Oral health issues that may arise with age

by MikeMeehan 9/13/2018 2:09 PM

As you age, your body can experience shifts in health that affect your mouth in ways you might not expect. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, take a look at two conditions people may encounter with age that can affect their oral health – Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss. Sjögren’s syndrome People age 40 and older can develop a chronic autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome. Currently, as many as 4 million Americans are living with Sjögren’s. While experiences with the disease vary widely, some of its symptoms include difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing; a sore or cracked tongue; a dry or burning throat; dry or peeling lips; and severe fatigue.  One symptom that’s shared to some degree among almost every person with Sjögren’s, however, is dry mouth. Without adequate levels of saliva to help remove mouth debris, your teeth become increasingly vulnerable to decay. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the effects such as taking frequent drinks of water, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding tobacco and limiting the number of carbonated beverages you drink. Additionally, chewing sugar-free gum, using artificial saliva and trying an oral rinse may help.  Bone loss As you age, you become increasingly vulnerable to bone loss. One of the more common causes is osteoporosis, which causes bone density to decrease. In the United States alone, over 53 million people already have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing it. Women are especially susceptible to bone loss, since many experience lower estrogen levels after menopause. What does all this have to do with your smile? When your jaw bones lose density, you become more susceptible to loose teeth and tooth loss. It can also cause your gums to recede, leaving more of your tooth exposed and susceptible to tooth decay.  With these threats to your oral and overall health, it’s important to take proactive measures to stay in control. Calcium and vitamin D are both critical to preventing bone loss. It can also help to avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption and engage in regular weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging and weight training. Work with your dentist to prevent bone loss or to treat it if you’ve already begun experiencing symptoms.  By staying vigilant and working with your dentist and physician, you can help ease the effects of Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss.

Better breakfasts for brighter smiles

by MikeMeehan 9/6/2018 1:32 PM

Before rushing off to school in the morning, many kids sit around the table to fuel up with the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, one of the more common breakfast options – cereal – might have some unintended consequences for teeth. Too much sugar at breakfast time isn’t a great way to start the day, and some cereals have more sugar than you might think. A report by the Environmental Working Group noted that 2 out of 3 cereals marketed to children had more than a third of the recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving. When these refined sugars come into contact with teeth, dental plaque reacts with them to create acids. Over time and with enough exposure, those acids can cause cavities.  The good news for parents is that there are lots of ways to avoid this cavity-causing effect. Opting for healthier cereals is a great place to start. Look for low-sugar options, preferably with four grams of sugar or less in one serving. You should also choose varieties made from whole grains to maintain nutrients like fiber, which stimulates saliva flow to help keep teeth clean. To navigate through the multitude of options, read the packaging, paying close attention to the valuable nutrition information that is typically on the back or the sides. Regardless of which cereal you choose, there are ways to minimize the effects it can have on your teeth. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, drinking milk after eating sugary breakfast cereals can help decrease your risk of cavities. It can also help to brush after your meal, to avoid drinking fruit juice and to only eat cereal at breakfast time instead of snacking throughout the day.  If you choose to limit the amount of sugary cereals you eat, make sure you’re still enjoying a hearty breakfast. Take a look at our list of alternatives that’ll give you the boost you need without hurting your teeth: Fruit – apples, berries, cherries, melons and pears  Dairy products – yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese slices Protein – chicken, ground turkey and fish Eggs – sunny-side up, omelets and crustless quiche Smoothies and smoothie bowls (but avoid using sugary fruit juices) Whole-wheat toast and whole-wheat bagels With slight adjustments to your morning routine, you can start off the day on the right note while curbing your risk for tooth decay. 

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. 

Archive



©Delta Dental of Missouri 2012