Posts Tagged ‘gum disease’

Floss To Remember

May 12, 2010

Having trouble remembering to floss? It may be more than just trying to develop a good habit that will save your teeth! Thanks to Courtney “CoCo” Malenius, who brought to our attention a Channel 7/ABC report entitled “Floss to Remember,” research suggests that forgetting can be contributed to by gum disease.

It seems that staying away from gum disease bacteria keeps more than your teeth. The bacteria that causes gum disease triggers your body’s inflammatory process that can affect your systemic health including your memory! Researchers looked at men and women over 60, and those who scored lowest on tests of math and memory had been exposed to gum disease bacteria. These low score results were comparable to scores by those with early Alzheimer’s Disease. The inflammatory bacteria causes blood vessels to stiffen, which is linked to cardiac and memory problems.

Researchers Find Tongue Piercing Could Lead To Gum and Tooth Problems

April 18, 2010

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As many of my patients have heard in my office, Why in the world would you put something in your tongue that can only cause you harm? Well I went searching for information to back this up and here’s some things that I found: A study in 2002 published in the JOURNAL OF PERIODONTOLOGY found that extended wear of tongue jewelry (barbell-type) could increase your chance of gum recession and tooth chipping.. Study Abstract *

Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry and Ohio State University College of Dentistry examined and surveyed 52 young adults with pierced tongues. They found gum recession in 35 percent of subjects with pierced tongues for four or more years, and in 50 percent wearing long-stemmed barbells for two or more years.

“During tongue movement, long-stem barbells are more likely to reach and damage the gums than short barbells,” said Dr. Dimitris Tatakis, professor of periodontology at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and coauthor of the study. “Over time, this damage may cause the gums to recede, which can lead to more serious dental/oral complications.”

Additionally, 47 percent of young adults wearing either type of barbell for four or more years had chipped teeth. The prevalence of tooth chipping was significantly greater in those wearing short-stemmed barbells (1/4 inch – 5/8 inch) for four or more years.

Researchers believe tooth chipping is a result of habitual biting of the barbell. “A short barbell is possibly easier to position between teeth, which could be one reason why we are seeing more chipped teeth in this group,” said Tatakis. “Another factor that was not investigated could be the size or material type of the screw caps attached to the barbell.”

Dr. Timothy Roberts from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York presented study results on 4,500 adolescents aged 12 to 21 and found that teens with body piercings are more likely to smoke cigarettes, use drugs and exhibit other types of unhealthy behavior. Study findings were presented at the Society of Adolescent Medicine’s annual meeting in Boston.

“Mouth piercings and smoking combined could cause a mouthful of trouble,” said Dr. Kenneth Bueltmann, president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “As a smoker, you are more likely than nonsmokers to have calculus on your teeth, deep pockets between your teeth and gums and loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth. Combine these problems with gum recession from tongue piercing and you are on your way to having a serious infection called periodontal disease and not to mention a not so cool looking mouth.”

“Given this new information, I strongly recommend discussing potential risk factors with your dentist before mouth piercing,” said Bueltmann. “Additionally, anyone with a pierced mouth should receive a thorough oral examination of their gums and teeth to identify problem areas. Taking precautions now will increase your chance of keeping your teeth for a lifetime instead of needing dentures like many of your grandparents.”

In addition to periodontal diseases (serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth) tongue piercing may cause other complications such as t ongue swelling, difficulties with chewing, swallowing and speech, increase of saliva flow, localized tissue overgrowth and metal hypersensitivity.

A referral to a periodontist in your area and free brochure samples are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP’s Web site at Thanks for this info from the site of the Periodontal association.

10 Unsuspected Foods That Help Protect Your Teeth And Gums

April 18, 2010

A Beautiful Smile and Healthy Gums always require regular brushing, flossing, and dental care, but a diet rich is essential vitamins and minerals also make an important contribution to one’s overall dental health. We often overlook the importance of good nutrition in keeping our smiles beautiful and our mouths healthy. Here are ten foods that can contribute to our overall oral health:

1. Water – Natures Gift For Healthy Teeth and Gums

Drinking water keeps your gums and oral tissues hydrated and is a great way to stimulate saliva flow. This Saliva Flow is one of your bodies defenses against the bacteria that cause plaque and cavities. Rinsing your mouth with water also helps wash away trapped food particles that decompose in the mouth and can cause bad breath. Water also dilutes the concentration of bad breath causing byproducts of anaerobic bacteria metabolism (see my blog on 10 tips to avoid bad breath). You should always try to drink six 8-ounce glasses of purified water each day to keep your gums (and whole body) hydrated and to stimulate saliva. If you can”t brush your teeth after eating, be sure to rinse your mouth with water.

2. Parsley –A Natural Bad Breath Remedy That Leaves Sweet-Smelling Breath

Chewing parsley or mint leaves aftert meals will help you maintain sweet-smelling breath. These herbs contain monoterpenes, volatile substances that travel quickly from your bloodstream to your lungs, where their odor is released via your breath. Try This: Top zesty dishes with a few tablespoons of minced fresh parsley or garnish dessert with a few sprigs of fresh mint. You can also chew parsley or mint leaves for a change of pace.

3. Green Tea -Helps Removes Plaque and Bad Breath

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains wonderful substances called catechins. Catechins kill the bacteria in your mouth that turn sugar into plaque (a sticky mass of bacteria, sugars, proteins, and fats that produces cavity-causing acid when it comes in contact with sugary or starchy foods), that gross gooey film on the surface of your teeth when you forget to brush. Catechins also help kill the the bacteria that cause bad breath. Try This: Drink 2 to 5 cups of green tea (regular or decaffeinated) a day, says Mindy Green, director of research at the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo. She suggests making a thermos of green tea to drink at work. At night prior to tetiring for bed, steep 3 to 4 green tea bags in 4 cups of boiling-hot water in a covered thermos for three to five minutes. Remove the bags. Serve the tea the next day over ice or after reheating it. For more information go to and check our newsletters for more information on the health benefits of tea.

4. Onions – Kill Bad Bacteria In the Mouth

That’s Right!! I said ONIONS. Onions contain powerful antibacterial sulfur compounds. In a 1997 test tube study, onions killed various types of bacteria, including S mutans. Research also shows onions are most the most effective when eaten freshly peeled and raw. The major downside, raw onions can make your breath stink, so be sure to have some fresh parsley on hand (see point 2 or my blog on bad breath). Try This: Add a few onion slices to salads and sandwiches each day.

5. Celery – Protects Teeth from Cavities

Celery protects your teeth in two ways, says Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S., a holistic dentist and founder of Rozenberg Dental Day Spa in New York City. The extra chewing it requires produces extra saliva, which neutralizes the bacteria Streptococcus mutans that causes cavities. Actually, chewing on naturally fibrous and abrasive foods massages gums and cleans between teeth. Suggestion: Snack on a handful of raw celery or carrots once a day to help protect gums and teeth.

6. Shiitake Mushrooms – Prevents from Creating Plaque

A Research Study in 2000 on tooth caries showed that lentinan, a sugar found in shiitake mushrooms, prevents mouth bacteria from creating plaque. Suggestion A few times a week, add four to five sliced shiitakes to soups or stir-fries. Buy fresh shiitakes or dried ones: Dried shittakes are easily reconstituted by soaking them in hot water for about 25 minutes before use.

7. Wasabi – Protect Teeth from Cavities

Wasabi, the devilish green sauce served with tuna steaks, is also known as Japanese horse-radish. This condiment not only adds zing to sushi, it also protects your teeth. A 2000 study in Biofactors revealed that the substances that make wasabi taste hot, called atessothiocy, also inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Eating wasabi a few times a week will protect you from cavities. For a delicious and smile-saving asian salad dressing, combine 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar or sugar substitute), 1 teaspoon wasabi paste, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. (I also sometimes add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Note: this Dijon is also good in plain od vinegar and oil)

8. Sesame Seeds – Clean Teeth and Remove Plaque

According to fossils, our Paleolithic ancestors had great teeth. Anthropologists suggest that this is partly due to the cleansing action of primitive foods like seeds, which slough off plaque and help build tooth enamel. Sesame seeds, for example, are also high in calcium, which help preserve the bone around your teeth and gums .Suggestion: Sprinkle a tablespoon of sesame seeds on salads and steamed vegetables a couple times a week for a gentle teeth cleaning and 87 mg of calcium.

9. Kiwis – Prevents Gum Disease

Kiwis are Vitamin C atom bombs. Kiwis contain more vitamin C than any other fruit their size., Actually, one large kiwi supplies more than 100 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C and it tastes good too!. Research shows that a vitamin C deficiency causes the collagen network in your gums to break down, making your gums tender and more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum (periodontal) disease. Suggestion: Try topping your cereal or oatmeal with Kiwi and fruit instead of sugar at breakfast tomorrow.

10. Cheese – Preserves and Rebuild Tooth Enamel

During the last decade, studies proved that cheese, with its low carbohydrate and high calcium and phosphate content, provides several benefits for your teeth. It helps balance your mouth’s pH by making it more basic (an acidic pH encourages the growth of dental cavity-causing bacteria). Cheese also supples calcium and phosphate which builds tooth enamel and produces saliva, which helps fight the bacteria that cause dental cavities and gum disease. Suggestion: Enjoy a nice mediterean style after dinner treat of fruit and cheese.


Bad Dental Work and Other Causes of Bad Breath

April 5, 2010


Faulty dental work is more common than you think, and it just might be the cause of your bad breath.

Here is a quick checklist of problems to look for in your mouth:

Overhanging Restorations: These are restorations (fillings, crowns, etc.) that don’t conform to the shape of the tooth well and can easily trap food, which provides a feast for bad breath bacteria (anaerobes that release sulfur compounds VSC’s).

Broken or Fractured Restorations: Broken or fractured restorations leak and harbor bacteria causing decay and infection that can also cause dental problems and odors.

Crown Leakage: Crowns with bad margins can harbor bacteria and can cause serious dental complications. If you notice anything out of the normal, consult with a dentist and see what they have to say. Excess cement left behind can also cause wonderful bacteria trapping resorts.

Braces: Although bad breath is not directly caused by orthodontic braces, braces easily trap food, which indirectly can be the cause of bad breath. Consider purchasing a water pik ( which blasts away food particles with pressurized water), using a proxibrush, electric toothbrush, or special designed orthodontic toothbrush.

Incomplete Scaling or Lack of Regular Prophylactic care: This allows food particles to get trapped around your teeth leading to gum disease and bad breath. It also leads to plaque and tartar buildup which protect and harbors anaerobic bacteria.

Loose-Fitting Denture or partial dentures: Dentures may not fit well due to weight loss or gain, aging, or faulty dental work. If your dentures do not fit snugly, consult with your dentist to get a better fit. Partial dentures may also trap food and lead to decay around the clasps which hold these in the mouth which also can lead to bad breath.

Other Bad Breath Causes

Although bad breath resulting from dental work is not very common, there are other common, overlooked factors which may cause your bad breath.

Unclean Dentures or Retainers: If you wear dentures, partial dentures, or retainers, make sure to clean them thoroughly, twice a day. Otherwise, food particles and bacteria will accumulate in them and make bad breath extremely difficult to prevent or cure.

Gum Disease: The same bacteria (mostly Anaerobes producing sulfur compounds or VSC’s) that cause gum disease also cause bad breath, so it’s no surprise that curing gum disease is one of the best ways to get rid of bad breath.

Dry Mouth: Chronic dry mouth, resulting from a medical condition or from taking antibiotics can cause bad breath by creating a wonderful environment for anaerobic bacteria as discussed in my blog 10 tips to preventing bad breath..

Food Impactation: A thorough dental exam should check for food that has wedged itself in strange places of your mouth. Food impactation can lead to serious dental problems down the road if it is not corrected immediately

. Sinus Infections: These infections can produce excess mucus and drainage which drips down your sinus into the back of your throat. This a nutrition rich banquet the odor producing bacteria in oral esophageal tract. Sinus infections can also produce other undesirable odors that people can smell when you breathe out of your nose.

Medical Conditions: Auto-immune diseases and diabetes can cause many undesirable health problems–including gum disease, bad breath and thrush. Although you may not be able to cure certain medical conditions, taking preventative measures to keep bad breath away are the best idea!

Indigestion: Even though bad breath does not come from the stomach, when acid invades your esophagus (due to indigestion or acid reflux), some of the acidic odors may travel up your esophagus and out your mouth. Bad breath from indigestion has a significantly different odor than bad breath caused by bacteria on your tongue, cheeks, or from your gingival tissue.

Tonsil Problems: A very small percentage of people accumulate bacteria on their tonsils, which produces a constant source of bad breath. The only two ways to correct this problem is the extreme measure of tonsil removal, or the easier, maybe not quite as effectective method is to make sure to gargle with an alcohol-free mouthwash for ninety seconds. This will help get rid of bacteria at the back of your tongue and on your tonsils. Try to use the Aloe Vera home made mouth wash referenced in my prevention of bad breath blog or a non alcohol rinse.

Because there are many causes of bad breath, treating the source of your problem is the best cure.

Note: Much of the information here was found in an article by Paul J Heldt.