January 10, 2017
It seems like everytime I flipped through a dental journal I read about another study showing us the dangerous overall health effects of gum disease, often called periodontal disease. Several years ago, we dentists discovered that gum disease was linked to heart disease and diabetes. Then it was alzheimer’s. The list went on and on.
Most recently, researchers have been looking at a link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that patients with gum disease had high amounts of citrullinated proteins in their saliva. Those with rheumatoid arthritis have an immune response citrullinated proteins. There is no cause-and-effect relationship between these two diseases, at least not that we’ve found yet. But it’s interesting to see how widespread gum disease is.
Today I want to cover some of the problems you can face when you struggle with gum disease. We’ll also review a few ways you can resolve the problem before it balloons into something extremely serious.
Gum Disease is More About Red, Swollen Tissue
Gum disease is a widespread oral health issue that will affect more than 50 percent of Americans. That’s a huge number, and no one is immuned from gum disease, so you need to arm yourself with information.
The first signs of gum disease are swollen or bleeding gums, but it’s possible to have gum disease and show no physical signs. There are different levels of gum disease, with gingivitis being the most common. In its later stages, gum disease will become full-blown periodontics. Unfortunately, gingivitis is the only form of gum disease that is curable. If you have periodontitis, you’ll need dental care for the rest of your life. We recommend that patients with periodontal disease visit our office about once every three to four months for checkups.
Perhaps one of the scariest facts about gum disease is that is the leading cause of tooth loss. Most people assume that tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth loss, but it’s not. Gum disease can spread throughout the mouth quickly and with little warning. If left untreated, gum disease will destroy the gums and the bone surrounding the tooth’s socket. When the bone around the tooth is compromised, it’s highly possible that the tooth will begin to fail.
You Are Your Best Defense Against Gum Disease
Regular cleanings are a great time to check the state of your teeth and gums. We don’t just look at the health of the teeth; we also check your gums for signs of gum disease. Outside of the office, you can maintain great gum health by flossing regularly. Some people think that flossing is optional, but you cannot consider your mouth clean when you skip flossing.
Consider this ratio: About 35 to 40 percent of the tooth is beneath the gums. A toothbrush cannot reach those areas effectively. The only way to properly clean beneath the gums is with floss. Flossing will take maybe 30 seconds, but look at what you gain. You greatly reduce your risk of gum disease and the harmful overall health illnesses that rub elbows with gum disease.
We can help you monitor your teeth and gums. Call our office today at 504-264-6461 to visit our office.
June 17, 2015
It wasn’t until relatively very recently that your options for addressing the aesthetic, physical, and psychological damage caused by missing teeth were fairly limited. You could either get conventional dentures, or a bridge, depending on the nature of your specific problem. Losing your teeth, even just one, is enough to change your life forever, and usually for the worse. Conventional treatments (dentures and bridges), while still effective, don’t really offer much. Your bite strength, which is critical to your ability to chew and speak properly, won’t improve much; for example, conventional dentures only give you back 10% to 20% of your bite strength back after you’ve lost teeth.
Fortunately, today you have a third option: dental implants. Dental implants are about as close as you’re going to get to replacing missing teeth with actual teeth. With dental implants, there will be no compromise to your ability to speak or chew properly, they’re discrete, perfectly replicating the appearance of your natural teeth, and they will last a lifetime (your implant fuses with your jawbone, and it literally becomes a part of you).
In our Marrero, LA dental practice, we get a lot of inquiries from patients looking for a permanent, no-hassle, no compromise solution for missing teeth. Dental implants certainly fit the bill, but not everyone can receive dental implants. You must be at a certain level of oral and general health, because getting dental implants is a surgical procedure, and because the dental implant is less likely to fail in a healthy body and mouth (the chances of this are very small for those with suitable health profiles).
Do You Have What It Takes?
It should first be noted that these “requirements” are flexible, and in many cases, your dentist will be able to repair problems that would otherwise prevent you from getting dental implants. A consultation with your dentist is the only way to know for sure if you can get dental implants.
The Condition of Your General Health
Your general health comes into play, because dental implants are placed surgically. Bridges and dentures are, in a sense, appliances you wear; dental implants owe their effectiveness to the fact that they are embedded into the jawbone, under the gums, where eventually the implant fuses with the bone as it undergoes osseointegration (part of the normal healing process, your jawbone grows around the implant, holding it permanently, firmly in place).
From a health perspective, this means you must be well enough and able to tolerate general anesthesia. Getting dental implants is a lengthy surgical procedure, and you need to be “under” for it. Some people simply don’t tolerate general anesthesia, and complications can even be life-threatening in some cases. If you know that you don’t tolerate general anesthesia, make sure your dentist knows so that it can be factored in to the decision-making process.
You must also be free of serious disease. Because everyone’s health is unique, what defines a “serious disease” for one person might be different for another. However, certain diseases seem to universally present problems for people who want dental implants. These include:
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Type II Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
As stated above, just having one of these diseases does not necessarily “disqualify” you from getting dental implants, but they should still be a major part of the discussion. For example, the most frequent cause of tooth loss in the US is advanced gum disease; it destroys your oral tissues and degrades the bone in your jaw, leading to loose teeth which may fall out, or require extraction. There is a strong link between diabetes and gum disease: if you have one, the chances are high you have the other.
The Condition of Your Oral Health
For many people who are interested in dental implants, having the right level of oral health is often a challenge; like we said, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, and its effects can have a negative impact on your ability to successfully undergo implantation, and your ability to support the implant in your body without a relatively high risk of failure. However, there are certain things your dentist can do to help. For example, if your jawbone has been weakened by gum disease, you may be able to get a bone graft (the placement of bone in your jaw from elsewhere in your body).
In addition to being in good oral and general health, you must be a fully grown adult to receive dental implants. There are no exceptions to this rule; a dental implant placed in a mouth that is still growing, developing, and taking shape is the equivalent of putting a wine glass in a cement mixer: implant failure is a certainty.
If you are a smoker, you should quit if you want dental implants. Smoking isn’t a great idea in general, but in the context of dental implants, smoking retards the healing process which is important to the long-term success of the dental implant. Smoking can also cause postoperative complications, and smoking also contributes to a condition called bruxism (known more commonly as “teeth grinding”). Bruxism puts a lot of stress on your teeth as well as implants, to the point where it can threaten the viability of the implants.
This isn’t limited to the period before or during your implantation; smoking while you have dental implants increases the chance of implant failure considerably.
Interested In Dental Implants?
The only way to know if dental implants are right for you is to call us and make an appointment for an exam and consultation. Your dentist will want to discuss your entire health history in addition to checking the condition of your teeth, jaws, and gums to make a final recommendation.
If you have missing teeth, the problems will only get worse: don’t delay, call today!
Dial 504-264-6461 to reach our front desk, or click here to access our online appointment form and book your visit right now!