Posts for category: Oral Health
“No man is an island….” So wrote the poet John Donne four centuries ago. And while he meant the unity of humanity, the metaphor could equally apply to the interdependence of the various parts of the human body, including the mouth. According to recent scientific research, your mouth isn’t an “island” either.
Much of this research has focused on periodontal (gum) disease, an infection most often caused by bacterial plaque that triggers inflammation in the gum tissues. Although an important part of the body’s defenses, if the inflammation becomes chronic it can damage the gums and weaken their attachment to the teeth. Supporting bone may also deteriorate leading eventually to tooth loss.
Avoiding that outcome is good reason alone for treating and controlling gum disease. But there’s another reason—the possible effect the infection may have on the rest of the body, especially if you have one or more systemic health issues. It may be possible for bacteria to enter the bloodstream through the diseased gum tissues to affect other parts of the body or possibly make other inflammatory conditions worse.
One such condition is diabetes, a disease which affects nearly one person in ten. Normally the hormone insulin helps turn dietary sugars into energy for the body’s cells. But with diabetes either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the available insulin can’t metabolize sugar effectively. The disease can cause or complicate many other serious health situations.
There appears to be some links between diabetes and gum disease, including that they both fuel chronic inflammation. This may explain why diabetics with uncontrolled gum disease also often have poor blood sugar levels. Conversely, diabetics often have an exaggerated inflammatory response to gum disease bacteria compared to someone without diabetes.
The good news, though, is that bringing systemic diseases like diabetes under control may have a positive effect on the treatment of gum disease. It may also mean that properly treating gum disease could also help you manage not only diabetes, but also other conditions like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Taking care of your teeth and gums may not only bring greater health to your mouth, but to the rest of your body as well.
If you would like more information on treating dental diseases like gum disease, 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 “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
Although preventable, the occurrences of tooth decay are all too common. Yet decay doesn’t appear out of the blue: certain mouth conditions set the disease in motion.
Here are a few signs of such conditions to watch for — they could be telling you you’re at higher risk for tooth decay.
Visible plaque. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria and food accumulating on tooth surfaces and a prime haven for causing periodontal disease. If you actually see it — a crusty, yellowish film — that means there’s a large, unhealthy amount of it. It’s essential to remove it daily through diligent brushing and flossing and more thorough office cleanings at least twice a year.
Poor saliva flow. One of this bodily fluid’s functions is to neutralize mouth acid, usually thirty minutes to an hour after we eat. If saliva flow is inadequate, though, acid levels may remain high and endanger the enamel. “Dry mouth” can occur from a number of causes, including some medications and chemotherapy treatments. It’s important to alleviate the cause if possible by changing medications or stimulating saliva flow through other means.
Tooth shape and appliances. Largely determined by heredity, your teeth contain unique, tiny grooves known as pits and fissures that could harbor plaque. Certain appliances like retainers, braces or night guards can inhibit saliva flow and cause your teeth to retain more plaque. It’s important then to adjust your hygiene efforts to offset these anatomical or treatment factors.
Acid-producing conditions. Diseases like gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or eating disorders can introduce stomach acid into the mouth that is highly erosive to tooth enamel. It’s imperative for you or a family member to control these conditions through medication, dietary changes, or — in the case of eating disorders — behavioral therapy.
Eating habits. Sugar and other carbohydrates are a ready food source for bacteria. Likewise, acidic foods and beverages (like coffee, tea, and sports or energy drinks) can cause high acid levels for too long. Cut back on eating and drinking these foods and beverages, especially as snacks, to reduce acid levels that could lead to decay.
If you would like more information on strategies to prevent tooth decay, 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 “Tooth Decay: How to Assess Your Risk.”
Keeping Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Healthy teeth mean a healthy body, and good oral hygiene is important for your health and longevity just like eating well and exercise.
Children and adults alike need to take great care of their teeth for optimal health and happiness, and Dr. Paul Nguyen at Nguyen Dental in Prairieville can help you maintain your smile.
Here are the best ways to practice preventative dental care and keep up your oral hygiene:
Frequent teeth brushing, at least twice a day or after meals, is critical in preventing the build up of plaque and development of cavities. Make sure to use a soft bristled brush and cover every area of your teeth, including along the gum line.
Many people complain about flossing, but it is an important, easy and quick way to ensure your oral health. Make sure to floss between every tooth to remove food particles, which can develop into bacteria and decay if left in place.
Sugary foods are tasty but not so great for your teeth. Your Prairieville dentist suggest keeping sweetened foods to a minimum, and consuming fresh, crunchy vegetables and other healthy foods. Make sure to also drink plenty of water to keep food from lingering on the surface of your teeth.
Ask Dr. Paul Nguyen at our Prairieville office about using a rinse if you are experiencing chronic bad breath or could benefit from additional fluoride. Your dentist can recommend an over the counter or therapeutic rinse to accommodate your specific dental needs.
Deep cleanings and examinations
Make sure to schedule regular deep cleanings and exams with your dentist at our Prairieville office. A professional cleaning is important for removing any tartar from your teeth, and an examination allows your dentist to locate and treat any cavities that may have formed. In addition, your dentist will take occasional x-rays to ensure the health of your teeth.
By practicing good oral hygiene at home and keeping up with visits at Nguyen Dental in Prairieville, LA, you can experience lifelong dental health. Call us today at (225) 673-1647.
If you allow plaque to build upon your teeth and gums, it will eventually develop into the first stage of gum disease; gingivitis. You will notice that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis will soon develop into periodontitis. By now, your gums will have begun to recede, and your teeth may become loose. You can avoid all this if you know the right way to fight gum disease. Dr. Paul Nguyen provides a full range of dental services to residents of Prairieville, LA.
Weapons for Fighting Gum Disease
Here is everything you need to protect yourself from gum disease:
- A quality toothbrush: You need a toothbrush that can remove bacteria from your mouth. Choose a flexible brush that can reach in the corners and behind teeth and one that has a tongue and cheek cleaner. Medium bristles are a good choice. You should replace your toothbrush with a new one every three months.
- The right toothpaste: Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride and also has active ingredients to kill bacteria and help prevent plaque build-up. When you’re brushing your teeth, make sure that you clean every surface and above your gum line.
- The right floss: If you want a floss that won’t shred as you are using it, choose a PTFE or nylon floss to clean the spaces between your teeth. If you find flossing difficult, you can try a water flosser to make it easier.
- A healthy mouthwash: The best mouthwash is one that contains antibacterial ingredients to help combat gingivitis while it is freshening your breath.
As well as maintaining a healthy oral routine at home, regular dentist visits are an important part of your oral health. You should visit your dentist at least every six months.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Prairieville, LA, call Dr. Nguyen in Prairieville on (225) 673-1647 today. He can help treat gum disease and show you how to prevent it from recurring.
Tara Lipinski loves to smile. And for good reason: The Olympic-gold medalist has enjoyed a spectacular career in ladies' figure skating. Besides also winning gold in the U.S. Nationals and the Grand Prix Final, in 1997 Lipinski became the youngest skater ever to win a World Figure Skating title. Now a sports commentator and television producer, Lipinski still loves to show her smile—and counts it as one of her most important assets. She also knows the importance of protecting her smile with daily hygiene habits and regular dental care.
Our teeth endure a lot over our lifetime. Tough as they are, though, they're still vulnerable to disease, trauma and the effects of aging. To protect them, it's essential that we brush and floss every day to remove bacterial plaque—that thin accumulating film on teeth most responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
To keep her smile in top shape and reduce her chances of dental disease, Lipinski flosses and brushes daily, the latter at least twice a day. She also uses a tongue scraper, a small handheld device about the size of a toothbrush, to remove odor-causing bacteria and debris from the tongue.
Lipinski is also diligent about visiting the dentist for professional cleanings and checkups at least twice a year because even a dedicated brusher and flosser like her can still miss dental plaque that can then harden into tartar. Dental hygienists have the training and tools to clear away any lingering plaque and tartar that could increase your disease risk. It's also a good time for the dentist to check your teeth and gums for any developing problems.
The high pressure world of competitive figure skating and now her media career may also have contributed to another threat to Lipinski's smile: a teeth-grinding habit. Teeth grinding is the unconscious action—often while asleep—of clenching the jaws together and producing abnormally high biting forces. Often a result of chronic stress, teeth grinding can accelerate tooth wear and damage the gum ligaments attached to teeth. To help minimize these effects, Lipinski's dentist created a custom mouthguard to wear at night. The slick plastic surface of the guard prevents the teeth from generating any damaging biting forces when they clench together.
The importance of an attractive smile isn't unique to celebrities and media stars like Tara Lipinski. A great smile breeds confidence for anyone—and it can enhance your career, family and social relationships. Protect this invaluable asset with daily oral hygiene, regular dental visits and prompt treatment for disease or trauma.