Gum Disease Linked to Alzheimer’s

alzheimersYour mouth is the gateway into your body and at Start Smiling Dental we have always stressed the importance of preventative care.   Poor home care, genetics, and lack of dental care can lead to Periodontal (gum) disease, which can not only lead to tooth loss but other health issues as well.  We’ve known for a while that gum disease can contribute to cardiovascular (heart) disease and the progression of diabetes. Now, there is also evidence linking it to Alzheimer’s disease.

What causes periodontal (gum) disease?

A bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), is one of the causes of gum disease. These bacteria cause your gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. As it advances, toxins produced by the bacteria cause a chronic inflammatory response, which causes the gums to pull away from your teeth and destroy the surrounding bone. This allows the toxins to enter your blood stream.

How are gum disease and Alzheimer’s related?

Researchers have now observed the bacteria, P. gingivalis, in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They also conducted tests on mice that showed the presence of these bacteria led to an increased production of amyloid beta, a part of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This study adds to the evidence of a link between gum disease and dementia related diseases. Last year a previous study found that patients with chronic periodontal disease (ongoing at least 10 years) had a 70% higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms.

 

How can I keep my mouth healthy & lower my risk of Alzheimer’s?

The good news is that you can protect your overall health with preventative dental care! Good homecare is the first step and includes brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day.  It is also important to see our office for preventative cleanings and exams at least twice a year to catch any problems while they are small. Our doctors are trained to recognize gum disease in the early stages and our hygienists can provide the treatment you need to keep it from progressing. And, should you already have gum disease, it’s not too late to reduce the effects this bacteria could have on your health with proper treatment. It’s important not only to save your teeth, but possibly your life as well.

Call our office today (404-255-6782) for a complimentary gum disease screening and we can help you on the path to good health!

 

Cancer Treatment & Your Oral Health

Of the 1.2 million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year, approximately 400,000 will develop oral complications from their treatment.  When killing cancer cells, treatment may also harm normal cells. Healthy cells in the mouth are particularly vulnerable. Complications can make it hard to eat (which promotes poor nutrition), talk, swallow, and increase the likelihood of an infection.

How can oral complications affect my cancer treatment?

Oral complications of cancer treatment can be so debilitating that patients may tolerate only lower, less effective doses of cancer drugs, may postpone scheduled treatments, or may discontinue the treatment entirely. Oral complications can be the source of infections that interfere with cancer therapy and threaten survival.

What are the side effects of cancer treatment?

  • Dry mouth
  • Increased tooth decay
  • Loss of taste
  • Infections
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Painful mouth and gums
  • Burning, peeling or swelling tongue

How can I keep my mouth healthy?

The first step is to see a dentist before you start. Once treatment begins, it is important to look in your mouth every day for sores and other changes. If you find something unusual, call us immediately. The following tips can help prevent and treat a sore mouth:

  • Keep your mouth moist.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Suck on ice chips.
  • Use sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy.
  • Use a saliva substitute.
  • Brush your teeth, gums and tongue with a soft toothbrush after every meal and at bedtime.
  • Use a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste at least once a day.
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. We Recommend Listerine Zero
  • Floss gently every day. If your gums bleed and hurt, avoid the areas that are bleeding or sore.
  • If you get sores in your mouth, rinse your mouth several times a day with a solution of  ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt in one cup of warm water ,
  • Avoid hard, crunchy and spicy foods, alcohol and tobacco.

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, please let us know and we will personalize a prevention plan for you!

Wisdom Teeth

Wiswisdom-tooth-girl.jpgdom teeth, or third molars, do not always erupt properly.  It’s wise to get an early opinion from your dentist before they become impacted, causing pain, swelling, infection, caries, and gum disease.

Why don’t wisdom teeth grow in right?

The shape of the modern human mouth is often too small to accommodate wisdom teeth, which make their first appearance in young adults 17 to 26.  Over the course of time, humans have developed smaller jaws.  When humans learned to harness fire for cooking foods and developed blade tools to better process food before consumption, they reduced the need for strong jaws to chew food.  According to studies of ancient skull specimens, over time, a full set of
teeth in a smaller jaw caused crowding in permanent teeth.

What does impacted mean?

When wisdom teeth do not have room to grow, they are considered impacted – no place to go and no plans to grow.  Third molar impaction is the most prevalent medical developmental disorder.

wisdom teeth xray

What kind of problems can impacted third molars cause?

Although not all wisdom teeth cause problems, some serious problems can develop if the condition of the teeth is not properly observed.  Partially erupted wisdom teeth are breeding grounds for organisms that may cause infection, and cysts and tumors.  An impacted wisdom tooth, can press against the nerves of the second molar and cause pain and damage. Jaw pain and gum disease may also occur.

When is removal necessary?

Removal is generally recommended to avoid problems, such as an impacted tooth that destroys the second molar.  People younger than 16 heal easier, as well.  At an early age, people should be evaluated by one of our dentists who can track third molar development with the help of x-rays.  Second molars should be visible to lessen the chance of damaging them during surgery.  This occurs at age 11 or 12.

What if I do not have any symptoms?

People with symptoms of impaction, such as pain, swelling, and infection should have their wisdom teeth removed immediately.  However, those with no symptoms can avoid the chance of ever suffering from impacted wisdom teeth or achieve better orthodontic treatment results by having them removed.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

Some people choose to have normal local anesthetic while others prefer general sedation, where they can sleep through the procedure.  If your wisdom teeth are erupted we can remove them here at Start Smiling Dental using local anesthetic and nitrous to help you relax.  If they are impacted, we will refer you to an oral surgeon who can remove them under general anesthetic.  Recovery from these procedures is generally between 3-10 days depending on the severity of the impaction.

Helping Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking

thumbsuckingThumb and finger sucking is an instinctive, comforting way that babies relax and handle stress.  When it continues into the toddler and childhood years it can then become a habit, which can have devastating dental and social effects. Many parents have expressed frustration in helping their children overcome this habit and much research has been done on the subject.  Pediatric dentists and psychologists have worked together for new techniques and have developed a new process, which includes the child, parents and dentist.

When should the thumb sucking stop?

Toddlers will naturally stop as they age or after a parent continually removes the finger. Many children hang onto the habit as they would a favorite stuffed animal.  Studies show that any technique for stopping will probably not be successful unless the child wants to stop.

What are the new techniques?

Dr. Steven M. Adair, chairman of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia, has developed a new technique that involves wrapping a child’s elbow area from mid-forearm to mid-arm before the child goes to sleep. He has seen a success rate of about 60% achieved in children.

What is needed to begin the process?

Parents should purchase a 2- inch or 3-inch thick Ace Bandage and give it to the child to keep in their bedroom.  The child also will need a calendar covering about six weeks, adhesive stars, and colored pencils or crayons.

What is the child’s role?

Explain to your child that the bandage is theirs, and every night after they brush their teeth they are to bring it to you. The technique will only be effective if done without prompting, so refrain from reminding them! The bandage should then be wrapped snugly (but not too tightly) from the elbow to the forearm on the arm used for the habit.  The hand is not covered and the bandage should not impede blood flow.

Children will find they can still place the digit in the mouth.  As they tire, however, the elasticity of the bandage will bring the hand away from the mouth.  The next morning, the child should receive a star or check mark on the calendar for remembering the bandage and a second star the child believes he or she slept through the night without sucking the thumb.  The program should be continued for at least six weeks.

What is the parent’s role?

Parents should not discourage the sucking habits during the day or comment about it.  Instead, they should praise children whenever they are not sucking their thumb.  Parents can give children small rewards after 14 stars are earned during treatment. If parents believe the habit is broken, they should monitor the child for a week while falling asleep and again after the child has been asleep for a while.  If satisfied the habit has been broken, parents may bestow a final, bigger reward to positively reinforce the behavior.

What is the dentist’s role?

When the child expresses a wish to stop the thumb sucking, we will tell them about the program and call them them to ask how it is going.  A member of the dental staff will then call the child at a prearranged time weekly and ask the child how they feel it is going.  We will also provide positive reinforcement and encouragement.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please give us a call at 404-255-6782!

For more information about how we care for familys at Start Smiling Dental: https://startsmiling.com/Procedures/Family-Dentistry/Pediatric-Dentisty-Sandy-Spring-GA

Should I Use Charcoal Toothpaste and Whiteners?

Many patients have asked us about the current trend of using activated charcoal to clean and whiten their teeth. Dr. Sayeg has done some research and has found that there have not been studies that showed this was beneficial and some studies have shown that it may damage the enamel of your teeth.charcoal_LI

How is activated charcoal used?

Activated charcoal is made from coal, wood, peat, coconut shell, or petroleum—that is heated along with a gas, which makes the charcoal more porous. This helps activated charcoal “trap” chemicals, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Companies that make activated charcoal toothpaste also claim that the activated charcoal can remove toxins from the teeth and gums, which can lift stains from your teeth and leave you with a whiter smile.

What does the research show?

Studies are underway regarding its effectiveness as well as safety. So far research is showing that it is no more effective than other proven methods and could potentially damage the enamel on your teeth.

Researchers at the Creighton University School of Dentistry have found that charcoal toothpaste may do more harm than good.

“It’s been a big trend. You see a lot of patients coming into a dentist’s office and asking about it and wondering if and how it works, so we thought it was worth looking into,” said John Howell, one of six dental students on the project, which was overseen by professors Donald Scheidel, DDS, Sonia Rocha-Sanchez, PhD, and Martha Nunn, DDS, PhD.

“You might use it to get rid of some surface stains on the teeth from something like coffee,” Howell said. “Initially, it might help. But, as our experiments have demonstrated, there’ll be a cost.”

The researchers say the cost is pronounced wear of tooth enamel under the harsh scrubbing of the gritty charcoal. Under lab conditions simulating extended use of charcoal toothpaste by brushing for six minutes each day, the students observed significant loss of enamel and watched as the toothpaste made its way into the dentin of the teeth used in the experiment, leaving them with a gray to a yellow shade.

The continuous use of charcoal toothpaste caused the very discoloration that most people hope to ward off when they first start using it, the researchers said. Using an electron microscope in some trials, they added, they also could see the level of tooth abrasion on tooth enamel.

“Enamel does not grow back,” said student researchers Ben Huber. “And once the charcoal gets into the dentin, the teeth start to get gray.

Compared to more traditional whitening methods like strips or regular whitening toothpaste, the charcoal seemed to be a bit of a risk, the researchers said.

“There are other tooth-whitening options that could be safer and more effective,” said Howell.

The researchers further noted that the use of charcoal to whiten teeth isn’t a new practice. Student researcher Josh Hanson noted that it was one of many methods that patricians in ancient Rome used to clean their teeth.

“They also tried limestone,” Hanson said. “In fact, if you look on some toothpaste ingredient labels, you’ll see bicarbonate, which the Romans discovered in limestone as a cleaning agent. So maybe something was working there.”

 

Other research has also seen the same results and concluded further research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of using charcoal as a toothpaste and whitener. In the meantime, Dr. Sayeg recommends you use a sensitivity toothpaste and peroxide based teeth whiteners.

 

Taking Care of Your SMILE!

Even though we’ve been brushing and flossing our teeth for years and years, many of us are surprised to learn that we’re not doing it properly. Case in point: Did you know that proper brushing takes at least two minutes? Most adults do not come close to brushing that long.

These four steps are the best and easiest ways to help you remember how to care for your mouth, teeth and gums:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime!
  • Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor causing bacteria!
  • Floss every day!
  • Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day – drink water or chew sugarless gum afterwards!
  • Do not drink sodas, juice, or sports/vitamin drinks throughout the day. Continual exposure to the sugar and acids can cause cavities!
  • Visit your dentist every six months for an oral exam and professional cleaning!

 

What is the Right Way to Floss?

Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach — under the gum line and between your teeth. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended.

To receive maximum benefits from flossing, use the following proper technique:

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth

 floss

Introducing the Start Smiling Membership Plan!

Many of our patients without dental insurance have often asked us to fnd an insurance plan that would help them save money. While we have not come up with an outside plan that we could recommend, we instead have created a Membership Plan that will save you money.

These plans cover your regular preventative care as well as discounts off your restorative and cosmetic services.

Adult Membership Plan:

  • 1 preventative cleaning and periodic exam every six months
  • preventative x-rays as needed (Bitewings every year / Full Mouth Series once in three years)
  • 1 emergency visit and x-ray per year
  • 10% off all other needed treatment
  • 20% off all cosmetic services

Child Membership Plan:

  • 1 preventative cleaning and periodic exam every six months
  • preventative x-rays as needed (Bitewings every year / Full Moth Series once in five years)
  • 1 emergency visit and x-ray per year
  • 10% off any needed treatment
  • 20% off all cosmetic services

Signing up is easy! Just click the icon below! There are no waiting periods and you can schedule your first preventative visit right away!  Fell free to give us a call at 404-255-6782 if you have any questions.