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Patient Education

Maintaining Healthy Teeth and Gums is a Wise Investment

Reducing stress can positively affect your oral health, and potentially your bottom line

CHICAGO – February 2, 2009 – Faced with plummeting investments and an unsteady job market, many Americans are feeling the effects of the recent economic crisis. In fact, a recent study by the American Psychological Association found that over 80 percent of Americans rank money and the economy as significant causes of stress. And while chronic stress can lead to a host of health problems, including a weakened immune system and increased blood pressure, it can also take its toll on periodontal health. If left untreated, periodontal disease may result in even more serious, and potentially expensive, overall health complications.

Stress and your smile
According to David Cochran, DDS, PhD, President of the American Academy of Periodontology and Chair of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, stress can make an individual more susceptible to harmful habits that negatively impact oral health. “Stress may lead an individual to abuse tobacco or alcohol, and to possibly even neglect his or her oral hygiene. These lifestyle choices are known risk factors for the development of periodontal disease, which has been connected to several other chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.”

A study published in the February Journal of Periodontology (JOP) confirmed that stress may interfere with oral hygiene. In the study, 56 percent of participants self-reported that stress led them to neglect regular brushing and flossing. In addition, the hormone cortisol may also play a role in the connection between stress and gum disease. Chronic stress is associated with higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol; previous research has found that increased amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream can lead to a more destructive form of periodontal disease.

“During periods of high stress such as what we are currently experiencing in this economic climate, individuals should seek healthy sources of relief such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep,” says Dr. Cochran. “Doing so can help maintain a healthy mouth, and potentially help ward off other negative health concerns.”

Preserve your gum line, improve your bottom line
Reducing stress in an effort to avoid gum disease may not only help sustain overall health, but it might also help your pocketbook as well. A study published in the December 2007 Journal of Periodontology (JOP) found that preventing periodontal disease may be one way to help lower your total health care expenses. In the study, patients with severe periodontal disease had 21 percent higher health care costs as compared to those with no periodontal disease. Severe periodontal disease (periodontitis) involves bone loss and diminished tissue attachment around the teeth. And since past research has shown that periodontal disease may lead to other serious health conditions, striving to maintain oral health may help diminish the need to incur additional health care expenses, and ultimately help reduce overall health care spending.

“In these stressful times I encourage my patients to pay even more attention to their teeth and gums,” says Dr. Cochran. “And in turn, since preventing gum disease may help reduce overall health care expenses, maintaining a healthy mouth may actually be a stress reliever in itself.”

About Periodontists
Periodontists, the dentists specially trained in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease, recommend regular brushing and flossing and routine dental visits in order to maintain comprehensive oral health. If gum disease develops, consulting a periodontist is an effective way to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

About the American Academy of Periodontology
The American Academy of Periodontology is an 8,000-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
 

Smart Snacks for Healthy Teeth

Getting your kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. But it's important to encourage them to eat "smart" snacks to keep their teeth – and body – healthy.

Whether you’re transitioning your older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little ones, here are some tips for healthy snacking:

Set the tone. Your kids mimic what you do, so it’s important that you eat smart snacks too. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will too.

Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks can be fun! Prepare tasty combinations, such as apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, meat and cheese rollups, or yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.

Keep your kids involved. When you make your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they'd like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what's good for their teeth and what's not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.

Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.

We can help you come up with even more ideas for healthy snacks – come in for a visit, and we’ll work on a plan together.

 Preventive Dentistry: Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing is an effective way of removing plaque [sticky mixture of bacteria, food & debris] from your teeth. Daily removal of plaque can prevent tooth decay and periodontal [gum] disease. Select a toothbrush that will provide easy access to all areas of your mouth; this includes one with a small head [1 inch by ½ inch] and a flexible head or handle. The brush should have soft nylon bristles with round heads and a wide handle for a firm grip. There are also a variety of electric or sonic brushes that work well. Call our office for a recommendation. Establishing a daily pattern and a consistent approach to your brushing technique is important to ensure that you have accomplished adequate cleaning. One easy technique involves placing the toothbrush at a 45° angle to your teeth and gently brushing in an elliptical motion. Start on the same quadrant [same side, lower or upper] each time. Brush the outside of the teeth, the inside and the biting surface. Repeat this action with the other three quadrants. When you are finished, brush you tongue. Adequate brushing should take 3-4 minutes.

There are other effective brushing methods that may be appropriate for you, depending on the condition of your teeth and gums. Bring your brush to your next check-up visit and have our hygienist review your technique.

Toothbrushing is most effective if done right after eating. It would be a wise idea to keep an extra brush at work for after lunch or snacks. Toothpaste is not necessary if you are using fluoride toothpaste at home 1-2 times a day. Just rinse with water when you are finished.

Effective toothbrushing starts with habit and routine and ends with time, diligence and good technique.

 

Preventive Dentistry: Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing is an effective way of removing plaque [sticky mixture of bacteria, food & debris] from your teeth. Daily removal of plaque can prevent tooth decay and periodontal [gum] disease. Select a toothbrush that will provide easy access to all areas of your mouth; this includes one with a small head [1 inch by ½ inch] and a flexible head or handle. The brush should have soft nylon bristles with round heads and a wide handle for a firm grip. There are also a variety of electric or sonic brushes that work well. Call our office for a recommendation. Establishing a daily pattern and a consistent approach to your brushing technique is important to ensure that you have accomplished adequate cleaning. One easy technique involves placing the toothbrush at a 45° angle to your teeth and gently brushing in an elliptical motion. Start on the same quadrant [same side, lower or upper] each time. Brush the outside of the teeth, the inside and the biting surface. Repeat this action with the other three quadrants. When you are finished, brush you tongue. Adequate brushing should take 3-4 minutes.

There are other effective brushing methods that may be appropriate for you, depending on the condition of your teeth and gums. Bring your brush to your next check-up visit and have our hygienist review your technique.

Toothbrushing is most effective if done right after eating. It would be a wise idea to keep an extra brush at work for after lunch or snacks. Toothpaste is not necessary if you are using fluoride toothpaste at home 1-2 times a day. Just rinse with water when you are finished.

Effective toothbrushing starts with habit and routine and ends with time, diligence and good technique.