Risk assessment is an emerging field in dentistry. It permits the doctor to better understand what the patient can expect from the course of therapy they have selected.
Recent research has demonstrated that the mouth and the body are intimately connected. Problems with our body can affect the health of the mouth and problems in the mouth have been demonstrated to affect the health of the body. The following is a quick review of risk and oral health.
How the Body Can Effect the Mouth
Tobacco Use: Smoking is one of the most significant factors for gum disease. The more you smoke the greater the destruction. Presently there are some anecdotal therapeutic remedies that we use to reduce the effects of smoking. This office is always willing to help in establishing a smoking cessation program for you.
Diabetes: Gum disease is a common complication of diabetes. Diabetics, both insulin and non-insulin dependent, are more susceptible to gingivitis, bone loss and abscesses.
Medications: The side effects of many classes of drugs can have profound effects in the mouth.
- Anti-seizure medication (Dilantin): May cause the gums to overgrow on teeth. This will make it more difficult to clean your teeth and in many cases be a cosmetic problem.
- Calcium Antagonist or Calcium Channel Blocker (Procardia, Cardizam, Norvasc, Verapamil): Overgrowth of the gum tissue is a common side effect and can results in a decreased ability to clean your teeth and affects the cosmetics of your smile. Periodontal therapy and changing the brand of calcium antagonist can minimize this side effect.
- Immunosuppresent Therapy (Cyclosporin): Overgrowth of the gums can cause both a cosmetic problem and affect the ability to remove bacteria (plaque).
- Histamine Blockers (Clarenex, Allegra, Zyrtec and others): These medications dry the mouth and result in tooth decay, gingivitis (inflamed gums) and bad breath.
- Asthma Medications: Both pills and inhalers can cause dry mouths and exacerbate conditions on your teeth and in your gums.
- High Blood Pressure Medications such as Beta-Blockers: One of the most common side effects of this class of medications is dry mouth. The changes can include dry mouth, inflammation.
- Antidepressants (Prosac, Paxil, Lexapro, Saint John's Wort): One of the most significant side effects is grinding your teeth both during the day and, most damaging, when you sleep. This can result in wearing away your teeth, broken fillings and loss of support to your teeth (periodontitis). With proper periodontal therapy, it is possible to prevent the destructive side effects of these medications.
- Genetics: The tendency to develop gum disease can be inherited. If anyone on your side of the family have or had gum problems without having significant risk factors, you may be at risk as well. Presently it is possible to test for the gene.
- Bacteria (germs): Although gum disease is not contagious it is communicable. The bacteria which cause gum disease may spread to a spouse or family member.
- Females: Women can be at risk for gum disease at different points in their life. The following conditions can adversely affect your gums.
- Pregnancy, Infrequent care during previous pregnancy
- Birth control pills
- Menopause including osteoporosis
With proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment it is possible to eliminate or significantly reduce the effects of these risk factors. We will be happy to answer any questions you have.
How the Mouth Can Affect the Body
Oral diseases such as periodontitis (gum disease or pyorrhea) are cause by bacteria (germs). These germs have been shown to travel from the mouth and into the body. The concept is called focal infection. Dr. Goteiner has published and is presently carrying out a research project with the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Department of Cardiology at Morristown Memorial Hospital.
Heart Attacks and strokes: People who have gum disease have a greater chance of having a heart attack than people whose gums are healthy. Presently research is trying to understand the mechanism. Presently it is believed that the products of oral bacteria can clog arteries.
High Blood Pressure: The fewer teeth a person has, the higher the blood pressure. People who have fewer teeth rely more on processed foods. Process foods are laced with salt.
Brain Abscesses: Bacteria from the tissue around teeth with gum disease have caused brain abscesses.
Ulcers: Ulcers are caused by bacteria. When your gums are inflamed bacteria from the mouth can travel to the gut and cause ulcers to become active. If you have been treated for ulcers you should make sure your gums are as healthy as possible.
Diabetes: Recently, claims have been made that periodontal therapy will decrease the amount of diabetes medication needed to control your blood sugar. It must be emphasized that these findings have yet to be confirmed by large studies.
Pregnancy: Women with gum disease have babies who are premature and have lower birthweights.
Respiratory Diseases: It is now believed that oral bacteria can help bacteria associated with pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) attach to the linings of the lungs.
The mouth body connection is well established. Should you have any further questions, please call us at 908-879-7709, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.