Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gum Disease and the Heart

     Gum disease exists in about 80% of the population and is one of many risk factors associated with serious health concerns, such as heart disease. Researchers have found that people with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. This type of heart disease occurs when deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other materials known as plaques form in the walls of the coronary arteries making them thicker. This limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for the heart to function because blood cannot flow through the arteries easily.

     It is believed that bacteria from gum disease enters the bloodstream and connects to the plaques in the coronary arteries and causes blood clots to form. The bacteria from gum disease enter the bloodstream through compromised, infected gum tissue. Researchers have identified two oral pathogens associated with gum disease, known as Tannerella Forsynthesis and Preventella Intermedia, which may be associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack. The more of these pathogens that are present in the mouth the higher the risk; this is why it’s important to limit the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

     Patients with existing heart problems are at a greater risk if they also have gum disease. Bacterial endocarditis is a dangerous infection that involves the lining of the heart and is commonly caused when bacteria enters the blood during medical procedures. During dental treatment, a common organism found in the mouth known as Streptococcus Viridan can enter the bloodstream through the mouth and travel to the heart. This then causes blood clot formations that are able to travel to the brain, lungs, kidney, and spleen. This can result in dangerous medical conditions such as, blood clots, stroke, heart valve damage, irregular heartbeats, and arterial fibrillation. Patients with preexisting heart conditions are often prescribed pre-medications before dental treatment to prevent endocarditis from occurring.

     Treating and preventing gum disease is the safest way to avoid problems with the heart associated with gum disease. A dentist can help aid in keeping the mouth clean and healthy which in turn lowers the risk of future heart problems.

Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Benefits of Using Mouthwash

Brushing, flossing, and using a Waterpik are the best ways to avoid oral health problems like gingivitis. However, adding mouthwash to this routine gives many added benefits to your oral health. Mouthwash is an effective tool to fight against tooth decay, gingivitis, and helps promote healthy teeth and gums. Here are just a couple benefits from using mouthwash.

Mouthwash is a great way to help reduce bad breath. It works by killing the bacteria that causes bad breath, especially on the tongue. There are several varieties and flavors to choose from. Many people use mouthwash after brushing. It can also be used before to help remove loose particles in the mouth and make brushing and flossing more effective.

Some mouthwashes help prevent plaque build up on your gums, in-between teeth, and on the surface of your teeth in between brushing. Although it prevents the build up of plague, it cannot reduce the plaque that already exists on your teeth. So remember to always brush and floss to remove the plaque before it becomes a problem. Be sure to check the label to ensure it is a mouthwash that will help reduce plaque.

Using a fluoride mouthwash can help prevent cavities by strengthening the enamel. It is most effective when used after brushing. It is important to rinse for 60 seconds then spit out the excess and not to rinse the teeth. This dilutes the fluoride causing it to not be as effective. Being sure to rinse your mouth at night; leaves a protective coating of fluoride on your teeth to fight off bacteria while you sleep.

Mouthwash is a quick and effective way to give your mouth added protection and improve oral health. If you are unsure which type of mouthwash to use ask your dentist or dental hygienist. Your dentist or hygienist can help guide you to the one that will fit your needs the best.

 Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Oral Cancer

Know the Symptoms

Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cells that invades and damages any tissue surrounding it. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away within 2 weeks. Oral cancer can begin on the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Without early diagnosis oral cancer can be life threatening.

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
  • Swelling, lumps or bumps, rough spots or crust around areas inside the mouth
  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss
There are many risk factors that can cause oral cancer:
  • Smokers or smokeless tobacco users are 6 times more likely than non-tobacco users to develop oral cancer. Using smokeless tobacco makes a person 50 times more likely to develop cancer of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancer is 6 times more common in drinkers than nondrinkers.
  • Family history of cancer
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Human papilloma virus. (HPV)
According to the American Cancer Society, men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. Only 25% of oral cancer occurs in people that do not use tobacco or that only consume alcohol occasionally.

There are two ways to diagnose oral cancer. One is by a physical exam. A doctor or dentist will examine the lips and mouth to look for any abnormalities, such as sores and white patches. Another way is removal of tissue for testing. If a suspicious area is found, the doctor or dentist may remove a sample of cells for laboratory testing in a procedure called a biopsy. Unusual cells can be scraped away with a brush or cut away using a scalpel. In the laboratory, the cells are analyzed for cancer or precancerous changes that indicate a risk of future cancer.

Once diagnosed, the doctor can determine the stage of cancer the patient is in. This can be done during a procedure called endoscopy, the doctor may pass a lighted scope down the throat to look for signs that cancer has spread beyond the mouth. A variety of imaging tests can also be used. Imaging tests may include X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, among others. Not everyone needs each test. Mouth cancer stages are indicated using Roman numerals I through IV. A lower stage, such as stage I, indicates a smaller cancer confined to one area. A higher stage, such as stage IV, indicates a larger tumor or that cancer has spread to other areas of the head or neck, or to other areas of the body.

Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated, with surgery to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. To help prevent oral cancer it is important to not smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation. Repeated exposure to the sun increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on skin, as well as lips.

It is recommended to conduct a self-exam at least once a month. Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel the lips and front of your gums, then tilt the head back and look at and feel the roof of the mouth. Pull the checks out to view the inside of the mouth, the lining of the cheeks, and the back gums. Pull out the tongue and look at all surfaces; examine the floor of the mouth. Look at the back of the throat. Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in both sides of the neck and under the lower jaw. Call a dentist's office immediately if any changes are noticed in the appearance of the mouth or any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above.

It’s important to see a dentist on a regular schedule sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment.

 Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Root Canals, Know the Facts!

Do you or have you had tooth pain that wakes you up at night? Or noticed an oozing sore on your gums? If so, you may need or have been told you need a root canal. But what exactly is a root canal. Many people have heard horror stories about how awful they are but with the advancements in dentistry root canals have gotten much better and much easier. Millions of teeth area treated and saved each year by this procedure alone.
Inside the tooth, under the enamel and dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the surrounding tissues. Depending on the condition of the tooth treatment can be done in one to two appointments with little to no discomfort.

Root canal treatment is done to the inside of the tooth where the pulp is located. It is necessary to have this treatment when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can be caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
During a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown. A crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.Once treatment is completed the tooth functions just like a normal tooth.
 Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Periodontitis, also known as, gumdisease or periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth in the mouth and may end in tooth lose due to the destruction of tissue and bone that surrounds the teeth. Gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gum, usually begins before gum disease. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to gum disease. In a person with gum disease, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, however, there are many other factors that contribute to gum disease.

Factors that contribute to gum disease

·        Dry mouth: there are over 3,000 prescriptions and over the counter products that cause dry mouth. Saliva is needed to protect the teeth and gums and to cleanse the mouth throughout the day. When there is not enough saliva a patient’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases. Patients with dry mouth will be placed on products designed to help lubricate and hydrate the mouth to help lower their risk. 

·        Grinding: this puts force on the fibers that hold the teeth in place and stress on the jawbone. People that clench during the day put 200 lbs. per square inch of pressure on the supporting structures of the teeth and jaw. People that grind at night create 900 lbs per square inch. This causes all these supporting structures to break down and allow bacteria to enter the gums and jaw. A night guard is used to help prevent this. 

·        Nutrition: nutrition is crucial to a strong immune system. The new recommendation for daily requirements of fruits and vegetables is 8-12 servings per day. Bone loss in the mouth can be caused by high cholesterol in the diet, eating fatty foods, low calcium, low vitamin C and D, menopause, and stress. Getting the proper vitamins and supplements throughout the day is important not only for dental health but for general health as well. A family doctor can help recommend what types of vitamins a person should be taking to fit their needs. 

·        Herbal Supplements: herbs that start with the letter “G” have side effects, one of which is acting as a mild blood thinner. If a person has to take any of these supplements it is important to see a dentist or hygienist more often in a year to help manage this side effect and prevent gum disease from occurring. 

·        Sleep: it is recommended to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. People who get 6 hours or less are more susceptible to health problems and prone to infections. This means the body cannot fight the infection caused by gum disease as well. 

·        Stress: Stress is very harmful to general health. When a person is under stress the body produces cortisol, which affects inflammation. When someone is under a lot of stress they tend to not sleep well, eat well, or exercise. Stress also breaks down the immune system and prevents our body from fighting infection. A person under stress is 2 to 7 times more susceptible to get gum disease. Meditation and other stress reducing activities can help reduce stress. 

·        Drugs: this includes alcohol and illegal drugs. People who drink more than 5 alcoholic beverages per week increase their risk for gum disease by 30%. Illegal drug use can increase the risk by more than twenty times. 

·        Genetic: 30% of the population has the genetic gene for gum disease. These people have a 7 to 19 times increase in risk to develop gum disease by having this gene. These people tend have more bleeding form the gums and present with gum disease 20 years earlier in life. 

·        Hormones: this includes pregnancy, menopause, puberty, and menstruation. Hormonal changes cause and increase in gum inflammation and bleeding. It’s not understood the exact link between hormone changes and the gums. 

·        Aging: 75% to 85% of people 60 years old or older have gum disease. 

·        Communicable: the bacteria can be passed between parent and child, spouses, siblings, etc.

Unfortunately, gum disease has no cure but it is a treatable and manageable disease. It is important to have regular dental exams and cleanings to help limit these risk factors and prevent the start of gum disease. Oral hygiene is only a small part of battling gum disease and many of these factors are out of a person’s control. It’s important to not get discouraged when struggling with gum disease. With the help of a dentist and hygienist to get proper treatment the mouth can become healthy again.

Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more!