This is the number of people the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They also warn that there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia)
In the U.S., the disease affects over 5 million adults, with one in three seniors dying from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. (https://www.alz.org/)
Research is actively pursing a way to not only predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but prevent it. Of course, this requires finding its cause. Major studies are continually making headway in this pursuit. One of its possible ties has revealed itself in a way that may surprise you – Periodontal (gum) disease.
The oral bacteria of gum disease is getting more and more attention from researchers for its ability to create inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth. Research has already found links between oral bacteria and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, impotency, preterm babies and more. Now, the correlation between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia adds to a long, concerning list.
Obviously, the bacteria in your mouth are far more destructive than the cause of bad breath and cavities. According to researchers, the infectious bacteria of gum disease has been linked to brain tissue degeneration. In one study, brain tissue samples from patients with and without dementia showed that a particular component of oral bacteria was found in 4 out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease tissue samples. This same bacterial component was not found in any of the brain tissue samples of people who did not have Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers think these bacterial components found in the brain may trigger a response by the immune system that lead to pathological changes. Through this chain reaction, the study shows a pathways is created to Alzheimer’s. While the findings do not prove that oral bacteria causes Alzheimer’s disease, the links shown are sound reasons to maintain good oral health.
Because the bacteria of gum disease can weaken oral tissues, bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream and travel through the bloodstream to the brain. This can lead to degeneration in brain tissue that appears similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
This extensive research was conducted after a previous study on mice infected with specific periodontal bacteria. Researchers in this study found the bacteria traveled to the brain in mice, which prompted further studies involving humans.
Periodontal disease begins silently. It is not always obvious in early stages. However, as gum disease progresses, you may see blood when brushing and have frequent bad breath and sore and swollen gums. As it worsens, gum tissues turn from a healthy pink color to red.
Some level of periodontal disease exists in over 47 percent of the adult population. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm) Its early-stage, gingivitis, is one of the most common diseases found in humans and is more common than the common cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 64 percent of adults ages 65 and over have moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease.
Yet, preventing gum disease requires minimal time and expense. Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes each time) and flossing will help keep oral bacteria to a minimum between regular dental check-ups and cleanings. These visits remove any built-up If you are a smoker or take medications that are drying to oral tissues, hygiene visits every four months may be advised.
Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible way to spend one’s final years, and just as bad when we watch people we love as they suffer through years of decline. Keep the bacteria levels in your mouth under control and stay involved with regular dental visits to lower your risk.
Remember – gum disease only worsens without treatment. In addition to increasing susceptibility for serious diseases, it is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. If you are having symptoms of gum disease (as mentioned above), contact our office at 843-871-6351 or tap here for an appointment.
If you prefer, you can begin with a no-charge consultation to discuss the exam and treatment process, comfort options, and payment plans.Read More
It is estimated that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions and a whopping 80 percent fail by February. (https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail)
Although losing ten pounds or training to run a marathon may not be achieved by the end of the year, we’d like to suggest a “replacement resolution” that is easy to keep, takes mere minutes a day, and can save you much in time and money.
What, you ask, could this be?
The simple steps you take to maintain good oral health can pay off greatly by helping you avoid cavities and in the prevention of gum disease. As an added bonus, you’ll have a brighter smile, fresher breath, and even enhance your overall health.
How could good oral health improve your overall health?
The bacteria in our mouths can accumulate to the point where they can cause inflammation in gum tissues. This can cause the gums to become swollen, tender, red, and bleed easily when brushing.
If not treated promptly, this early-stage of gum disease (known as gingivitis) can progress to periodontal disease. In addition to attacking gum tissues and the bone that support teeth, this disease can weaken gum tissues and allow entry of infectious bacteria into the bloodstream.
Once bloodborne, the bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has shown it can increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm births, impotency, and some cancers. That’s pretty scary stuff – far scarier than a cavity.
By being committed to a good oral hygiene regimen at home and having dental cleanings and exams every 6 months, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even protect your overall health. And, it’s easy; perhaps as easy as making small adjustments to your existing routine.
Let’s look at your daily brushing habits. First, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day. And, it’s not just your brushing but in HOW you brush.
For example, you should use a soft or medium bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. Additionally, each brushing should last at least two minutes, even if using an electronic toothbrush.
But, it’s not just in the time you spend at the sink, but the technique you use. For example, you should brush all sides of all teeth, including the tops and backs. You should also brush near the gum line to dislodge oral bacteria that has gathered at the base of teeth.
Flossing your teeth is also important. This action dislodges food particles caught between teeth, which if left to rot, can provide fuel for more bacterial growth. Our hygienists can help you with the proper way to floss your teeth – comfortably! Ask at your next visit.
If flossing seems too difficult, consider using a water flosser. These have proven to be just as effective as manual flossing. Ask us about which brands are easy and affordable. (Hint: Most of them are!)
Many people do not realize what a hotbed of bacteria exist in the tongue, but it can house over 25,000 types of bacteria with over 700 species identified in its oral microbiome. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585543/) This is why we recommend either brushing your tongue at the end of brushing teeth or using a tongue scraper.
A tongue scraper is often a flexible strip that you slide over the surface of the tongue, from back to front. Rinsing of the scraper is done after each pass. These are easy to use and take just seconds but the action can uproot millions of micro-organisms.
The goal is to minimize oral bacteria. You can help this further by keeping the mouth moist. Although saliva is designed to rinse bacteria and food particles from the mouth, it can only do so much. With today’s frequent snacking habits and our sugary, carb-laden diets, saliva flow is up against the odds.
You can aid saliva flow by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Colas, tea and coffee don’t count. They actually make things worse! Because these beverages contain caffeine, they can be drying to oral tissues, which depletes saliva.
Be sure to minimize sugar intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, and caffeine. At the very least, swish with water several times afterwards. Sipping colas or sucking on candy or mints containing sugar can place you at high risk for developing cavities and gum disease.
Your 6-month oral hygiene check-ups are structured so you are given a ‘clean slate’ of sorts twice a year. During this time, our hygienists remove plaque (a film of bacteria) and calculus (a hardened form of plaque) from teeth. They can also point out areas at risk to help you avoid further damage with instructions for effective at-home care.
Delaying or avoiding these twice-a-year dental visits can heighten your potential for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. This is unfortunate, especially since it takes mere minutes each day to avoid and is so inexpensive to do.
So, if you want a resolution you can easily keep and reap the rewards almost immediately. make it to have good oral health for 2019 and for the rest of your life! Our Summerville dental office can help! Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a no-charge consultation to begin.
At each visit, we ask patients to update their medical status as well as check the list of all medications – those prescribed as well as taken as supplements. Although this may seem an insignificant part of your oral care, it is vital information.
To the surprise of many, there are a number of medications that contribute to oral problems. For instance, adults taking antidepressants and high blood pressure medications were found to have elevated levels of plaque and signs of gingivitis.
A a side effect of more than 400 medications is ‘dry mouth’, a condition that contributes to higher plaque levels and the development of periodontal (gum) disease. Without a sufficient flow of saliva, oral bacteria can accumulate. Hence, the formation of plaque, which is the sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth and gums.
If you have been prescribed medications that cause oral dryness, ask your physician if an alternative is available. Also, drink plenty of plain, filtered water throughout the day to support oral moisture. (Tea, coffee, and colas don’t count! They actually contribute to oral dryness even more!) Too, oral rinses are available OTC that can also help minimize the risks associated with dry mouth.
People are often surprised to learn just how much sugar exists in cough drops, medications in syrup form and antacids contain sugars that often leave a sticky residue on teeth, making them more susceptible to decay.
Oral contraceptives and blood pressure medications have been linked to mouth sores and inflammation. Certain antibiotics and ibuprofen can cause lesions or ulcers in the mouth. Tetracycline, typically used for treating acne, can discolor teeth as well as supporting bone.
And, the list of problems go on and on. For example, calcium channel blockers used to control high blood pressure can contribute to gum tissue overgrowth. Gingival enlargement, a condition that causes the gums to swell and grow over teeth, can lead to severe periodontal infection.
As more and more people turn to herbal supplements as a ‘safe’ alternative to synthetic medications, be aware that what is not known CAN hurt you. And, much is NOT known about many of the companies packaging these supplements or what they’re putting into the mix.
Too, it is important to know that some dental patients can have serious side effects these supplements. For example, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin E can act as blood thinners. When combined with aspirin, the combination may cause difficulties in blood clotting. For patients undergoing surgical procedures, this can be a serious problem.
Taking high dosages of vitamins before undergoing anesthesia can also put you at risk. For instance, high doses of Vitamin C can weaken the efficiency of anesthesia. On the flip side, supplements such as Kava and St. John’s Wort can accentuate anesthesia’s effectiveness. (Kava has actually been banned in the U.S. but still attainable through some online vendors.)
Especially concerning are the herbal supplements with a high risk of interfering with medications. In addition to Kava, Gingko, and St. John’s Wort, these include Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Hawthorn, Evening Primrose Oil, and Yohimbe. Be sure, also, that your prescribing physician is aware you are taking these supplements.
It is also risky to ‘bargain hunt’ online for herbal supplements, lured by low cost with unknown manufacturers. Some unregulated distributors in foreign countries could be shipping you unsafe ingredients, including lead and mercury. It is best to shop U.S. based companies with familiar brand names.
As your Summerville dentist, it is important that we are aware of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. This way, we can help you avoid issues that can be risky or leave you vulnerable to undesirable reactions or future problems. Keep us informed of any new medications you are taking as well as those that have been eliminated from those listed in your file.
While not all side effects create high risk, we want to ensure each dental visit provides you with an individualized approach to your care. Working together, we can achieve this! Bring current medication information (including dosage) to every appointment.
Need an appointment to update your smile? Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.Read More
Research has shown an indisputable correlation between the bacteria of gum disease and a number of serious health problems. This occurs because the infectious bacteria of gum disease can migrate to other parts of the body, triggering problems elsewhere in the body.
Oral bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, they have been found to trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth.
Periodontal disease bacteria are highly destructive. They destroy teeth, gums and bone structures that support tooth roots. This disease will only worsen without treatment. Symptoms include swollen and tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, persistent bad breath, and gums that darken in color.
Eventually, pus pockets form on gums and some teeth may loosen. To no surprise, advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Findings now reveal that advanced gum disease can cause the release of inflammatory components, enzymes and other factors that have been linked to the development of some cancers.
Highly concerning, the National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly half of adults in the U.S. have some level of the disease, even though it is one of the most preventable of all diseases. It is hoped that the recent revelations that link oral bacteria to serious health conditions may lead to heightened awareness to its prevalence. And, thus, more efforts to avoid or successfully treat it.
For many years, it was suspected that chronic infections and inflammation are associated with a higher risk of developing cancer. This prompted more research to focus on deeper studies into the relationship between bacterial and viral infections and carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis is the process that causes normal cells to mutate into cancerous cells.
For example, one study of over 48,000 American men between ages 40 – 75 showed that participants with a history of periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of cancer than those without gum disease. This was after adjustments were made for risk factors such as smoking and diet.
It was also found that, of those with a history of periodontal disease, their susceptibility to certain cancers came with a 30 percent or higher risk. The study showed that a history of periodontal disease increased the risk of lung cancer by 36 percent, kidney cancer by 49 percent, pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, and caused a 30 percent higher risk of blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
The study also showed that even non-smoking participants with periodontal disease still had a 35 percent higher risk of blood cancers as well as a 21 percent overall increased risk for cancer.
Chinese researchers also conducted a study of over 321,000 men and women, adjusting for those who were diabetic, drank alcohol and/or smoked. They found a much greater lung cancer risk in the participants who had periodontal disease with women who had gum disease having a higher risk of developing lung cancer than men.
If you have symptoms of gum disease, it is important that you have treatment promptly. In our office, we treat patients gently, respectfully and to the highest standards and make appropriate recommendations for the individualized needs of each patient.
Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation appointment. If dental fear is an issue, we can discuss comfort options, including oral and I.V. sedation. We can also discuss payment plans that helps to finance treatment into easy, monthly payments.Read More
Through decades of research and findings from countless studies, there is no doubt that your oral health plays an integral part of your overall health. Not only does oral bacteria overload lead to tender, bleeding gums, it causes cavities, bad breath and some serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Studies have shown that oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, it can cause inflammatory reactions that have been associated with a long list of diseases and health conditions. These include stroke, heart disease, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
Still, with all these findings, it’s perplexing that nearly half of American adults have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. I believe the problem lies in the fact that gum disease can begin – and even exist to a certain extent – without obvious symptoms.
To help our readers be in a better position to avoid (or respond promptly to) gum disease, I hope the following Q&A will help in your appreciation of good oral health:
What is gum disease? Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. It forms from accumulated oral bacteria. Like any infection (which is bacteria that is straining the capability of the immune system), it causes redness, tenderness, and swelling. Because it is hidden inside the mouth, gum disease is easier to ignore than if the same were to occur on a skinned knee. Early-stage gum disease causes the gums to bleed when brushing, tender gums, and frequent bad breath. As it progresses, gums swell and turn red. The gums loosen their grip around the base of teeth. Eventually, persistent bad breath occurs and may be accompanied by pus pockets that form on gum tissues. As the bacteria eats away at the structures that support tooth roots, the need for tooth removal can occur.
Why should I worry about gum disease? As if the discomfort, bad breath, and rotten teeth weren’t enough, many people are unaware that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. When a tooth is lost, it creates a domino effect that can lead to more tooth loss. Replacing teeth can be expensive. For some tooth replacement options, it typically causes bone resorption. This is when the jaw bones that once supported natural tooth roots begin to shrink in mass. A thinning jaw bone is what causes a denture or partial to slip or rub uncomfortably on tender gum tissues. (Dental implants, fortunately, mimic the presence of tooth roots. This halts the process of resorption.) Additionally, as mentioned prior, gum disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream and contribute to a number of serious, even deadly, health problems.
How do I prevent gum disease? Although I’d like to say that twice-daily brushing and daily flossing is sufficient, that’s only part of the equation. It is necessary to keep the mouth moist. Aging and the side effect of many medications can be very drying to the mouth. This mean that oral bacteria are not being washed away efficiently. Also, American diets are full of sugar. Sugar is especially challenging in the mouth, triggering acids that can damage almost immediately. Too, just over 52 percent of the adult population visit the dentist every six months. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), over 20 percent (in 2014) stated they only saw a dentist every “few years.” (https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/patients) Your dental check-ups are structured to remove built up oral bacteria that has hardened on teeth (known as tartar, or calculus). Seeing your dentist every six months helps you to prevent, or greatly minimize, the risks associated with gum disease.
As a dentist in Summerville, I’ve been pleased to offer a “dental home” where our patients know we will treat them thoroughly, respectfully, and with gentle hands. We keep our fees affordable so all individuals can enjoy the benefits and confidence of a healthy smile.
If you suspect you have gum disease or have not had a dental cleaning in over six months, call 843-871-6351 to schedule an appointment. If preferred, ask to begin with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss your unique needs and how we can assist you in achieving the smile you desire.Read More
Let’s say you’re nearing the time when an ’empty nest’ in on the horizon. In anticipation of having extra space, you may have some ideas as to how free space could be reconfigured. A workout room? A media room? An office for a new in-home business?
Although designers and contractors could come in with a sketch pad and pencil, wouldn’t you be more assured with a visual proposal that gave a firsthand view of where, what, and how?
Today’s technology is designed to eliminate guesswork and provide the means to achieve goals without unexpected glitches.
This is true for dentistry as well. Advanced computerized technology has given dentists the tools to diagnose, treatment plan, and perform procedures with precision based on each individual’s needs and goals.
Dental offices can vary significantly when it comes to advanced technology. Not only does this equipment require a monetary commitment, most require intense training of the dentist and staff members in order to utilize each piece properly. While some of these advancements can seem rather intimidating, I’ve found that they can be of such benefit to our patients that the learning process becomes exciting.
Case in point – when I first invested in CEREC 3D technology, I took a couple of courses but avoided using it for months. When I decided to truly master it, I became so enthralled at the results that I pursued every advanced course I could take. Now, I am a proud Mentor for CEREC 3D, providing training assistance to other dentists who make this positive leap into the future of dentistry.
While my goal has always been to provide options that enhance patient comfort, save them time, and create optimal outcomes, it has also been important to select technology that is ‘green.’ At Smiles By Andrews, we have incorporated features that are environmentally-friendly, which minimize the use of chemicals, save water, and reduce waste.
We are proud of the environment we offer to our patients. Experience the benefits of these features yourself! We are always happy to welcome new patients to our office and even offer a free consult for those who wish to ‘check us out’ before committing to an appointment. Just call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule.
While we are pleased to offer this technology, what our patients notice most is the respectful, friendly, compassionate environment we provide. Regardless of your need, we are committed to exceptional care with an emphasis on comfort.
I hope to meet you soon!Read More
Every time I go to have my oil changed or tires rotated, I know the time and money required is to prevent problems or extend the life of my investment as much as possible. It makes handing over my credit card a little easier since I’m willingly taking steps to avoid larger expenses that could have been prevented.
This is why your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are so important. By removing built-up tartar, you can avoid the time and expense for cavity repair and gum disease treatment. However, these visits can help you avoid much greater expenses, some you may not realize.
For example, during these appointments, we check your bite alignment. Why is this important?
Every tooth in your mouth is designed to interact with neighboring teeth. For instance, an upper front tooth is bordered by teeth on each side as well as one below it. The teeth on each side help to keep adjacent teeth in their proper positions. The one below it – the one it ‘meets’ – helps to keep it at a proper length. Without the tooth below, the upper tooth would elongate. Without the teeth on each side, the tooth would turn or tilt.
It doesn’t take much to create a domino effect when it comes to the balanced alignment of how the upper teeth meet lower teeth. When just one tooth moves out of position, the others can bear the brunt of misalignment or malocclusion.
While a tooth that has become crooked may seem to create like a minimal flaw in your smile’s appearance, the problem can go much deeper than esthetics. For example, bite misalignment can lead to teeth that break, chip, or crack. It is also what leads to TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.
TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches; migraines, ear ringing; dizziness; night-time clenching and grinding; jaw popping, and sore facial and neck muscles. Because some of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated to bite alignment, many people spend years seeking relief, going from doctor to doctor, trying different medications, and undergoing procedures – all coming up short of actually resolving the true source of the problem.
Another check we perform during your dental hygiene visits is to look at the condition of your gums.
Periodontal (gum) disease can begin without obvious symptoms, symptoms that YOU may not notice. However, we are trained to catch early warning signs such as gums that are pulling away from their tight seal around teeth. Gums that bleed easily during ‘probing’ are also signs we note.
Yet, when it comes to your gum tissues, which cover the entire oral cavity, there ae additional problems that we can address during your oral hygiene visit. One, in particular, is to examine any lumps or bumps that can indicate oral cancer.
During your exam, you may notice us feeling around inside your mouth. We look under your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. What we’re looking for are unusual areas that can be early signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers due to its dreadful survival rate. If caught early, treatment requirements may be minimal. During this exam, we check for discolored spots, lumps, and growths that may indicate the need for a biopsy.
Other problems that your gum tissues can reveal are oral fungal infections, such as thrush. This can be an uncomfortable condition that is contagious. Even pregnant females can pass this on to their unborn babies. We can also note the emergence of things like canker sores and recommend ways to minimize their discomfort and duration.
If signs of a cavity exist, we can address the problem before it becomes a bigger problem! Filling a small cavity is a much simpler procedure than having to crown a tooth that has a large cavity. And, it is less of an expense.
We can also help in the prevention of tooth loss by checking teeth that are showing signs of break down. When a tooth is cracked, fractured, or overloaded with fillings, the potential for losing the tooth increases.
Tooth removal is necessary when a tooth breaks off below the gum line. To save the tooth, we can advise an inlay or a crown (cap) to help prevent the need to remove it (resulting in time and expense to replace it).
One of the most effective ways we can support patients during their cleanings and exams is to provide easy-to-follow recommendations and instructions for their at-home care. For example, if we note that a patient is being less-than-thorough with certain back teeth, our hygienists can discuss holding the toothbrush at a different angle. Or, the hygienist may advise using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if ‘dry mouth‘ seems to be a challenge.
So you see, these 6-month check-ups are important ways to have a healthy mouth and enjoy a bright smile between visits! They can help you save time and money by helping you avoid problems, or minimize those that do occur.Read More
Growing up, I remember a particular relative I only saw at Christmas gatherings at my Grandmother’s home. I was probably eight or nine when I recall him bending down and greeting me just inches from my face. While I don’t remember his words, I do remember his knock-you-over bad breath.
For years, every time his name was mentioned, I remembered the jolt of breath odor. I should have remembered his words and his smile, first and foremost, but his breath seemed to take a front-&-center place in my memory bank whenever his name came up.
None of us want to be remembered for our breath odor! While it is often associated with spicy foods, breath that is less-than-pleasant actually has a number of sources.
PERIODONTAL (Gum) DISEASE: A common symptom of gum disease is frequent bad breath. As the disease worsens, it goes from frequent to persistent. This is because oral bacteria produce a sulphuric odor that causes bad breath. As they reproduce, more and more of these bacteria exist, subsisting on the soft tissues in the mouth. The gums become so compromised from this over-accumulation that they bleed easily (often while brushing). Other symptoms include tender or swollen gums, gums that release their tight grip around teeth, and gums that turn red. Keep in mind, however, that gum disease begins silently. Beware: You may even have it without noticing symptoms in initial stages.
GERD OR ACID REFLUX: In addition to causing heartburn and a sore throat, acid reflux can cause bad breath. This occurs when acid travels up the throat and reaches your mouth. When these digestive acids mix with saliva, it produces bad breath that is uniquely associated with acid reflux. An excellent explanation of how it occurs (and ways to curtail it) can be found at: http://digestivehealthguide.com/acid-reflux-bad-breath/
DENTURES & PARTIALS: The gum-colored base that holds replacement teeth in dentures and partials is of a porous material. These pores actually provide oral bacteria with little homes where they breed and thrive. As mentioned prior, oral bacteria that accumulate in the mouth produce a surphur-ish odor (likened to a garlicky scent). Although soaking these appliances nightly in a denture cleanser rids most of these bacteria on a daily basis, many people also sleep in their dentures or partials. How bad is this bacteria? One study showed that pneumonia risk doubled in the elderly who slept in their dentures. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)
INSUFFICIENT ORAL HYGIENE: For many people who brush twice daily, the process may not be nearly as effective as they may think. It is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, using a soft to medium toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. (This applies when using either manual and electronic toothbrushes). Divide the mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each. Finish up by brushing the tongue to remove millions of oral bacteria embedded there. If you’re not flossing prior to brushing, however, you can be missing an important part of the process. Food particles caught between teeth cannot always be dislodged by the bristles of a toothbrush. Left behind, they rot in your mouth, creating a welcome food source that boosts oral bacteria growth.
DRY MOUTH: When the mouth is dry, it means that saliva flow is unable to rinse oral bacteria from the mouth efficiently. This leads to bacterial growth. Dry mouth is a side effect of many prescription and OTC medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and sedatives. Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol are also drying to oral tissues. Be aware of the moisture level in your mouth. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, chew sugarless gum to promote saliva flow, and consider using a rinse to replenish oral moisture (available over-the-counter at most drug stores).
While other causes of bad breath may be your problem, these are the most frequent culprits. However, regardless of the cause, having a healthy mouth can give you more confidence in close settings with others, and help you avoid the dreaded reputation of “the one who has bad breath.” Begin by scheduling a cleaning/exam to address your problems head on, or ask for a free consultation to discuss your concerns. I’ll make recommendations to help pinpoint the source of your problem and ways to help resolve it.
If you have dental fears or anxiety associated with dental care, please know that we hold consultations in a private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. You’ll never be asked to sit in a treatment chair until you are ready. I’ll also be happy to discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), if needed.
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.Read More
We live in a hurry-up society. We all seem to have more to do than there are hours in a day. However, the time we devote to some things can save us much in time and money later on.
I’ll use flu season as an example, since it’s running rampant right now. Imagine you’ve been to the grocery store. You grabbed a shopping cart but bypassed the sani-wipe stand because someone was there and you were in a hurry. You checked out at the self-check, then unloaded the cart and returned it to the store. Again, someone was at the sani-wipes so you headed to your car rather than wait.
Once home, you put the groceries away. Now, also running behind on meals, you grabbed an apple to munch while you prepared dinner. Yet, halfway through the apple, you realized you hadn’t washed your hands or the apple. So, when flu symptoms began, you may not have put two and two together, but from the cart handle, the touch screen at checkout, the grocery items and an unwashed apple, you’ve handled zillions of germs.
Hindsight being 20-20, the devotion of a minute here and a minute there could have meant avoiding getting sick in the first place. The same process can also help you avoid the time and costs to repair a cavity or treat gum disease.
Most people brush their teeth twice a day. Yet, like anything, it’s not always that it’s done, it’s that it’s done properly. Getting a dab of toothpaste on a wet toothbrush and running it across teeth in a rushed manner doesn’t do much good.
For truly effective brushing, use a medium to soft bristle toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Pretend your mouth is divided into four parts (quadrants): the upper right side, the lower right side, the upper left side and the lower left side.
Using a swirling motion, move the toothbrush across all sides and the tops of teeth. Don’t press down so the bristles splay out. You want to keep a gentle touch so the tips of the bristles sweep across the surfaces of the teeth. Spend 30 seconds on each quadrant. Finish up by brushing the toothbrush over the tongue. This dislodges millions of oral bacteria embedded in the tiny bumps on the tongue. Rinse thoroughly by swishing several times.
About 30 percent of Americans say they floss daily with about 37 percent being less-frequent flossers. Thirty-two percent say they never floss. (https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-02/how-many-americans-floss-their-teeth)
If you’re not flossing, think of the food particles that are rotting in your mouth because they’re caught between teeth. As they rot, realize these are creating bacteria, which are living, breathing and breeding organisms. And, because they’re alive, they eat, and what eats, produces waste. In your mouth! This is a pretty good reason to floss!
However, like brushing, flossing should be performed properly to be truly effective. Remember to avoid popping the floss between teeth. You want to avoid cutting into tender gum tissues. This tends to happen when you’re trying to hurry through the process. So, like brushing, slow down and take the time to do it correctly.
If flossing is awkward, ask our hygienist to help you with a comfortable technique. Or, if you have large hands or problems with manual dexterity, consider using a water flosser. These are affordable and can be just as effective as manual flossing.
If washing your hands can prevent you from catching the flu, that’d be well worth the time – right? If spending 5 minutes a day at the sink can save you time and money at the dentist, that’s definitely worth the time. Plus, you’ll enjoy fresh breath and a sparkling smile!
Show your smile some love by slowing down as you care for it at home. If you are behind on your dental check-ups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule.Read More
For people who have health insurance, the first of the year resets a new year of benefits. In addition to annual physicals, many plans cover annual or periodic screenings, such as skin cancer exams or pap smears.
As you fill your calendar with these appointments, you may want to read up on some recent research that shows how your oral health relates to a number of serious health problems, including some cancers.
Research has shown that periodontitis (advanced stage of periodontal disease) causes the release of inflammatory components, enzymes and growth factors that have been associated with cancer development.
One particular study of over 48,000 American males between the ages of 40 and 75 showed that those who had a history of periodontal disease had a 14% higher risk of cancer than those without the disease. This was after taking into account risk factors such as smoking and diet.
For example, findings of one study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that post-menopausal women with a history of periodontal disease had a 30% or higher risk of some cancers.
The study showed that a history of periodontal (gum) disease increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, lung cancer by 36 percent, a 49 percent higher risk of kidney cancer, and a 30 percent higher risk of blood cancers (including leukemia and lymphoma).
In the study, even non-smokers with gum disease had a 35 percent higher risk of blood cancers as well as a 21 percent increased risk for cancer overall. (See Women’s Health Initiative: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/science/womens-health-initiative-whi)
Another study conducted in China revealed that people who have gum disease have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. The study included over 321,000 adults, also citing that findings showed that this risk is even greater for people who drink, smoke, or have diabetes. The research also found that women with gum disease were more likely to develop lung cancer than men with periodontal disease.
The correlation seems to originate with how certain oral bacteria are involved in the development of cancerous cells in the lungs. Another study showed that the successful treatment of periodontal disease could significantly lower the risk of lung cancer. (http://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/1056-periodontal-disease-increases-lung-cancer-risks?highlight=WyJjYW5jZXIiLCJjYW5jZXInIiwiY2FuY2VyJ3MiLCJ3b21lbiIsIndvbWVuJ3MiLCJjYW5jZXIgd29tZW4iXQ==)
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer death in men and women, outnumbering deaths due to colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
An article in Oncology Nurse Advisor (http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/headlines/periodontal-disease-prostate-cancer-inflammation-lower-risk/article/412935/) shared the results of a study on men with high PSA levels who also had periodontitis (advanced gum disease). After treatment for their gum disease, nearly all showed significant improvement of their PSA levels.
For decades, research has continuously revealed links between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious health problems. By entering the bloodstream through weakened tissues in the mouth, the infectious bacteria of gum disease can trigger problems elsewhere in the body by activating systemic inflammation associated with a number of harmful reactions.
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease, capable of destroying teeth, gums and the bone structures that support tooth roots. Gum disease will not go away without treatment with early treatment, being the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Know the symptoms associated with gum disease, including swollen and tender gums that bleed when brushing, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, persistent bad breath, gums that turn red in color, pus pockets that form on gums and teeth that loosen.
Having symptoms of gum disease? Call 843-871-6351 for a free consultation. Here, you’ll find patients are treated respectfully and with a gentle touch for all procedures. We have a reputation for providing skilled, ethical care, making appropriate treatment recommendations based upon the unique needs of each patient.
Make your oral health a priority this year and every year. Your smile and you overall health depend on it!Read More
Occasionally, I have an elderly patient say something like, “I guess I’m at an age that’s leading to dentures.” Although some of our patients are denture wearers and comfortable as such, tooth loss is not a normal part of the aging process.
A five-year National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey shows that tooth loss is finally on the decline for older adults. However, the average number of remaining teeth for over 65 adults is less than 18. Over 27% in this age group have lost all of their natural teeth.
Losing natural teeth occurs for several reasons, most often from decay or gum disease. Both are the result of oral bacteria, which can be just as prevalent in a senior adult’s mouth as a young adult’s mouth.
Oral bacteria occurs from poor oral hygiene and failure to have regular dental visits, which remove the buildup that contribute to gum disease. Some home care hygiene routines can even include harmful actions such as rigorously scrubbing of teeth, using a stiff toothbrush or using abrasive substances to brush such as baking soda.
Too, many adults are unaware of the signs of gum disease, assuming “If it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong.” Symptoms such as seeing blood in the sink or having tender gums can be falsely perceived by some people as signs they are doing a good job.
Wearing dentures is no picnic. While dentures replace the presence of teeth, they do little to replace the function. Dentures balance on top of the gum ridge – the arch where natural tooth roots were once held. Yet, without tooth roots providing stimulation and nurturing the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink.
This process of bone loss is known as resorption. Once resorption begins, it continues on a more rapid pace with each year. The pressure on the jaw bones from wearing dentures actually speeds up this process. For denture wearers who sleep in their denture, the rate of bone loss occurs at a 24/7 rate.
Bone loss is what causes a once snug-fitting denture to move when eating. Eventually, even denture adhesives and pastes will do little to hold the denture in place. The denture may begin to slip when speaking or laughing.
Changes in facial appearance will also become more noticeable, such as deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls, and a chin that appears to be more pointed and grows closer to the nose (creating what’s known as a ‘granny look’).
Studies have shown that people who have their natural teeth live an average of ten years longer than denture wearers. This may be due to the inability to eat a healthy diet and stay socially involved.
Keeping your natural teeth for a lifetime is possible with simple steps, including:
• Brushing and floss daily – Done properly, this is the best way to remove oral bacteria. Brush at least two minutes twice daily. Use a soft to medium bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste and brush in a swirling motion rather than scrubbing back and forth. Floss daily and brush your tongue (or use a tongue scraper) to remove bacteria embedded in the tongue’s grooves.
• Have 6-month checkups – These appointments give your mouth a clean slate by removing accumulated tartar. Tartar (or calculus) is the cement-hard attachment on teeth that your Hygienist is scraping off during cleanings. This is actually a hardened mass of oral bacteria that eat away at gum tissues and tooth enamel.
• Avoid dry mouth – A dry mouth nurtures the growth of oral bacteria. To curtail this, drink lots of water throughout the day. Limit caffeinated foods and beverages, which are drying to oral tissues (coffee, tea, colas and chocolate). If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse to replenish moisture. These are available over-the-counter in most drug stores. Also, chew sugarless gum, which promotes saliva flow.
• Limit carbs and sugar – Carbs and sugar produce a particularly potent acid in the mouth, which provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth. While all foods cause acid attacks in the mouth for 20-30 minutes, sugar and carbs rev up the growth of oral bacteria. This acid also softens tooth enamel, leaving teeth even more vulnerable.
If you have lost natural teeth and want to halt the process, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free, private consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss how you can achieve a lasting, healthy smile. If you’re struggling with dentures or partials, we can also discuss Dental Implants as a lifetime solution for replacing teeth.Read More
Nobody wants to be the person at a gathering who walks away, leaving others behind with a memory of ‘there goes the one who had bad breath.’ Bad breath can have a lasting impression, one that nobody wants. As holiday parties and family gatherings approach, there are steps you can take to ensure you are not remembered in this negative manner.
Bad breath is the accumulation of oral bacteria, which are living, eating and breeding organisms. Because anything that eats also produces waste, this is what they deposit in your mouth. Imagine these wriggling creatures using your mouth as their breeding ground and toilet — a motivating reason to brush often if there ever was one!
Although occasional bad breath is something we all deal with — after a morning of coffee or a tuna sandwich lunch, perhaps — persistent bad breath is a warning sign. Having bad breath on a frequent basis is a symptom of gum disease. Other symptoms you may also notice are sore and swollen gums, gums that bleed when brushing, and gums that deepen in color.
If gum disease is not the reason for your breath odor, there are ways to keep your mouth fresh throughout the day. These include:
• Dry mouth is the leading cause of occasional bad breath. The reason your mouth is stale and sticky when you wake up is because your gum tissues have gone for hours without oral bacteria being ‘rinsed’ out of the mouth. After a mouth has been closed all night, the tissues dry out and bacteria accumulate. As they multiply, they form a smelly, sticky film known as plaque.
• Another cause of dry mouth is the consumption of beverages that have a drying affect on oral tissues, such as alcohol or coffee.
• Sugary drinks give oral bacteria their favorite ‘food,’ helping them to reproduce more rapidly in your mouth.
• Some medications have side effects that lower saliva flow, which is your mouth’s natural cleanser. You may notice a drier mouth when you take an antihistamine, for example. Many medications for depression and some for urinary incontinence can have a drying effect.
• For those who tend to breath through their mouths, the regular flow of oxygen decreases the amount of saliva in the mouth.
• Poor oral hygiene is an obvious reason for bad breath. When oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth and are not removed through regular brushing and flossing, they continually reproduce. As your mouth fills with bacteria, plaque forms. As plaque multiplies, it becomes a hard substance known as calculus. This eats away at tooth enamel and gum tissues. In other words, bacteria are causing ‘mouth rot.’
• Diseases and illnesses that can cause dry mouth are pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, diabetes and acid reflux. Liver or kidney problems can also contribute to dry mouth.
• The worst cause of dry mouth is smoking. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are the worst culprits in causing a dry mouth.
If gum disease is not the source of your bad breath, simple measures to enjoy a fresh mouth are:
– Brush regularly, at least two minutes per time. Use a tongue scraper daily to remove embedded bacteria, especially towards the back of the tongue. If you don’t have a tongue scraper, use your toothbrush after tooth brushing.
– Either floss daily or purchase an electronic flosser.
– Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are dying to oral tissues, purchase an oral rinse specifically designed to restore oral moisture.
Of course, it’s important to begin with a clean, healthy mouth. If you suspect gum disease or are behind on regular dental check-ups and cleanings, call 843-871-6351. Or, if preferred, begin with a private, no-charge consultation.Read More
The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. That’s 9.3 percent of the population and is an increase from a 2010 estimate of 26 million. This does not include the one in four who have diabetes yet don’t know it.
The CDC states, “Diabetes is a serious disease that can be managed through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and oral medications to lower blood sugar levels. Another important part of diabetes management is reducing other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.”
Based on health data from 2012, the National Diabetes Statistics Report was released in 2014 revealing that non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults. The age of those being newly diagnosed is also a particular concern. In the 2012 data, 208,000 people under the age of 20 were diagnosed with diabetes (both types). (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/)
Sadly, the rate of those struggling with diabetes is expected to triple in the coming decade. A National Institutes of Health report states diabetes is “a growing public health concern and a common chronic metabolic disease worldwide.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared diabetes to be at a pandemic level.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that compromises the body’s ability to properly secrete or manage insulin. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Diabetes is a leading cause of death because of the vascular complications attributed to it.
The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 (insulin dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent). According to the American Diabetes Association, the majority of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes with symptoms typically emerging after the age of 45.
Early symptoms of diabetes include bad breath and bleeding gums although the general public rarely associates one with the other. For scientific researchers, however, the emergence of diabetes through oral problems makes perfect sense.
Periodontal (gum) disease is said to be the sixth greatest complication of diabetes. Like diabetes, periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition.
Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body. Research has shown that gum disease is linked to other inflammatory diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and coronary artery disease.
With gum disease and diabetes, research has also shown that one tends to trigger the other. Gum disease has been found to occur more frequently – and with greater severity – in diabetics with poor glycemic control. On the flip side, properly managing glucose levels has shown to be helpful in preventing or treating periodontal disease.
Over 47% of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. Symptoms include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, and tender and swollen gums. As gum disease progresses, the gums darken in color, pus pockets form and teeth loosen and may eventually require removal. Due to its widespread prevalence, gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Because diabetics have a particular vulnerability to internal inflammation, they are urged to be especially committed to good oral health. This begins by knowing the signs of gum disease, maintaining a thorough at-home oral hygiene regimen and having dental check-ups every 3-4 months.
Whether you are diabetic or not, you are urged to react to signs of gum disease promptly by having a thorough examination. Early symptoms are often ignored or deemed ‘normal,’ allowing gum disease to worsen and require more-extensive treatment. Remember – by the time obvious symptoms begin, the infectious bacteria are running rampant.
Call 843-871-6351 if you have questions or to arrange a no-charge, no obligation Consultation.Read More
With the beginning of the school year, contact sports have parents and grandparents cheering from the sidelines. The last thing we expect is to see a player with a broken tooth, tooth that has been knocked out, or fractured jaw. If that player is one of our own, it’s even worse.
I’ve treated all ages of dental patients over the years, including tending to the unexpected injuries of players from football, baseball, basketball, hockey (field and ice), soccer, gymnastics and even tennis. I’ve seen lips and tongues bitten deeply from activities such as swimming, biking and skiing.
No matter how minor, accidents that involve the mouth can be painful and may cause permanent damage. This is why we encourage wearing a custom-made mouth guard as often as practical.
The advantages of wearing a custom-made mouth guard include:
• For a mouth guard to work in the first place, it must be worn in the first place! When a mouth guard is fitted to the unique contours of the mouth, it is typically worn more often since the fit is comfortable.
• Having a mouth guard that is made of superior material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred. It also is less bulky and more comfortable to wear.
• A mouth guard can lessen the impact of trauma to the jaw in a head injury.
• Having a properly-fitted mouth guard can prevent knocked out teeth or broken or chipped teeth. It can also prevent biting the tongue, lips, or inside of the cheek.
• For patients who wear braces, a mouth guard can prevent cuts and gashes to tender gum tissues inside the mouth.
While we hope you never have to deal with an injury to the mouth, knowing what to do should one occur can help to lessen the severity to a large degree. Below are quick tips so you can pursue the best course of action:
CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.
BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with lukewarm water. Place cold compresses over the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.
KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Rinse the tooth without touching the root portion while you handle the tooth as little as possible. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite gently on a clean gauze or cloth to hold the tooth in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Seek treatment quickly! Time is critical in saving a tooth.
FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. First, however, prevent the jaws from moving by using a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head.
BROKEN ORTHODONTIC BRACKETS OR WIRES – Cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, try to reach the orthodontist for immediate care rather than attempt to remove the wire yourself. If you cannot reach your orthodontist, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.
Never hesitate to contact us for an emergency need. Our answering service will direct you if after hours.
To inquire about a custom-fitted mouth guard, call 843-871-6351. The health of your smile (and the smiles precious to you) depends on YOU!Read More
For decades, research has shown links between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious diseases and conditions in the body. The list includes heart disease, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, preterm babies, impotency and erectile dysfunction.
Based on findings of previous studies, a long-term study has revealed the bacteria of gum disease as a contributing factor to developing pancreatic cancer, which will be diagnosed in over 50 000 people this year. Because pancreatic cancer typically goes undiagnosed until advanced stages, fewer than 10% of those diagnosed will be living 5 years later.
One study, however, determined that people with 2 types of periodontal disease–causing oral bacteria have a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in June 2016 (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2526607), oral bacteria may provide an early marker for pancreatic cancer.
In the study, the DNA in saliva from over 360 adults who eventually developed pancreatic cancer was compared to samples of DNA in saliva to a similar number of adults who remained healthy.
In both groups, adjustments were made for age, gender, race, and body mass as well as for alcohol consumption, smoking and having diabetes. Participants who developed pancreatic cancer within two years of providing DNA samples were omitted to ensure no pre-existing factors could distort statistical outcomes.
Coupled with findings from previous studies, researchers were able to pinpoint two specific types of periodontal disease pathogens. Researchers noted that one pathogen type was more prevalent in the saliva of subjects who developed pancreatic cancer, showing a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The second pathogen type was shown to increase the risk by 50 percent.
This study is yet another reason to acknowledge that your oral health is an integral part of your overall health. When your teeth and gums are healthy, you can prevent gum disease, cavities, and according to research, the penetration of potent oral bacteria into the bloodstream.
Signs of periodontal disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, frequent bad breath, gums that deepen in color from a healthy pink to red, and gum recession as gums pull away from teeth, exposing darker and sensitive tooth roots. Eventually, teeth will loosen and may require removal.
More than 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. However, achieving and maintaining good oral health is quite simple. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, having 6-month dental check-ups and avoiding a dry mouth are easy ways to limit oral bacteria.
Obviously, periodontal disease bacteria is potent. As more findings are revealed, I’ll share updates. In the meantime, be proactive when it comes to the symptoms of periodontal disease. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 843-871-6351 to arrange a no-charge consultation. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss ways to help you achieve a healthy, confident smile.Read More