The Effect of Aging on Dental Health

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, the population of Americans older than 65 years is expected to double to about 71 million by 2040. What’s more, the population of Americans older than 85 years is expected to increase to 9.6 million by 2030. As Americans are living longer and longer, their teeth are expected to last longer too.

Oral health, regardless of age, is integral to overall good health. Failing or missing teeth can contribute to a variety of other serious health problems including poor nutrition, overweight, obesity and related disorders.  If your teeth are not fully functional and you are not able to adequately chew and digest a wide variety of foods, your diet and therefore your overall health will suffer.

This is not good news for the many older Americans who are missing one or more of their teeth.  In fact, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-fourth of persons age 65 and older have no remaining teeth. Nearly one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay.

Maintaining good oral health when you are older requires developing healthy habits when you are young.  If you want to keep your teeth for a lifetime, you have to take care of them throughout your life.  This highlights the importance of educating children about good oral hygiene.  It also highlights the importance of receiving regular dental care throughout all the different stages of your life.  Many times, young professionals and busy parents prioritize their dental care behind other things such as their work, their family and their children’s dental care.  This is not a good idea and can really come back to bite you in the future.  Taking care of your teeth today can help you avoid costly and painful dental problems in the future.

You may think your sixties, seventies and eighties are too far off into the future to worry about today.  However, if you want to increase your chances of keeping your teeth for a lifetime, you better start taking care of them today.  If you have been neglecting your dental health, call and schedule an appointment with your dentist today.  Someday, you will be glad you did!

Posted on Behalf of Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health


Bacteria That Causes Gum Disease May Also Worsen RA

Periodontal (gum) Disease is a chronic infection of the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth.  This common yet serious dental health problem has been associated with a number of other chronic conditions in the body.  A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases in association with an international team of scientists from the European Union’s Gum and Joints program found a link between the bacteria that causes gum disease and worsening Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).  In the study, worsening RA was defined as “earlier onset, faster progression and greater severity of the disease, including increased bone and cartilage destruction.”  This study was published in the journal PLoS Pathogens in September of this year.

Specifically, researchers found that Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that causes gum disease, produces a unique enzyme, peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD) which then enhances collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a form of arthritis similar to RA produced in the lab. The PAD serves to change the residues of certain proteins into citrulline. The body recognizes citullinated proteins as intruders and that, in turn, triggers an immune attack. In patients with RA, the subsequent result is chronic inflammation that destroys bone and cartilage within the joint.

Clearly, more research is needed to confirm the findings of this study and to further develop this important topic.  However, this study just further illustrates the importance of the early detection and treatment of periodontal disease.  In cases of mild periodontal disease (Gingivitis), deep cleanings (scaling and root planing) as well as the use of antimicrobial medication and/or rinses can be used to adequately treat the problem.  In more severe cases (Periodontitis), more aggressive treatment including oral surgery may be necessarily to stop the progression of the disease.

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to visit the dentist regularly for dental cleanings and exams and to practice good daily oral hygiene at home.  Eating a well-balanced diet can also help to prevent the onset of periodontal disease.  In women, certain hormonal changes can trigger periodontal disease.

If you have swollen or red gums or gums that bleed easily, it could be a sign of gum disease.  To protect your long-term oral and overall health, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health


Children and Tooth Decay in the United States

Today in the United States, access to dental care as well as dental education is better than it has ever been.  However, despite these improvements, tooth decay (dental caries) in children in the United States remains a problem for many.  According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of children in the United States have one or more decayed or restored teeth by the age of five.  Additionally, nearly 20% of all children in the United States have between two and four clinically detectable dental caries.  Lastly, by the age of seventeen, 80% of children in America will have one or more teeth with dental caries.

Experts cite lack of fluoride protection, the presence of harmful bacteria in the mouth and poor nutritional habits as major factors contributing to this problem.  So what can be done to prevent tooth decay in children in the United States?  Certainly education can play a large role.  Specifically, educating children about the benefits of good oral hygiene can go along way in preventing this problem.  Children need to be taught the importance of brushing their teeth thoroughly, at least twice-daily and flossing their teeth thoroughly, at least once daily at an early age.  Ideally, this can be taught in the dentist’s office starting with the first dental visit and then reinforced at home by parents.  Sealants and fluoride treatments are also good preventive measures that can be taken to prevent tooth decay in children.  However, in order for this education and preventive services to take place, the child must first have access to the dentist.

If you have children, it is your job as a parent to help your child make good choices that will promote a lifetime of good oral health.  If you have questions about how to prevent dental caries in your children, talk to your dentist today.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health.


Study Finds Dental Health Has Large Affect On Performance of Olympic Athletes

Olympic athletes are used to training hard to achieve their goals.  The physical regimen required to perform at the level of an Olympic athlete is more than most could bear.  However, getting their oral health into shape is not usually a part of an Olympian’s training.  However, that may change in the future due to a new study that was recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In the study, Professor Ian Needleman of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute and his team of researchers recruited a total of 302 athletes from London’s 2012 athlete’s village.  The majority of the athletes were from Europe, Africa and the Americas.  Each athlete was given an oral health checkup and a personal assessment of the impact oral health had on their quality of life as well as their athletic training and performance. Researchers found that 55% of the athletes had dental carries (tooth decay), 75% had Gingivitis (a mild form of gum disease) and 15% had signs of Periodontis (an irreversible gum infection).  Surprisingly, almost half of the Olympic athletes who took part in the study had not visited the dentist for a checkup in over a year.  Even more surprisingly is the fact that 8.7% of the athletes reported that they had never been to a dentist.

In the assessment portion of the study, 42% of athletes said they were “bothered by oral health issues” and 28% reported that it negatively affected their quality of life.  Additionally, 18% reported that they believed that oral health was negatively affecting their training and/or performance. Researchers hypothesize that these negative effects may be caused by pain, inflammation and a loss of confidence associated with dental health problems.  To quote Dr. Needleman, “”Oral health is important for wellbeing and successful elite sporting performance. It is amazing that many professional athletes – people who dedicate a huge amount of time and energy to honing their physical abilities – do not have sufficient support for their oral health needs, even though this negatively impacts on their training and performance.”

The results of this study can also be translated into everyday life.  Even if you are not an Olympic athlete, you are still expected to perform everyday at your job, with your family, at school, etc.  Dental health problems can hold us back from doing the things we need to do and prevent us from enjoying life. The good news is that serious dental health problems are largely preventable.  In most cases, you can achieve optimal oral health by visiting a dentist regularly, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, refraining from smoking or using other tobacco products and practicing good daily oral hygiene (brushing and flossing).  If you have not been to see a dentist in more than six months, schedule a checkup with your dentist today.

Posted on Behalf of Dr. Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health


Do Sugary Treats Really Cause Tooth Decay?

There are only 21 days left until Halloween.  That means that three weeks from now, kids, teenagers and even adults all over the country will be indulging in loads of sugary treats.  Snickers, Sweet Tarts, Airheads, Twizzlers and more;  these are the names we have come to associate with Halloween.  Many parents worry about their children getting cavities from eating all these sweets.  After all, we were all told as children that eating too much sugar causes tooth decay.  But is there really any science to back this up or is it just an old wive’s tale?  The answer to this question is a little more complicated than you might think.

The fact is that tooth decay is not actually caused by sugar, it is caused by bacteria.  But wait a minute, don’t start loading up on the candy and sugary treats just yet.  This harmful bacteria is triggered to make acid whenever you eat anything with carbohydrates, and sugar is a carbohydrate.  Therefore, you can safely say that eating sugar contributes to tooth decay.

However, you do not have to give up sugar completely.  You can reduce your risk of tooth decay after eating sugar or carbohydrates by limiting the amount of time your teeth are exposed to these foods.  You can do this by rinsing your mouth with water after eating sugary foods, by rinsing with a mouthwash or by brushing and flossing your teeth.  This will prevent the sugar from staying on the surfaces of your teeth and triggering the harmful bacteria to form.  Sealants and fluoride treatments are also good preventative measures that can be used to strengthen your teeth and make them less susceptible to decay.

When it comes to candy and other sugary treats, some are more likely to cause tooth decay than others.  Particularly, foods like gummy bears, fruit roll ups and even raisins are more likely to cause tooth decay if they are not removed because they stick to the surfaces of your teeth, bathing them in sugar.

If your child is going Trick-or-Treating on Halloween and will be coming home with bags full of candy, it is important to talk to your child about enjoying sugary treats in moderation and the importance of practicing good oral hygiene after eating candy. Happy Halloween!

Posted on the Behalf of Dr. Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health


Crooked and Missing Teeth: Halloween Costume or Real Life?

It is almost Halloween, that time of year when little ghouls and goblins will roam the streets of neighborhoods all throughout the United States in search of the ultimate sugar high!  Many of these kids will sport fake teeth that are crooked and missing as a part of their costumers.  You know, the kind you had as a kid and put in to scare all of your friends and any nearby adults.  Well, crooked and missing teeth are fine and good when they are part of a Halloween costume, however, for many, they are a part of everyday real life.  In this case, crooked and missing teeth are not very much fun.

Crooked teeth can negatively affect your appearance, your self-esteem and your confidence.  Missing teeth can also negatively affect the way that you feel about yourself and can cause serious dental health problems such as orthodontic relapse (shifting teeth) and periodontal disease.  So if you have crooked or missing teeth, what are your options?

It used to be that traditional braces or porcelain veneers were the only available solutions for crooked teeth.  For many adults, the time, expense and altered appearance associated with metal braces made them an unattractive solution.  Porcelain veneers provided another option but was cost-prohibitive for many.  Today, there are a variety of options available for adults who desire straighter teeth but do not want to put up with the time and expense involved with metal braces or porcelain veneers.  Six Month Smiles® is a good example.  Six Month Smiles® is a short-term orthodontic treatment that enables you to get straighter teeth and a more balanced smile in an average treatment time of just six months utilizing clear braces.  If you desire straighter teeth and do not need major bite changes, this may be a good solution for you.

Now let’s talk about the options for replacing missing teeth.  If you need to replace a single tooth or a few teeth, your options include a partial denture, a conventional bridge or a dental-implant supported crown or bridge .  If you need to replace all of your teeth, your options include traditional full dentures (full plates), dental implant supported dentures or dental implant supported crowns.  These options differ greatly in costs as well as advantages to the patient.  Your dentist can help you determine which option is best suited for you based on your dental history, your lifestyle and your budget.  The important thing is to replace the missing teeth, not which tooth replacement option you choose.  Failure to replace a missing tooth or several missing teeth will put your overall dental health at risk and can negatively affect the health of your remaining teeth.

If crooked or missing teeth are a reality for you, talk to your dentist today about how you can improve both the form and function of your smile with restorative and cosmetic dentistry.  Happy Halloween.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Justin Scott, Pure Dental Health