3 Ways Oral Health Influences Your Body: Heart Disease, Diabetes, Pregnancy

Happy 2018! New Year’s resolutions are not as popular as they once were, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to your everyday life. Now is always the right time!  Did you know oral health affects your overall health?  It’s important to brush and floss daily along with dental check-ups every 6 months. Poor oral habits can lead to gum disease because your mouth is swarming with bacteria. And gum disease is linked to heart diseases, diabetes, and pregnancy. Oral health is connected to your total health.

Heart Disease

Are you wondering how your oral health relates to your heart? Everyday brushing and flossing manages the bacteria levels in your mouth.  Without daily cleaning, bacteria is free to flow into your blood stream and can travel to your arteries.  Arteries are blood vessels that distribute oxygen from your heart to your body. This can lead to atherosclerosis where plaque builds up on the inner layers of your arteries. This can cause clots that can block blood flow through your body.  Increasing the likelihood of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Source: American Heart AssociationToothpaste.png

Diabetes

Did you know you are 3 to 4 times more likely to have gum disease after being diagnosed with diabetes?  Diabetes affects how your body processes sugar and leaving you at a higher risk for gum disease. It can also make your blood sugar level constantly increase. Meaning your body has a harder time fighting the bacteria attacking your gums. People receiving gum disease treatment along with antibiotics showed improvements with their blood sugar levels. Be sure to keep us updated on your health history and medication lists.

Source: American Diabetes Association

 Pregnancy

Pregnancy is no excuse to slack on your oral care. Hormone levels are uncontrollable it can cause your gums to bleed, swell, and absorb food. This leads to pregnancy gingivitis.  Another thing to look out for is pregnancy tumors. While harmless, they start to appear during your second trimester between your teeth. If you begin to feel pain or irritation your dentist can have them removed. Most of the time they disappear after your child is born.

A common side effect of pregnancy is morning sickness which can be alarming for your teeth. The acid from your stomach can lead to tooth decay. We recommended gargling with baking soda and water after an episode of morning sickness before brushing your teeth. Dental appointments and procedures are encouraged during pregnancy to help prevent gum disease. It is optimal to have dental work done during your second trimester because the developments of your fetal organs are complete and the risks of side effects are lower.  Once you are in the third trimester it may be harder for you to lay on your back for a long period of time.

Source: American Pregnancy Association

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Living a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming but remember to make small strides daily. Here are five healthy habits for a happy life.

  • Brush your teeth twice daily
  • Floss once  daily
  • Preventive healthcare screening, at least once every six months
  • Smile and Laugh
  • Physical Activity
  • Adequate sleep

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

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4 Risk Factors of Gum Disease to Discuss with Your Dentist

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Have you ever had something caught in your teeth for days? It’s likely because it was lodged deep between a tooth and your gums. That gum tissue is what keeps our chompers in place. There are three stages of gum disease and all are treatable.

The mild form of gum disease is Gingivitis. This is where plaque and other byproducts irritate the gums. It makes them swollen, tender, and more likely to bleed. Periodontitis is stage two. The gum tissue starts deteriorating as it detaches from the teeth forming pockets around the roots. This leaves teeth exposed and more susceptible to decay. Finally, Advanced Periodontitis can set in. Tooth pockets get deeper as the severe gum recession leads to bone loss causing loose teeth.

Common Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease

  • Genetics – it’s hereditary and some of us are just unlucky! While you may be more susceptible to periodontitis, having a good oral hygiene routine with regular dental visits can help your smile stay healthy. Talk to us about finding the right balance for your needs.
  • Health – underlying medical conditions like diabetes and Crohn’s disease, as well as lowered immunity from illnesses and treatments often affect gum tissue. Medications, hormonal changes and obesity are also culprits and should be discussed.
  • Bad Habits – chewing on ice, not brushing or flossing daily and using tobacco are the most common behavior changes we encourage you to ditch. However, substance abuse and a diet lacking in vitamin C will also impact your smile.
  • Stress – it’s inevitable. But keep an eye on exactly how much it’s weighing you down. High levels or chronic stress can lead to poor hygiene habits. Anxiety can also lower your immune system from effectively fighting off bacteria that causes gingivitis (stage 1).

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Common red flags of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums look bright red
  • Teeth wiggle

There’s no home remedy to cure gum disease. Only professional treatment can help, so call and schedule an exam today [PHONE].

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

This Is How To Pick A Toothbrush & Floss

We all know to brush our teeth. Check. We all know to floss our teeth. Check (okay, we know some of us skip this step but we’ll let it slide this time). But do we know which type of toothbrush and which dental floss is the best to keep our pearly whites, well, pearly and white? Today we clear the air on this important topic.

Toothbrushes & Brushing

Before getting into all your purchasing options, let’s do a quick brush up (pun intended) on proper brushing techniques to ensure your dental labors are as effective as possible.

When brushing, you don’t want to apply a lot of pressure; plaque is removed with gentle and thorough cleaning. By being too aggressive you are more likely to damage your gum tissue than clean properly. To start, place the head of the brush at a 45-degree angle and point the bristles just into the gum line. This helps disrupt buildup gathering at the base of the tooth. Avoid brushing all your teeth at once; rather, target a group of 3-4 and gently clear the surfaces before moving on to the next set. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the tooth: fronts, backs, chewing surfaces, and the sides of those hard-to-reach molars. Perfect!

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

Electronic toothbrushes are a fantastic option and do a lot to help agitate food particles and really cleanse your teeth. Manual toothbrushes also work well provided they are used effectively with our above tips. For bristles, many make the mistake of purchasing them too tough. The flexibility and gentleness of soft bristles is precisely what you want to clean without damaging. For toothbrush size, just ensure it isn’t too large that it prevents access to those back molars that can be tricky to reach. There is no single toothbrush that is perfect for everyone, so be sure you’re using the one that feels the best to you and will encourage regular use – if you have any questions, we are always here!

Dental Floss & Flossing

Onto floss – but first, the brush up:

When it comes to flossing, you make a C-shape to curve around each tooth as you bring the floss down. The point is not to drag the line straight up and down, which can irritate the gums, but rather to hug the surface of each tooth and clean from the top to the root with a gentle motion. Use about 18” of floss for a fresh portion each pass. Remember to clean both neighboring teeth each time you bring the floss down, and don’t miss any teeth!

Which Floss Is Best?

There are a few variables to keep in mind when finding your ideal floss. First is the thickness of the floss – some people have larger gaps between teeth, and others have very tight spaces that can make it hard to floss. The ideal thickness is one that is comfortable to use, but still thoroughly cleans between each tooth – for tight spaces, try a flat, ribbon-like floss. There are also options like the material the floss is made of, and then waxed versus unwaxed floss. Some suggest waxed floss may be slightly more effective, but whichever choice is most comfortable for you is the choice we recommend. Yes, a lot of our advice is related to your preferences, but if you find a dental product you like with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can be sure you’ve found a winner!

In fact, that is our biggest suggestion for when it comes to both brushes and floss: the right option for you is the one you will actually use. If you have more questions, give us a call – we are always happy to ensure our patients feel confident with their oral health and have all the facts.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Amalgam Fillings: Should They Be Replaced?

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What is a filling?

Receiving a dental filling is a common procedure that many people have personally experienced. As a bit of a background, a filling becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged by decay and needs to be restored and protected. The function of a filling is to both seal off any spaces where bacteria could enter, and to reshape the tooth to its original form and function. Fillings are an invaluable part of dental work because they offer both a solution for present damage, and act as preventative guards against potential future damage.

A variety of materials are used to create fillings: gold, porcelain, a composite resin, or an amalgam (commonly referred to as silver fillings) are all common choices. There is no ‘best’ type of filling, and the right option for you is truly dependent on your individual case and personal preference.

Why remove a filling?

There are a few different reasons one may want to replace a filling, including a more natural look. Porcelain and composite resins look the most natural and are placed to match your tooth color, and it is not uncommon for those with gold and silver fillings to request these more subtle options. Each type of filling has its own lifespan, which can range from just a few years to several decades, so sometimes a routine replacement may also be in order.

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However, in addition to appearance and time, there is also a debate surrounding the use of amalgam fillings.

What is the amalgam filling debate?

By definition, the word ‘amalgam’ is synonymous with the words ‘mixture’ or ‘blend’. As an example, a smoothie would be considered an amalgam of fruits!

In the dental world, ‘amalgam’ as it is used to describe a filling indicates it is a mixture of materials – this means that silver fillings are not pure silver, they have other similar materials in them as well. The proposed problem with these fillings is that the material could contain toxic or harmful matter that could negatively affect your health.

Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. The biggest concern expressed by those opposed to amalgam fillings is the potential exposure to mercury, and patients potentially being poisoned as a result. That does sound awful, until you consider that we are all exposed to some level of mercury. Mercury is present in fish! A person would have to eat a lot of fish before there was any risk of poisoning, and the same could be said about a small tooth filling that is mostly made of silver. On the other hand, we understand if you have concerns about the material used in your filling.

If you already have an amalgam filling, it’s important to note that removing a filling when not completely necessary is an extra procedure, and with any medical procedure there are always risks involved. If you are getting a new filling and are uncomfortable with the idea of amalgam, just let us know and we can find an option that is right for you. There are many choices when it comes to your filling material, and we want you to walk out of our office feeling confident with your smile and your health.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Pre-Medication for Dental Work After Joint Replacement

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What is pre-medicating? What do artificial joints have to do with dental treatment? Why is this related to my oral health and not just overall health?

Good questions! Although artificial joints can seem like a far cry from concerns with your dental health, the two are more related than one may think. When it comes to artificial joints, there is an increased risk of infection due to the inorganic material in the body that should be taken into consideration. This is true from the time of placement, but it may also play a role with future medical treatments. It has long been suggested that pre-medicating should be a standard prerequisite to dental and other procedures, but what is pre-medicating and why would it help?

Pre-Medication Before Dental Procedures

Pre-medicating is the act of giving medication prior to a medical or dental procedure, which is done with the intention of staying ahead of potential infection problems. The theory is that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream, and those with artificial joints are already more susceptible to infection. Pre-medication is meant to help mitigate this risk prior to the procedure to keep your overall health in check from start to finish.

Sounds simple – what’s the dilemma?

Your replacement joints may not affect treatments at all! Many question pre-medication as it does not appear to be necessary. In fact, the ADA directly states “In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection.” There is evidence that dental procedures are not associated with prosthetic joint implant infections, along with the fact that there is evidence to suggest that there are potential harms in taking medication when not completely necessary. As such, the risks do not outweigh the benefits of pre-medication. In individual cases, there may be exceptions; however, as a rule pre-medication is not a necessary prerequisite for effective dental treatments.

Please be sure to let us know if you have artificial joints, or any out of the ordinary medical circumstances. We will be sure to take them into consideration when it comes to developing your treatment plan. For the most part, your artificial joints will not require special treatment on your end – we can treat you as we would any other patient to keep your smile looking sharp!

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a ‘periodontal probe’ to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368