Posts for: December, 2014
Maria Menounos, an independent filmmaker, actress, and co-host of daily entertainment news program Extra, learned at an early age about the importance of maintaining good general and dental health when her father, Constantinos, a Greek immigrant, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As a result, her parents made sure the family consumed a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which they produced themselves. Maria and her family also consumed little-to-no junk food.
Menounos is still committed to helping those with diabetes. In fact, because she saw first hand the power of communication in the lives of diabetes patients and their families, Menounos is an avid ambassador for the American Diabetes Association.
Maria's experience with diabetes is one that she shares with millions of people worldwide. And if you or someone you care about is suffering from this disease, it's important to be aware of the connection between diabetes and oral health. Recent research has shown a link between two chronic inflammatory conditions: periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes. Evidence consistently reveals that diabetes is a risk factor for increased severity of periodontal disease and conversely, periodontitis is a risk factor for worsening blood glucose control in patients with diabetes and may also increase the risk of diabetic complications. Periodontal inflammation is also associated with an elevated systemic (general body) inflammatory state and an increased risk of major cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) events such as heart attack, stroke, adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., low birth weight and preterm births) and altered blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
If you are interested in learning more about periodontal disease, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or, if you are diabetic and fear you may have periodontal disease, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination. During this private consultation, we will also discuss any questions you have as well as what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Maria, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Maria Menounos.”
You probably already know that using tobacco causes significant health risks: It increases your odds of getting various cancers and coronary diseases, to name just a few. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to kick the habit, even when they know they should. Tooth loss is another issue that can cause trouble for your health, in the form of bone loss, malnutrition, and social or psychological problems. Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth — but does smoking complicate the process of getting implants?
The short answer is yes, smoking can make implant placement a bit riskier — but in the big picture, it doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) have this procedure done if it’s needed.
Smoking, as you know, has harmful effects in your mouth (even leaving aside the risk of oral cancer). The hot gases can burn the oral cavity and damage salivary glands. Nicotine in smoke reduces blood flow to the soft tissues, which can affect the immune response and slow the processes of healing. At the same time, smoking promotes the growth of disease-causing oral bacteria.
How does this affect dental implants? Essentially, smoking creates a higher risk that implants may not heal properly after they are placed, and makes them more likely to fail over time. Studies have shown that smokers have an implant failure rate that’s twice as great as non-smokers. Does this mean that if you smoke, you shouldn't consider implants to replace missing or failing teeth?
Not necessarily. On the whole, implants are the most successful method of replacing missing teeth. In fact, the overall long-term survival rate of implants for both smokers and non-smokers is well over 90 percent — meaning that only a small percentage don’t work as they should. This is where it’s important to get the expert opinion of an implant specialist, who can help you decide whether implants are right for your particular situation.
If you do smoke, is there anything you can do to better your odds for having a successful dental implant? Yes: quit now! (Implants are a good excuse to start a smoking-cessation program.) But if you can’t, at least stop smoking for one week before and two weeks after implant placement. And if that is not possible, at least go on a smoking diet: restrict the number of cigarettes you smoke by 50% (we know you can at least do that!) Try to follow good oral hygiene practices at all times, and see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Kristin Cavallari's flawless smile has been featured on TV, film and magazine covers. But the 25-year-old actress and reality-show personality didn't always have a perfect set of teeth. In fact, she told Dear Doctor magazine — where readers recently voted to crown her with the “Smile of the Year” award — that her dental treatments began the same way many do: with orthodontics in sixth grade.
“I had the ‘spaghetti catcher,’ which is what everyone used to call it,” she reminisced. But by that, she didn't mean a strainer — she's talking about what dentists call a “palatal expander.”
In case you're not familiar with this orthodontic device, a palatal expander takes advantage of the natural growth patterns of a child's upper jaw to create additional space for the top set of teeth. How does it work? Basically, it's similar to braces: By applying gentle pressure, the appliance creates changes in the jaw. Unlike braces, however, it's invisible — it fits between the upper teeth, close to the roof of the mouth.
During the three to six months a child wears the palatal expander, it pushes the left and right halves of the upper jawbone apart, and then maintains and stabilizes the new, wider spacing. Since the palatal bones don't fuse until after puberty, tightening it a little bit each day for the first few weeks provides a quick and painless method of making the upper jaw a bit roomier. And that can be a very good thing. Why?
There are lots of reasons. For one, it can relieve the condition called “crowding,” when there is not enough space in the upper jaw to accommodate the proper alignment of the permanent teeth. In the past, teeth often had to be extracted in that situation. It may even allow “impacted” teeth — ones which are blocked from erupting by other teeth — to come in normally.
It can help treat a “crossbite,” when the back top teeth come down to bite inside (instead of outside) the lower back teeth. It also generally shortens the total time a child needs for orthodontic treatment. That's good news for any teenager — even if their own day-to-day “reality show” isn't featured on TV!
If you would like more information about palatal expanders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Palatal Expanders” and “Early Orthodontic Evaluation.”