How does my oral health affect my overall health?

Written by: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

It is easy to think of your dental health and overall health as two different things. You visit the dentist for your teeth and oral health, and you visit your doctor for the rest of your body. However, it is important to keep in mind that your oral health impacts your overall health, and vice versa.

Your mouth has saliva which is your body’s first defense against bacteria and viruses. However, if your teeth aren’t cleaned regularly it is likely that you have a plaque build up. Bacteria clings to plaque, and plaque feeds the bacteria causing it to grow and multiply.

Periodontal disease (bone loss of teeth)  is caused by calculus building up around the teeth. Periodontal disease causes bone loss over time. Calculus harbors minerals, bacteria and food particles. The bacteria that is around your teeth have direct access to your blood stream via the capillaries in your gums. Medical research has shown that the same bacteria in the calculus in your teeth travels and build ups in the arteries in your heart.

Many systemic diseases show their first symptoms in the mouth. These include cancers, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. Your dentist may notice these changes and refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

Overall it is important to monitor your oral health, and overall health. Keep an eye out for any unusual changes and visit your dentist and doctor regularly.

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Common Myths About Dental Hygiene

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD, ParaDentalCare.info, (201) 864-4700

Myth #1: White teeth equal healthy teeth. Even though your teeth may be white, you can still have cavities on different surfaces of your teeth. These surfaces aren’t seen when you are smiling. For example, cavities can form in-between your teeth or on the gum line. You dentist may only be able to see these by x-ray. These cavities may be caused by plaque (food particles, bacteria and minerals) getting stuck in-between your teeth, gum line or the grooves on the chewing surfaces of your tooth.

Myth #2: Gum disease isn’t common. Gum disease is extremely common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease. Gum disease is called periodontal disease which in layman’s term means bone loss. You can have bone loss and not even know it. It can be diagnosed by dental xrays and a clinical exam by your dentist.

Myth #3: It is ok to drink soda as long as it doesn’t contain sugar. You may think that diet sodas without sugar are the way to go, however all sodas are extremely acidic. Acid weakens your enamel which puts you at risk for cavities. Here is a video of what happens if you leave a tooth in soda.

Myth #4: Brushing your teeth harder will clean them faster and better. Brushing your teeth hard will do more harm than good. Doing this can cause your gums to recede, and can also cause your teeth to be more sensitive. Brushing in a gentle circular motion is the ideal way to brush.

Myth #5: If your gums bleed, you should stop flossing. Bleeding gums can be a warning sign of gingivitis or  periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease.  If you notice your gums bleeding, you should see your dentist for an accurate diagnosis.

Are Dental X-Rays Harmful?

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD, ParaDentalCare.info, (201) 864-4700

Many of my patients arrive to their appointment with questions and concerns about dental x-rays. Dental x-rays are very safe compared to medical x-rays. The amount of radiation is relatively low.

An interesting fact is that every day we are exposed to radiation. Everything in our environment gives off a certain amount of radiation. For example the sun gives off a certain amount of radiation but you wouldn’t spend your life avoiding sunlight. Unless you are a vampire. All joking aside, dental x-rays are one of the lowest doses of radiation within the medical field. In a routine exam, we take 4 bitewing x-rays which is .005 mSv. This is less than 1 day of natural background radiation. It is the same amount of radiation when you fly in a plane for 1-2 hours.

You may be wondering, “Why does my dentist need to take dental x-rays?” Dental x-rays are helpful for many reasons. They help us find decay inbetween teeth that may not be visible to the naked eye. X-rays also help us check for bone loss, cysts, abscesses, infection on the root, and decay under fillings. Dentists may also need to get an x-rays of the bones and teeth before any procedures they perform and to diagnose periodontal disease.

Dental x-rays are a safe, and important part of dental care. X-ray technology helps find dental issues at an early stage, which saves patients time, money and discomfort.

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