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Why Seeing Your Dentist Might Be Your Most Important Check Up Of The Year!

Everyone is vulnerable to dental infections because bacteria lurking in your mouth cause tooth decay and gum disease. Most people don’t know they have infections because pain and other symptoms don’t happen until your problem is advanced. Unchecked dental infections can become quite dangerous: eating through the skin in your neck, choking off your airway, migrating to your heart, burrowing into your brain or yes, even killing you!

Your teeth might be whiter than ever before thanks to an abundance of tooth whitening kits, but your bright smile might conceal other problems. One third of adults have advanced gum disease called periodontitis, more than 90% have tooth decay, and 30% of those over age 65 have kept none of their own teeth. These numbers are likely to increase as more Americans lose their dental insurance and don’t put a premium on continuing professional dental care, leaving behind a silent epidemic of oral problems that threaten their health.

Cavities in your tooth start out small and continue to grow. Early stage cavities don’t hurt, and you may not even know you have one. As cavities grow, part of your tooth may break off or you may experience sensitivity to sweet things. If you let a cavity go too long, it infects your tooth’s nerve. From your tooth, the infection can move into your jaw and from there into your neck, face or brain. These infections must be treated with either a root canal or removal of your tooth. Antibiotics or getting a filling will NOT make the tooth infection go away.

Gum infections start out as gingivitis with red and swollen gums and worsen into periodontitis. Most gum infections are painless but cause loss of bone and gum tissue around your teeth. Your immune system will try to fight this infection to keep bacteria from spreading to other parts of your body. When it fails, gum disease bacteria can enter your bloodstream and move to your arteries and heart. The resulting inflammation releases infection-fighters that may damage other parts of your body such as your heart and lungs. By the time most people are bothered by gum infections, so much bone and gum tissue has been lost that you cannot save the tooth and must have it removed.

Pregnant women who have advanced gum infections are about four (4) times more likely to deliver a premature, low birth-weight baby. They also face increased risk of preeclampsia, a condition where the mother’s blood pressure skyrockets after the 20th week, threatening the lives of both mother and child.

The good news is that regular brushing and flossing coupled with seeing your dentist regularly should nip any problems in the bud. In addition to tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease, your dentist can often spot signs of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, skin diseases, and autoimmune diseases during your dental exam.

If you do not have a dentist, I invite you to become part of my dental practice in Lorain, Ohio. Call 440-960-1940.

*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.