The hygienist plays an intricate role in the oral health care of the patient. The role includes periodontal disease evaluation, taking x-rays and a patient’s periodontal probing and charting. In the old days, they engaged in cleaning and flossing the teeth under the theory that at healthy mouth was primarily necessary for the patient to keep their teeth. But discoveries in the last decade have uncovered the correlation between periodontal disease and other health related issues such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy related problems that assigns new priorities to the role of the hygienist and your dental visits. These correlations have caused a new focus on evaluating a dental patient and new signals related to their overall health. “The American Academy of Periodontology seeks to educate the public about research findings which support what dental professionals have long suspected: Infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body. For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other infections in the body; however, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may link periodontal disease to other chronic conditions. Research has shown, and experts agree, that there is an association between periodontal diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.” (www.perio.org).
The U.S. Surgeon General agrees that oral health is a strong indicator of one’s overall health and well-being (CDC, 2006). Often, diseases give their first warning signs in the form of a patient’s oral problems. Without consistent care and monitoring, several oral health problems can result. Immediate risks include gingivitis, cavities, tooth decay, and other gum diseases which can eventually result in various types oral cancer. There is a “silent epidemic” (U.S. Surgeon General) that can be avoided by regular treatment at home and dental visits at least twice each year. While practicing good oral hygiene at home is vital to your health, there is only so much that personal oral maintenance can do. A normal person can easily overlook conditions that could greatly complicate or even end one’s life. Thus, visiting your dentist for regular checkups is vital to a healthier smile.
“Routine dental exams uncover problems that can be easily treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal” (American Dental Association [ADA], 2008). Now that it is known that gum disease can be a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and certain forms of cancer, regular visits to your dentist can help prevent and treat this disease. By treating conditions early and learning from your dentist how to prevent oral diseases, you can achieve better health and ultimately better quality years of life.
Many people are unaware of the consequences of losing their teeth or the effects of wearing partial or full dentures upon their jaws and bones. When teeth are lost, the surrounding bone immediately begins to shrink [atrophy]. Implant treatment, for tooth replacement therapy, can be the optimal treatment plan. Here are some important facts to take into consideration.
• Wearing dentures [plates] accelerates bone loss, and old dentures become loose because of this bone loss. It is possible to watch and wait for bone to disappear to the point where treatment success of any kind is in doubt.
• At the end of a five-year period, only 40% are still wearing the original partial denture made for them. This is not a great testimonial for value and utility. Those lucky enough to have a functioning partial denture after 5 years are still losing valuable supporting bone.
• Of those patients who wear a partial denture, 50% chew better without it.
• One study showed that after 8 years, 40% of the supporting teeth [abutments] that the partial hooks onto were lost through tooth decay or fracture.
• Patients with natural teeth can bite with about 200 pounds of force. Denture wearers can bite with approximately 50 pounds of force. Those wearing dentures for 15 years or more can bite with only about 6 pounds of force, and their diet and eating habits have had to been modified accordingly.
• The average lower full denture shifts from side to side during chewing and is a significant problem that new denture wearers must get use to and accept.
• Denture wearers have decreased nutritional intake, a ten year shorter life span, and 30% of denture wearers can only eat soft foods.
• The single tooth implant success rate is above 98%, and unlike a bridge, the teeth adjacent to the implant are no more at risk than if no teeth were missing.
• Implant-supported bridges or dentures have 95% success rates over 10 years without the severe loss of supporting bone.
For bone maintenance, the health of adjacent teeth, the longevity of the restoration and patient comfort, implant therapy is the treatment of choice. Implants can restore chewing function to the equivalent of someone with natural teeth. If you have questions or want to know if you are a good candidate for implant tooth replacement therapy, please call our office.
Mouths, like people, are affected by years as well as by genes. If you’re over 60, your oral chemistry is changing—and thorough examinations of gums and salivary glands can be a lifesaving early detector of oral cancer or other disease. Older Americans are becoming the largest segment of our population and suffer disproportionately from oral diseases, with the problem being particularly acute for individuals in long term care facilities. They generally require multiple medications, and common side effects of the more than 500 medications used to treat their overall health issues usually reduce salivary flow. Usually the reduction in saliva can adversely affect their quality of life, the ability to chew, and lead to significant problems of the teeth and their supporting structures.
The elderly may also have difficulty performing routine oral hygiene procedures because of physical limitations, such as Parkinson’s or rheumatoid arthritis. In addition,oral infection is now recognized as a risk factor for a number of systemic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases,diabetes, mellitus, and respiratory disorders. Also,it is important to note that once people have lost their teeth and are using complete dentures, their oral health needs do not decrease. Our jaws are not static and may continue to resorb over time. Besides the continued resorption of bone, improperly fitted dentures can adversely affect chewing, leading to poor nutrition. In addition, those without teeth remain susceptible to oral cancer, mucosal diseases, and alterations in salivary gland function.
As early as 55 patients are developing twice as many cavities as children do. All these health issues and their medications that create reduced saliva and cause dry mouth have become an open invitation for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Does the patient have to make a choice between his or her general health verses their oral hygiene? They shouldn’t have to.
What should you expect from a visit to your dental hygienist? Along with your dental cleaning you may need professional scaling and root planing to remove harmful plaque and calculus deposits. Your hygienist should also record the depths of your periodontal pockets (that space between your teeth and gums where decay and periodontal disease flourish).
Keeping track of you is a key part of the hygienist’s job. It includes keeping your dental chart and health history current, making preliminary oral inspections, and creating tooth impressions.
Our hygienist is also an educator—someone who can teach you preventive dentistry skills—brushing and flossing techniques that make for healthy, trouble-free gums and teeth, regardless your age or your onset of other health issues. Together, you two can make an unbeatable team!
The cost of a dental implant is around $1,500 up to $1,800 placed. Anything less may be an indicator that you’re getting an inferior product or one not designed for a particular location in your mouth.
Short term the implant device may appear to be fully functional. But if we look at the cost and the cost of other materials for dental implants compared to their operational life, the difference may be likened to the difference between Toyo’s and Michelin tires.
Here again the initial cost may appear affordable, but in the long run you are going to get a better result with how it functions and how long it lasts if your provider installs Michelins.
In our Sandy Springs office our goal to provide a single implant for about the same cost of a 3 unit bridge. The benefits are:
preserving the underlying bone structure,
a more natural bite and
the ability to avoid cutting two healthy teeth to accommodate the bridged tooth.
We make the effort to do the right thing for our patients. Please give us a call for your complimentary consultation.
Two important oral health care concerns emerging in the United States are disparities in the oral disease burden and the inability of certain segments of the population to access oral healthcare. Older Americans are becoming a larger segment of our population and suffer disproportionately from oral diseases, with the problem being particularly acute for individuals in long term care facilities. Population projections for the United States indicate that the elderly will constitute an increasing percentage of the population as we proceed into the 21st century. In 2001, the population of the United States was almost 278 million, and 12.6% of the population was 65 years of age or older. By 2015, the population increased to 312 million (3.08 million in 2010) and 14.7% of the population will be aged 65 years or older. In 2030, which is within the practice lives of students currently enrolled in dental schools, the population will have increased to more than 350 million, and 20% of the population—1 of every 5 members of the US society—will be 65 years of age or older. This large segment of our population is further compounded by the elderly population continuing to become increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity,financial resources, and living conditions.
The challenges faced by both the dental profession and the nation as a whole regarding provision of oral health care services to older adults are the subject of a recent report prepared by Oral Health America. All 50 states were surveyed to determine the level of Medicaid coverage for dental services, and the report concludes that financing oral health care services for the elderly will be a major challenge to our future. Medicare does not provide any coverage for dental services, and only 1 of 5 Americans aged 75 years or older has any type of private dental insurance. Given our current economic circumstances and resulting problems with Obamacare, it will be highly unlikely that our government resources will be adequate to gear up for the impending problem of oral health in the elderly.
They suffer from chronic disorders that either directly or indirectly affect oral health, including autoimmune disorders such as pemphigus and pemphigoid. They generally require multiple medications, and common side effects of the more than 500 medications used to treat their overall health issues usually reduce salivary flow. The reduction in saliva adversely affects their quality of life, the ability to chew, and leads to significant problems of the teeth and their supporting structures.
The elderly consistently have difficulty performing routine oral hygiene procedures because of physical limitations, such as Parkinson’s or rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, oral infection is now recognized as a risk factor for a number of systemic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases,diabetes, mellitus, and respiratory disorders.
Also,it is important to note that once people have lost their teeth and are using complete dentures, their oral health needs do not decrease. Our jaws are not static and may continue to resorb over time. In addditon to continued resorbtion of bone, improperly fitted dentures adversely affect chewing, leading to poor nutrition resulting in a shorter life expectancy. Furthermore, those without teeth remain susceptible to oral cancer, mucosal diseases, and alterations in salivary gland function.
So for the vast majority of seniors residing in a long term care facility, financing of and access to oral health care services will be a formidable challenge. Given that medicare does not provide coverage for routine dental services including exams,and in the absence of private insurance or personal resources, a large portion of this group will not be able to afford any dental services whatsoever, let alone the most appropriate treatments.Clearly, there must be a response to the increasing oral health concerns of the elderly who present with special needs, especially those who are home bound or living in long term facilities burdened with other chronic disorders.
While effective preventive measures exist for younger populations (water fluoridation, dental sealants and parents), no preventive measures have been devised to address the expected increase in oral health needs of our aging population. And the need for a coordinated effort to address their oral healthcare needs suggested by demographic trends and epidemiological data necessitates our planning for what might be considered a crisis or at least a paradigm shift in oral health care delivery for the elderly.
Seniors who have contributed so vitally to our society’s well-being, deserve to be treated with the best oral health care we have to offer.
Sure, regular cleanings with our office promotes good oral hygiene, but did you know these visits also screen for a multitude of diseases? Getting your teeth cleaned and having your doctor’s exam may not rank up there with an afternoon on the course or ditching work to enjoy a matinee, but it may be well worth it for your overall health. Here are 4 really great reasons to see your dentist for your regularly scheduled cleanings.
It’s an opportunity to check for Oral Cancer. You may or may not realize that you’re screened for oral cancer during your regular dental cleaning but you are. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, an American dies of oral cancer every hour of every day. It’s a sad proposition, especially when you consider that it is highly curable with early diagnosis.
Your gums are being checked for Gum Disease. Gum disease, or an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place, is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. It can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. Unfortunately, not receiving treatment will lead to a more serious and advanced state of gum disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups along with daily brushing and flossing are key defenses against gum disease.
Your overall health. Studies have linked heart attacks, diabetes detection and strokes to gum disease associated with poor oral hygiene. A trip to your dentist at least every 6 months and in some cases more often, could reduce your risk of other serious health issues.
Early detection of Dental Problems. We’ve already touched upon early detection of gum disease and oral cancer, but don’t overlook more basic dental problems. Cavities and broken fillings are easy to treat. Without regular check-ups, undetected problems can lead to more serious issues like root canals, gum surgery and tooth extraction. An ounce of prevention verses a pound of cure.
So you haven’t been keeping up with what current research has to say about caring for your teeth. That’s why check-ups allow your dentist to examine your mouth and keep you on the right path. If it’s been more than 6 months since your last check up and cleaning, call your dentist to schedule an appointment today. If we can be of any help or answer any questions please feel free to drop us a line.