Monsters in your Mouth

Recent data released from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) shows that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Except for accidents, each of these causes of death can be linked to proteins, enzymes, and bacteria that can be found in the oral cavity. Thus, six of the seven leading causes of death in the US are chronic diseases that have been associated with conditions in the oral cavity.

Heart Disease

Inflammation in the mouth may be correlated to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that patients with periodontal disease are up to 35% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than patients with healthy gums. Inflammation in the body changes the elasticity of arteries and will increase plaque accumulation in these arteries causing them to narrow.

Cancer

Researchers at San Diego State University found that patients with pancreatic cancer have significantly higher levels of two types of bacteria in the mouth than patients without pancreatic cancer. It has also been noted that men with periodontal disease are 30% more likely to develop cancer of the blood than patients with normal gum tissue and also have an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

Bacteria in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lower airways causing lung infections which can lead to pneumonia. If a patient has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a lung infection can greatly worsen their condition and lead to severe circumstances.

Stroke

Those with severe periodontal disease are 4.5 times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than those with normal gums. Strokes can also be a result of obstructive sleep apnea. It has been found that 92% of everyone with a stroke has sleep apnea. A dental exam and history can give the dentist an indication if sleep apnea is present and can refer you for proper diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A case study in Japan found that the loss of more than half of adult teeth by age 50 to 60 may correlate with a 2.6 fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease. Another study of 144 participants having few or no teeth showed that the risk of dementia increased 4.3 fold.

Diabetes

Studies have shown that diabetic patients with severe periodontal disease are at a 3.2 fold increased risk of diabetic neuropathy and ischemic heart disease. Periodontal treatment can reduce health complications for patients with type II diabetes, which can reduce annual health care costs by approximately 40%.

In the past, most of the evidence supporting the oral-systemic link was based on retrospective studies. Over the past two years, studies have emerged to provide evidence to the link. The connection between the mouth and body is undeniable. If you would like to have more information about the oral-systemic link , or if you have any concerns bout your own health, we would be glad to discuss your oral condition with you.

References will be supplied by request.

Deep Bites (Overbite) and Tooth Problems

Since practicing here for the last six and a half years, I have made some observations concerning the oral health of patients, in particular deep bites, and would like to pass on these following important facts about the mouth. We want you to be healthy and happy and maintain your teeth in good health!

The way your teeth are aligned and fit together is called your occlusion or bite. Teeth that don’t fit together properly are in malocclusion. One of the most harmful malocclusions is a deep bite. Unfortunately, many people with a deep bite have straight teeth and are under the assumption that their teeth are fine. This is a common misconception.

Deep bites cause numerous problems which usually take years to develop. The majority of people with deep bites suffer some TMD (TMJ) symptoms. These are usually headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and sore throat on one side. The headaches are usually over the sinus areas, fanning out over the side of the face, or in the back of the head at the base of the skull. A lot of times people call these sinus or tension headaches.

Also, deep bites put tremendous pressure on the molars causing these teeth to suffer fractures (cracks). The majority of people with deep bites have large fillings in the molars, or have crowns, or are missing the molars due to breakage.

Treating a deep bite can actually save you money and may increase your quality of life by reducing or eliminating headaches. Proper occlusion is important for proper function. If the bones in your body were not aligned properly, your body would eventually have problems. Well, your teeth are a part of your body, and like bones, need to be aligned properly or problems will arise. Research has shown that a healthy mouth is necessary for a healthy body.

Artificial Sweeteners

Researchers at the University of Texas Science Center in San Antonio studied the relationship between artificial sweeteners (AS) and weight gain and obesity.  Their research showed that AS may be causing weight gain rather than fighting it.  Your body needs calories to feel satisfied and it likes the calories from sweet things.  Since AS have no calories and are 200 to thousands of times sweeter than sugar, your body will crave more high caloric foods to feel satisfied so you will eat more than you need.  All of these excess calories are stored in your body as fat.

Another study of 9,500 people showed that those who drank one can of diet soda a day had a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (risk factors that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes) than those who didn’t drink diet sodas.  The authors have called for more research on this relationship.

This is good food for thought if you are worried about weight issues, and I hope it leads you to further research the issue.  My next blog will be about energy drinks, sodas, and tooth decay.

Sleep Apnea: Positive Results with CPAP

Aside

We are getting great feedback from our patients that have chosen to wear a sleep apnea and anti-snoring dental appliance.  Most of the comments center around how much better they feel and how much more energetic they are.  We are trilled to be able to offer this service to those who are CPAP intolerant, but who recognize the health risks associated with sleep apnea.  If you or anyone you know has concerns about sleep apnea, please talk to your physician or ask our office so we can direct you to get proper treatment.

Sleep Apnea & CPAP

I used to be under the impression that sleep apnea only affected overweight and older individuals, and that the only harm it caused was difficulty sleeping for the affected persons partner. However, after reading about the research delving into the harm of improper sleep, I decided to learn more about this condition and discovered how wrong I was about sleep apnea.  It is proven to be a cause of heart disease and stroke.

Sleep apnea affects all ages; children, men and women of any size or weight.  The shape and condition of the mouth and throat is the major contributor of sleep apnea.  A person who grinds their teeth and has GERD (reflux) is more than likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea.  Some sleep researchers are postulating that ADHD in children is cause by sleep apnea.

The gold standard treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP.  However, not everyone can tolerate a CPAP.  Our office has been making FDA approved appliances for CPAP intolerant patients for awhile.  In fact, I wear one for apnea.  If you are concerned that you or someone you know has apnea, our office would be happy to assist you in getting a sleep study to diagnose this problem.  If you are CPAP intolerant, we would be happy to assist you in getting fitted for an oral appliance.  Please call for more information.

One Day Only, Special on Night Guards and Take Home Whitening

We ran a special at the end of last year, into this year…50% off Nightguards… Being that Dr.Yorgey will be continuing his education this Thursday and Friday, we have something for ya’ll… this Friday, March 8th we have 50% off nightguards AND 50% off take home whitening!!! ONE DAY ONLY!! Call for an appointment today, 804-932-5396!!

Dental X-rays: Harmful or Media Hype?

I am certain you have heard the news stories about the study that has associated dental x-rays with the increased risk of developing meningioma, a type of brain cancer. How valid is this study?

The authors of this study did not perform any clinical research other than to interview patients who had developed meningioma.  The patients were asked to recall everything about their health, and the major memories they had in common were of dental x-rays. Scientifically, this is an unreliable method for a study because it is based on “recall bias“.  Also, since this was an older population group, any radiation they received from dental x-rays was far greater than what is used today.  Digital x-rays, which we use, results in very low and very short exposure.  Background radiation, which we all are exposed to every second of our lives, is much more than you will receive from dental x-rays.

We use x-rays to look at bone levels around teeth, check for lesions in the bone, and look for decay between teeth.  Finding problems early can prevent major problems later.  For more information, go to www.ada.org.