You may be aware that diabetes is becoming an alarming health risk in the United States. As one of the fastest growing diseases, it is predicted that more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, many whom are undiagnosed. As the disease continues to affect the population, we are learning just how dangerous it is. Research supports that diabetes and oral health are closely correlated and that treating both simultaneously is the best way to control symptoms.
The best way to understand the relationship between diabetes and oral health is the following: People struggling to control blood sugar levels are very likely to experience unhealthy teeth and gums. In fact, the overwhelming majority of individuals with diabetes have periodontal disease. Professional dental cleanings are most effective for treating the oral health problems associated with diabetes. In some cases, insurance may cover more frequent cleanings for people with diabetes to help prevent more serious complications in the future. If you have diabetes, talk to Dr. McClatchie about your management plan and any concerns you may have about its effects on oral health.
What does heart disease have to do with oral health? According to research, the two are closely related. Periodontal disease (gum disease) and cardiovascular disease have many overlapping risk factors. If you are aware that you have heart disease or periodontal disease, it’s important to learn about the implications of each. Smoking, diet, and genetics are all examples of factors that contribute to both conditions. Additionally, severe gum disease is positively correlated with plaque in the coronary arteries. In other words, the plaque in our mouths can indicate that we are at increased risk for coronary artery disease (and vice versa). To prevent plaque build-up and periodontal disease, visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. Dr. McClatchie can check for signs of gum disease and overall oral health: both strong indicators of heart disease.
It’s probably no surprise that smoking is not a recommended component of overall health. Smoking can lead to a variety of health problems, ranging from immediate to chronic. Many smokers are well-aware that the habit can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. However, if you smoke, do not overlook just how detrimental cigarettes can be to the mouth itself. Smoking can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and tongue cancer. In fact, people who smoke regularly are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease and twice as likely to lose teeth, as compared to non-smokers. If you smoke, schedule additional dental cleanings and appointments to keep these serious conditions at bay. Dr. McClatchie can work with you to conduct gum disease exams, oral cancer screenings, and preventative cleanings.
It can seem like pregnancy is a never-ending list of things to check on, eliminate, or add to our routines. Avoiding certain foods, taking supplements, and supporting overall health are key components of a successful pregnancy. An important aspect of supporting health during pregnancy is preventing and treating gum disease. Research supports that mothers with gingivitis or periodontal disease can share certain bacteria with their unborn babies. The bacteria associated with even mild gingivitis can affect healthy pregnancies and even cause sudden fetus death.
We now know that gum disease during pregnancy can have detrimental effects. Unfortunately, the stress doesn’t stop there. During pregnancy, you are actually more susceptible to developing oral health problems and gum inflammation. Look out for abscesses, swelling, pain, and redness of the gums throughout pregnancy. Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist more than usual is the best way to prevent any complications gum disease can have on pregnancy. Dr. McClatchie may recommend more frequent exams during pregnancy to best ensure both mother and baby have a healthy nine months.
Oral cancer can be difficult to monitor, diagnose, and treat. For decades, we have closely associated oral cancer with smoking and drinking. It’s true that tobacco and alcohol can contribute to oral cancer, but did you know those risky habits are not the biggest factors? New research supports that human papillomavirus (HPV) is the fastest growing contributor to oral cancer.
The causes of oral cancer can sometimes be determined through the cancer location itself. HPV-related oral cancer is typically found at the base of the tongue or near the tonsils. Preventing oral cancer can include abstaining from smoking, treating HPV, and avoiding excess alcohol consumption. If you are at increased risk of oral cancer for any one of these factors, visit your dentist to talk about oral cancer screenings. Dr. McClatchie can screen for oral cancer at regular exams and provide early diagnosis which is the best way to ensure a successful treatment plan.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a debilitating, painful condition. RA affects joints and can cause persistent inflammation and permanent function loss in some cases. If you have RA, it is likely you and your medical providers have a management system to help you deal with and prevent symptoms and further disability. However, many medical providers overlook the close connection between RA and oral health.
Rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal (gum) disease are both systemic inflammatory disorders which can help to explain why people with RA are eight times more likely to develop gum disease. If you have RA, you should be aware that periodontal disease is a very real possibility. To help prevent increasing problems related to co-occurring RA and periodontal disease, practice good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly. Dr. McClatchie suggests semi-annual cleanings, oral exams, and twice daily brushing and flossing as the best ways to prevent gum disease with RA.
Respiratory disease can range from mild to completely debilitating. Respiratory infections like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute bronchitis, and pneumonia can happen suddenly and sometimes become life-threatening. Many people are aware that effective ways to support respiratory health include avoiding all tobacco, drinking alcohol in small amounts or not at all, and exercising regularly. Now, scientists are finding a link between respiratory health and periodontal disease.
Research supports that people with periodontal (gum) disease are more likely to develop respiratory infections, like COPD and pneumonia, than those with healthy gums. The best way to prevent this life-threatening correlation is to practice oral hygiene in combination with other healthy living factors, like exercise. Visiting the dentist for routine cleanings and teeth scaling can help prevent gum disease. If you have gum disease or inflammation, talk to your medical provider about deep cleanings and regular maintenance to help treat the symptoms long-term. Dr. McClatchie may suggest more specific treatments on an ongoing basis to help patients with chronic respiratory problems.
People can undergo organ transplants for a variety of reasons. Organ transplants can restore health, reverse damage, and even prevent death. Regardless of the reason for an organ transplant, if you’re receiving this treatment, you need to pay extra attention to oral health. If at all possible, patients should have a thorough dental exam prior to the transplant procedure.
A pre-operative dentist check is a necessity for a variety of reasons. Dentists can help diagnose existing problems, like gum disease, which can complicate the transplant procedure itself. Treatment, including antibiotics, for any oral health problems should happen prior to the surgery to prevent post-operative infection. After the transplant, it’s typical to delay any necessary dental treatments for three months, so being proactive is a must. Talk to your dentist about transplant procedures and plan for necessary dental work ahead of time to ensure a more successful outcome. Dr. McClatchie is well-versed in the implications of organ transplants and oral health and will work with each individual for optimal, healthful results.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly called acid reflux, can affect everything from the stomach to the teeth. People with GERD can suffer from an inflamed esophagus due to hydrochloric acid backing up from the stomach. The symptoms of GERD are typically managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications, but its long-term implications can be serious. Many people don’t realize that GERD puts them at an increased risk for esophageal cancer, tooth erosion, and oral health concerns.
Much like the damage to the throat, the teeth and mouth suffer from the hydrochloric acid exposure as well. Over time, repeated exposure to this acid can cause tooth decay, tooth enamel erosion, and weakened teeth. Signs of damage include tooth sensitivity, change in tooth color, and chipping teeth. To minimize the effects of GERD on oral health, brush and floss twice daily, but avoid brushing after acid exposure. Use a fluoride rinse within sixty minutes of acid exposure to minimize damage. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and symptom management. Dr. McClatchie offers regular exams for signs of acid damage. Please let your hygienist or dentist know if you have GERD at your next appointment.
Many people use bisphosphonate therapy medications for a variety of reasons. These medications are popular choices when treating (and preventing) diseases like osteoporosis, Piaget’s disease, and even cancer. If you take bisphosphonate medication, it is suggested that you inform your dentist immediately. Some people taking bisphosphonate medications have developed a condition called osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis is a rare, but serious condition which can lead to loss or damage of the jawbone.
If you take bisphosphonate medication and are noticing any oral health problems including pain, swelling, numbness, or infection anywhere in the mouth, consult a dentist as soon as possible. Visiting your dentist regularly to talk about your bisphosphonate therapy experience and symptoms is the best way to prevent serious complications.