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Live Longer Through Proper Oral Health Care

Did you know that not cleaning your teeth could lead to death? Oral Health Care Equals Overall HealthItalian researchers reported in 2009 that moderately inflamed gums caused narrowing of the carotid artery that leads to the brain. They also found that after teeth cleaning the inflammation disappeared and the carotid artery returned to normal. This is important because, if allowed to continue, narrowing of the carotid artery can lead to devastating cardiovascular disease, such as stroke and even death. The fact is, oral health is related to our broader, general health, and associated with many other diseases.

Connection Between Oral Health and Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, our oral health can affect, be affected by, or be associated with a variety of diseases, including, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Sjorgen’s, and even premature and low weight births.

One of the lesser known links is respiratory disease that affects the lungs and other parts that help us breath. These diseases can include a head cold, pneumonia, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which sometimes lead to death. Pneumonia can be caused by oral fluids infested with bacteria that the body fails to control. According to Weidlich and her team of researchers who studied 19 reports, “…there is fair evidence of an association of pneumonia with oral health…” They went on to report “…that improved oral hygiene and professional oral health care reduces the progression or occurrence of respiratory diseases among high-risk elderly adults. A recent prospective study conducted with 697 elderly individuals observed that the adjusted mortality due to pneumonia was 3.9 times higher in subjects with periodontal (gum) disease.”

Diabetes, a disease of insulin deficiency, is another well known disease with close ties to poor oral hygiene and gum disease. The disease elevates sugar levels in blood and oral secretions. The excess sugar increases bacterial plaque that can lead to gum disease, a problem affecting 75% of adult populations. Diabetes is a disease that makes oral conditions worse, which then makes life for the diabetic patient harder than it needs to be. If allowed to fester, deteriorating gums and a weakened immune system from diabetes will hasten the arrival and danger of other diseases.

Treating and Preventing Periodontal Gum Disease

The good news is gum disease is very treatable and preventable. In the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, September, 2013, Dr. M. Gulati referred to our mouths as “ ‘the gateway of the body,’ periodontal disease – ‘a silent disease’ and periopathogens – ‘termites’.” To stop the disease we need to eliminate the “termites,” the bacteria in our mouths cause all the problems. The best way to accomplish both is to first, understand the proper way to clean and floss our teeth, use the right kind of toothbrush, or even better, an electric toothbrush, and visit the dentist on a regular basis for teeth cleaning. Most importantly, if your dentist finds a gum infection beginning, or an infection that has established itself, take care of it right away. It could add years to your life. If you need help finding a dentist near you, please visit our Find a Dentist page.

Published by Dentistry IQ: Survey reveals nearly half of all patients consider visiting their dentist a “necessary evil”

Dentistry IQ Article: February 4, 2016

One out of three Americans admits to being nervous about seeing their dentist, and nearly half consider dental visits a “necessary evil,” according to the results of an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of OPT-In Dental Advantage released Feb. 3. The survey found that misconceptions about dental visits persist among a significant portion of Americans.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults also revealed that older patients tend to have more negative perceptions of dental visits than their younger counterparts, and nearly one in five of those polled lack certainty about their personal dental health. Only a meager 18% said they actually “look forward” to time in the dental chair.

One out of three Americans admits to being nervous about seeing their dentist, and nearly half consider dental visits a “necessary evil,” according to the results of an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of OPT-In Dental Advantage released Feb. 3. The survey found that misconceptions about dental visits persist among a significant portion of Americans.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults also revealed that older patients tend to have more negative perceptions of dental visits than their younger counterparts, and nearly one in five of those polled lack certainty about their personal dental health. Only a meager 18% said they actually “look forward” to time in the dental chair.

“Despite considerable advancements in preventive care and technology, making dentistry easier and more comfortable than ever before, dental patients still have real concerns about dental visits,” said Dr. Dean Mersky, OPT-In Dental Advantage founder and president.

How can dentists work to change this misconception, which in turn will help their patients relax, and hopefully encourage them to visit their dentist more often?

“As dentists, we tend to focus on the science, the technical and the art of delivering dental care,” Dr. Mersky explained. “We sometimes forget the human side of what we do, the part that cares for our patients’ emotions. There are generally three emotions driving apprehension—the unknown, past experiences, and the natural tendency to avoid perceived danger near our heads. The best thing we dentists can do to help alleviate these emotions is to take the time to understand which are at play, to what extent, and why.”

To help with this effort, OPT-In is launching a dental education campaign, Speaking The Tooth, focused on dispelling patients’ fears by sharing free and accessible information about everything from the reality of how dental insurance works to what patients should ask their dentist at every check-up. Dentists are encouraged to share this information with their patients, empowering both patients and dentists to communicate more openly and effectively, a primary goal of OPT-In.

“Patients are constantly assessing, trying to determine whether they like us and want to return,” Dr. Mersky said. “If they like us, they might refer others. We need to help our patients notice and understand the positives in our offices. We need to make them feel welcome and comfortable in the office environment. Then we need to provide them with focused, quality time to ask questions without interruption. During those discussions, we can allay misgivings and help them understand the advantages of the care we provide. Taking the time to show real interest in patients is the surest way to bridge gaps and build trust.”

Learn more at www.optindentaladvantage.com