Adult Dental Care

Dental Care and Your Health

We all know that we are what we eat. This seems obvious when it comes to eating fast food or sugary items. We all know since childhood that sugar foods promote or cause decay or holes in our teeth. But what about those of us that eat healthy, exercise, and brush our teeth but continue to have some dental problems? Your oral health is also determined by the bacteria that live and grow in your mouth. Its kind of gross to think about living organisms or bacteria living in our mouths and body but our bodies are a world or environment for all different forms of microscopic life. Many of these bacteria are good for us and help us to digest our food in our guts and keep our body in balance. For those bad bacteria, they make us sick when they get above a certain level in our systems. This happens when we are stressed, or do not eat right, or do not care for our daily hygiene including showering or bathing and brushing our teeth and gums. Our immune system or body's defenses are lowered and not able to battle the bad virus or bacteria. Since we are talking about the mouth, I will focus on our oral care and what happens when bacteria and virus run amok in our mouths.

Bad Breath, Gum Disease, and Bacterial "Poop"

When we look in our mouths and see that yellowish white creamy stuff growing along our gumlines, this is bacterial plaque. It makes our gums inflammed and bleed more easily, and can cause decay. How is that? Well, since the bacteria are passed along to us after birth, sometimes from the kiss of a parent or relative or from food or drink shared, we all have bacteria in our mouths. Ok, I brush my teeth, so what. Well, when we eat, these bacteria also eat, and yes, they do what every other living organism does, they poop. Yeah, I know, gross, but its true. This bacterial poop is acidy, smelly, and when left alone for days causes gum disease and bone loss and can cause decay. Since different bacteria cause decay and others cause gum disease, some people tend to get gum disease more than decay or visa versa and in some, they get both. The bad breath is a sulfury smelling bacterial poop and is not pleasant for those around you. Treating it must be a team effort from your dentist as well as the patient's at home care. This includes the use of antibacterial agents or rinses as well as good old fashion brushing and flossing. Why flossing? It is what gets the damaging bacteria from between the teeth that brushes do not get. Check out our Oral Hygiene section on home care after this section. Its under Patient Info, Brushing and Flossing. The section at the top under Treatment will take you to Periodontal treatment and how gum disease is treated. The important part is to keep your mouth clean twice a day and this includes brushing your tongue particularly the back part that makes you gag but where the bacteria hide out, contribute to bad breath, and simply repopulate the rest of the mouth after you clean. Together with your home care and your professional dental care, you can get and stay healthy.

Is it true Gum Disease contributes to Heart Disease, Kidney Disease and Diabetes?

The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. For example, systemic diseases those that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, AIDS and Sjögren’s syndrome may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oralproblems. The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and periodontal (gum)disease. Researchers have found that periodontitis (the advanced form ofperiodontal disease that can cause tooth loss) is linked with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Likewise, pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk of delivering preterm and/or low-birth-weight infants. 

EXPLORING POSSIBLE LINKS

More studies are needed, but some researchers suspect that bacteria and inflammation linked toperiodontitis play a role in some systemic diseases or conditions. Likewise, diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance toinfection, making periodontaldiseases more severe. Several studies link chronic inflammation from periodontitis with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests that oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, arterial blockages and stroke. People with diabetes often have periodontal disease. Inaddition, there is evidence that people with diabetes are more likely to develop and have more severe periodontitis than those without diabetes. Some studies suggest that periodontitis can make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Although periodontitis may contribute to these health conditions, it’s important tounderstand that just because two conditions occur at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one condition causes the other. That’s why researchers are examining what happens when periodontitis is treated in people with these various healthproblems. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Given the potential link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, prevention may be an important step in maintaining overall health. Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day. Clean between your teeth with floss or another type of interdental cleaner once a day. Dr. Sudick may recommend using an antimicrobial mouthrinseas part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Choose dental products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness. Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks, which may reduce your risk of developing toothdecay and periodontal disease. Schedule regular dental checkups. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove calculus (tartar), which traps plaque bacteria along the gum line. If you notice any of these signs, see Dr. Sudick:

Gums that bleed during brushing and flossing;

Red, swollen or tender gums;

Gums that have pulled away from your teeth;

Persistent bad breath;

Pus between your teeth and gums;

Loose or separating teeth;

A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite;

A change in the fit of partial dentures.

Tell Dr. Sudick about changes in your overall health, particularly any recent illnesses or chronic conditions. Provide an updated health history, including medication use both prescription and over-the-counter products. If you use tobacco, talk to your dentist about options for quitting. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, pay particular attention to your teeth and gums. That’s because pregnancy and the changing hormone levels that occur with it can exaggerate some dental problems. Taking good care of your oral health is important for you and your infant.