Periodontal (gum) disease can weaken gum attachment and cause bone deterioration that eventually leads to tooth loss. But its detrimental effects can also extend beyond the mouth and worsen other health problems like heart disease or diabetes.
While the relationship between gum disease and other health conditions isn't fully understood, there does seem to be a common denominator: chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism the body uses to isolate damaged or diseased tissues from healthier ones. But if the infection and inflammation become locked in constant battle, often the case with gum disease, then the now chronic inflammation can actually damage tissue.
Inflammation is also a key factor in conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis. Inflammation contributes to plaque buildup in blood vessels that impedes circulation and endangers the heart. Diabetes-related inflammation can contribute to slower wound healing and blindness.
Advanced gum disease can stimulate the body's overall inflammatory response. Furthermore, the breakdown of gum tissues makes it easier for bacteria and other toxins from the mouth to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body to trigger further inflammation. These reactions could make it more difficult to control any inflammatory condition like diabetes or heart disease, or increase your risk for developing one.
To minimize this outcome, you should see a dentist as soon as possible if you notice reddened, swollen or bleeding gums. The sooner you begin treatment, the less impact it may have on your overall health. And because gum disease can be hard to notice in its early stages, be sure you visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
The most important thing you can do, though, is to try to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place. You can do this by brushing twice and flossing once every day to keep dental plaque, the main trigger for gum disease, from accumulating on tooth surfaces.
Guarding against gum disease will certainly help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. But it could also help protect you from—or lessen the severity of—other serious health conditions.
If you would like more information on preventing and treating 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.”
Located in Albuquerque, NM, Dr. Petra Mayer gives her patients the necessary information to help them maintain a healthy oral regimen, especially when it comes to their gum health—after all, gum infection does damage the gums and destroy the jawbone. Read on to learn more about gum disease and how your Albuquerque dentist can treat the condition!
A Background on Gum Disease
When bacteria attacks the gums and causes painful inflammation, this is termed as gum disease. You may experience a variety of issues as a result of gum disease, including gum recession, bone loss around your teeth, and tooth loss.
The onset of gum disease is related to poor oral hygiene (i.e. disregarding daily brushing/flossing and avoiding bi-annual checkups and cleanings). When a person neglects to take care of their teeth, the rest of their mouth suffers. Additional habits that lead to gum disease include choosing to eat unhealthy, sugar-containing food and regularly using tobacco products.
You may not know you have gum disease at an early stage if you're not visiting your dentist, here are a few symptoms you need to look out for:
- Receding gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Redness or swelling of the gums
- Periodontal abscess
- Loose teeth
In the event of gum disease, there are a few treatment options your doctor may provide you with, including:
- Manually removing plaque by scaling, root planning, or debridement
- Applying antimicrobial products to assist in the healing process of periodontal disease
- Periodontal surgery may be required depending on the severity of your gum disease
Your gums are just as important as any part of your dental/oral health. Improper care may lead to severe issues or diseases as mentioned above. If you have questions or concerns about gum disease or gum disease therapy, call Dr. Petra Mayer at her Albuquerque, NM, office: (505) 881-2400.
When Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell set out to teach her young daughter Ashby how to brush her teeth, she knew the surest path to success would be to make it fun for the toddler.
“The best thing with kids is you have to make everything a game,” Nancy recently said in an interview with Dear Doctor TV. She bought Ashby a timer in the shape of a tooth that ticks for two minutes — the recommended amount of time that should be spent on brushing — and the little girl loved it. “She thought that was super fun, that she would turn the timer on and she would brush her teeth for that long,” Nancy said.
Ashby was also treated to a shopping trip for oral-hygiene supplies with Mom. “She got to go with me and choose the toothpaste that she wanted,” Nancy recalled. “They had some SpongeBob toothpaste that she really liked, so we made it into a fun activity.”
Seems like this savvy mom is on to something! Just because good oral hygiene is a must for your child’s health and dental development, that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a chore. Equally important to making oral-hygiene instruction fun is that it start as early as possible. It’s best to begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they start to appear in infancy. Use a small, soft-bristled, child-sized brush or a clean, damp washcloth and just a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice.
Once your child is old enough to hold the toothbrush and understand what the goal is, you can let him or her have a turn at brushing; but make sure you also take your turn, so that every tooth gets brushed — front, back and all chewing surfaces. After your child turns 3 and is capable of spitting out the toothpaste, you can increase the toothpaste amount to the size of a pea. Kids can usually take over the task of brushing by themselves around age 6, but may still need help with flossing.
Another great way to teach your children the best oral-hygiene practices is to model them yourself. If you brush and floss every day, and have regular cleanings and exams at the dental office, your child will come to understand what a normal, healthy and important routine this is. Ashby will certainly get this message from her mom.
“I’m very adamant about seeing the dentist regularly,” Nancy O’Dell said in her Dear Doctor interview. “I make sure that I go when I’m supposed to go.”
It’s no wonder that Nancy has such a beautiful, healthy-looking smile. And from the looks of things, her daughter is on track to have one, too. We would like to see every child get off to an equally good start!
If you have questions about your child’s oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids” and “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
Dental implants are all the rage. And why not — not only are these tooth replacements life-like and highly functional, they have an amazing 95% ten-year success rate.
Some of that success is due to their unique design. Technically a root replacement, an implant's metal titanium post is surgically placed in the jawbone, where bone grows and adheres to it over time. This creates a strong connection that stands up well to the forces created by biting and chewing.
But there's more to their longevity than design. Success also depends on a careful, planned process that begins long before surgery.
It starts with a detailed oral examination to determine the best placement for the implant. Besides regular x-rays, we may also perform CT scans to create a three-dimensional view of your jaw. With this we can locate and avoid nerves, sinus cavities or other structures near the implant site.
The examination also helps us determine if you've experienced any bone loss, a normal occurrence after tooth loss. Implants require an adequate amount of bone to achieve the best position. A good position ensures future bone integration and the best appearance result.
The same attention to detail extends to the actual surgery to place the implant. We fashion the site to receive the implant by sequentially drilling larger tapered channels until we achieve the right size fit for the implant. During drilling we avoid overheating the bone, which could ultimately weaken and damage the implant's stability.
We'll also need to provide protection for the implant while it integrates with the bone. In most implantations, we do this by suturing the gum tissue over the implant. We take a different approach with a “Tooth in a Day” procedure where we attach a crown (the visible portion of the tooth) right after implant surgery. In this case we'll install a crown (which is actually temporary) that's a little shorter than the adjacent teeth. The natural teeth around it will absorb the forces produced while chewing and not the implant crown.
Focusing on these and other factors will greatly reduce the risk of implant failure. Paying careful attention to them helps ensure your new smile is a lasting one.
If you would like more information on dental implants to restore your smile, 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 “Dental Implants: A Tooth Replacement Method That Rarely Fails.”
There are multiple benefits to choosing dental implants for replacement of missing teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace individual missing teeth or they can be used in conjunction with bridgework and overdentures to replace multiple teeth simultaneously. Dr. Petra Mayer is your periodontist for dental implants in Albuquerque, NM.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants provide an innovative solution for restoring your smile. Dental implants are metal posts that resemble screws. They are inserted into the jawbone and will fuse with the bone over time for a secure hold. Once fused with the bone, dental implants can securely anchor artificial teeth in place much like roots support natural teeth. Individual dental implants can be capped with dental crowns to replace solitary teeth. Dental implants can also replace several teeth at a time when topped with bridgework or overdentures.
Benefits of Dental Implants
The gaps created by missing teeth can pose a range of potential concerns beyond an incomplete smile. Teeth provide support for the facial muscles and promote proper placement of the tongue when speaking. Gaps from missing teeth can result in sagging and drooping of the facial muscles, which can alter the natural contours of the face. Additionally, gaps can affect the placement of the tongue when speaking, which can alter speech. Filling in the gaps with dental implants can restore facial contours and improve speech.
Tooth functioning can also be affected when teeth are missing. Without a full set of teeth, biting and chewing functions are not distributed evenly across all teeth. The remaining teeth must take on the additional work of biting and chewing for the missing teeth, which puts additional strain on the remaining teeth and can lead to more wear and tear than normal. Using dental implants to fill in the gaps from missing teeth helps to rebalance the work of biting and chewing. Your periodontist for dental implants in Albuquerque can help you decide if they are right for you.
Dental implants offer multiple benefits, from filling in the gaps from missing teeth to restoring the natural contours of your face. A periodontist can help you decide if dental implants are the right tooth replacement choice for you. For dental implants in Albuquerque, NM, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mayer by calling the office at (505) 881-2400.
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