Q:Is there a correlation between heart disease and periodontal disease?

A:

            Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health.  Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections - often more prevalent than the common cold!  Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!

            Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis.  It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) is NOT regularly removed from the gums and teeth.  The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums, eventually destroying the jaw bone that supports the teeth.  When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!

            There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions.  These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease.  They also indicate that periodontal disease can allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs, beginning new infections.  Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream can:

  • Contribute to the development of heart disease

  • Increase the risk of stroke

  • Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases

  • Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby

                While there is still much research to be done in order to fully understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, research has shown that infections in the mouth can wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.   

               To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation.  Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

Remember the mouth body connection!  Taking care of your oral health can contribute to your overall medical health!

 

Q:What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?

A:

              We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out.  More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year!  If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we might be able to save the tooth.  Teeth that are knocked out can possibly be re-implanted if we act quickly and follow these simple steps:

  • Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.

  • DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth.  If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk.  If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.

  • Get to a dentist within 30 minutes.  The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.

Ways to transport the tooth

  • Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately.  Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place.  Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.

  • If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk.  You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums.  Keep the tooth moist at all times.  Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.

  • Consider buying a “Save-A-Tooth” storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit.  The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive.  So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.

You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

  • Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports

  • Always wearing your seatbelt

  • Avoiding fights

  • Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc.

Q:Why straighten teeth?

A:

             Straighter teeth perform chewing, biting, and speaking functions more effectively than crooked teeth.   In addition, a straight smile boosts confidence, is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and can help stave off a wide variety of dental ailments.

There are several types of malocclusion including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding.  Each of these alignment problems negatively impacts the functionality and cosmetic appearance of the teeth.

             Here is a brief overview of some of the main disorders associated with crooked teeth:-

            ; Periodontitis – Periodontitis or gum disease begins with a bacterial infection.  The bacterial infection is caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Crooked teeth are hard to effectively clean, which means that debris, plaque, and bacteria can build up in hard-to-reach areas. Straight teeth are much easier to clean and are at less risk of contracting gum disease.

            ;Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ) - Crooked teeth can lead to improper jaw alignment, which in turn causes a painful condition known as TMJ. Severe headaches, jaw pain, lockjaw, and grinding of teeth characterize this debilitating disorder. 

           ;Tooth injury – Straight teeth create a strong wall, which means injuries are less likely to occur.  Crooked teeth are weaker and often protrude, making them far more vulnerable to external injury.

           ;Uneven wear – Crooked teeth cause some of the teeth to work harder than others when biting and chewing.  Straight teeth share the workload evenly, meaning less risk of injury and better aesthetics.

            Teeth can be straightened using either orthodontic braces or customized aligning trays.  Orthodontic braces are usually affixed to the teeth for a set duration.  The brackets and archwires are tightened regularly by the orthodontist and removed when treatment is complete.  Fixed braces can be placed on the front side or back side of the teeth and are effective for most types of malocclusion.

Aligning trays are fully removable and are used where the malocclusion is less severe, and the teeth need to move a shorter distance.  These trays are replaced every few weeks for the duration of the treatment, and have proven to be equally effective for straightening teeth.

If you have questions about orthodontics and straightening teeth, please contact our office.