Eating and drinking to promote healthy gums

by MikeMeehan 11/28/2018 3:50 PM

Nutrition is vital for your entire body, even when it comes to your gums. In honor of Good Nutrition Month, take a moment this November to learn which nutrients help prevent periodontal (gum) disease. To get the full picture, it’s good to know why periodontal disease occurs. When plaque and tartar stay on teeth for an extended period, the bacteria can inflame gums, resulting in gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to periodontitis (gum disease), meaning “inflammation around the tooth.” Pockets or spaces form as gums pull away from teeth and then become infected. This can cause damage to structures that support teeth and can eventually lead to tooth loss.  More immediate symptoms include persistent bad breath, tender or bleeding gums, pain while chewing, tooth sensitivity and even loose teeth. Depending on the severity, treatments range from deep cleanings that remove plaque and tartar to more involved dental surgeries.  In addition to good oral health habits and regular dental visits, nutrition is an important factor for preventing or recovering from periodontitis. Without proper nutrients fueling your body’s natural processes, you may not be able to fight off infections as easily. This can make you more vulnerable to quicker progression and harsher severity of periodontitis.  Some of the nutrients that encourage gum health include vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid and calcium. These key nutrients are easily accessible on a daily basis. Check out some of the richest sources of each. Vitamin C: bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, snow peas and kale Vitamin B12: fish, beef, fortified cereals (watch out for the sugary kinds!), fortified tofu, low-fat milk, Swiss cheese and eggs Folic acid: edamame, lentils, asparagus, spinach, avocados, mangoes and lettuce Calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli and fortified cereals (we recommend whole-grain varieties) Always make sure to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day. It’s also best to avoid or quit smoking, which is one of the most significant causes of periodontitis and can decrease your chances for successful treatment.  

Seeing your family dentist before school starts

by MikeMeehan 8/2/2018 9:49 AM

Each year, 100 million Americans forego a dental visit, and that’s a big problem when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile. Before your calendar fills up with school activities, athletic events and more, schedule routine dental appointments for your kids (and yourself!). No matter how good your oral hygiene habits are, a dental visit provides benefits that regular brushing and flossing can’t, like removing tartar buildup.  Differences between plaque and tartarPlaque is a colorless film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. These bacteria create acids that decay teeth and irritate gums. Luckily, plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing. But when plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it hardens or calcifies along your gumline and forms tartar. Once this happens, regular brushing is not sufficient for removal, and that’s bad news for your gums. By pushing your gums away from your teeth, tartar creates pockets that allow bacteria to grow. If tartar isn’t removed with regular professional cleanings, it can cause gum disease, also known as periodontitis, and can even lead to tooth loss. How your teeth are cleaned at a dental appointmentDuring a routine cleaning, your dentist or hygienist uses a modified mirror to find unwanted residue and a metal instrument called a scaler to remove plaque and tartar. The scaler has a bladelike tip that allows them to scrape above and below your gumline as well as in between your teeth. They might also use a vibrating device called an ultrasonic scaler to shake plaque and tartar free. They can then wash away these bacteria with water. When they have sufficiently removed all plaque and tartar, they polish your teeth with an electric brush and polishing paste. The last step is a thorough flossing to make sure there’s nothing hiding between your teeth. Visiting your dentist regularly is an essential part of your oral health routine. Not only will it keep your smile sparkling, but it will also help spot dental issues early before they progress into more costly problems. Take a moment to prepare your family for a school year full of smiles by scheduling dental appointments today. 

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 11/14/2017 2:11 PM

November is Diabetes Awareness Month to bring attention to the disease and the millions of people affected by it. We’d like to join this effort from the perspective of your oral health. Frequently, we emphasize the connection between oral health and overall health. And that connection can work both ways. A person with diabetes is an example of this connection. If you have diabetes, you’re at a higher risk of developing gum disease. And, according to the American Diabetes Association, research suggests “serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.” What’s the connection? To be clear, diabetes doesn’t cause gum disease and gum disease doesn’t cause diabetes. But if you have one, you are likely to have the other, in comparison to others who don’t have diabetes or gum disease. To explain a bit further, if you have diabetes, your ability to fight infection is reduced. Gum disease is a type of infection in your gums and the surrounding bones supporting your teeth. Gum disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, has symptoms like red, swollen and bleeding gums. In the early stages, gingivitis can be reversible with daily brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. When the condition reaches the later stage, called periodontitis, your gums are seriously damaged.  Talk With Your Dentist To prevent gum disease, practice good oral health care. If you have diabetes, since you’re at higher risk of developing gum disease, paying close attention to your teeth and mouth and maintaining a good oral health care routine is extremely important. Managing your diabetes will also help. According to studies, people who manage their diabetes tend to have less gum disease than people who are not managing their disease well. Talk with your dentist to discuss a plan going forward. Enhanced Benefits Also, if you have diabetes or gum disease you may be eligible for enhanced benefits through your Delta Dental plan, like extra cleanings and exams. Confirm your eligibility before treatment by contacting us directly or talking with your dental care provider. You may have to sign up for the enhanced benefits program before receiving the extra coverage. You can learn more about the symptoms diabetes can create in your mouth by visiting the American Dental Association website. Learn more about diabetes and Diabetes Awareness Month by visiting the American Diabetes Association website.

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