Post-Menopausal Women At Higher Risk for Gum Disease

During menopause, women often endure hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and moodiness. Once they become ‘post-menopausal,’ however, these symptoms often dissipate while different ones arise. When it comes to your smile, being post-menopausal places you at higher risk for tooth loss.

Research has shown that a decline in estrogen levels, particularly in the first ten years of being post-menopausal, contributes to bone loss. Recent studies now indicate that bone loss in postmenopausal women can be accompanied by a higher risk of gum disease.

One study, published by the National Institutes of Health, determined that post-menopausal females experiencing osteoporosis had a high percentage of periodontal disease compared to postmenopausal women who did not show signs of osteoporosis.

Risk for gum disease increases in conjunction with osteoporosis, according to research.
Risk for gum disease increases in conjunction with osteoporosis, according to research.

Other oral health repercussions of post-menopausal women may include a reduction of saliva, increased dental caries and taste alterations.

Estrogen deprivation due to menopause also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. While hormone replacement therapy is occasionally prescribed by physicians to alleviate symptoms associated with estrogen deficiency, replacing estrogen (or estrogen and progestin) may also help to prevent some of the chronic illnesses common to postmenopausal women.

While your oral health is our emphasis, your whole health is also a concern. For those who develop particular risk factors due to age or changes in overall health, we will make recommendations to help you avoid problems at regular care visits. Or, should problems arise, early care is the best way to save time and money – and avoid more complex problems from developing as a result.

Let us help your oral health and physical health work together for your overall good! Call 586-739-2155 to arrange an examination to get your smile in great shape!

Smoke-less Cigarettes Suspected To Be Risky

The safety of eCigarettes has been debated  since they became available in 2004. The rapid popularity of ‘vaping’ among smokers and non-smokers (including adolescents), has been a growing health concern. So much so that the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is preparing for a study on the biological and physiological effects of ‘EC’ chemical components.

With limited scientific evidence to aid in developing public health policies, it is felt that the effects of ECs aerosol mixtures on cells, tissues and oral cavity warrant prompt attention. Rather than assess the effects of nicotine, this study will focus on the effect of tissues exposed to high concentrations of aerosol mixtures and the impact of vaporized chemical delivery to tissues in the mouth, airway structures and lung tissues. This may give a clearer picture on the effects of long-term exposure to EC chemical mixtures. Researchers hope to begin their research as early as February 2016. EC

ECs deliver a chemical mix of nicotine, formaldehyde and other chemicals through vapor.  Since oral tissues are designed to be moist by nature, the water vapor that is inhaled into the mouth is absorbed readily by gum tissues.

Nicotine, consumed by any method, is known to have a drying effect on oral tissues. This decreases saliva that is manufactured by the mouth to help rid food particles and bacteria. Without sufficient saliva, bacteria multiply easier, increasing your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. If nothing else, EC users should be concerned about the bad breath that is associated with dry mouth.

After an extraction or implant placement, we strongly advise patients to  stop smoking so healing time will not be slowed. Nicotine also constricts blood vessels in the mouth, which compromises the ability of oral tissues to heal.

Don’t allow misconceptions to negatively affect the health of your smile. If you smoke in any manner, pay particular attention to your oral health. Be sure to keep your regular exam appointments so we can help you maintain a healthy mouth and avoid problems – or catch them – at their earliest stages. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule an appointment.

Connection Between Oral Bacteria & Prostrate?

Biology 101 taught us that accumulated bacteria could lead to an infection. Plus, it’s pretty obvious when it occurs. We all see a cut or skinned area become red with slight swelling as the body recruits white blood cells to the rescue. These cells are our body’s defense mechanism to battle infection.

However, some infection grows beyond what white blood cells can tackle. For example, imagine a deep gash that goes unwashed and untreated. As bacteria multiply and spread, the task becomes too great for white blood cells to overcome. It is in these cases that a doctor prescribes an antibiotic to give the white blood cells a leg up.

However, some infections in the body can ‘simmer’ without being obvious. This is the case with chronic inflammation. ‘Chronic’ means that the problem is ongoing, a continual issue. That’s easy. But it’s the internal inflammation that isn’t so easy to understand.

A number of studies have found that chronic inflammation can cause disastrous and even deadly reactions in our bodies. Research has determined it can lead to severe health problems, including heart attacks, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers and even Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is the kind of inflammation that, once turned on, can’t turn itself off even when it’s no longer needed as a helpmate to the immune system.

Researchers have recently taken a closer look at periodontal disease, a bacterial infection in the mouth, to determine how this may trigger internal inflammation elsewhere in the body.  As an accumulation of oral bacteria, periodontal disease bacteria thrive on gum tissues, teeth and supporting bones. When oral bacteria overwhelm white blood cells, inflammatory reactions can extend far beyond the mouth.

Decades ago, medical and dental scientists determined that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissue. Once bloodborne, the bacteria could trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. The inflammation created by oral bacteria has been linked with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, impotency and preterm babies.

New research now suspects a connection between oral bacteria and Prostatitis, an infection of the prostate. Prostatitis causes a frequent urge to urinate and burning or pain during urination.
Deemed an inflammatory disease, a Urologist may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics or medications to lower hormone levels. When urine flow is blocked, the specialist may perform surgery on infected areas of the prostate.

The oral bacteria-Prostatitis connection was noted in a recent study that was conducted by researchers at Case Western University, teaming Case Western’s School of Dental Medicine with Case Medical Center’s Department of Urology & Pathology. The study showed that, by overcoming periodontal disease, the symptoms of Prostatitis could be greatly improved.

Each participant in the study had moderate or severe gum disease. Additionally, all had inflammation of the prostrate gland with elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. Some were treated for gum disease as prostrate symptoms and PSA levels were monitored. Others in the study received no treatment for their gum disease. None of the participants received treatment for their prostate conditions during the study.

At one and two month intervals, an overwhelming majority of the men in the study who had  received periodontal therapy for gum disease showed lower PSA levels.

Could these findings help Prostatitis patients achieve better treatment results? More studies are planned. In the meantime, it is pretty telling about the importance of taking excellent care of your oral health. Signs of periodontal disease include tender gums that bleed when brushing, frequent bad breath, receded gums, gums that darken from a healthy pink to red, gums that pull away from teeth and oozing from pockets that form at the base of teeth.

As a dentist, what this clearly shows is the devastating impact of oral bacteria. Although we react quickly to bacterial infections that can be seen, gum disease that is  hidden away in our mouths is no less potent..

Begin with a thorough examination and cleaning. If signs of gum disease are present, recommendations will be made to eliminate this bacterial overload and restore your smile to a healthy state. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.

Don’t Let Arthritis Put Your Smile At Risk

For those who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), managing a thorough oral hygiene routine at home can be challenging. But, for RA patients, it’s especially important. Research has found that RA sufferers are more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include gums that bleed easily when brushing, sore or receded gums, persistent bad breath, swollen  pockets that form at the base of teeth and gums that deepen in color.

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of periodontal (gum) disease. However, researchers suspect that inadequate oral hygiene is not the only reason for higher rates of gum disease for RA sufferers, eight times greater. Although insufficient oral hygiene is deemed the chief culprit in gum disease, research is finding deeper roots when it comes to  gum disease and arthritis.

Both gum disease and arthritis are inflammatory diseases. Chronic inflammation tends to trigger chronic inflammation on a wider scale. A correlation between gum disease and diabetes has already been tapped even though research has yet to pinpoint the precise link between the two. However, findings consistently show that periodontal disease doesn’t necessarily occur as a result of arthritis as many assume. Like the chicken and the egg, studies are showing that the reverse could actually be the case.

The arthritis and gum disease connection is most revealed in close examination of affected joint tissues and compared to tissues of the mouth. Oral tissues that show the presence of periodontal disease show a number of similarities to tissues in arthritic joints.

Does oral inflammation cause joint inflammation? Or, could the inflammation of arthritic joints contribute to the development of oral tissue inflammation? Researchers have stated there is no sound proof that one triggers the other. One study, however, has shown that effective treatment for gum disease can aid in preventing or managing RA.

All participants in the study had RA as well as gum disease. The group was given treatment for RA symptoms and a selected number in the group received gum disease treatment. For those who underwent treatment for gum disease, the RA patients showed markedly higher improvement in symptoms of RA than those who underwent RA treatment without periodontal therapy.

While more research is needed to definitively determine if treating gum disease will improve or prevent rheumatoid arthritis, these individuals are urged to take special measures to  maintain good oral health. In addition to thorough home care routines, regular cleanings and check-ups are necessary. Our Hygienists can help you with techniques for oral hygiene at home if you experience discomfort or have limitations with dexterity. Also, electronic flossers and tooth brushes may make your daily regimen easier..

Begin with a healthy mouth! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to begin or to request a free consultation.