Category Archives: Hygiene Visits/Exams & Cleanings

Links Between Gum Disease & Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

For years, researchers have found that the inflammation caused by the infectious bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Studies have shown that this potent oral bacteria correlates to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers and preterm babies.

With these serious health risks, men, in particular, should be made aware of another. Researchers have given a closer assessment to recent studies and found that erectile dysfunction (a condition causing difficulty having or maintaining an erection) is more common in men with gum disease.

One article published by Reuters.com reveals that reviewers analyzed data from five studies published between 2009 and 2014. The combined studies included 213,000 male participants between the ages of 20 and 80, according to a report in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

In every study, men who had chronic periodontitis (advanced gum disease) were more likely to have erectile dysfunction, especially males younger than 40 and older than 59. The article stated, “After accounting for diabetes, which can influence both gum disease and sexual function, erectile dysfunction was 2.28 times more common for men with periodontitis than for men without it.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-periodontitis-erectile-dysfunc-idUSKBN13K1UP)

In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of males have erectile dysfunction. Men over the age of 70 are more likely to have ED compared to 5 percent between the ages of 20 and 40.

However, the men who are most affected by ED are getting younger. One outpatient clinic showed that one in four men who sought help for erectile dysfunction were under the age of 40.

Could a healthy mouth lower the risk of ED? In a 2013 study, it was found that treating periodontal disease improves ED symptoms. Thus, a growing number of physicians are advising male patients who have both ED and periodontitis to seek periodontal treatment as a way to reduce its risk.

Researchers are learning much about the hazards of chronic inflammation in our bodies. As an inflammatory disease, periodontal disease has come under closer scrutiny as a potential trigger for other serious health problems. For example, nearly half of the men with ED in one study also had diabetes, another chronic inflammatory disease with links to periodontal disease.

Although many serious health problems are linked to oral bacteria, gum disease is one of the most preventable of all. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, a diet limited in sugar and carbohydrates and drinking plenty of water are simple guidelines to follow. Yet, it is estimated that over 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease.

For the good of your overall health and well-being, renew your commitment to a healthy smile. Begin with a thorough examination. We’ll discuss how to get your oral health in good shape and ways to maintain it between dental check-ups.

Call 586-739-2155 to schedule or ask to begin with a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

Avoid Losing Teeth By Decisions You Make Now

Imagine standing on the side of the road, stranded beside a car that has stopped running. For most of us, there is a sense of dread for this type of situation since we know the time, expense and frustration that comes with correcting the problems involved.

Now, imagine learning that the car is stranded because you failed to add necessary fluids, fell behind on oil changes and ignored warning lights.

As a dentist, I see a fair number of patients who have lost teeth. While some have lost them due to an accident or injury, most have lost them because of inadequate oral hygiene, failing to have regular dental care, and poor health choices (such as smoking).

For those who have lost teeth due to these choices, any one of them will tell you if they could go back in time, they would have taken better care of their teeth.

A tooth lost must be replaced or else neighboring teeth will shift. This shifting can cause chipped, broken or worn teeth. As the fit of upper to lower teeth moves out of its proper position, it can lead to headaches, migraines, night-time grinding and clenching, dizziness, ear ringing and sore jaw joints.

With poor oral hygiene and lack of regular dental check-ups, continued tooth loss is almost assured. As each tooth is lost, the one adjacent to it is at the highest risk to be the next you’ll lose. It’s a vicious cycle.

Teeth are easy to take for granted, They are hard and strong, giving the appearance of being ‘rock solid.’ They can weather an enormous amount of force. Yet, teeth are a natural part of our overall makeup. and do have vulnerabilities. This is why cavities and breaks can occur.

The main reason we recommend crowns for teeth at risk is to save the tooth. While the portion of a tooth you can see is important, it’s the portion beneath the gum line that we are even more concerned about.

Tooth roots nurture and ‘feed’ not only the tooth, but the jaw bone that supports them. Without these roots in place, the bones begins to atrophy. In dentistry, this is known as resorption. Simply put, it’s a melting away of jaw bone where tooth roots were once held.

As the bone shrinks, a number of things begin to occur. The tooth roots adjacent to the area of resorption are more vulnerable. The tooth above or below elongates, creating risk for damage mentioned prior (chips, breaks, etc.).

Facial changes can be seen as the bone thins further. For example, when the mouth appears collapsed into the face and the chin points, this is referred to as a ‘granny look.’ This occurs due to severe resorption of someone who has lost all of their teeth.

Earlier facial changes can also be seen when someone is missing natural teeth. Deep wrinkles form around the mouth, the corners of the mouth turn downward even in a smile, jowls form from the detachment of facial muscles, and the nose moves closer to the chin.

As unfortunate as these changes in appearance are, trying to eat properly when the jaw bone has declined is worse. People who wear dentures or partials often struggle when chewing or biting when their denture lacks a high foundation on which to balance.

When the bone shrinks, the ‘arch’ where tooth roots were once held begins to flatten. This is a slow but continual process that gives a denture an ever-decreasing surface. After a while, even denture adhesives or pastes are of little help.

To replace missing teeth, we often recommend dental implants. Implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bone, halting the rate of bone loss. Because they are supported by the jaw, implants restore the same, dependable foundation your natural teeth once had.

Another advantage of dental implants is their ability to ‘stand alone.’ Since implants are held by the jaw bone, they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support, as with crown-&-bridge combinations. This means you won’t need to have otherwise natural, healthy teeth crowned for the mere purpose of supporting a bridge.

To correct a common misconception, an implant is NOT always needed for each missing tooth. In many cases, one implant can support a bridge of two or more teeth. When a full arch of teeth is needed, several strategically-placed implants can provide adequate support.

All-On-4 Dental Implant System is one example of several implants supporting a full arch of teeth.

If you’ve lost teeth, the best way to halt the process is to replace those you’ve lost (and the sooner, the better). Then, be ultra-committed to your oral health. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Drink plenty of water and limit snacking and your intake of sugar and carbs. If you have teeth at-risk, have them crowned or other necessary repairs.

In our office, we respect all patients. We pride ourselves on being a ‘lecture-free zone’ and are here to support each individual, regardless of what brought them here. For those who have lost natural teeth, our goal is to restore them to a healthy, confident smile they’ll feel good about.

Begin with a free consultation to discuss your oral health needs and the smile you’d like to have – and share, often! Call 586-739-2155 and ask to meet with me personally. I look forward to meeting you!

 

Vitamin C And Your Smile

I have always been health conscious and committed to a balanced diet. However, there was no other period in my life that I was more focused on what I put into my body than during my pregnancies,. Like most moms-to-be, I was very careful about my food choices and took a pre-natal vitamin to supplement what my diet may have lacked.

Today’s busy adults are not always diligent about eating a healthy diet that provides adequate fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Many eat too fast, not chewing our food properly for the digestive process to begin. Too, most of us do not drink enough water.

To supplement what we may not get in our diets, many adults take a multi-vitamin.  While vitamins bolster your overall health by making sure you’re getting the elements you need, remember that your smile needs an ample supply as well.

According to the Journal of Periodontology, consuming at least 180 mgs of vitamin C a day gives your gums and teeth a healthy boost. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory that uses collagen to bind cells to build connective tissues – beneficial to gum tissues. Vitamin C has even been shown to increase bone regrowth, helping to restore healthy teeth.

Want to get your C the natural way? Good sources of vitamin C are coconut water, citrus fruits, broccoli, red peppers, brussel sprouts and tomatoes.

If you aren’t getting sufficient vitamin C through your diet, look for non-acidic alternatives available over-the-counter. These forms of vitamin C come in powder or chewing gum. We prefer you avoid most chewable vitamin C products, however, since they can be highly acidic. This level of acidity can damage tooth enamel, leaving you susceptible to decay.

Keeping your gums healthy is not only necessary for maintaining good oral health. Studies now show that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in gum tissues. As it travels throughout the body, it can trigger inflammatory reactions. This has been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis and impotency.

Signs of gum disease are tender gums that bleed when brushing, swollen gums, gums that deepen in color, receded gums and persistent bad breath. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Keeping your mouth healthy means you enjoy fresher breath and helps you avoid periodontal (gum) disease and cavities. In addition to a healthy, balanced diet and vitamin supplements, your 6-month dental cleanings and exams give you added support.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, call promptly so treatment can be scheduled without delay. Or, if you haven’t had regular dental cleanings, call 586-739-2155 to schedule.

How To Enjoy Your Dental Implants For A Lifetime

What holds one of the highest success rate of all in-bone implant types? It may surprise you that Dental Implants have a nearly 97% success rate, surpassing knees, hips and other implant-in-bone procedures.

Over the years, the design and placement of Dental Implants have been fine-tuned, so much so that they’ve grown to be one of the most sought-out forms of tooth replacement.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), more than 35 million Americans are missing all their upper or lower (or both) teeth. While 15 million have chosen crown-&-bridge combinations for replacing missing teeth were appropriate, 3 million have opted for Dental Implants and this number is growing by 500,000 a year. (http://www.aaid.com/about/press_room/dental_implants_faq.html)

 

In addition to its high success rate, the growing popularity of Dental Implants is due to their longevity. Made from titanium, a biologically-compatible metal originally created by NASA, Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime.

Although the initial costs for Dental Implants are higher than dentures, partials, and crown-&-bridge, the investment is a wise one – a ‘one-and-done’ solution for missing teeth. Once placed, Dental Implants do not experience decay, need root canals, break or cause problems for neighboring teeth.

However, like any procedure that involves an implant in human bone, there is an element of risk.  Although it’s not a frequent occurrence, having an implant removed due to infection or malfunction is a loss for the patient in several ways.

When an implant requires removal, the investment by the patient is lost. To replace a failed implant, they must endure additional procedures, expenses and time.

While implant removal is not a common occurrence, the reasons for it lie largely in the hands of the patient. Surprised? Let’s look at some of the reasons for implant failure so you can minimize this risk:

First, one of the most important factors in any successful medical or dental procedure begins with the doctor you select. Your implant doctor should never be selected based on the lowest fee but chosen based upon his or her training and experience. Proper diagnosis means the implant system the doctor chooses is best for your specific needs .

You doctor should also have advanced skills in the placement of implants. Successful placement involves assessing for adequate bone mass to support an implant without interfering with adjacent structures.

While the doctor involved in your treatment is important, much of the risk falls into the patient’s hands after the placement process. The patient’s role in a successful implant begins once the implants are placed.

To begin, closely follow your post-placement instructions. For a few days after implant placement, we recommend you eat only cool, soft foods. This helps to minimize swelling and bleeding so gum tissue incision sites heal faster. Faster healing means reduced risk for infection.

Another risk factor to implant success – smoking. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are very drying to gum tissues, causing the healing process to take longer. For smokers, this creates a higher risk for implant failure. The longer it takes gum tissues to heal, the greater the risk for infection.

If you grind or clench your teeth during sleep, Dental Implants can become overburdened by the force. Clenching and grinding are typical symptoms of bite misalignment. Some clenching is so intense the force is likened to that used to crack a walnut. Clenching or grinding can also lead to worn, chipped or broken teeth. If you suspect you grind or clench, mention this prior to treatment so measures can be taken to resolve the problem.

Most important to implant success, however, is the patient’s commitment to good oral health. Although Dental Implants do not experience decay, the gum tissues and bone structures that support the implants are as susceptible to oral bacteria as before. When the infectious bacteria of gum disease reach implant sites, treating the infection may require removing the implant.

Along with a commitment to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home, your exams and cleanings will likely be scheduled for every 3-4 months. During these visits, your hygienist will remove accumulated oral bacteria and assess the condition of your gums. These visits are proactive measures to help you avoid problems or catch any that occur at their earliest stages.

Dental Implants are a wonderful investment. Patients who opt for implants to replace missing teeth are able to eat healthy foods and enjoy social outings without worry. With proper selection, placement and care, your implants will provide you with a lifetime of benefits.

Our goal, for every patient, is to help each enjoy a confident smile for every stage of their life! If you’ve considered Dental Implants, let’s discuss the types that may be best for you. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Dental Woes From Sugar & Carbs Date Back To Ancient Ancestors

If your family’s Easter holiday was like ours, you’re probably still feeling full from chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, sugar-glazed ham and coconut layer cake. Like many American holidays, we surround celebrations with yummy eats, most laden with sugar with a big percentage in carbohydrate form.

As a matter of fact, there are few holidays that don’t include sugary and starchy indulgences. We go from homemade fudge and sugar cookies at Christmas to pumpkin pies and candied yams at Thanksgiving followed by cream-filled chocolates at Valentine’s Day, sugar-filled Easter baskets, summertime ice-cream and colas and finally roll our way into a Halloween candy high.

We Americans love our sugar. So, it’s no surprise that the University College London and the London School of Hygiene cited the United States as the world’s highest consumer of sugar.

One of the most common diseases worldwide is tooth decay. When the University College and London School of Hygiene researched public health records from around the globe, they found that almost 90% of America’s school age children have had tooth decay. Adults with cavities came in even higher – 92%. When compared to other countries with a very low sugar diet, such as Nigeria where only 2% of the population have experienced tooth decay, the problem – and solution – seems pretty simple.

Yet, denying ourselves sugar and carbs is tough, especially when they stare us in the face so often . You can’t even go to a gas station without having sweet treats, sugary beverages, chips and ice cream within arm’s reach of the check-out counter. Even my dry cleaner has a stand of Tootsie Pops by the cash register.

Here is where the problem lies, however, as far as your dental health goes. All food or beverages create an acid attack in the mouth. This is a normal part of the digestion process. However, sugar and carbohydrates (which also break down into sugar) give oral bacteria an added boost. As bacteria reproduce in the mouth, tooth decay can occur more easily.

Because of the way sugar reacts in the mouth, it becomes a particular problem for teeth. Oral bacteria eat, reproduce and thrive on sugar as they attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. This onslaught of bacteria causes the gums to become inflamed, instigating the initial stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Not only does oral bacteria create cavities and gum disease, it is the leading factor in adult tooth loss.

Sugar’s destructive force on teeth is nothing new, of course. You may find it interesting that an architect and his team discovered early attempts at filling teeth, dating back 13,000 years. It is believed that the Upper Paleolithic era introduced changes in diet, including the cultivation of grains and other carbohydrates. In the mouth, these carbs break down into simple sugars and feed cavity-causing bacteria. Hence, cavities and other dental problems appeared with much greater frequency. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/ancient/worlds-oldest-dental-fillings-packed-with-hair-asphalt-and-lots-of-pain/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_term=20170411&utm_content=857321840&linkId=36410650)

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5% of daily caloric intake from sugar. Sounds logical until you consider that sugar is everywhere. For example, look at the sugar content on the label of your pasta sauce, catsup or salad dressing. Being bombarded by hidden sugary ingredients can make it challenging to stick to the WHO’s 5% guideline.

Even with our best efforts to limit sugar and carbs, we are battling a powerful foe. Sugar is addictive, so much so that MRI scans show sugar activates the same regions in the brain as those turned on by cocaine. The problem is made worse by our ability to develop a tolerance. This means that the more sugar we eat, the more we crave. Simply put, this is a trait of drug addiction and symptom of substance dependency.

Sugar should be a minimal part of our daily intake. In addition to the damage that can occur from oral bacteria, a balanced diet of proteins and fiber from fruits and vegetables is better for your weight, heart and digestive system.  To avoid dental repairs, be committed to twice daily brushing, daily flossing, and lots of drinking water.

If you are behind on your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups, call toll free 1-866-9Smiles. During this time, we will remove bacterial build-up so you can avoid treatment time and expense in a dental chair.

Men’s Oral Health Can Impact Sex Life

A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that men in their thirties with severe gum disease are 3 times more likely to have erection problems.

This comes after previous research revealed that periodontal disease may be linked to heart disease, which is a common cause of erectile dysfunction. Although there are no claims that one disease causes the other, the association is thought to be related to inflammation brought on by gum disease bacteria.

These findings are valid reasons that men should take an active role in the health of their teeth and gums before other areas of the body are affected. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that nearly half of American adults have periodontal disease. Of that, over 56% of men have periodontal disease, compared to just over 38% of women.

Periodontal health has also been associated with other areas of men’s health, including prostate health, heart disease, impotence and some cancers. For example, research has found that men with a history of gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums – 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 59% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 30% more likely to develop a blood cancer.

Men can help to protect their overall health by keeping their oral health at an excellent level. It is especially important to watch for symptoms of gum disease, which include gums that bleed when brushing, sore or swollen spots on gums, persistent bad breath, and gums that are red rather than a healthy pink color.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call toll free 866-9-Smiles for an examination as soon as possible. Gum disease does not improve without treatment.

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Know The Warning Signs!

Ask most Americans which cancers are the most deadly and you’ll likely hear replies of pancreatic, prostrate or breast cancer. While these cancers are widespread and can be deadly, you rarely hear about oral cancer.

What makes Oral Cancer so deadly is its ability to progress long before symptoms emerge. By the time they do, it becomes a difficult cancer to battle. Treatment is often very disfiguring. Even worse, it is known to be one of the deadliest of all cancers, taking the life of one American every hour of every day.

In the majority of dental offices, regular dental exams include an annual screening for Oral Cancer. However, a 2014 Gallup poll showed that one-third of American adults have not seen a dentist in over a year (http://www.gallup.com/poll/168716/one-third-americans-haven-visited-dentist-past-year.aspx), leaving a significant percentage of adults unchecked. If a key component in catching Oral Cancer before it becomes deadly involves a dental visit, the challenge will continue until more individuals are in a dental chair.

For many individuals, dental fear can be a deterrent to having regular dental care. This is why we offer oral and I.V. sedation. These relaxation options, in addition to providing a gentle touch, have opened the doors for many fearful adults to have regular dental care. Still, there are an estimated 70 percent who have fears or anxiety when it comes to dental visits. Some are so fearful that they avoid dental visits altogether.

Those with the highest risk are adult males, with Black males being the most susceptible. Oral cancer risk also increases with age, especially after age 50. Risk levels generally peak between ages 60 – 70. The highest rates have been noted with males between ages 50 – 59.

Other risk factors (for all ages) includes tobacco and alcohol use. However, a particular factor that is spiking numbers in younger age groups is the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).

A National Cancer Institute Survey shows a 15% increase in oral cancer rates over the past three decades. Still, many people assume “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing’s wrong.” I believe this has lead to such high levels of periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent adult tooth loss. And, as rising Oral Cancer statistics show, the casual attitude toward dental exams can result in far worse than losing teeth.

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Begin by becoming familiar with the symptoms. Acting on these early warning signs means we can take prompt, appropriate action. These include:

•    A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
•    White or red patch inside the mouth
•    Feeling something is stuck in the throat
•    Difficulty chewing or swallowing
•    Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
•    Numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
•    Unexplained swelling of the jaw
•    Pain in an ear without hearing loss

While these symptoms do not always indicate Oral Cancer, anything in the mouth that does not go away on its own in 10-14 days should be examined immediately. Early treatment can mean the difference between resolving the problem simply or disfiguring surgeries, and even death.

Call 586-739-2155 for an examination appointment if you have not had regular dental check-ups. In the meantime, learn more about Oral Cancer at the American Cancer Society’s web site:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-key-statistics

Gentle Dental Care + Sedation = Confident Smiles!

If going to the dentist invokes feelings of anxiety, nervousness or fear, you are in good company. Over 70% of American adults are estimated to have some level of fear or anxiety associated with dental visits.

For many adults, this keeps them from having regular dental care. And, it’s the regular cleanings and exams that help to prevent problems in the first place. Because fear holds many people back from having these appointments, their needs become gradually more complex as a result. As a matter of fact, many high-fear adults only see a dentist when a problem becomes so painful they are forced to set their fears aside to achieve pain relief.

As far as who has dental fear, it certainly doesn’t discriminate. With fearful adults, there is no typical age group, income level, or gender and it effects all ethnic groups.

As a dentist who has built a reputation for a gentle touch, I see a number of patients who come from a wide vicinity because of their fear issues. Sadly, by the time they arrive, many high-fear patients have already lost natural teeth and are at risk of losing more. A large percentage have some level of periodontal (gum) disease.

In addition to being the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the bacteria of gum disease has been found to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This infectious bacteria has been associated with heart disease, stroke, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, impotency, preterm babies and more. This greatly amplifies the need for good oral health.

In addition to providing respectful care with a gentle touch, we offer Oral Sedation or I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) in addition to our standard relaxation features . We also pace your care according to what is comfortable for you. Patients tend to relax when they realize they are in charge of what is done at each appointment and how frequently those appointments occur.

No matter how you would categorize your anxiety when it comes to dental care, we know you can overcome these challenges and achieve a healthy mouth and confident smile. Many of our formerly-fearful patients have even overcome their dread of dental care altogether. We love seeing these patients walk in with a smile and leave smiling – and knowing that they love sharing their smile often!

Begin by calling 1-866-9-Smiles to arrange a no-charge Consultation. This is a discussion that takes place in a private, living-room style setting that is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, we’ll discuss your concerns and how we can help you move at a pace that’s right for you.

Let your smile be a beautiful reflection of who you are, inside and out! We’ll help you convert your fear of dental visits to the terrific smile you desire.

Adults Gravitate To ‘Invisible Braces’ For Comfort & Easy Care

Would you be surprised to learn that one-fourth of people who are in treatment to straighten teeth are adults?

Apparently, the benefits of properly aligned teeth have gained due recognition in recent years. While the number of teens in braces has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, the number of adults in orthodontic treatment rose almost 40% between 1996 to 2015. And, there seems to be no slow down in sight.

The power of an appealing smile in the U.S. has taken on its own persona. Other than make-up, cosmetic dentistry represents the largest non-surgical beauty industry. In one study, 38% of Americans stated they would decline a second date with someone with crooked teeth. The study also showed the same percentage perceived that those with straight teeth are more intelligent.

While beautiful smiles have been known to enhance facial appearance while boosting self-esteem and self-confidence, they can come at a steep price. For a smile makeover (porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns  applied to teeth most visible in a smile), costs can easily reach $12,000 and above.

While it is far more economical to move your natural teeth into their proper positions for a more appealing smile, there are health benefits to doing so as well. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Crowded, crooked teeth form tight angles that allow debris and food particles to accumulate. These tight nooks make brushing more difficult, providing a breeding ground for oral bacteria.

As oral bacteria multiply, a sticky film known as plaque forms. When not thoroughly removed, it can form cement hard colonies of bacteria known as tartar, or calculus. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away and requires the use of special tools by dental professionals to remove.

These hardened masses may seem dormant but are actually thriving colonies of bacteria that attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. As they continue to thrive and reproduce, the damage can result in cavities and periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease caused by infectious bacteria. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. and affects nearly 47% of the population.

Another bonus of properly-aligned teeth is their role in keeping the TMJ (jaw joints) in healthy position. The jaw joints are located just in front of the ears. Proper bite alignment aids these joints in moving fluidly in their sockets. When misaligned teeth disrupt the ease of jaw joint movement, the result is typically stress and strain on the joints.

When stressed or strained, a domino effect tends to radiate out in a number of ways. TMJ disorder can lead to migraines, frequent headaches, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, worn or chipped teeth from night-time clenching or grinding, ear ringing, jaw popping and dizziness.

For adolescents in braces, many proudly draw attention to their treatment with colored bands. However, adults often feel awkward when it comes to wearing wires and brackets. This method of realignment also makes eating difficult, creates challenges with oral hygiene and is physically uncomfortable. For adults in social and business settings, traditional braces can also cause discomposure.

Fortunately, today’s dentistry offers an effective, comfortable and affordable alternative to the challenges associated with braces.  Invisalign is an ‘invisable’ tooth realignment system that uses custom-made molds to gently ease teeth into proper positions. There are no brackets or wires, so the gums and lips are not subject to sore spots or tears. The molds are nearly undetectable, so patients avoid uneasiness when speaking or smiling.

As a dentist, I’m especially pleased that Invisalign helps patients be more thorough with their oral hygiene while in treatment. Since the molds are removable for eating and brushing, you can eat the foods you want and properly clean your teeth without the brushing and floss-threading challenges required for traditional braces.

We offer Invisalign for both teens and adults. However, we’ve seen that Invisalign is most appealing for adults, especially those who wore braces in their teen years and have experienced shifting over the years. The Invisalign process eases teeth back to their proper positions simply and comfortably.

Invisalign isn’t appropriate for all situations, however. Some bite realignment requires the more-involved process of traditional orthodontics. For these needs, we have an orthodontic specialist on staff. Dr. Jerry Wesley is an Orthodontist who can provide traditional realignment with braces. He and I are both certified Invisalign providers.

Let’s discuss the option best for you. Begin by calling 586-739-2155 to schedule a no-charge exam and consultation. I will explain the process and determine if Invisalign is appropriate for the degree of realignment you need. During this time, we can also discuss payment plans, many with no down payment required and interest-free.

When Mouth Is Dry, Oral Bacteria Run Rampant

Hot, parched, arid, dry… words that should not be used to describe the inside of your mouth. However, it doesn’t take much to dry a mouth out, and some of the ways this can occur may surprise you.

First, let’s discuss why a dry mouth is a problem, other than it just feels bad. Saliva is your mouth’s natural cleansing agent. It serves as a rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. Combined with brushing and flossing, good saliva flow helps to keep bacteria levels under control.

When saliva flow is compromised, oral bacteria are able to reproduce and multiply quickly.  As bacteria accumulate, a sticky film forms on teeth and gums from this buildup. As bacteria coat the interior of your mouth, bad breath begins.

If this film (known as plaque) is not removed daily, it can hardened into a concentrated mass of oral bacteria. This hardened form of bacteria is commonly referred to as tartar, or calculus. Tartar attaches to teeth and eats away at tooth enamel and gum tissues.

Oral dryness is one of the biggest influences in developing gum disease. Even though poor oral hygiene is a key factor when it comes to bacteria overload, dry mouth is a common contributor because it has many causes.

Common drying factors include smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine (coffee, colas, chocolate), and side effects of some medications. Other drying causes may surprise you. In addition to mouth breathing (most often from snoring and sinus problems), some illnesses or health conditions can lead to frequent mouth breathing.

Aging is another common factor as our bodies produce less oral moisture in our senior years. People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome or are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer are more susceptible to dry mouth.

So, how do you avoid having a dry mouth (and the subsequent bad breath and oral health risks associated with it)? First, be committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home. This includes twice daily brushing (at least two minutes per time), daily flossing, limiting caffeine and having 6-month dental cleanings and exams. These visits are designed to remove tartar buildup that has accumulated between visits BEFORE damage can occur.

Rather than reach for a soft drink, choose bottled water instead. Most colas contain caffeine, which actually dehydrate your system rather than moisten it. Along with the sugar contained in most colas, you’ve got a recipe for costly dental problems.

Also, consider using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if your mouth is frequently dry. Certainly, DON’T smoke or use other nicotine products.

It is also important to be proactive when dry mouth becomes an ongoing problem. While oral bacteria can lead to gum disease, cavities and tooth loss, research has also found it is an inflammatory trigger for health problems elsewhere in the body.

Studies have found a correlation between oral bacteria and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, pre-term babies, memory loss and even impotency. Obviously, oral bacteria is potent stuff.

If you don’t think oral bacteria is a problem, notice just how quickly the sticky film of plaque can form in the brief time between brushing in the morning and at night. Now, imagine the damage these reproducing organisms can do without the continual cleansing action of saliva.

Oral Bacteria Are Destructive Organisms. Oral Dryness Supports Their Reproduction.
Oral Bacteria Are Destructive Organisms. Oral Dryness Supports Their Reproduction.

Remember, oral bacteria are living organisms. This means they eat and produce waste – in your mouth! YUCK! That image, in itself, should be good incentive to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum!

Rather than deal with dry mouth problems that can require expensive and time consuming treatment, let’s work together to help you prevent these problems in the first place.

Call 586-739-2155 to arrange an exam. Or, ask for a free consultation to begin. This will allow you to meet us and have your questions answered in a no-cost, no obligation conversation.