Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Peridontal Disease

Progression of Periodontal Disease

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and no better time to talk about the importance of your oral health and how it relates to the rest of your body especially if you have Diabetes.

We all know that the importance of bi-annual cleanings and for individuals who have periodontal disease, 3-4 times a year. Your oral health is part of an entire systemic process and it can distress your overall health. Individuals with periodontal disease stand a slightly higher risk to heart disease and other infections that could affect your health as whole.

Individuals, who have Diabetes, stand a higher risk of infection and experience more difficulty fighting periodontal disease hence the need for cleanings 3-4 times a year. Individuals with Diabetes who do not have their blood sugar or glucose levels under control, can struggle fighting infections and typically have more bacteria and plaque than the average person. What this means is these individuals are at a higher risk of having oral health issues and fighting infections in general.

Periodontal disease is an oral disease that affects the gum, tooth and bone. Periodontal disease can increase an individual’s ability to fight bacteria that invades the oral cavity. For this very reason, patients with periodontal disease are seen more than twice a year to remove these colonies of bacteria that form in a smaller period of time. If periodontal disease goes untreated, these bacteria that corrode the gum and bone could eventually make its way to the heart, and possibly causing systemic issues and potential heart issues as well.

Undiagnosed Diabetes is a serious health situation as it can contribute to high blood pressure and is also related to high cholesterol which can hugely escalate the threat of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Individuals living with Diabetes can be at greater risk of elevated blood sugar levels resulting in infections from periodontal disease. It is recommended to get your blood sugar levels at least once a year at your annual physical.

A clean mouth is a healthy mouth and in most cases a clean mouth is a healthy body!

Advertisements

Oral Cancer, The Silent Threat

“The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013 are”:

  • About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.

During your bi-annual cleanings, our hygienists perform a preliminary oral cancer screening and Dr. Yarbrough performs a full oral cancer screening during his exams on all our patients. This may appear as a redundant practice, but it is our job to manage, capture and understand your oral health and part of that is by being aware of the potential of oral cancer threats. During an oral cancer screening we can gather precise information to assist us in discovering early onset of oral lesions on the roof of the mouth, tongue, throat and gum tissues.

By performing these thorough checks during your cleanings we are able discover minor growths that are simply detachable in their early stages, in most cases. However, when regular examination are prolonged and not performed two times per year it is quite possible that if a growth begins forming it without being diagnosed, it could potentially progress into a silent threat to the oral cavity as a whole. Typically in the early stages of these growths they are challenging to be seen by the unaided eye, hence the importance of performing a thorough oral cancer screening by a dental professional. By using instruments and telescopic loops, we are capable of seeing tissues up close and can find abnormalities very quickly, usually.

In addition to our traditional methods and regular instruments for monitoring oral cancer, we also use a Velscope to assist us in the early detection of Oral Cancer. This astounding technology allows us to detect abnormal tissue structures by using a “distinctive blue-spectrum light which causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce”. Healthy tissues “fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease”. The Velscope allows us to see irregular tissue patterns that we would have otherwise not have seen with the unassisted eye. The Velscope is non-invasive, safe, quick, and precise tool. This light is a potentially lifesaving instrument that can help us detect the early onset of Oral Cancer.

Oral Cancer is a silent threat because it usually does not become painful and extremely apparent to the naked until it is too late. Undetected it can cause extenuating damage to the oral cavity and potentially throughout the body. Once diagnosed, Oral Cancer has the potential to spread to the larynx, esophagus and lungs. If detected early on, there are several methods of treatment, removal and other procedures to help procure the longevity of the overall health of the oral cavity and body. Preventative medicine is always your best bet, by seeing your dental professional twice a year with a periodic examination, Oral Cancer can most of the time be identified during a treatable stage!

Here is a YouTube video explaining how the Velscope works:

Flossing Makes My Gums Bleed, Why?

flossIf you are not a daily flosser, you may notice when you do floss, that your gums bleed. Some people come to the conclusion that floss is making them bleed and some avoid flossing because of it! Actually, not flossing is what makes gums bleed.

Gums that bleed easily when touched are a sign of gingivitis. Other signs include redness, swelling, and tenderness. Plaque bacteria create toxins that cause these reactions by your gums, a condition known as gingivitis. But it’s not just a condition; because it is caused by bacteria, it is essentially an infection. If any other part of your body bled when you touched it, you would rush straight to the doctor!

It only takes the bacteria in your mouth 24 hours to settle in and start causing the toxins in great enough quantities to cause the signs of gingivitis. That’s why you should floss every day! Swishing with antibacterial rinses can help, but plaque is sticky, so it best removed with floss. So if you are not a flosser, at first your gums may bleed, but you have to keep the bacteria away long enough to give your gums a chance to heal. If they still bleed, get a check-up from your dentist. You may be overdue for a cleaning!

5 Simple Oral Hygiene Tips

vectorstock_117370Life has become more and more demanding every day and sometimes our oral healthcare takes a backseat as a result. In addition to having your teeth professionally cleaned/examined every 6 months, there are some home care tips that will help you maintain your oral health in between your 6 month checkups. You have to view your oral healthcare as maintenance and for lack of a better analogy you can compare your mouth to your car. Every 3-5000k miles we have our oil/filter changed to help maintain our engines and longevity of our car. In addition to that regularly scheduled maintenance, and driving reasonably we can prolong the longevity of our vehicle’s life far longer than if we didn’t. This plays true in oral healthcare as well. Over time, if you do not have good home care and you forego your regular cleanings/exam, a plethora of issues can occur such as: periodontal disease, bone loss, tooth loss, cavities and costly dentistry. Here are some home care tips that can help you effectively maintain your oral healthcare.

Brushing

vectorstock_995024Daily brushing is the most important first step anyone can take in achieving healthier oral hygiene. Brushing not only cleans the teeth but if done correctly, it cleans the gums as well. Trying to brush at least 1x day is good, but 3x’s daily is ideal. Brushing after every meal is even better, as you can remove plaque from your teeth and gums created from the food we eat. Also, using an electric toothbrush, any electric toothbrush is a worthy compliment to any brushing regiment. An electric toothbrush is able to do a more thorough job than the human hand and it implements the elliptical motion that is most effective when brushing. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on an electric toothbrush; you can purchase a $10 Crest toothbrush at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Make sure you use a soft or super soft brush head and when brushing let the electric toothbrush do the work. If you are manually brushing your teeth, brush in an elliptical motion (circular) and massage the gums as well as the teeth!

Flossing

Flossing is the most overlooked home care routine; yet the most imperative to your oral healthcare. Flossing is an assistant to your brushing; floss can get down beneath the gums and clean the roots of the tooth where the brush is incapable of accessing. The biggest technique error of flossing for most people is the idea that just flossing between the teeth is the accurate way to floss. This is partially true; flossing in between the teeth is just part of it; when flossing, it is essential to floss on both sides of the teeth and below the gum line as well. This in turns massages the gums, keeps the blood flowing to the tissues, and also removes plaque and debris from below the gum line in turn keeping your bone/tissue healthy and strong which in turn keeps your teeth healthy and strong. Flossing 1 x’s a day is great, flossing 2x’s a day is ideal. Then there is that common complaint of bleeding gums when flossing. Look at flossing like working out. The first time you work out ever, you find yourself sore and tired the next day. Think of flossing as the same thing, the more you floss the more you increase blood flow to the gums and maintain health gum tissue. After a couple for weeks of flossing, you will find that the bleeding will decrease and eventually stop all together.

Oral Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash will also help keep your mouth clean and free of bacteria. Mouth Rinse does not take the place of brushing and flossing your teeth, it simply helps with your oral health by killing bad bacteria inside of your mouth, on your gum tissues and teeth. There are several mouthwashes to choose from; however antiseptic mouthwashes are your best bet.

Drink Water

vectorstock_741920Believe it or not, drinking water can help with your oral health care. It is possible that you might not be able to brush your teeth after every meal; by drinking water throughout the day you can increase your salivary flow and also wash food particles away from your teeth and gums. This doesn’t take the place of brushing or flossing, but it will certainly help from a preventative standpoint. Not only is water better for your oral health but it is better for your overall health!

Xylitol Gum

If you choose to chew gum, chew sugar free gum with Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener and is dynamically helpful for dental health, by reducing cavities by a third in regular use, and has also been shown to decrease the frequency of acute middle ear infections. “Early studies from Finland in the 1970s found compared to chewing sucrose-flavored gum, Xylitol resulted in nearly two fewer cavities or missing teeth.[15] Cavity-causing bacteria prefer six-carbon sugars or disaccharides, while Xylitol is non-fermentable and cannot be used as an energy source, interfering with bacterial growth and reproduction.”

By taking a few extra steps in sustaining a healthier approach to your oral health care, you can reduce cavities, bone loss and long term oral health problems. By adapting just a few of these tips, you can reinvent a healthier, happier you! And by all means, Smile!!!!