Month: March 2014

How Does Oral Health Affect Overall Health? | Weston Dentist Blog

Is My Oral Health linked to my overall health?

Although the exact linkages are unclear, an increasing amount of research is pointing to links between how healthy your mouth is and how healthy the rest of your body is. One theory indicates that there is a linked inflammatory response – the inflammatory response to bacteria in the mouth is gum disease, while many of the overall health problems linked to poor oral health (such as early birth/low birth weight, diabetes, and heart disease) are linked to other inflammatory responses in the body.

Oral Health and Pregnancy:

During pregnancy, hormonal changes affect the mouth, leading to a higher than normal buildup of bacteria and an increased risk of gum disease. Unfortunately, in recent studies gum disease in pregnant woman has also been shown to lead to low birth weight babies. Gum disease has also been linked to premature birth – in one study, pregnant women with gum disease were 7 times more likely to undergo an early birth, worse than women who both smoked and drank.

Oral Health and Diabetes:

In this case, the health of your overall body can affect your mouth: children with diabetes have been shown to begin developing signs of gum disease earlier than their non-diabetic peers, and have an overall risk of developing gum disease that is twice as high as children without diabetes.

Oral Health and Heart Disease:

Starting about a decade ago, a large array of studies determined that gum disease in the mouth leads to an increased bacterial count in the bloodstream. This higher bacterial count has been linked to blood clots and heart disease, which translates to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Oral Health and Other Diseases:

Although the links are not as well researched, there is some evidence that poor oral hygiene is associated with osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and immune system disorders.

How can I have great Oral Health?

Gum disease is thought to be the major cause of mouth-related problems with your general health. We tell our Weston area patients (both kids and adults) that good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing is the best way to remove plaque and cut down on bacteria in the mouth. Regular visits to our Weston dental office are also important, as we can remove tartar (hardened plaque not removed by brushing or flossing), and evaluate your oral health and assign special treatment to keep you in great oral health.

Detecting Oral Cancer | Weston Dental Blog

Stephen J. Pyle DDS

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer is cancer that occurs in and around the mouth.  The most common location for oral cancer is on the tongue, but it can also develop on the floor of the mouth, cheeks, gums, throat or roof of the mouth.  In fact, there has been a recent increase in the occurrences of cancers on the soft palate and in the throat.  Screening for Oral Cancer is part of the standard of routine dental care that we provide to our Weston area dental office patients, both adults and children.

What causes Oral Cancer?

Like many cancers, oral cancer appears to have a genetic component and is linked to aging; studies have shown that men over the age of 40 are the most vulnerable to oral cancer.  Oral cancer also has more concrete causes – studies have linked a variety of lifestyle choices to higher oral cancer rates.  One of the largest (and fastest growing) causes of oral cancer is the HPV (Human papillomavirus) virus.  Several HPV variants commonly cause oral cancer, so if you know you may have HPV be sure to notify your dentist.  Other major behavioral causes of oral cancer are tobacco usage and excessive drinking.  Oral Cancer has also been linked to poor oral hygiene, a poor diet (especially if it doesn’t include enough fruits and vegetables), bacterial infection, and rough surfaces within the mouth (either natural or artificial, such as caused by a poorly made denture).

What can I do about Oral Cancer?

The best way to prevent oral cancer is to not use tobacco; Smoking and other forms of tobacco usage account for up to 75% of oral cancers.  You should also try to avoid the other causes mentioned in the list above, especially by maintaining proper oral hygiene and eating fruits and vegetables.  However, all of this is no guarantee of preventing oral cancer. Fortunately, oral cancer that is caught early is very treatable (80 to 90% success rate).  In order to catch oral cancer early, our Weston area dental office recommends being screened for oral cancer at least once a year.  At our Weston office, this doesn’t require anything special – we check for unusual lesions and other early warning signs of oral cancer as part of our regular preventative dentistry appointment (for both adults and children).  Oral cancer is just one more reason why it is important to your overall health to schedule regular checkups at our Weston dental office.

What is high-fluoride toothpaste? | Weston Dental Blog

Stephen J. Pyle

How can I ensure that my teeth look good after my braces are removed?

High-fluoride toothpaste is a special type of toothpaste that has several times the normal amount of fluoride. Fluorides are used in a variety of dental applications – fluoridated drinking water leads to lower levels of tooth decay, and special fluoride treatments are used in patients that are vulnerable to tooth decay, including high-fluoride toothpaste.

How effective is high-fluoride toothpaste?

High-fluoride toothpaste has been shown to be very effective when traditionally used to prevent cavities. However, a recent study has shown that high-fluoride toothpaste is also effective in preventing the white spots that often appear after wearing braces – a study found that brace wearers that used a high-fluoride toothpaste developed significantly less spots, and that those that did develop were less severe.

How should I use my high-fluoride toothpaste?

We tell our Weston dental patients that a high-fluoride toothpaste should be used only once a day (use your regular toothpaste for the other times you brush your teeth!).  Apart from the usual advice to brush thoroughly and avoid swallowing toothpaste, when using a high-fluoride toothpaste it is best not to eat or drink for 30 minutes after brushing.

Brushing with a high-fluoride toothpaste is a good first step towards fighting cavities and white braces spots, but there are several other things that can be done to further reduce any marks.  We advise our Weston area dental patients to avoid eating a high-carbohydrate diet, as this promotes tooth decay and white brace spots. Finally, be sure to see your dentist, who can check for white spots early on, apply special high-strength fluoride treatments, or recommend other treatments to make your smile beautiful.