fotolia_28128322_xsIn today’s health conscious world, there is an increasing focus on maintaining a healthy mind as well as body. Studies now show just how complex our bodies are and how important daily maintenance is. One topic that I find very interesting and important is the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Cardiovascular disease affects more than 80 million people in the United States alone. It can present itself in the form of high blood pressure, heart attacks, angina pectoris, strokes or even heart failure. Periodontal disease, in the dental world is also incredibly prevalent. Periodontal disease is the chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissues. Periodontal or gum disease can involve gingivitis (the inflammation of the gum tissue) or periodontitis (the loss or recession of bone aroud the teeth). So what’s the connection? Recent studies have found that the bacteria and inflammatory proteins that are present in gum disease are associated with an increase of blood vessel wall thickening, which is often found in cardiovascular disease. The theory is that the bacteria and inflammatory proteins found in the mouths of people with periodontal disease make their way to the blood stream where they begin to affect the cardiovascular system. How does this effect you? Having good oral health is something we should all strive for, however, if you are at risk for, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease then you should be even more diligent with your oral hygiene. That means flossing and brushing regularly and seeing your dentist at least every 6 months. If you have periodontal disease be sure to tell your physician as well.]]>

pregnancyHave you noticed, now that you’re pregnant, you’re gums are red and inflamed, leading to gingivitis? During your pregnancy your body as you know is going through a lot of changes. Between the hormone surges, the morning sickness and the cravings you may feel like your body is out of your control. Because of all the changes you’ll be undergoing you have to be extra diligent about your oral health. Your teeth and gums are more susceptible to problems during this delicate period of your health. Because of your overactive hormones your gums can become more reactive to plaque and bacteria on your teeth. This can make them more prone to gingivitis (inflammation and irritation of gums). It is not uncommon for pregnant women to get something called a pregnancy tumor on their gums. Normally they are painless, but can spontaneously bleed. These red or purple lesions are simply irritated and inflamed gum tissue that usually resolves after the baby is born. Also, morning sickness can repeatedly expose your teeth to an acidic environment, leading to weakened tooth enamel and making you more susceptible to decay and erosion. To prevent these problems you should continue to see your dentist regularly for cleaning appointments as well as practicing good home care. At home you should floss at least once a day and brush after every meal. If you are prone to morning sickness you may want to incorporate a fluoride rinse to your daily regimen. Some suggest that after vomiting you should rinse with a mixture of a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of water, to neutralize the acid in your mouth prior to brushing. Non-invasive procedures can be completed during your pregnancy, such as exams (without x-rays) and cleanings. If you have a dental emergency, which requires anesthesia to resolve, you should always contact your obstetrician first and get clearance for treatment. Maintaining good oral health is important not only to mother but to baby as well. Recent studies have shown a link between low birth weight and pre-term babies and gingivitis. It is believed that bacteria from gingivitis can travel from your gums into your bloodstream. It can then travel to the uterus and cause an increased production of chemicals called prostaglandins which can induce premature labor. By following a good home care regimen and seeing your dentist regularly you can help maintain good oral health during and after your pregnancy.]]>