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Periodontal Health During Pregnancy

December 7th, 2022

If you are expecting, it is critical to maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure both your health and the health of your little one. This includes maintaining your regimen of brushing twice per day and flossing. It also includes regular visits to our San Mateo, CA office, as recommended by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), who suggest that women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy undergo a periodontal evaluation.

Women who are pregnant are particularly susceptible to gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease that is characterized by reddening, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. It is a condition that is not to be overlooked and can be treated and reversed by Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis.

Research at the University of North Carolina has indicated a connection between periodontal disease and an increased risk of low birth weight, a serious issue that affects roughly one in ten babies born in the United States. Low birth-weight babies may be at risk to have respiratory, intestinal, and heart issues. They also face long-term health problems such as vision and hearing loss, delayed motor skills, and potential learning disabilities, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Besides the possibility of leading to low birth weight of your baby, gingivitis, if left undetected and untreated, can also lead to periodontitis, a much more serious gum disease that attacks the gum tissue and the bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal diseases can lead to tooth loss and are associated with other serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Maintaining periodontal health is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Seeking timely treatment for gum disease is important not just for your personal health, but also for the health of your baby. Early diagnosis of periodontal disease can give you peace of mind that both you and your baby will be healthy. To learn more about preventing gum disease, or to schedule your periodontal evaluation or cleaning at Peninsula Periodontal Associates, please give us a call today!

Dangers of Alcohol and Oral Health

November 30th, 2022

We often have patients who ask, “Can drinking alcohol affect my oral health?” There are, in fact, a few reasons why that martini may not be good for your pearly whites.

In addition to creating an overly acidic environment in your mouth, alcohol severely dehydrates oral tissues because of its desiccant and diuretic properties. Because alcohol saps oral tissues of their moisture so readily, saliva glands can't keep enough saliva in the mouth to prevent dry mouth. In addition, saliva contains antibacterial properties that inhibits growth of anaerobic bacteria, a destructive type of oral bacterial responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, chronic bad breath, and periodontitis.

What are anaerobic bacteria?

When there is a lack of saliva flow in the mouth and the mouth cannot naturally cleanse itself of oral debris (food particles, dead skin cell, mucous), conditions develop that promote activity of anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that thrive in dry, airless places. These anaerobes also flourish when an unending supply of proteins (food debris) are available to consume, creating rapidly multiplying layers of plaque that stick to teeth and demineralizes tooth enamel unless removed by brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Oral Cancer and Alcohol

Acetaldehyde is a chemical compound leftover after the liver has metabolized alcohol. Capable of causing genetic mutations, acetaldehyde is also a known carcinogen that contributes to the ill feelings of hangovers. Although most metabolism of alcohol is done in the liver, evidence shows that metabolism also occurs outside the liver and that enzymes in the mouth could encourage accumulation of acetaldehyde in oral tissues.

When combined with poor oral health, smoking, and other detrimental lifestyle factors, alcohol may be considered a primary contributory factor in the development of oral cancer.

Even if you don't drink or drink only occasionally, remaining aware of symptoms that may indicate oral cancer will improve your chances of recovering successfully when you start treatment in the early stages of oral cancer. Signs include red or while speckled patches in the mouth, unexplained bleeding, lumps/swellings, chronic ear or throat pain, and areas of numbness in the mouth or on the face.

If you have any questions about alcohol and its connection to oral health, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis at your next visit to our San Mateo, CA office.

How Missing Teeth Can Affect Your Health

November 16th, 2022

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, an estimated three out of four Americans suffer from gum disease. In milder cases, the disease is called gingivitis. More severe cases are called periodontitis. Despite the prevalence of periodontal disease (and it is very common), only three percent of people who suffer from periodontal disease get treatment for it. Gum disease has been linked to other serious diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Periodontal Disease Is Common Among Americans

The Journal of Dental Research published the findings of a joint study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). The study compared the full periodontal exam that participants received for this study against partial periodontal exams participants received for an older study.

The results show the rate of periodontal disease today could be as much as 50 percent higher than earlier estimated. Shockingly, this means that about twice as many Americans as previously believed suffer from gum disease – either moderate or severe.

The Link between Chronic Illness and Periodontal Disease

Many people who have chronic medical problems don’t have dental insurance, or the money to spend on dental care. Not surprisingly, this and a lack of understanding about proper oral hygiene leads to situations in which an initially minor problem turns into something far more severe, and probably preventable.

Gum diseases and cavities are caused by infections. When you get a cavity, the infection develops in the tooth itself. You may never feel anything, so unless you get regular, twice-a-year dental exams, you might not know there is a problem.

With gum disease, the infection occurs in the bones and tissues that form the gums and support the teeth. The tissues that surround teeth, and the bones that lie below the gums, are necessary to hold your teeth in. When those aren’t strong enough to support your teeth, you lose them.

Tooth loss has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and an increased risk for kidney disease. Gum disease and severe infections in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body faster than people realize. A healthy mouth is alkaline. It’s vital for you to maintain an alkaline pH to keep harmful bacteria away.

When people eat, their pH changes, and the environment inside the mouth becomes more acidic. Since the typical American diet is very acidic, harmful bacteria thrive in the mouth. Typical foods include breads, grains, starches, and sweets – the foods people love the most. Since it isn’t always possible for people to brush after every meal, the mouth pH remains acidic, and the acid contributes to faster tooth erosion.

What does all this mean for you? The health of your mouth is more important than you realize. Get those regular dental exams, and make sure that you and your family keep to a regular routine of brushing and flossing. Good oral hygiene can help prevent periodontal disease, and that will lower your risk of tooth loss.

Top Five Ways to Improve Heart Health

November 9th, 2022

While there is no definite evidence that if your prevent gum diseases, like periodontitis, that you may be able to prevent a heart condition or heart disease. The only thing experts, like Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis, know for sure is that if you take care of your gums it can lessen atherosclerosis, (build-up of artery clogging plaque) that may result in a heart attack or stroke.

Could periodontal disease cause heart attacks?

Regardless of your oral health, if you're at a high risk for heart disease, you need to take action.

  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.
  • Consume healthy foods and beverages.
  • Exercise several days the week. Walking is a powerful and lightweight exercise and will clear your head while helping your body get or stay healthy.
  • Control any medical conditions you may have such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
  • Reduce your stress. Have lunch with a friend, go for a walk in the park, take a bubble bath, mediate, or do whatever you find relaxing.
  • Get a social life. Laughing reduces stress and “feel good” hormones. Everyone needs to feel like they are a part of something: join a book club or any activity where you can interact with other people at least once or twice a week
  • Be sure to get enough sleep. The recommended amount is eight to nine hours a night. It has been proven that a lack of sleep increases your risk for angina, strokes, and heart attacks.
  • Practice good oral hygiene to keep bacteria in check and your mouth healthy.

Contact our San Mateo, CA office if you have questions about your heart and oral health. If you take practice good oral hygiene, both your mouth and your heart will thank you.

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