Improve Overall Health by Caring for Your Teeth and Gums

While we know eating right, tossing out the cigarettes, and “Sweating to the Oldies” are all part of our typical New Year’s resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle that can prolong our lives, many of us are not aware of the overall health benefits of taking good care of our teeth and gums. 

Tooth decay, plaque and Periodontal (Gum) Disease is a health problem that doesn’t normally get a lot of New Year’s resolution attention. In fact, although 80% of adults have some form of gum disease, many are not aware of the diagnosis, symptoms or its lasting effects. Medical evidence concludes that poor oral health, gum disease, cavities, plaque buildup, etc., can contribute to other problems in the body. For example, people with gum disease are more likely to develop diabetes or heart disease, and pregnant women increase their risk of delivering low-birth weight and premature babies. 

The Causes & Symptoms of Gum Disease 

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support your teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis: 

• gums become swollen and red due to inflammation; 

• teeth and gums often bleed while brushing, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria. 

In the more serious form of periodontal disease — called periodontitis: 

• gums pull away from the tooth as infection settles in; 

• supporting gum tissues are destroyed; 

• supportive jaw bone can be lost; 

• your teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. 

Diagnosing Periodontal Disease 

Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment and prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. They are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation, plaque and bacteria. Periodontists are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, and dental implants. 

Make it your New Year’s resolution to take better care of your mouth and teeth. Here are a few additional tips: 

• Brush twice daily: Your mouth is the front line for battling the bacteria that damage not only your teeth and gums, but also other organs and systems in your body. 

• Floss daily: Your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth, which allow the bacterial film to build up. Daily flossing cleans the spaces between teeth, depriving bacteria of a safe haven. 

• Have at least two dental cleanings a year: Your dental hygienist supplements your daily brushing and flossing by cleaning the pockets where bacteria may escape your own routine. And the hygienist provides a vital screening for problems between dental checkups. 

• Get a regular annual dental checkup: Preventative dentistry is better for your health – and much cheaper – than dealing with major dental problems. Many people never visit a dentist until teeth require a root canal or even extraction, problems that are expensive to fix, and affect other teeth. 

• Visit a Periodontist for gum evaluation: All adult patients should have full periodontal examination with charting accomplished once a year. This important assessment provides you and your Dentist with a baseline measurement to record the pocket depth (space between your teeth and gums), the presence of gum disease, gum recession, bleeding, tooth mobility and plaque buildup. 

• Eat, drink and be wary: The enemy of oral health is the group of natural bacteria that thrive on sugar and dissolve the protective enamel covering the teeth. Refined sugar is present in an overwhelming number of foods, and is part of the modern diabetes “epidemic.” This year, make a commitment to tooth- and health-conscious eating habits. 

• Consider a new and stronger smile: Getting dental implants and crowns for missing or broken teeth isn’t a luxury; these problems can have a domino effect that will leave you with shifting teeth, a vulnerability to gum disease and other growing damage. These necessary restorations will improve your quality-of-life and your long-term health. 

Improving your dental health and preventing tooth decay can have a larger health impact than just a healthy mouth and brighter teeth. Take control of your dental health and make an appointment with an experienced Periodontist today. Please visit www,Dr.KarlSmith.com and call my office at 301-638-4867or 703-894-4867. It might just save your life! 

Karl Smith DDS
Dr. Karl Smith has been in dental practice for over thirtyfour years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and immediately entered General Practice in the US Air Force Dental Corps. He successfully completed three additional years of advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in IV Sedation and Dental Implants in 1992, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. He won the John Pritchard Prize for outstanding research which included looking for a vaccine against bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Year after year, Dr. Smith has been consistently voted Top Dentist by Washingtonian Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and Virginia Living.