Gum Disease: No Big Deal-Right? Wrong!

While many value the benefits of having healthy teeth and do all the right things to keep their gums in shape, there are those who feel, “Hey, they’re only teeth.”
The latter, while never volunteering to have their teeth removed, do not attribute any major importance to them. For instance, untreated periodontal disease
may lower birth weights of newborns. Now studies find that periodontal (gum) infections may contribute to the development of heart disease, which is the
nation’s number one killer. If that weren’t enough, gum infections pose a serious threat to anyone whose health is already compromised due to diabetes or
respiratory disease.

Let’s first talk about how the gums relate to the heart. If you have a healthy heart, this doesn’t pertain to you. Getting your teeth cleaned or having a gum abscess
does matter if you have a weakened heart valve, as in mitral valve prolapse or aortic stenosis. Why? Bacteria from the mouth find their way into the circulatory
system. They may be introduced when your teeth are cleaned or can arise from an infection. In either case, these “circulating” bacteria are normally gobbled up
by the white blood cells before they do any damage. Should they pass through the body and make it to the heart unscathed, the chance exists that they will
colonize on a weakened valve and cause a severe problem (bacterial endocarditis). For this reason, patients with any of the above conditions are suggested to
pre-medicate with antibiotics when receiving dental care.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without it and that diseased
gums released significantly higher levels of bacterial pro-inflammatory components, such as endotoxins, into the bloodstream in patients with severe periodontal
disease compared to healthy patients. Circulating bacteria can also impact on coronary artery disease. The walls of the coronary arteries can thicken due to the
build-up of fatty proteins. Often blood clots form in these narrowed coronary arteries and normal blood flow activity is obstructed. This depletes the heart of the
nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly. Scientists now believe that bacteria found in the oral cavity can attach to these fatty plaques once they enter
the bloodstream. Clinging to the heart walls, these bacteria may contribute to clot formation.

When it comes to diabetes, gum disease cannot be ignored. The link between the two has been well-documented. We have always known that diabetics are prone
to more infections and heal slowly. Now studies find that periodontal disease may make a pre-existing diabetic condition worse. It has been shown that diabetics
require less insulin once their gum condition has been treated. Since periodontal disease is a risk factor for the progression of diabetes, physicians should
consider the periodontal status of their diabetic patients who have difficulty with glycemic control.

If you experience any pain, swelling, bleeding or recession of your gums, make an appointment for an oral examination.

Click here for an appointment

Toothpaste and Orange Juice – Not a Good Match

 Ever wonder why orange juice tastes so bad after you brush your teeth?

You can thank sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES),
or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) for ruining your drink, depending on which toothpaste you use.
Both of these chemicals are surfactants — wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid —
that are added to toothpastes to create foam and make the paste easier to spread around your mouth.
They’re also important ingredients in detergents, fabric softeners, paints, laxatives,surfboard waxes and insecticides.
While surfactants make brushing our teeth a lot easier, they do more than make foam. Both SLES and SLS
mess with our taste buds in two ways. One, they suppress the receptors on our taste buds that perceive sweetness,
inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn’t enough,
they break up the phospholipids on our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for
bitterness and keep bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they’re broken down by the
surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.
So, anything you eat or drink after you brush is going to have less sweetness and more bitterness than it
normally would. Is there any end to this torture?
Yes.
You don’t need foam for good toothpaste, and there are plenty out there that are SLES/SLS-free.
You won’t get that rabid dog look that makes oral hygiene so much fun, but your breakfast won’t be ruined.

Can Cold Weather Make My Teeth Hurt?

Tooth pain in cold weather is definitely a real thing. In response to
extreme heat or cold, your teeth expand and contract. As the inside and
outside of your teeth adjust, little cracks can emerge. These are sometimes
the result of your teeth’s response to extreme temperatures. These tiny
cracks can leave the microscopic tubes beneath your enamel exposed
causing sensitivity. Weather sensitivity can occur regardless of how well
you care for your teeth. Sometimes however, this sensitivity can be related
to a more serious issue such as a cavity, receding gums, or even a chipped
or cracked tooth. There are measures you can take to minimize tooth
sensitivity. It’s worth a dental visit during the cold months to find a solution
that will work for you. Click here for an appointment with Dr. Matt.