A Fit Body Helps Keep Oral Health Fit!

In 2009, a study showed that 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese, with 36.6% as overweight and 26.5% obese. It is widely known that being overweight puts a strain on the heart, joints, and one’s ability to enjoy good overall health.

Now, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers have found indications that the risk of gum disease lowers when fat cells decrease. The study measured participants who were obese, with some of the participants undergoing bariatric surgery. All participants were given periodontal treatment along with oral hygiene instructions to follow at home. While both groups showed improvement, the surgery group showed the most favorable results.

It seems that an overabundance of fat cells secrete more cytokines, which make insulin more resistant to proper function in the body. Thus, more sugar in the blood occurs. A reduction in fat cells makes insulin less resistant and aids in the response to periodontal treatment.

Another benefit relates to how the leptin hormone helps to regulate metabolism. Along with cytokines, leptin has been linked to inflammation. Because leptin production was reduced after bariatric surgery, periodontal treatment was shown to be more effective.

Inflammation from gum disease can erode bone and cause tooth loss. It also makes harmful oral bacteria easier to enter the blood stream. This bacteria has been linked to preterm birth, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

As your dentist, this shows how intricately your oral health is tied to your overall health, and vice versa. Maintaining healthy gums and keeping your teeth in good condition prevents harmful bacteria from causing inflammation in the body. By the same token, having a healthy body seems to create a better foundation for the gums to battle harmful bacteria when it appears.

Be A Tooth KEEPER Statistic!

Statistics show that 69% of American adults ages 35 – 44 have lost at least one natural  tooth due to an accident, periodontal (gum) disease, or tooth decay. For those age 74 and over, 26% have lost ALL of their natural teeth.

If you are in the 35+ age group and are missing one or more natural teeth, statistics also show that the next tooth (or teeth) most likely to be lost will be those adjacent to the areas where tooth loss has occurred.

You CAN halt continued tooth loss and avoid becoming one of the toothless 26% statistic as you grow older. How? Follow these guidelines and enjoy a healthy, confident smile as you age …

1. Replace missing teeth with dental implants to keep those adjacent (beside and above or below) in proper position. Dental implants do not rely on neighboring teeth as supports (as required by crown-&-bridge combinations) so other natural teeth are never compromised. And because they are anchored by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, they recreate the stability and dependability of natural teeth.

2. Be committed to your at-home oral health care regimen. Brush a minimum of twice per day and floss your teeth daily. Use an oral rinse and tongue scraper to help rid excess bacteria from the mouth. Brush your tongue with your toothbrush if you don’t have a tongue scraper.

3. Keep your six-month check-ups and cleaning appointments. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year gives you a leg up on maintaining healthy teeth and gums at home. A hygienist can remove plaque build-up that you cannot, and also point out vulnerable areas to pay special attention to during your home care.

4. If you have problems that are putting your oral health at risk, such as tooth grinding or clenching at night or waking up with sore jaw joints with frequent headaches, acknowledge that you need treatment and get it. These problems don’t go away on their own and will gradually worsen without treatment. The sooner you resolve them, the less involved treatment will be (minimizing treatment time and expense).

Living life with dentures in your mouth is a difficult way to eat, laugh and feel confident with others. Our goal is to help you avoid problems and enjoy a healthy, confident smile for a lifetime. Keeping your natural teeth is the ideal way to smile, at any age! For those who have lost teeth, we are fortunate to live during a time that offers terrific dental options.

Don’t have a personal plan for a lifetime smile? Call (586) 739-2155 to schedule a comprehensive exam. This will allow me to provide you with a treatment plan that meets your long-term preferences and goals.

Dental Fear Rampant In U.S. Are You Ready To Kick Yours?

Despite revolutionary new dental techniques and technology that optimize comfort, fear of dentistry has stayed relatively constant over the past 50 years. It is ranked fourth among common fears and ninth among intense fears.

Severe dental anxiety leading to avoidance is all too common in the United States, where avoidance rates range between 6%–20% of the adult population. These are individuals who avoid dental treatment at all costs.

It is also understood that for dental patients who regularly seek care, nearly half have some level of anxiety when it comes to dental visits.  These individuals frequently postpone necessary treatment. One study showed that lack of insurance, finances, or gainful employment had nothing to do with avoiding dental treatment—it was solely due to fear. Typically, the resulting neglect leads to dental breakdown that can be expensive and time-consuming to repair.

Dental phobics and adults who have dental anxiety can unwittingly project these negative emotions, causing others to absorb their perceived fear. Children are impressionable and often adopt parental fears. Body language and subtle comments can be transferred in such a way that they create a subconscious fear in an ‘‘innocent bystander.’’

For most, overcoming dental fear begins with small steps. Many feel they are able to relax once they verbalize the origin of their fear to a compassionate dentist who is trained to care for a dental phobic’s special needs. This conversation always takes place in our Consultation Room that is void of the smells, sounds or images typically associated with fearful elements in a dental office.

If you or someone you know has fear of dental visits, we begin the conversation with a simple question-&-answer session. From there, we let the patient determine his or her comfort in proceeding. There is no cost for this consultation and patients can set the pace according to their unique needs.

Small steps are easy when you feel you are on the right path. Call our office at (586) 739-2155 to learn more.

Persistent Facial & Neck Pain May Be Relieved Easily

More than 15% of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain. Common symptoms include pain in or around the ear, jaw tenderness, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, or head or neck aches.

In some instances, facial pain is caused by sinuses, toothache, or gum disease. However, this can also stem from facial muscles, strained jaw joints, or grinding or clenching teeth. If the ridges on tooth surfaces look flat or you occasionally wake up with jaw soreness, you may be grinding your teeth while your sleep.

Teeth grinding during sleep is a habit of one-third of Americans and employs ten times the force of normal chewing. Not surprisingly, it contributes to problems such as loose teeth, headaches, and pain in the temples and jaw.

In many cases, a custom-made mouth guard can provide relief and protect your teeth. These are created to give you an exact fit so it is comfortable for sleeping. The firm material it is made from often eliminates the urge to grind that softer, over-the-counter materials seem to encourage.

If facial or neck pain has become a persistent problem, call our office at (586) 739-2155 or mention your concerns at your next visit.

Michigan Oral Health Statistics Have Room For Improvement

Ahhh… Michigan. It’s one of those state’s that seems to have it all, from the Great Lakes and sandy shores to lush wooded land dotted by lakes and ribboned with streams. Yes, Michigan is a winner – except for our population’s oral health statistics!

While Michigan ranks 8th in the U.S. when it comes to people having regular care dental visits (for cleanings and exams), 17.1% of it’s 65+ population are missing ALL of their teeth! So, it may also be of little surprise to learn that Michigan ranks 23rd in the nation’s overall Health Index.

Because the statistics are recent, this may reflect a growing trend of Michigan’s population to maintain regular dental visits and be proactive when it comes to their oral health. Hopefully, we’ll see a lower percentage of toothless 65-&-over adults as those who are now more ‘orally committed’ in our population reach this age.

At our dental office, we want to keep the faces of Michigan beaming with healthy, confident smiles! If you are behind on dental check-ups,  let’s sit down and talk about what has prevented you from finding a ‘dental home.’ Because, after all, Michigan gives you so many reasons to flash a fabulous smile, all day, everyday!

SecondHand Smoke Ups Non-Smokers Risk For Gum Disease

In 2004, the Surgeon General concluded that there was sufficient scientific evidence to show a relationship between tobacco and periodontal (gum) disease. As research  continued along these lines, exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown as an additional risk factor when it comes to the susceptibility of gum disease.

A study conducted at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill used data from nearly 2,400 non-smokers, ages 53-74, who had exposure to secondhand smoke for a few hours each day. The conclusion showed that this exposure can double a person’s risk of severe periodontal disease. Those exposed to secondhand smoke for 25 hours or less each week had a 29% increase.

The findings of the study were released in December 2011 in the American Journal of Public Health.


Sweet Indulgences To Keep Your Smile Healthy

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day … so many holidays and so many goodies, with adults often indulging in sweet treats as much as children! Yet, it’s not necessarily an occasional indulgence that takes its worst toll on adult tooth enamel.

Plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria in the mouth, is continually forming on teeth and gums. When these bacteria come in contact with sugar or starch, they produce an acid that attacks teeth for 20 minutes or longer. Repeated attacks can expose tooth enamel to decay. Cough drops, hard candy and breath mints that linger in the mouth subject teeth to acid attacks for the duration the product is in the mouth. Sweet beverages are equally as harmful. Sipping cola or sweet tea over an extended time creates the same effect.

Plus, the stickier things are, the more difficult it is for saliva to cleanse the sugar out of the mouth. For example, a piece of hard butterscotch candy that sticks to your teeth can be more harmful than a chocolate bar that is more easily rinsed out of the mouth through saliva.

How do you enjoy these treats and minimize harm to your teeth? First, try to treat yourself to these items along with mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps to neutralize acid production and rinse the mouth. Another tip is to chew sugarless gum after you indulge if brushing your teeth is not possible. Sugarless gum increases saliva flow to wash away decay-producing acid.

Drinking lots of water, particularly fluoridated water, is another good way to help prevent tooth decay. And, of course, stay committed to your brushing and flossing routine at home and keep your regularly scheduled hygiene exams and cleanings. These are easy, inexpensive ways to prevent problems from occurring in the first place or catch those at their earliest stages, which minimizes treatment needs.

Follow these tips and you’ll still be able to enjoy occasional sweet treats and have a smile that shows you also indulge in good oral health!

When Cold Drinks Give Teeth Painful Jolts!

Gum recession is often caused by rigorous tooth brushing, which can expose the dentin in the neck of the tooth. However, there are also other causes to gum recession.

Teeth have a protective coating of enamel that covers a porous layer called dentin. The dentin layer is made up of microscopic bulbs that surround a nerve center. The nerve center is sensitive to things like high or low temperatures or jolts. If the dentin is exposed, the nerve center responds with pain signals. When the bristles of a tooth brush or hot or cold beverages hit these sensitive areas, the common response is pain.

Poor oral hygiene can ultimately lead to gum recession as well. When bacteria in the mouth are not removed on a daily basis, plaque forms around the teeth. This plaque is toxic and causes irritation to the gums, which can develop into gingivitis. As the gums become more inflamed, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (gum disease). With gum disease, the gums lose their attachment to the teeth, giving the appearance of long, unsightly teeth. Even worse, this allows for easy entry of bacteria to penetrate bones and tissues that support teeth. Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Another cause of gum recession may be from trauma resulting from teeth clenching or bruxing (tooth grinding). This action can break down gum tissues and lead to recession. When gum recession is causing this, it can be accompanied by worn or chipped teeth.

For minor gum recession, use a soft bristle tooth brush and lighten up on your brushing stroke. Rather than a back-&-forth ‘scrubbing’ motion, use a swipe from the base of each tooth to its end. Then, clean the tops of teeth with a circular motion. Also, use a  ‘sensitivity’ toothpaste with potassium nitrate to block the nerve endings.

In more severe cases of gum recession, surgery of a cosmetic or restorative nature may be recommended.  Gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting are excellent ways to protect the gums and make the smile look more attractive. Gum grafting is a common periodontal procedure. We perform this procedure with a laser for excellent results and optimal patient comfort.

Menstrual Cycle Affects Gum Health

According to findings published in the Journal of Periodontology, many women report increased inflammation and discomfort of the gums associated with their menstrual cycle. Symptoms include a slight burning sensation, bleeding with minor irritation, redness to the gums, oral ulcers and general pain and discomfort in the gums.

In this study, researchers compared the gingival and periodontal status of premenopausal women between the ages of 20 to 50 years at different times in their menstrual cycles. Researchers measured plaque index, gingival index, probing depth, gingival recession and gum attachment levels. Gingival inflammation was lower during menstruation than during ovulation and pre-menstruation, which may be attributed to hormonal peaks and drops.

Further studies may determine whether these transitional changes have lasting negative effects on gum health. In the meantime, our female patients in this age bracket should relay symptoms experienced on a cyclical basis to us for notation in their charts. This also includes any prescription or over-the-counter medications being taken.