The Connection Between Oral Health and Cardiovascular Health

Many people are under the assumption that there are no vital organs associated with our teeth and mouth and consequently, they consider oral health problems to be somewhat trivial.  This can’t be further from the truth!

To say it simply, if your oral health is compromised, the damage caused can be much more detrimental to your body than just affecting your smile. Let’s look at the issues in more detail that can arise from poor dental health.

Two different studies from the American Heart Association conducted 10 years apart indicate that bad oral health can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One of the studies that was published in 2003 revealed that poor oral health in terms of missing teeth and cavities is similar to cholesterol building up in the arteries, which is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.  A more recent study indicates that periodontal inflammations can lead to the development of heart problems.

Cardiovascular Problems are Crucial

It is important to understand the connection between bad oral health and cardiovascular health because the latter is affecting more than 80 million US citizens in one form or another. That’s not all. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of deaths in the country.  Every year, more than 600,000 people die of heart-related illnesses.

A Joint Report Highlighting the Correlation of Oral and Heart Health

A joint report has been created by the respective bodies dealing with oral and cardiovascular health issues. The report reinforces the assertation regarding the strong association between oral and cardiovascular health.  More than 100 research papers and medical studies related to oral and cardiovascular health were reviewed in the report and consequently, some important points were established regarding the association of gum health and heart disease.

  • Oral health issues are a major risk factor in the development of artery and vessel diseases
  • Gum diseases are a proven risk factor for coronary heart disease
  • Clogged arteries in the lower limbs also have an association with gum disease

The report was not able to provide a definitive underlying reason for the cardiovascular problems; however, experts have provided some important information regarding this association, as discussed in the next section.

How Bad Oral Heath can Prompt Cardiovascular Problems

Development of Coronary Artery Disease

It starts with being careless about your dental hygiene by neglecting the regular routines of brushing and flossing. With poor maintenance of your oral health, harmful bacteria can start accumulating on and around the gums, leading to gingivitis and in more severe cases, advancing to the development of periodontitis. This is a serious gum disease (although easily preventable) that can result in an increased thickness of the blood vessels, due to the growth of bacteria that reached deep into the gums of your mouth.  When these pathogens advance underneath the gum line, they can destroy the gum tissue and easily enter the bloodstream. This bacteria-laden blood results in the buildup of plaque along the artery walls.

This condition stiffens the artery walls which restricts the normal and healthy blood flow through the body. In medical terms, this restricted blood flow is known as coronary artery disease.  A severe condition that can lead to heart attacks when blood flow through the arteries gets blocked. One can easily see how lack of care with oral health might lead to the development of fatal diseases.

Bleeding Gums and Endocarditis

Bleeding gum is a common occurring with people who are not serious in maintaining their dental hygiene. Their gums even start to bleed when they eat something. This frequent oral bleeding has the potential to lead to a rare but fatal heart condition called endocarditis.

In endocarditis, the bacteria that can seep into bloodstream plague the inner walls of the heart resulting in the impeding functions of heart valves. This impairment of essential cardio activity can directly result into terminal heart failures.

Breaking the Connection

It has clearly been established that healthy gums can ensure a healthy cardiovascular system. One can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases by taking care of his/her oral health. Here are given some tips to break this malevolent link between bad oral and cardiovascular health:

  • Maintaining a routine of regular brushing and flossing while avoiding the things detrimental to both oral and cardiovascular health such as smoking
  • People already suffering from heart problems must be very attentive about their dental health because poor dental health can only aggravate their existing medical condition.

It is important to have regular dental checkups to get a better picture of your oral health in order to protect yourself from more serious and life-threatening diseases.

 

 

Types of Dental Implants and Reasons for Getting One

We would all like to have an uninhibited natural smile, but for many who may have an oral and dental issue, a beautiful smile is not natural to them. That’s where dental implants come in and they have changed many lives for the  better for years. As per a report from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry indicates about 500,000 people are receiving dental implants every year to solve a variety of dental issues.   

The report states that the success rate of dental implants is data is 98%. This minute rejection ratio of 2% shows dental implants are not complex and incompatible like other physical implants. These statistics are indicative of the fact that more people are putting their trust into dental implants and getting back their normal oral and dental state.

In this article, we will shed some light on different aspects associated with dental implants.

Variety of Dental Implants

There are various types of dental implants. Some get inserted into the jaw bone while others sit on the top of the bone.

Endosteal or Root Form Implants

Endosteal or root form implants are directly inserted into the jaw bone. Usually, these dental implants resembling nails, cones, and screws are recommended for patients not facing any complication with the tissues surrounding the jaw bone. To support bridges and crowns, endosteal implants made of rectangular plates are also employed.

Usually, endosteal implants are fixed in two stages. In the first phase, the original implant was surgically inserted into the jaw bone. In the second phase, artificial tooth or teeth are connected to the original implant through surgery, once the adjacent bone tissue has healed.

Subperiosteal Implants

Subperiosteal implants are recommended to the patients not having enough tissues around their affected jaw bone.  These implants are usually fixed over the existing jaw bone and below gum tissues. Subperiosteal implants structures are usually muscular than root form implants and host multiple teeth in their fittings.  

Transosseous Implants

Patients with more aggravated dental state need these implants which need an extensive surgical procedure and a need overnight stay in a hospital. Patients with nearly diminished lower jaw (very little amount of gum tissues in lower jaws and no teeth) get prescribed for the lengthy procedure of getting transosseous implants.

Two metallic shafts are inserted through the chin bone. Once they sit in the cavity of the lower jaw, tailored dentures, designed according to patient’s need, are put in the place.

Ramus Frame Implants

People facing the problem of lower jaw bone are recommended to have ramus frame implants. A few-hour surgery is needed to insert this implant into the posterior corners of the oral cavity.

General Procedure of Dental Implantations

Most of the dental implants are employed to replace missing tooth or multiple teeth and consist of two major steps.  

Osseointegration

In the first step, a dental surgeon inserts the implant into the jaw bone or sets on the top of it. These implants get naturally bonded into the bone through a phenomenon called osseointegration. Implant gets affixed more firmly in the place as the surrounding tissues get healed.

Fitting of Dental Crown or Artificial Tooth

Once the implant gets anchored in the place, artificial teeth, dental crowns and dentures get fixed in implants. All these dental fixtures are mostly designed according to the unique shape and structure of oral cavity of individual patients.   

Why Consider Dental Implants?

There are many reasons to consider dental implants on different issues of oral health. Some of them are mentioned below.

  •  Getting dental implants at right time can prevent further degradation of jaw bone which consequently helps in maintaining the overall facial bone structure in its original and disoriented form.
  •  Unlike dentures, implants are a long-term dental solution because they get naturally fixed into the oral cavity.
  •  Most of the quality dental implants are made of titanium. Titanium is a highly biocompatible material with strength nearly equal to natural teeth.
  •  One should also prefer dental implants because no dietary restrictions are associated with them. You can continue to eat whatever healthy food items you want.

Last but not the least; dental implants can give you back your natural smile and confidence which gets affected due to missing teeth and unsettled oral cavity.

Tooth Decay: An Ongoing Oral Health Issue

Decaying TeethPhoto by – yayimages.com

Tooth decay or cavity formation is one of the most prevalent oral health issues in the US. It is an ongoing process that can lead to serious consequences in oral health and in particular, your overall health.

According to a report furnished by National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC, around 90% of US adults are suffering from the problem of dental caries (a scientific term for tooth decay).

Another survey indicates that 42% of children (between 2 to 11 years) in the US are facing the problem of tooth decay and cavities. More alarming is the issue that more than half of them haven’t undergone any treatment. The American Dental Health Association has termed tooth decay as the most chronic health problem among the child population in the US.

Consequences of Tooth Decay

Many people treat tooth decay as a natural course of growing old, however, this is not the case. Tooth decay possesses some serious ramifications if not treated appropriately:

  • Gingivitis or in more severe cases, periodontal (gum) disease will develop
  • Tooth decay with severe cavity formations and cuts causes intense chronic pain
  • Decayed teeth infested with bacteria produce odor in the mouth resulting in bad breath.
  • Tooth decay of a higher degree can result in inflammation and formation of abscessed teeth due to the infection of periapical tissues.
  • At the end-stage of tooth decay, dentists advise extraction of the affected tooth, leaving the space empty which can cause misalignment of the teeth.

On the whole, tooth decay significantly imposes major inconveniences and can severely affect the well-being of an otherwise healthy individual.

Dynamics of Tooth Decay

Unlike other diseases caused by specific viruses and group of infectious bacteria, tooth decay gets prompted with the presence of acidogenic bacteria in the mouth. In normal circumstances, these bacteria get neutralized by saliva. However, in a poor upkeep routine of oral and dental health, the remnants of carbohydrates, especially glucose interact with acidogenic bacteria.  

The bacteria break downs the glucose and sugar by creating acid as a by-product of their activity. This bacterial action transforms the oral environment into an acidic one which is harmful to teeth enamel, the peripheral covering made of phosphate and calcium.

Once enamel gets eroded due to the higher levels of acidity, dentin starts to get exposed to the acidic reactions. Structure of dentin is softer than enamel and that is why the process of tooth decay gets expedited.

Causes of Tooth Decay

Apart from poor dental hygiene, several other factors can also set off tooth decay.

Deep Teeth Pits and Fissures

Some individuals inherently have deep crevices and pits in their teeth. This type of tooth structure is ideal for the buildup of plaque and acidogenic bacteria. To prevent the tooth decay in people with deep tooth fissures, dentists use dental sealants.

Inviting Sugar into Your Body

Names of Sugar
Sugar can come in many forms (Photo: army.mil)

Sugar, as good as it tastes is a prime culprit for tooth decay. And it is not only candy or soda. As it has been previously discussed, carbohydrates with rich sugar content are one of the main sources of making the oral environment acidic.

With more proportion of sugar foods in your diet, you are not only inviting obesity, but you are making your oral cavity more susceptible to tooth decay. Drinks acidic in nature such as carbonated sodas and fruit juices also assist the process of tooth decay (See image above). Therefore, it is necessary to have moderation in your daily diet with all such dietary items, even if you are taking good care of your oral health.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth is a condition in which salivary glands in the mouth fail to produce enough amount of saliva required to maintain the acid-base balance of the oral cavity. Dry mouth is more vulnerable to the acidogenic bacterial reactions. 

A well-practiced physician and dentist can help patients with the problem of dry mouth issues. Non-prescription remedies for dry mouth include limiting caffeine intake and smoking.  Sugar-free gum and candies are also used for sufficient saliva production.

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)

Other than the detrimental bacterial actions, tooth grinding can also bring about the decaying process. In bruxism, intense clenching of teeth occurs during sleep due to stress and anxiety. The resultant abrasion also destroys the enamel and exposes the inner dentin to bacterial reactions. Therefore, treatment of bruxism is necessary for the prevention of tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Prevention

How to maintain good teeth and gums is essentially common knowledge, but we’ll discuss them briefly here:

Brush Daily

Like the commercial, be sure to brush after every meal. If that is not feasible, brush in the morning and at night. Soft brushes are better than hard brushes and you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes each time. Dentists do recommend using electric toothbrushes over manual ones.

Floss Daily

Brushing isn’t the only preventive technique to help prevent the buildup of plaque. Flossing is just as important. Without daily flossing, bacteria will accumulate in the spaces between the teeth. These are areas where brushing  is not that helpful. By flossing in the spaces between the teeth, you help keep the bacteria out and consequently, the plaque and tartar will not build up.

Visit Your Dentist

Needless to say, the above prevention methods are only part of the action you can take towards good oral health. Visit your dentist for a routine examination and a cleaning twice a year.

It is quite apparent that a good oral health regimen is the key to the prevention of tooth decay. 

Summary

Teeth will begin to decay when sugar combines with bacteria to form acid. This acid, also known as plaque will gradually eat away at the enamel of the tooth and if not corrected, will work its way down towards the second layer, called dentin. When this happens, cavities are formed.  If you haven’t been to the dentist, now is the time to go before your cavities reach the next layer, called the pulp and the possibility of root canal work may be necessary.

Learn more in this video on the hows, whys and protection against tooth decay.

Oral Health and Depression

There are a number of ways oral health may be connected to our mental physical health, according to a myriad of studies.  Periodontal disease, AKA gum disease, has been associated with some mental health disorders, particularly clinical depression. Depression is one of the most diagnosed mental health disorders in the United States today, impacting as many as 14.8 million American adults. Depression can be a debilitating illness, affecting your ability to perform daily tasks and negatively impacting your quality of life.

A 2010 study found significant associations between oral health, depression and quality of life. The link between the two may be multi-faceted. First, depression can lead to teeth clenching and grinding, which can increase the risk for periodontal disease. Depression also increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which could in turn create a ripe environment in the mouth for periodontal disease.

Depression can suppress the immune system, which may make it hard for your body to fight off bacteria in the mouth that can cause infection. Depression often results in poor eating habits that directly impact the health of your entire body, including your teeth and gums. At the same time, the symptoms associated with depression like sadness, fatigue and loss of motivation could affect how well you care for your teeth, which could lead to periodontal disease over time. Even the medications used to treat depression can dry out the mouth and less saliva means less protection for your teeth and gums. This is why people with chronically dry mouths tend to have a higher incidence of periodontal disease.

Because there is such a compelling link between oral and mental illness, you should share your medical history with your dental provider to ensure you are receiving the oral care you need the most. Your healthy smile does much more than enhance your appearance and increase your self-confidence. The healthy habits you use to retain that bright smile may also benefit your body and provide you will an opportunity to feel better about yourself. Oral hygiene is an important part of any healthy regimen, both now and in the future. 

Dr. Garelick Tip#2: Maintaining Healthy, Strong Teeth

A Strong Smile is a Healthy SmileDid you know that 50% of people say that the first thing they notice about a person is their smile? This is according to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic DentistryIf your teeth are discolored, chipped, damaged or broken, this can affect your ability and willingness to smile. But don’t worry! A healthy, smile is attainable. You just need to follow these tips:

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is not only good for our bodies and total health, but also for our teeth! A healthy diet provides the nutrients and fiber we need to keep our teeth strong, healthy and free from disease. Eating foods that are high in sugar, starches and carbohydrates, such as candy, juices and smoothies can increase the production of plaque acids that attack the enamel of our teeth.

When it comes to a healthy diet that’s great for your teeth, stick to fibrous whole fruits and vegetables, instead of juices or smoothies. The fiber in these whole fruits and veggies helps to naturally rinse away bacteria and food particles from the teeth. Leafy greens also help promote oral health. They are high in calcium and folic acid which may help treat gum disease in pregnant women according to the American Dental Association.

Visit your dentist every six months

Visiting your dentist every six months is incredibly important to the health of your teeth. A professional dental cleaning from your dentist every six months will help remove any buildup of plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria that hardens and becomes tartar. If tartar is not cleaned, it can start to produce acids that damage the bone that supports the teeth. This can cause periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Your dentist will also be able to check for plaque, cavities and any other dental problems during your checkup. When caught early, teeth and gum problems are much easier to treat, keeping your teeth healthy, pain-free and sparkling!

Brush your teeth

Man Brushing TeethBrushing your teeth is key to healthy teeth and gums. Brushing correctly with toothpaste helps remove plaque. Toothpaste contains fluoride that helps teeth become resistant to decay and even helps remove early decay.

Be sure to gently brush your gums as well as your tongue while you brush your teeth to remove any food particles and plaque. Dentists recommend the motorized brushes, but if you don’t have one, you can use a soft brush. “Hard bristles actually wear down your tooth structure,” says dentist Maricelle Abayon from Rochester, New York.

Don’t brush your teeth too hard either. Plaque itself is loose and soft, so you don’t need to scrub. Next time you brush your teeth, tell yourself that you are massaging them, not scrubbing them. Most importantly, brush and don’t rush! Try turning on the timer on your phone or put on your favorite song while brushing your teeth. Make sure to brush your teeth between two to three minutes for optimal protection against cavities. According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, “it takes two minutes for the tooth enamel to take in the fluoride in toothpaste, making the tooth surface more resistant to bacteria.”

Floss daily

Flossing twice daily, along with brushing, is very helpful in removing decay causing plaque. It is a very important part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Flossing regularly might seem like an annoyance, but it takes only a minute or two and helps remove food and bacteria stuck in the spaces between the teeth that brushing or mouthwash can’t remove. When these spaces between the teeth are left unclean, it can lead to plaque and tartar, as well as bad breath! Keep your teeth fresh and healthy by flossing two to three times a day, especially before bed and in the morning. 

Stop smoking, including smokeless tobaccoAngry Man Smoking


Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, including your lungs and your heart. Smoking is also bad for your teeth. What’s worse, it’s bad for your gums and mouth as well. Smoking stains and discolors the teeth, making them turn yellow in just a short amount of time.

Long term smoking can turn teeth brown, due to the nicotine and tar that’s in cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco can also wear down your teeth which can expose the roots, leaving them more susceptible to decay. Not only that, but smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco allows harmful chemicals to come into direct contact with teeth and gums, causing rapid tooth decay, gum disease, and research has shown that those who endeavor in chewing tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer.

Following these guidelines will help you to maintain a healthy mouth and avoid possible future complications. A little prevention now can go a long way later!

Dr. Garelick Tips #1: 3 Drinks To Avoid For Healthy Teeth

Bottles of Soda
Coffee and soda can really have an impact on your teeth.

Many of us might be aware of the potential damage that certain foods and drinks can have on our teeth, not to mention the weight gain from some of them, but let’s take a closer look at what exactly happens to your teeth when you consume certain popular drinks.

Coffee and Tea

Tannic acids found in coffee and black tea can wear down the enamel and stain your teeth. Adding creamer and sugar to your coffee and tea can also speed up the growth of discoloring bacteria. If it’s too difficult to give up your daily coffee or tea, try to keep your consumption to a minimum of two cups a day or drink green tea instead. Also opt for drinking your coffee in one sitting instead of sipping throughout the day. Be sure to visit your dentist for a bi-annual cleaning. To prevent halitosis (bad breath) that can be associated with drinking coffee, use a tongue scraper after drinking and be sure to drink water throughout the day.

Fruit Juices & Smoothies

Grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges are very high in citric acid and sugar which can cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. Frequent consumption of these fruits as well as their juices can soften and erode enamel, leaving teeth exposed and susceptible to bacteria growth. Smoothies might seem healthy for your body, but they can be damaging to your teeth. Regularly sipping on smoothies and fruit juices throughout the day bathes our teeth in acid that can strip the teeth’s enamel.

Protect your teeth by cutting down on your consumption of fruit juices and smoothies. Be sure to wait an hour after drinking these to brush your teeth. This allows your enamel time to strengthen, as over brushing and brushing immediately after drinking acidic and sugary drinks can be even more harmful to tooth enamel.

Soda

Soda contains sugar, acids and carbonation, all of which are bad for teeth. Frequent consumption of soda and carbonated drinks can lead to tooth erosion and decay. Even diet soda contains acids that can damage teeth and weaken enamel. Since children and teens have tooth enamel that isn’t fully developed, their teeth are the most susceptible. To avoid damage to your teeth, avoid sodas and carbonated drinks as much as possible. Limit your consumption to just one 12oz can a day and be sure to drink plenty of water. Make sure to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day and don’t forget to visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.