Why should I care about periodontal (gum) disease?
Periodontal Disease has been studied as a risk factor for cardiovascular (heart) and cerebrovascular (brain) diseases, respiratory (lung) diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and poor metabolic control in patients with diabetes mellitus. (JADA, Oct 2008)
How do I prevent periodontal disease?
Take good care of your teeth every day and have regular dental checkups.
According to the current ADA guidelines here's how to keep your teeth and gums healthy:
1) Brush your teeth well twice a day 2) Cleaning between your teeth with floss or inter-dental cleaners will remove bacteria and food
particles from between the teeth, where a toothbrush can't reach 3) Eat a healthy well balanced meal
4) Visit your dentist regularly
Isn't tooth loss inevitable in the later years?
No! Today, older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer because of scientific developments and the preventive emphasis in dentistry. This improvement was seen in the results of a survey released by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. They showed that among persons aged 55 to 64, the rate of toothlessness dropped 60 percent since 1960. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are important throughout your life, whatever your age. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist regularly, you will prevent dental problems and save time and money as well. In the process, you can save your teeth and gums.
My dentures don't feel as comfortable as they once did. Before I see the dentist, should I try some different products on my own to try to improve them first?
Your dentures were made to fit precisely. If they are cared for properly, they do not change shape. They can become loose due to natural changes in the gums and bone supporting them. As the jawbone begins to shrink, so do the gums. When your dentures do not fit properly, see your dentist as soon as possible so adjustments can be made. Do not try to change the fit of your dentures yourself. This can damage them and make them un-repairable. This could be a costly experiment! Ill-fitting dentures repaired at home can irritate the gums, tongue and cheeks. In emergencies, denture adhesives can be used to keep the dentures stable until you see the dentist. If your denture is loose, have your dentist check it. (ADA, 2009)
I've heard about implants as an alternative to dentures.
What should I know about implants?
Dental implants may offer solutions for patients who cannot function adequately with conventional dentures. However, not every patient is a candidate for implants. The decision can be made only after a careful examination by your dentist and discussion of the relative benefits and risks and what the procedure involves. Ask your dentist if implants may be an option for you. (ADA, 2009)
Why does my mouth feel dry?
Reduced saliva flow that results in a dry mouth is a common problem among older adults. It is caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics. Some of the common problems associated with dry mouth include a constant sore throat, burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive cavities can form. (ADA, 2009)
Is there a connection between diabetes and gum disease?
Because diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection, the gums are among the tissues likely to be affected. Periodontal diseases are infections of the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place. Periodontal disease is often linked to the control of diabetes. For example, patients with inadequate blood sugar control appear to develop periodontal disease more often and more severely, and they lose more teeth than persons who have good control of their diabetes. It is possible to have periodontal disease and not have all of the warning signs. If you notice any of the warning signs of gum disease, see your dentist immediately.
Because of lowered resistance and a longer healing process, periodontal diseases often appear to be more frequent and more severe among persons with diabetes. That's why good maintenance of blood sugar levels, a well-balanced diet that meets your needs, good oral care at home, regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important. (ADA, 2009)
What age is important for getting Oral Cancer Screenings?
Recent reports have had children as young as 12 developing oral cancer. (Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, Jan/Feb 2008)
What are risk factors for Oral Cancer?
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) risk factors are closely related to tobacco and alcohol use and a genetic predisposition. OSCC is also related to HPV, marijuana use, and periodontal disease. (Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, Jan/Feb 2009) According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 34,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma every year and this contributes to 8,000 deaths each year. (Oralcancerfoundation.org, Oct 2008)