Posts for: November, 2012
You've probably heard that old song about the leg bone being connected to the knee bone; it's easy to see how the human skeleton links together. But the concept of anatomical parts being interconnected actually goes further than you might think. Problems in almost any part of the body can have profound effects in other areas. Your gums offer a perfect example.
Believe it or not, medical research has established a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD). They appear to be linked by inflammation, a protective response to infection. Inflammation can be characterized by a redness and swelling of the body's tissues that you can see. Or its effects can be less obvious.
Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria, which build up in the mouth in the absence of regular or effective brushing and flossing. When left undisturbed, the bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) change over time so that a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms emerge that cause periodontitis (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation).
Periodontitis can cause not just a localized inflammation of the gum tissue, but also a systemic (whole-body) inflammation. And this chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body appears to increase the risk of heart disease considerably. The good news is that there is a lot we can do about gum disease. And when we reduce the inflammation it causes, we can also reduce the risks for CVD and the heart attacks and strokes that can result.
The first step is a thorough, professional periodontal cleaning to remove the bacterial biofilm attached to the roots of the teeth. Sometimes a short course of antibiotics is prescribed to further fight the infection. Advanced periodontitis may require surgery so that we can reach all of the contaminated root surfaces for removal of the bacterial biofilm.
We will also review with you how you can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria through an effective daily oral hygiene routine. This is crucial to maintaining your oral health, which in turn affects your general health and overall well-being.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about the relationship between gum disease and heart disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.”
It is always good to be prepared before you have any dental or medical procedure. Make sure that you are informed and know what to expect to make you as comfortable as possible. We recommend that you have a list of questions with you to ask us during your consultation. If we inform you that you need a crown, consider asking any or all of the following questions:
- Am I a good candidate for a crown?
- Can you do a computer-generated mock-up of my new smile with crowns? (This question is only applicable if the crown is for a front or visible tooth.)
- Is there a way that I can “test-drive” my new smile and crown(s) before making them permanent?
- How long will the entire process take from my first appointment through completion?
- What are the risks, benefits and alternatives associated with the type of crown(s) you are recommending?
- Is there any discomfort associated with crown procedures?
- Will I need or receive any type of sedation when you prepare (drill) the tooth or teeth for a crown?
- Is what you are recommending commonly done?
- Can you show me some before and after photos of cases that you have done?
- How much will my crown(s) cost?
- Will my insurance cover all or a portion of the cost?
- How long can I expect my crown(s) to last?
- Will there be any maintenance required with my crown(s)?
Tooth pain occurs when a trauma or infection triggers a reaction from the nerves inside a tooth's pulp chamber. The severity of the pain and its duration can vary depending on the underlying cause, which can include anything from a loose filling to an abscess. Ignoring symptoms not only results in unnecessary physical and emotional pain, but can also lead to more expensive dental treatment as problems become more complex. Make an appointment with our office today if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain when biting down on food — This type of pain could be indicative of a cracked tooth, loose filling, or tooth decay that is affecting one or more of your teeth. We can remove decay and replace a loose filling, but if your tooth is cracked, we will have to determine the location and depth of the crack before formulating a treatment plan. In some cases, root canal treatment or even extraction may be necessary.
- Pain that lingers after eating hot or cold foods or liquids — Mild and short-term sensitivity (lasting only seconds or a minute) to hot and cold foods resulting from gum recession can often be soothed by using a fluoride toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. However, an inflamed tooth pulp or one that is dying due to severe decay could cause sensitivity that lingers for a long time after exposure. In this case, root canal treatment may be necessary to remove dying pulp tissue in order to save the tooth.
- Constant severe pain and pressure, swelling of the gums, and sensitivity to touch — Infections and/or abscesses can spread from the tooth pulp into the surrounding periodontal tissues and bone causing this type of pain. Root canal treatment will most likely be required.
- Dull ache and pressure on one or both sides of the face in the upper teeth region — The sinuses and upper back teeth share the same nerves, so, oftentimes, referred pain from sinus congestion or infection can feel like a toothache. A thorough examination can determine whether or not the pain is dentally related.
If you are experiencing tooth pain, call our office immediately so that we can begin to provide you with some relief. To read about other symptoms of tooth pain and possible treatment options, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!”