Posts for: February, 2012
You've probably heard that old song about the leg bone being connected to the knee bone; it's easy to see how the human skeleton links together. But the concept of anatomical parts being interconnected actually goes further than you might think. Problems in almost any part of the body can have profound effects in other areas. Your gums offer a perfect example.
Believe it or not, medical research has established a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD). They appear to be linked by inflammation, a protective response to infection. Inflammation can be characterized by a redness and swelling of the body's tissues that you can see. Or its effects can be less obvious.
Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria, which build up in the mouth in the absence of regular or effective brushing and flossing. When left undisturbed, the bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) change over time so that a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms emerge that cause periodontitis (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation).
Periodontitis can cause not just a localized inflammation of the gum tissue, but also a systemic (whole-body) inflammation. And this chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body appears to increase the risk of heart disease considerably. The good news is that there is a lot we can do about gum disease. And when we reduce the inflammation it causes, we can also reduce the risks for CVD and the heart attacks and strokes that can result.
The first step is a thorough, professional periodontal cleaning to remove the bacterial biofilm attached to the roots of the teeth. Sometimes a short course of antibiotics is prescribed to further fight the infection. Advanced periodontitis may require surgery so that we can reach all of the contaminated root surfaces for removal of the bacterial biofilm.
We will also review with you how you can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria through an effective daily oral hygiene routine. This is crucial to maintaining your oral health, which in turn affects your general health and overall well-being.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about the relationship between gum disease and heart disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.”
If you have ever had halitosis (bad breath), you know it can cause you to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. And while the odor is typically a primary concern, determining what is causing it is a task we can assist you with resolving. This is especially true when you experience bad breath outside of those times when you've just consumed pungent foods and drinks such as coffee, garlic or raw onions. For example, it is quite a different scenario to have family members, friends, co-workers or even total strangers consistently complaining or using body language to denote your bad breath. If the later best describes your situation — and be honest with yourself — then you need a thorough dental exam to discover the ultimate cause (or causes) of your halitosis. This is especially important because so many people are unaware that there can be numerous oral and/or general health concerns triggering their bad breath.
Most unpleasant mouth odors arise from the more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, with several dozens of these bacteria being the primary culprits for producing foul odors. And while food particles left between teeth can be key contributors to bad breath, the tongue or more specifically, the back of the tongue, is the most common location. Dry mouth is another cause for bad breath, as evident by the dreaded morning breath we all experience from mouth breathing as we sleep. Bad breath is also caused by certain medical conditions such as liver disease, lung infections, diabetes, kidney infections or failure and cancer.
The good news is that we can work with you to develop an effective treatment for your bad breath. And if necessary, we can work with your physician on a total treatment plan should your condition be due to health conditions outside your mouth. However, if your bad breath originates in your mouth, we may recommend any or all of the following to return your mouth to optimal oral health:
- Oral hygiene instruction to learn the proper ways to brush, floss, scrape your tongue and use mouthwashes
- Denture hygiene instruction for proper cleaning and maintenance of both full and partial dentures and bridgework
- Periodontal (gum) therapy that includes professionally cleaning your teeth (scaling), smoothing your teeth's root surfaces (root planning) and possible antibiotic therapy
- Removal of tooth decay where large, open cavities (caries) are present
- Repair of broken fillings
- Removal of wisdom teeth (third molars) with gum flaps
- Treatment of yeast infections (candidasis)
To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.”
Ready To Take The Next Step?
If you want to address your own concerns with bad breath, contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan. You will find yourself smiling and laughing more once you are confident you have a clean, healthy mouth.