Health and Nutrition

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Julie West BS RDH 

Statistics from the World Health Organization show that up to 93% of diabetes, 81% of heart disease, 50% of strokes, and 36% of all cancers could be prevented by a healthy diet and lifestyle.  We have all heard of fad diets and medications that claim to slim you down in weeks, but have you looked at the asterisk on the bottom of your television screen during their commercials?  You will see that the testimonials you are seeing are from “results not typical” and have occurred in less and 5% of the people who took that particular diet plan or pill.  The best weight loss experts will tell you that there is no shortcut to being healthy.  Diet and exercise are essential in establishing and maintaining health.

Obesity is increasing in prevalence and is a major contributor to worldwide morbidity.  As obesity in this country rises, are we surprised that the prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases rises too?  One of the dangers in obesity is due to a prolonged state of inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is the first response of the body to injury, cell damage, infection, or irritants.  Inflammation that is chronic and unresolved can lead to:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Asthma
  • Cancer

Fat cells produce hormones and proteins that cause inflammation and insulin resistance, which promote cell growth.  Overweight people have high levels of substances circulating in their blood that stimulate cell division. The more often cells divide, the more opportunity there is for cancer to develop.  To help lower your risk for cancer, it is important to know how much inflammation is present inside your body.

At your next visit to your doctor, ask for a blood workup with a screening of your C-reactive protein, a protein made by the liver when there is inflammation in the body.

Inflammation also often manifests in the mouth.  If you have one or more of the above diseases, inflammation may be the underlying factor.  At your next dental visit, ask your dental hygienist if there is inflammation in your mouth.  Your dental hygienist can provide great information about the inflammation process and its effects on the body.

 

Source:

Brand-Miller J, et al. Cur Opin Lipidol 2012, 23(1): 62-7

Low Dog, MD. (February 2014). Cancer and Nutrition in the 21st Century. Western Regional Dental                    

Convention.  GC America, Phoenix, Arizona.

 

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Flossing…Do I have to?

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Wendy Parker RDH
 
Absolutely! In some shape or form, flossing is essential in keeping the mouth and the rest of your body healthy!
As a hygienist, I have heard almost every excuse as to why people don’t floss, and trust me, I understand! From the “I’m too tired at night” to the “I just don’t have time” or the “I just forget to,” my job today is to try and make it a little simpler for you to want to floss and to help you understand why we should floss.
 
As a mother of 4 little ones, I understand that flossing isn’t a priority somedays….getting showered is. But with that, let me just say, flossing really is something that you don’t see the immediate results from, but in 20 years when you have your teeth still and you are smiling at their graduation with all your pearly whites, you will thank me.
 
So, let’s start with answering the basic questions about flossing….WHY should I floss? I brush really well!Brushing is a wonderful thing, and we are encouraged to do it twice a day, for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. What most people don’t realize is that brushing only reaches that tops, outside and inside surfaces of the teeth. But how to get inbetween? There really isn’t a substitute for flossing, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Rinsing with mouthrinse or using an electric toothbrush will definitely help with keeping the mouth cleaner however, it is NOT a substitute for flossing. Plaque and bacteria form on every surface in the mouth, including the tongue and inbetween the teeth, therefore, you have to clean every surface of the teeth, not just the ones you can see. The tongue, saliva, and brushing take care of the plaque on most surfaces of the teeth, but floss truly is the only way to get the sticky plaque off the sides.The idea behind flossing is that as long as you disrupt the bacteria in the mouth once every 24 hours, you prevent it from hardening and becoming tartar. Flossing is MOST effective just before or after brushing at bedtime but really….you can do it any time of the day! Stuck in traffic? Floss. Waiting to pick the kids up? Floss. Going for a walk? Floss. Any time is a great time to floss! When you floss, it prevents Gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissues), bleeding gums, bad breath, and will make easier dental appointments! The more you floss, the easier it becomes and the less your gums will bleed. It’s kind of like riding a bike. The first time you get one, you’re a little shaky but with practice you’ll be jumping off curbs in no time!
A lot of times people don’t floss because their gums bleed. That is because the gum tissue in that area is unhealthy so the body sends more blood to that area to help it heal. When your gums bleed, and the bacteria from the plaque and tartar are present, that bacteria gets into your bloodstream it is carried throughout the body increasing your chances of heart disease, compromising your immune system, and possibly causing an infection in the lining of your heart, which can be deadly! So, the more you floss, the healthier your gums are and the less they bleed!
 
So now that we know why, let’s focus on HOW to properly floss….

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth
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The type of floss you choose is up to you. My personal favorites are Glide floss and Oral-B Satin floss. You may need to try a few different types to find the one that’s right for you. But don’t give up! It does get easier. Flossing looks simple, right? But what if you don’t have the perfect and easiest mouth to floss? Or you hate how the floss cuts off your circulation in your fingers every time? When you walk down the dental isle in any store there are so many aides to assist you, so which one is right for you? Hopefully you have already asked your hygienist this question but if not, here are a few things for you to check out the next time you are perusing the dental isle.
 
Several of my patients enjoy using floss picks. These are a great way to start your day. They don’t cut off your circulation and are totally disposable. These are great to keep a pack in your car or purse when you’re out and about.
And you can find all kinds of cute designs for your kids! Kids don’t usually become proficient at flossing until 10 or 11 years old. It’s never too young to start them on flossing. They’ll thank you later!
 

For those with braces, bridges, or large gaps between their teeth you may want to try Oral-B’s superfloss. It is a piece of floss that has one stiff end, a thicker, yarn-like middle section, and regular floss at the end. It’s hand to floss your thread through those brackets, bridges, permanent retainers, and then use the floss width that fits the area. This is a favorite of mine.
Also for places that have a little bit of a space, braces or bridges, is the interproximal brush. Some are disposable, some are reusable, just check them out and decide which one you would like. But these are great for teens who get something stuck in their teeth at school and don’t want to carry a toothbrush with them. Or for men just before business meetings.
 
And of course, there are the rubber tips toothpicks. You can go back to old school and use a regular wooden toothpick if that’s your preference but these are great. They are small, disposable, and awesome for on the go. They have a flexible rubber tip you can get inbetween tight spaces, permanent retainers, and brackets. Check them out, you may like them.
 
I know that there are several other gadgets out there but these are just a few of my personal favorites. If you see one you like, ask us about it and we’ll do the research for you to see if it’s the best one for you! But no matter what you do, just be sure that you do your best and remember what Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep flossing, just keep flossing, flossing, flossing…..” Or was is swimming?

Fluoride: It’s not just for the kids.

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Andra Mahoney BS RDH
 
When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride.In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride.Some examples include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of regular professional dental care
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
  • Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
  • Poor diet
  • Existing fillings
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy

I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.

Recession- Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth. 

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This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.

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As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.

The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).

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Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity. 

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Xerostomia

The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.

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All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions! 

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com/

 

References:

Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf

Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp

Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

Pictures:

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What is Normal?

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Becky Larson RDH

In my short time as a dental hygienist I have had many patient ask me about “weird” things they have noticed inside their mouths. Many patients are worried or scared they might have oral cancer. While oral cancer should be checked regularly, many times the things patients are worried about are completely normal. In general, most mouths have the same or similar anatomy. However, there are variants of normal that one person may experience over another. I have listed a few of these normal variants here:

Tori: A torus or tori (plural) is simply an excessive growth of normal compact bone, either on the floor or roof of the mouth. They develop gradually and are asymptomatic. Tori can grow into many different shapes and sizes and are covered by the normal soft tissues of the mouth. Tori may make taking radiographs very uncomfortable or painful. No treatment is needed unless the patient is having problems speaking or swallowing. Even upon removal tori may grow back.

 

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Fordyce granules: Fordyce granules are simply a cluster of sebaceous glands (glands that secrete oil, similar to a pimple) inside the mouth. Usually they occur on the inside of the cheeks or on the lips. They are yellow in color and more than 80% of adults over the age of 20 experience them. Fordyce granules are also asymptomatic and do not require treatment.

Lingual varicosities: Lingual varicosities are veins under and on the sides of the tongue. They can be red, blue, or purple in color and generally occur in clusters. Everyone has veins in and around the tongue that may vary in size, shape, or color.

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Linea alba: Linea alba is a raised, white line usually along the inside of the cheek. It occurs as a result of clenching or biting the inside of one’s cheek. No treatment is necessary.

Luekoedema: Leukoedema is a generalized opalescent appearance of the inside of the mouth. It most commonly occurs in black adults but can be seen with any ethnicity. When the mucosa is stretched the opalescence is less noticeable. No treatment is necessary.

Amalgam tattoo: Believe it or not, I have seen tattoos inside the mouth! However, an amalgam tattoo is a little different. These “tattoos” result from previous amalgam (silver) fillings where part of the filling material seeps into the tissue. It creates a bluish-gray lesion and they can occur anywhere an amalgam filling has been placed. Amalgam tattoos can look very similar to oral cancer because of their color. A biopsy can determine the difference. Amalgam tattoos generally do not require treatment.

 

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Fissured tongue: Believed to be a result of familial genetic patterns, this variant is seen in about 5% of the population. It involves deep fissures or grooves on the dorsal (backside) of the tongue. Sometimes the tongue can become irritated if food or bacteria remain in the grooves for an extended period of time. No treatment is needed other than brushing the tongue to remove food/bacteria from the surface.

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Geographic tongue: Geographic tongue appears as small, red patches on the dorsal (backside) of the tongue that are surrounded by a yellow or white perimeter. The appearance is similar to that of landmasses on a globe, hence the name “geographic” tongue. The patches may go away and return again in different areas. Stress can be a contributing factor to this condition. No treatment is needed.

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   Make sure to be aware of what is inside your mouth. We recommended oral cancer screenings at least once per year.

As always, please go see your physician if you experience any of the following:

  • Spots, lesions, or discolorations that remain longer than 2 weeks that were not previously present.
  • Any changes is size, shape, or color to pre-existing lesions.
  • Anything that causes you pain or that your dentist recommends getting checked

Happy Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

Information taken from:

Ibsen, O., and Phelan, J. (2009) Oral Pathology for the Dental Hygienist. St. Louis, Missouri: Saunders Elsevier.