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How Dental Health Can Impact Overall Wellness

diagram of periodontitisAt Brookline Dental Specialists, we know that the health of your teeth and gums can have a big impact on your overall health and wellness. Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body. The delicate tissue and blood vessel that line your mouth and digestive tract can absorb harmful bacteria that grows in the mouth. These bacteria, and the infections they can cause in your mouth, can also spread infection to other parts of your body.

Patients with advanced gum or periodontal disease, which creates high levels of bacteria in the mouth, are at higher risk for more serious and dangerous health conditions. The American Academy of Periodontology have noted a link between chronic bacterial infection of the gums with an increased risk of heart attack, clogged arteries, and stroke. Untreated periodontal disease has also been associated with the worsening of existing heart disease.

Gum disease brought about by poor oral hygiene has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a complication of diabetes. The high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can impair the regular blood flow of the blood vessels in the mouth. Poor blood flow can weaken the gums, making them more vulnerable to infection. High blood sugar levels can also encourage the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which can result in an increased risk for cavities.

Chronic periodontal disease has also been linked to higher incidents of oral cancers. Recent studies, including one from Harvard Medical School published in the medical journal Gut, show that patients with untreated periodontal disease have higher rates of oral cancer diagnoses than patients with no signs of periodontal disease or periodontal disease that is being actively treated by a periodontist.

plaque on teethWhile the health implications of poor oral hygiene and advanced gum or periodontal disease are serious, you can lessen your risk of serious complications by working with our team of hygienists and specialty dentists at Brookline Dental Specialists. When you come in for a routine cleaning appointment, our hygienists not only clean built-up plaque and tartar from your teeth, they take a digital wellness scan of your mouth, looking for potential signs of more serious conditions, like gum disease. Our knowledgeable dentists will examine your whole mouth for signs of oral cancers annually at your regularly scheduled hygiene maintenance appointments.

If you do have gum or periodontal disease, our expert periodontist will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that can help restore the health of your teeth and gums. We offer a wide range of treatments, depending on the severity of your periodontal disease, including scaling and root planing to deep clean your teeth and gums. For more advanced cases where gum or tooth loss has occurred, we can offer soft tissue grafts to restore lost gum tissue and dental implants to replace lost teeth.

The most important thing you can do to protect your mouth and body from the harmful effects of disease-causing bacteria is to follow a regular routine of twice daily brushing and flossing combined with bi-annual professional cleanings at our office. Your daily dental habits and commitment to your oral health can go a long way to preventing gum or periodontal disease. If you are diagnosed with gum or periodontal disease, we can offer you treatments to help control that disease from causing more serious health problems in other parts of your body. While we are primarily concerned with the health of your mouth, we are ultimately concerned with your overall health!

Brookline Dental team

Pictures of Periodontal Disease

Did you know that gum disease, or periodontal disease, affects almost half of the adult population in the US? Nearly 65 million Americans have some gum disease and the symptoms that accompany it, including bleeding gums, gum recession, and tooth sensitivity. Your gums should not bleed when you brush and floss. If you are not routinely flossing your teeth every day bacteria builds up below the gums and can cause your gums to bleed each time you brush. Gum recession is caused by gum disease and can cause your teeth to start to appear “longer” due to fact the gums surrounding them are receding away. Gum recession is an indication that your gum disease is getting worse. The depth of the collar of gum tissue around your teeth increases. In late stage gum disease, when these pockets become too deep it can be very difficult to remove the food and debris by with home care alone, brushing and flossing. Food and debris left in the pockets causes the them to become deeper and the gum disease to worsen. These concerns are among the most common reasons people see the dentist.

PeriodontalThere are certain lifestyle and health issues that can contribute to the risk of periodontal disease including smoking, diabetes, stress, clenching and grinding your teeth, certain medications, and poor nutrition. Periodontal disease and decay are caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors, but it is mainly caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque. If not removed plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus, or tartar.

This is why good oral hygiene so important. Adults over 35 experience more tooth loss due to gum diseases, than from cavities and three out of four adults are affected by periodontal disease at some time in their lifetime. The best way to manage periodontal disease is to avoid it in the first place. Be as preventative and proactive as possible with a consistent habit of brushing and flossing at home. Work with your hygienist to develop an effective home care routine and optimal brushing and flossing techniques.

The second critical step in prevention is to make, and keep, routine hygiene maintenance appointments at Brookline Dental Specialists with your dental hygienist. Cleaning tartar and calculus from your teeth and monitoring the health of your gums every six months is recommended. If you are already experiencing periodontal disease and symptoms a perio-maintenance program will be recommended which might include quadrant scaling and deep pocket cleaning once every 3 months.

One of the best things about our practice is our ability to care for all aspects of your dental health care right here in our office. As a periodontal specialist, I appreciate working with hygienists and the general doctors to diagnose, monitor, manage, and treat whatever issues may arise for our periodontal patients comfortably and conveniently in the same office as their family dentist.

We welcome new patients and can create a customized treatment and management plan for you in our dental practice. Your best overall health and wellness can be achieved by taking good care of your teeth AND your gums and we are here to help. Contact the office today and let’s work together to make a dental health maintenance plan that is just right of you!

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