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Heart Disease and Oral Health

June 23rd, 2017

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 200 million Americans suffer from some degree of inflammation of the gums. Over the past decade, researchers have published studies that link the bacteria involved in periodontal disease to cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have connected oral infections to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and low birth weights.

Studies suggest bacteria that cause periodontal disease are also responsible for causing a thickening of the carotid arteries, which increases the chance of a heart attack or stroke. Further research is being conducted to understand the link between oral health and heart disease better.

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis and our team at Peninsula Periodontal Associates hear this question all the time. Periodontal disease is an infection. Our mouths are filled with bacteria, and this bacteria forms plaque. If the plaque is not removed through brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings at the dentist, it hardens into tartar. If gingivitis (gum inflammation) is not treated early, it can advance to periodontitis. Bacteria get under the gum tissue and erode it as well as the bone that supports the teeth. The gums eventually pull away from the teeth, and infected pockets form.

Proving that periodontal gum disease is connected to heart disease has been difficult for researchers. However, there are two theories about to what might connect the processes.

  • Bacteria are released in the bloodstream through chewing and tooth brushing. The same species of bacteria that causes gum disease has been discovered in the plaque in arteries in the heart.
  • Inflammation in the mouth is a catalyst for inflammation throughout the rest of the body.

Practice good oral health habits

While the link between periodontitis and heart disease is not yet fully understood, you can prevent the possibility of health complications by practicing good oral health. It’s recommended that you brush and floss twice a day, as well as visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam. Oral health should not be taken for granted. By preventing oral diseases, you’re also minimizing the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

To learn more about the connection between heart disease and oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis, please give us a call at our convenient San Mateo, CA office! A clean mouth leads to a happy heart!

How do I pick the right toothpaste for my needs?

June 16th, 2017

With so many toothpastes available in so many price ranges, it can be difficult to be sure you are selecting the right one for your needs. You need a product that not only protects against tooth decay, but also addresses any special concerns that Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis and our team have raised. Look for the American Dental Association seal and do some research to find the toothpaste that best meets your needs.

Choose a Product Approved by the American Dental Association

The American Dental Association approves dental products such as toothbrushes, dentures, mouthwashes, dental floss, and toothpastes when they meet certain quality standards. Before products can display the seal, the American Dental Association must verify that the product does what it claims to do. Look for the American Dental Association seal on the toothpaste package before you buy it. Also, check to make sure that the toothpaste contains fluoride, which helps protect against decay.

Consider Special Needs

You may be depending on your toothpaste to perform extra tasks beyond cleaning your teeth. These are some common concerns that the right toothpaste can address.

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Plaque or gingivitis
  • Tartar
  • Yellowing teeth

The American Dental Association’s website has a tool that lets users input their requirements and view a list of the toothpastes that carry the American Dental Association’s seal and address those particular oral health needs.

Make Your Children’s Tooth-Brushing Experience Fun

If you select toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the American Dental Association seal, most types of toothpaste will be fine for your children as long as they have no special needs. Allowing your kids to select fun toothpaste can encourage them to enjoy the brushing experience more, so that they brush more frequently and do a better job.

The following toothpaste characteristics can make brushing more fun for children.

  • Fun flavors, such as bubble gum, berry, and watermelon
  • Sparkles and swirls that make the toothpaste appear more attractive
  • Toothpaste that comes in a pump
  • Toothpaste with a container decorated with superheroes

Is there a correlation between my dental and cardiovascular health?

June 9th, 2017

YES!  Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, underscoring the importance of good oral health care. Cardiovascular disease remains American’s leading killer, claiming more lives than the rest of major causes of death, according to our friends at the American Heart Association. In fact, an estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.

Studies suggest that people with gum disease are believed to have an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. Since most patients are not regularly visiting a heart specialist, their regular visits to our San Mateo, CA office can help detect early warning signs of heart issues, prevent gum disease, or at the very least catch it at its early stage. We’d also like you to know your numbers: blood pressure (less than 120/80), cholesterol (less than 200) and BMI (less than 25).

There are many benefits to visiting Peninsula Periodontal Associates in addition to maintaining your dental health. If it has been a while since your last visit, please give us a call!

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

June 2nd, 2017

Gum disease is a common problem among adults, and one Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis and our periodontal team see all too often. Early stages of gum disease are known as gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. This can progress to more serious gum disease known as periodontitis.

If you notice signs and symptoms of gum disease, take early action to prevent progression of gingivitis to more serious periodontitis and the risk of losing your teeth due to gum loss.

Watch for These Signs and Symptoms

It’s important to watch for signs and symptoms of gum disease, especially if you have risk factors. Early detection at home can help you get treatment sooner so that you don’t risk losing your teeth. These are the classic signs and symptoms of gum disease:

  • Inflamed gums, or gums that are red or swollen
  • Pain when you chew
  • Teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, sweets, or brushing
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath that you can’t get rid of by brushing or using mouthwash, even when you don’t eat particularly smelly food
  • Gums that are sore to the touch or bleed easily, including when you brush your teeth
  • Teeth that seem to be taller or longer due to receding gums
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the way your dentures fit in your mouth

Signs We Look For

When you visit our San Mateo, CA office, we will examine you to see how far your gum disease has progressed. We do this by:

  • Discussing your medical history with you to see which risk factors you have
  • Checking your gums to see if they are swollen or red, and how far the inflammation has progressed
  • Measuring the depth of any pockets around your teeth using a type of ruler called a probe.

Treatment for Gum Disease

Brushing and flossing go a long way toward preventing bacteria from forming acid on your teeth and allowing tartar to build up. However, once you have the beginnings of gum disease, your regular brushing and flossing routine aren’t enough. Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis can provide more extensive treatment, such as:

  • Deep cleaning through scaling and root planing
  • Medications to fight the infection
  • Surgical treatments, like bone or tissue grafting to replace lost tissue

If you think you may have gum disease, or are concerned about the state of your gum health, be sure to contact our San Mateo, CA office to schedule an appointment. Together, we can help you achieve a lifetime of good oral health.

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