Why Floss?


     The dreaded question that comes at every appointment is, “How often are you flossing?”  It is time consuming and, yes, we are tired before bed, but flossing is much more than cavity prevention.  Usually we give a sheepish grin saying, “I should be better.”  Before I became a hygienist, I admit I was not a consistent flosser.  I am proud to say that I am now a religious flosser.   Periodontitis and gingivitis can be prevented by flossing.  If these diseases go untreated, the whole body can be affected by the amount of bacteria in the body’s blood stream.  Here are some ailments that can be aggravated: cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, COPD, premature birth and low birth weight babies. The body is one working unit and the mouth is no exception to inhibiting or bettering our health.   

     Cardiovascular Disease is a collection of plaques that cause atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a thickening and hardening of arteries. Studies have shown over 40% of artery lesions contain oral bacteria.  At this point, inflammation is created by the influx of blood cells which can create a blood clot, reducing blood flow to the heart.  This can eventually cause a heart attack. 

     Most diabetic patients are aware of their decreased ability to heal.  There is no exception in the oral cavity.  Diabetes decreases the body’s ability to kill bacteria.  Inflammation is also increased throughout the body and in the mouth with diabetes.  Research studies have shown higher numbers of inflammatory agents in the gums of those with poorly controlled diabetes then those patients with healthy levels.  Diabetic and periodontal health goes hand-in-hand.  If the mouth is unhealthy then diabetes is worsened and vice-versa.

     One of the functions of the oral cavity is to be the gateway of the respiratory system. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pneumonia have been linked to poor oral health. The mouth can be a reservoir for respiratory bacteria. Bacteria like Staphylococus have been shown to accumulate on the teeth. The bacteria can be in the saliva and then aspirated in the lungs causing infection.

     The oral cavities health can also affect pregnancy. The mother provides everything for the child. She tries to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep and much more. Bacteria in the oral cavity can adversely affect the baby as well. Periodontal disease can cause premature birth and low birth weight. Bacteria as stated above can cause inflammation.  Contractions of the uterus are caused by hormones and by substances called prostaglandins. These contractions are most common in the third trimester. Chronic infection like gingivitis and periodontitis can cause premature labor. Another study has shown bacteria from the gums in the placenta causing preterm birth.

     Most people see the dentist more often than their medical doctor. The dentist or hygienist can help monitor a patients overall health. We can suggest a smoking cessation program, oral care products, monitor blood pressure, or promote good nutrition habits. All of these suggestions are correlated with great oral home care. Our team has a true desire for all patients to have whole body health as well as oral health.

The Wonders of Vitamin D

 Have you ever wondered what Vitamin D can do to help your body? More over your oral health? Is milk really only for my bones?

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins. It prevents periodontal disease, gingivitis, and cavities in addition to building bones and aids in absorption of calcium. Vitamin D regulates calcium and allows us to use it more efficiently in our bodies, which is vital to bone health. Recently this vitamin has been linked to the healthiness of your teeth! Studies have shown that addition of Vitamin D to the diet of children reduced evidence of tooth decay by up to 50% in the 3,000 children who were part of the study. In humans, Vitamin D is unique because if can be synthesized and can be absorbed naturally when exposed to the sun. Sadly, if you have a calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency it is likely that your bones and teeth will be affected. Therefore increasing and maintaining your calcium and vitamin D intake can help reduce the effects of premature bone loss.

One good source of Vitamin D and calcium that we can have every day is Milk! Who doesn’t like a nice cool glass of milk? Milk that is fortified with Vitamin D is beneficial to our oral health is because it packs the two for one punch Calcium and Vitamin D. Having strong teeth and bones is arguably one of the most valuable health benefits we strive towards with age. Generally teeth are very hard and  can withstand all the chewing and crunching of all the food we eat. However, tooth enamel is a complex calcium phosphate mineral called apatite. Because, calcium is continuously gained and lost by this mineral, addition of milk to our diets is a great way to replenish calcium. When we are deficient in calcium and Vitamin D, our teeth aren’t as strong, and we can acquire bone loss and even inflammation of our gums. Oral inflammation is a sign of periodontal disease, which results in bone loss if left untreated, when infection that causes bones loss is left untreated tooth loss is the final result. Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues  that effect bone that support your teeth this disease occurs when plaque and other oral bacteria’s reach dangerous levels and are not removed by daily brushing or treated with surgeries.

There are many beneficial reasons to adding Vitamin D to your diet, one of the hidden reasons is for your oral health! Your teeth go through so much stress and strain from all of the yummy, delicious, sticky  foods you eat. Thank them by taking Vitamin D and maintaining your oral health with your family dentist and scheduling annual check-up and cleanings!