Emergency Dental Care

Could Poor Dental Health Signal a Faltering Mind?

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A group of dental practitioners from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were determined to learn whether oral health had any connection with cognitive skills. Following a study, the researchers found a possible connection. For every tooth loss or when suffering from gum disease, people seem to suffer a loss of cognitive function. The findings of the study was published in “The Journal of the American Dental Association.”

The researchers gathered data from 6,000 participants aged 45 to 64. Each volunteer was evaluated for the condition of their oral health. Additionally, each was required to take tests that revealed their memory and cognitive skills. The massive amount of data gathered required two years to analyze.

Basic Findings

Of all the study participants, nearly 800 no longer had any remaining natural teeth. Approximately 1,200 of the individuals had fewer than 20 of their remaining natural teeth. More than 700 of the volunteers had visible gum bleeding and oral infection problems.

The cognitive tests were designed to evaluate word fluency, word recall, and number skills. Individuals who had no natural teeth scored lower than all of the other volunteers. Individuals who had substantial tooth loss and gum disease scored lower than the participants who had most or all of their teeth and no evidence of gum disease.

Correlations Between Dental Health and Cognitive Ability

After gathering all of the pertinent subject information, the researchers studied the data in an attempt to find possible connections between oral health and cognition. Poor diet may have contributed to the poor oral health in many of the study participants. Unhealthy dietary choices might have included foods high in fat and sugar while being void of vital nutrients and antioxidants, which then would contribute to cognitive loss.

Conversely, poor oral health may have forced the volunteers to limit food choices that were not especially healthy. Another theory involved the possibility that untreated gum disease, inflammation and infection spread through the blood stream, to the brain and caused problems with thinking ability. General systemic inflammation might have contributed to both poor oral health and cognitive loss.

Cautionary Tale 

While there seems to be a relationship between oral health and mental ability, more information is needed to determine the factors that created the cause and effect along with any long-term consequences. However, the public benefits from knowing that taking care of their teeth and gums throughout the duration of their lives may also ensure healthy long-term cognitive health.

Common Oral Health Problems

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A healthy mouth and positive oral health is good for the body and important for a person’s overall health. This includes taking care of the mouth, gums, and teeth and this is a goal that’s worthy in and of itself. Maintaining good oral health can help to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and even bad breath. It also is key to in order to help keep teeth in older age. Although no one likes to have dental health problems, many are easily treated and preventable with proper oral hygiene habits, a good diet, and regular visits to the dentist. Some of the most common oral problems are:

Bad Breath

Bad breath in the chronic form is known as halitosis. This is caused many times by oral problems such as cavities, gum disease, and bacteria.

Tooth Decay

Next to the common cold, in the United States, tooth decay is the second most prevalent disease. Tooth decay can be caused by plaque buildup, which can be treated and even prevented with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.  Continue reading

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

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Oral cancer is a serious condition categorized by a wide variety of symptoms and locales within the mouth. Cancer begins as a cellular problem in which reproduction experiences some sort of malfunction, either in the form of extraneous cell growth or cells that don’t die as they should. In either case, the buildup of these damaged cells creates a growth called a tumor. Tumors can be either benign, in which case they aren’t a threat to life and can often be removed with ease, or they can be malignant, in which case they can spread to other areas and constitute a legitimate threat to your health.

Risk Factors

There are certain activities that increase the likelihood of a patient developing oral cancer. These risk factors include the use of tobacco products, which isn’t limited to smoking. Chewing tobacco is just as harmful, if not more so, than smoking tobacco. Continue reading

More Americans Head To the ER for Dental Emergencies

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When you suffer from unexpected pain and can’t see your regular doctor, your first instinct is likely to visit the emergency room. The Health Policy Institute found that the number of patients visiting the ER for a dental problem increased by 4% between 1997 and 2007. The same organization also found that more than 1% of all ER visits in a single year occurred because of dental pain or dental problems. While you might think that the doctors working in the emergency room can treat your problem and make the pain disappear, there is little that those doctors can actually do.

What Can ER Doctors Do?

If you break your leg in an accident at home, the doctor working in the emergency room will give you something for the pain, set your leg and send you home with some medication. Those doctors have lots of experience with people suffering from various medical conditions, but the doctors on staff do not have experience treating dental conditions. You may receive a prescription painkiller designed to numb some of the pain that you feel, but the hospital may only give you a mild painkiller. If the doctor discovers any inflammation in your mouth, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic and recommend that you see a dentist as soon as possible. Continue reading

Are Cavities Contagious?

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You would be surprised to know that cavities are contagious. Cavities are permanent small holes in a tooth and are a result of tooth decay. There are three types of cavities, which are coronal and root cavities, and recurrent decay. The hole can get bigger if it is not repaired and treated. This can become a serious matter that can not only destroy the tooth, but can also kill delicate nerves. A sticky, slimy film called plaque causes cavities, but it is a combination of factors that causes it. Bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, eating carbohydrates and drinking sugary drinks, and not cleaning teeth well, allow the bacteria to produce acids that stick to plaque and then attack tooth enamel. Plaque accumulates on teeth as soon as 20 minutes after eating. Tooth decay can begin quickly and cavities can be contagious. Continue reading

Dental Care Safe for Pregnant Women

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Trying for a little one? Now is the time to get your teeth thoroughly checked and treated. While regular dental care can be provided during the second trimester of pregnancy, it should be avoided during the first trimester and the latter part of the third trimester. Therefore, making sure to visit your dentist before there is a bun in the oven should be a priority.

However, oral hygiene and dental care are important to keep up during pregnancy. Do to the influx of high amounts of hormones, pregnant women are at risk for developing gum disease, or pregnancy gingivitis. Regular brushing and flossing habits and coming in for a routine cleaning will go a long way towards preventing problems. Continue reading

Treating Gum Disease

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Gum disease is an oral condition often caused by poor oral hygiene, genetic predispositions or medical illness. It manifests itself with swollen gums and inflammation of the oral tissues. If left untreated, it can lead to premature tooth loss, medical complications and infections of several organs within the body.

The Causes of Gum Disease

Several factors can affect the health of the gums and teeth. The most common reasons are as follow:

1. Poor Oral Hygiene – It is the leading cause for gum disease. Improper oral habits, along with sporadic care at home and lack of professional cleanings, result in excessive amounts of plaque and tartar accumulations and harboring of bacteria.

2. Poor Nutrition – Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar accelerate the microbial formations in the mouth often affecting the health of the gums as well as the tooth structure and may lead to rampant decay.

3. Medications – Medically compromised patients are frequently administered drugs that produce several side effects including deterioration of the positive oral flora.  Continue reading

Medication Side Effects and Your Oral Health

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Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can adversely affect your oral health. This includes herbal remedies, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the side effects can be:

Dry mouth
When your mouth is dry, your soft tissues can become inflamed and vulnerable to infections. Since your saliva also cleanses your mouth, you may be more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. Although increasing your water intake may help, you may still be susceptible to infection.

Swollen or enlarged gums
When gums are swollen or enlarged, they may be painful and require more attention than normal in order to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Bleeding
If you are taking blood thinners or anticoagulants, you should notify your dentist of this before undergoing any oral surgery. Since your blood will be less likely to clot, you could bleed excessively.
Continue reading

How to Soothe Painful Mouth Burns

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Eagerly biting into a steaming hot entree or quickly sipping a fresh cup of coffee can spell disaster for your mouth. Mouth burns can be excruciating. The thin, delicate layer of skin inside the mouth offers no real protection from heat, as it scorches vulnerable nerve endings. When the initial shock from the burn wears off, pain still may linger. Follow these simple directives to soothe irritating burns:

1.) First, determine the severity of the burn.

Symptoms of a first degree burn:

  • pain
  • redness
  • dryness
  • slight swelling

In a first degree burn the top layer of skin is affected, it may begin to peel within three to five days.

Symptoms of a second degree burn:

  • severe pain
  • redness
  • blistering

A second degree burn injures the first few layers of skin and has a higher risk of infection. Continue reading

The Top Reasons we Avoid the Dentist

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Every time you leave the dentist, you are encouraged to schedule a six month appointment; however, you may be one of the many people who avoid going to the dentist regularly, if at all. There are many reasons why people avoid the dentist, and none of them are beneficial for your dental hygiene. It is important that you always keep your gums and teeth healthy and clean. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that one out of seven adults living in the United States have untreated tooth decay and gum disease. Even with statistics such as these, many people will avoid visiting the dentist, for various reasons.
Fear

The most common reason why people avoid the dentist is due to fear. You may be afraid of being reprimanded by your dentist. If you have chosen a friendly dentist, he will always make you feel comfortable, regardless if you have missed appointments or not. Keep in mind that when your oral care provider goes over the reasons why you should not skip out on appointments, this is in your best interest.  Continue reading