found that people with gum disease are nearly three times as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis – a condition that can cause stiffness, pain and fatigue – than those with healthy grins.  Since gum disease has also been linked to heart problems, it’s worth spending a little more time on your mouth, starting tonight!

Courtesy of Shape, February 2010

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The Mouth – Unhealthy and Healthy

By | Health & Wellness

While having your mouth “feel good” is nice, it does not necessarily mean your mouth is healthy.  A healthy mouth, and healthy teeth and gums, has more to do with how they function than how they feel.  In fact, symptoms that a person experiences in his mouth usually show up late in the disease process.

For example, bleeding gums is a symptom of gum disease.  However, gum disease can be detected and controlled long before bleeding begins.  And infections, a bad taste in your mouth, or tooth pain keeping you up at night are a symptom of tooth decay.  However, tooth decay at that level could result in a root canal or loss of the tooth.  And anyone who has dentures can tell you, there is no good replacement for your real teeth.

The lesson learned here is that pain or other symptoms in your mouth can be detected and controlled long before it gets to that point.  Your family dentist can take care of those problems with long term results with less cost, less time and less pain by addressing the solution long before it hurts.

So what is a healthy mouth?

  • Freedom to eat your favorite foods and gain nutrition
  • Confidence to speak and smile without your hands over your mouth
  • Fresh breath
  • Freedom from bleeding or swollen gums (even after brushing!)
  • Life without broken or cracked teeth
  • Cavity free (please don’t “watch” them get bigger!)

The good news is that no matter your past history, your family dentist can help you move forward.  He or she supports you in living your life to its fullest potential.  Is your mouth functioning at 100%?

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Got Bloody Gums?

By | Health & Wellness

If your gums bleed when you brush normal?  What if it only happens sometimes?

Bleeding gums “sometimes” is tricky.  If “sometimes” means you poked your gums with your toothbrush or on a potato chip earlier in the day, then yes, “sometimes” is normal.  But if “sometimes” means a couple times of week or more, then absolutely no!

OK, this isn’t as fun to talk about as sparkly white teeth, but it’s time to sound the alarm on one of the most common diseases around. Its GUM DISEASE and 75% of Americans have some stage of it.

Most people think that it’s normal when gums bleed. Well it’s not! If you washed your hands and they started to bleed, wouldn’t you get a little worried? If your scalp bled when you brushed your hair, would you call your doctor?  Of course you would, yet most people don’t get worried about bleeding gums because no one is telling them it is serious gum disease that could be deadly!!

Did you know that inflammation like you find in gum disease causes a better indicator of future heart attack and stroke than cholesterol?  And there’s more. Did you know that dentists play a role in identifying the 5 million Americans with undiagnosed diabetes? This is because diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease and reversely a patient with diabetes must keep their gum health pristine to increase their chances of survival. Gum disease inflammation has also been linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer ’s disease and for women delivering preterm low-weight babies.

The news about gum disease and its connection to our overall health continues to come up again and again in research and medicine. It’s time to get deadly serious about the disease. It is now standard for physicians to send their stroke and heart risk patients straight to the dentist to get their gum disease under control as their first line of defense.

Are you ready for the good news? Family dentists today now take the time to screen their patients for gum disease annually.  It is quick, painless and free.  Even better? Systems and technology are available to get gum disease under control 98% of the time without specialist surgery.

Got bloody gums?  Talk to your dental team today.

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Five Minutes a Day Can Add Years to Your Life.

By | Health & Wellness

A habit that takes five minutes a day can add years to your life. It also helps prevent everything from heart attacks and strokes to diabetes, colds, flu, and arthritis. What’s more, it even improves your looks and fights bad breath.

A new study published in Journal of Aging Research adds to mounting evidence that one of the simplest—and cheapest—secrets of long life is taking care of your teeth, with daily brushing and flossing. Conversely, neglecting your chompers—and skipping dental visits—can actually be fatal.

How much impact can good oral health have on longevity?

California researchers tracked 5,611 seniors for 17 years, and found that:

  • Not brushing at night boosted the risk for death during the study period by 20 to 35 percent, compared to brushing every night.
  • Never flossing hiked mortality risk by 30 percent, versus daily flossing.
  • Not seeing a dentist in the previous 12 months raised the risk of death by up to 50 percent, compared to getting dental care two or more times a year.

Another startling finding: One major predictor of early death was missing teeth, even after other risk factors were taken into account, the study reported. People who wore dentures had a 30 percent higher mortality risk than those with 20 or more of their natural chompers.

What’s the connection between oral health and long life?

A new review of studies published over the past 20 years links periodontal (gum) disease to a greater threat of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)—heart attacks and strokes–the leading killer of Americans.

Another scary fact: If you have gum disease—bacterially induced chronic inflammation of the gums, connective tissue, and bone supporting your teeth—your risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke doubles, according to recent research.

Gum disease affects nearly 50 percent of Americans, many of whom don’t know they have it, because in the early stages, it’s painless. One study found that people with higher blood levels of bacteria in the mouth were more likely to have a build-up of plaque in the carotid artery in the neck (a blockage there can lead to stroke).

Inflammation is the leading suspect–it underlies gum disease as well as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more. Bottom line: if you’ve got periodontal disease, you could be vulnerable to a long list of scary medical problems that could cut your life short.

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

And just as heart disease can creep up on you silently, gum disease is pretty sneaky, too–symptoms may not show up until it is advanced. Still, here are the warning signs:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other mouth pain.
  • Your gums bleed when you brush, floss or eat hard food
  • Your gums are pulling away from your teeth (your teeth look longer than they used to)
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together)

Keeping Your Mouth Healthy

Being more diligent about brushing and flossing—and seeing the dentist–can actually save your life, since research shows that if gum disease is treated, blood vessel health can improve in as little as six months.

Here are some tips that may take you to the next level of oral care:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and before you go to bed.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Make sure you brush the back as well as the front of your teeth.
  • Brush your tongue, too–that whitish coating you see in the morning is plaque that can cause bad breath and is a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Get an electric toothbrush–the back and forth action of the brush head works better to remove plaque than a manual toothbrush. Most are timed to signal when you’ve brushed for two minutes; three is better.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash, or a fluoride or antiplaque mouthwash.
  • Floss at least once a day; get between all your teeth and move the floss up and down several times
  • Buy some disclosing tablets at the drugstore–you chew them and they highlight any plaque that you missed in brushing.
  • See your dentist regularly for checkups and professional teeth cleaning.
  • Eat foods that protect against plaque and harmful sugars: cheeses, peanuts, yogurt and milk.
  • Avoid sticky sweet foods–prolonged contact can damage teeth. And avoid bedtime snacks unless you want to brush your teeth again.
  • If you value your gums and teeth, don’t smoke. Using tobacco multiplies your risk of gum disease by six, makes it harder to treat and raises the risk of tooth loss.

This article was written by Lisa Collier Cool for Yahoo! Health on Feb. 23, 2012.