Your mouth is part of your body, and even though we don’t often think of it, there is a link between what happens in and to your mouth and what happens in your body.
Your mouth contains bacteria. (Yes, even your dentist’s mouth has bacteria!) Some of the bacteria are “good” bacteria that are beneficial to you and others are “bad” bacteria, such as the bacteria that cause dental decay or gum disease. Because there are “good” bacteria, we don’t want to totally eliminate the bacteria. (Also, since the mouth is an open system, it’s impractical to try because any time something enters your mouth, it has the opportunity to reintroduce bacteria into your mouth.)
What are some ways that these bacteria can affect your body?
- Oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream (usually via bleeding gums) and release toxins that can attach to your artery walls and enter your respiratory and other body systems.
- Oral bacteria can cause your own bacteria-fighting blood cells to give off proteins that seem to trigger an anti-inflammatory autoimmune response in your body.
- Oral bacteria can create a protein that tricks your own platelets into encasing and protecting the bacteria from your immune system and from antibiotics you take to try to get rid of them.
Gum disease (inflammation of your gums) has been linked to heart, lung, and autoimmune diseases . Arthritis and diabetes are two examples of diseases that have a link to gum disease. Some studies also link gum disease/inflammation to oral and other cancers.
The mouth/body link works the other way too. Problems in your body systems can affect your mouth.
Uncontrolled blood sugar in diabetics makes it harder for your body to heal itself. This can make it harder for your body to correct the destruction created by gum disease, so your gum disease progresses more quickly.
Celiac disease is when your digestive system reacts to gluten found in wheat, rye, barley and other sources. Dental enamel defects may be more common in those with celiac disease. (Dental enamel is the material that covers your teeth and is usually what you touch if you touch your teeth.) These enamel defects may be one of the earliest signs of celiac disease in your body. In children with celiac disease, tooth eruption may also be delayed. (This is believed to be due to poor absorbtion in the digestive tract.) Other problems that may be linked to celiac disease are:
- An increased number of canker sores.
- A red, painful tongue (believed to be due to the inability to properly absorb vitamin b12, folic acid, and iron.)
So yes, your body affects your mouth and your mouth affects your body and there may be times that your physician and your dentist need to work together for your best dental and overall health!
Note: Dr. Robb’s office address will change beginning 12/5/19. The new address is 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Same side of the street but further east (closer to Oberlin Avenue).
Your mouth is part of your body, so it’s logical that what’s in your body can affect your mouth.
We have long known that hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause gums to become inflamed and even create something called a “pregnancy granuloma” which is a swollen area of gum tissue that is painful. Usually these resolve after delivery or childbirth.
From that, we have also discovered that an excess of estrogen can cause gums to be inflamed. (Inflamed gums are also called “gingivitis” and are the first stage of gum disease.)
But male hormones can cause problems too! Excess testosterone has also been linked to inflamed gums and higher levels of phosphorus in your blood stream.
It isn’t only natural hormones that can affect your mouth. Medications you take can affect your mouth and teeth too. One notable one is that people on medications that affect their thyroid can have significant tooth decay problems.
Dilantin (an anti-seizure medication) is one medication that can cause overgrowth of your gums (called gingival hyperplasia). And many medications (too many to name them all) list dry mouth (xerostomia) as a side effect. Dry mouth usually means less spit (saliva) is present, which means less rinsing action around your teeth, which can leave you more vulnerable to tooth decay.
And beta-blocker medications used for heart conditions can interact with soft reline materials for dentures, partials and other dental appliances, causing the need for the reline material to be replaced or redone more often.
If you have questions on the dental implications of your medications, ask your physician, pharmacist or dentist to review your list of medications and then discuss them with you. (If you’re on a long list of medications, it might be better to ask this in advance to allow the healthcare professional time to look up ones they may not be as familiar with before your appointment—or be prepared to make another appointment to go over them.)
*Note: Information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare providers.
If there's anything that makes Alfonso Ribeiro happier than his long-running gig as host of America's Funniest Home Videos, it's the time he gets to spend with his family: his wife Angela, their two young sons, and Alfonso's teenaged daughter. As the proud dad told Dear Doctor–Dentistry & Oral Health magazine, "The best part of being a father is the smiles and the warmth you get from your children."
Because Alfonso and Angela want to make sure those little smiles stay healthy, they are careful to keep on top of their kids' oral health at home—and with regular checkups at the dental office. If you, too, want to help your children get on the road to good oral health, here are five tips:
- Start off Right—Even before teeth emerge, gently wipe baby's gums with a clean, moist washcloth. When the first teeth appear, brush them with a tiny dab of fluoride on a soft-bristled toothbrush. Schedule an age-one dental visit for a complete evaluation, and to help your child get accustomed to the dental office.
- Teach Them Well—When they're first learning how to take care of their teeth, most kids need a lot of help. Be patient as you demonstrate the proper way to brush and floss…over and over again. When they're ready, let them try it themselves—but keep an eye on their progress, and offer help when it's needed.
- Watch What They Eat & Drink—Consuming foods high in sugar or starch may give kids momentary satisfaction…but these substances also feed the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. The same goes for sodas, juices and acidic drinks—the major sources of sugar in many children's diets. If you allow sugary snacks, limit them to around mealtimes—that gives the mouth a chance to recover its natural balance.
- Keep Up the Good Work—That means brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, every single day. If motivation is an issue, encourage your kids by letting them pick out a special brush, toothpaste or floss. You can also give stickers, or use a chart to show progress and provide a reward after a certain period of time. And don't forget to give them a good example to follow!
- Get Regular Dental Checkups—This applies to both kids and adults, but it's especially important during the years when they are rapidly growing! Timely treatment with sealants, topical fluoride applications or fillings can often help keep a small problem from turning into a major headache.
Bringing your kids to the dental office early—and regularly—is the best way to set them up for a lifetime of good checkups…even if they're a little nervous at first. Speaking of his youngest child, Alfonso Ribeiro said "I think the first time he was really frightened, but then the dentist made him feel better—and so since then, going back, it's actually a nice experience." Our goal is to provide this experience for every patient.
If you have questions about your child's dental hygiene routine, call the office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Do you hear the expression “Tinsel Teeth” anymore? It used to be a common phrase used for someone who had braces (or orthodontia if you like big words).
Dental braces are used to straighten and align your teeth. Dental specialists called orthodontists are the ones who usually do braces.
Today, you have several options. Traditional braces bond a metal bracket to the front of your tooth. White brackets or clear brackets are also available for those who want to try to camouflage the bracket. There is even a system that puts the brackets on the inside of your teeth (though I’ve never seen it used). Some newer systems use a series of clear plastic aligners rather than the traditional brackets and wires.
In some cases, for cosmetic work, teeth need to be moved to a new position or space created or evened out between teeth. Orthodontics is the only way to move teeth. (Sometimes cosmetic dentistry can create the illusion of nice, even teeth from certain angles, but, as with all illusions, there are times that the illusion is broken.)
In most cases, if you want braces, you can go right to an orthodontist—though if you do not have a general dentist, the orthodontist might send you to one for a check up and cleaning before the braces are put on. (Some insurances do require a referral from your general dentist for the braces to be covered.)
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist currently located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH but moving to 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053 soon! She does not do braces, but she is accepting new patients for other types of dental care. Call 440-960-1940 to reserve your time today! You can also contact Dr. Robb through her website at www.drjrobb.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb
It's a “change” moment when your child leaves home to attend college for the first time. For many, it's the first time to truly be on their own. While that new autonomy can be exhilarating, it does require self-responsibility to avoid some nasty pitfalls that might snare them.
So, before you bid them adieu at the dorm, be sure to give them some good, old-fashioned parental advice. And that includes teeth and gum care: While it may not seem as urgent as other potential issues, failing to maintain oral health could eventually affect the rest of their health.
The most important thing they can do mouth-wise is to brush and floss every day—and see a dentist at least twice a year. Daily oral hygiene keeps plaque, a thin bacterial film on teeth most responsible for dental disease, from accumulating.
There are other habits that foster good oral health—like eating a well-balanced diet. Encourage them to eat “real” food: less on processed items and more on fresh fruits and vegetables. That includes keeping added sugar to a minimum—not only for good overall health, but to also deprive disease-causing oral bacteria of a favorite food source. And tell them to go easy on the sodas, sports and energy drinks loaded with acid that can damage enamel.
Don't forget to mention lifestyle practices that are best avoided. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption can make the mouth more susceptible to diseases like tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. And even if oral piercings are all the rage on campus, any hardware worn in the mouth could cause chipped teeth and contribute to gum recession.
And if you've already had the “talk” with them, you should still review the facts of life one more time. There just happens to be a connection with this particular subject and their mouth—unsafe sexual practices could leave them vulnerable to the human papilloma virus (HPV16) that could increase their oral cancer risk.
College is both an exciting and challenging time. If your new student follows these timely oral care tips, they can avoid teeth and gum problems that could linger for years to come.
If you would like more information helping your college-bound student maintain good oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Health Tips for College Students.”
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