December 26, 2012

Chew Gum To Prevent Heart Disease

People with gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack than those without it.  Here’s why – plaque, the sticky bacteria laden film that accumulates on teeth can damage gums and create bone loss.  The lost bone under the gums creates small pockets -spaces between the gum and the tooth where the bone used to be.  These pockets harbor bacteria and the deeper the pocket, the more the bacteria breed and destroy.  This bacteria then enters the bloodstream and causes chronic inflammation that increases the risk for clots and other heart attack risk factors.

When you chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol, a natural sweetener that suppresses mouth bacteria, you are helping to lessen this dangerous chronic inflammation.  Also, be sure to floss every day.  A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who take care of their gums with regular flossing and brushing and regular visits to their dentists have improved function of the arteries.  Their arteries expand and contract more normally.

So when you feel like having something sweet, reach for your xylitol sweetened gum and protect your teeth and your heart at the same time!

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December 18, 2012

Options For Denture Sufferers

Sometimes when you are having a difficult time functioning with your dentures, the simplest thing to do is to make a new set of dentures.  If you have a palate that gives you good suction for the upper denture, in most cases a new denture will be a welcome improvement. 

In fewer cases, with lower dentures, we find that making a new lower denture gives you any improvement. If you are already having a hard time chewing and speaking because your denture always moves around, usually, making a new denture under these circumstances just gives you a new denture that moves around.

So what do you do when you’re faced with dentures that you can’t function with, that look and/or feel horrible, and that cause you embarrassment eating out and in other social settings?  There are several approaches using dental implants.  Dental implants are manmade replacements for missing tooth roots and they serve as anchors for attaching dental crowns, dental bridges, and dentures. 

If you prefer having teeth that don’t come out and function most like your natural teeth, you will want to place enough implants to support fixed dental bridges made with crowns.  If you are used to having something removable for replacing your missing teeth, you can put in fewer dental implants to serve as anchors for removable dentures.  These dentures will be totally secure and serve as a stable platform to chew with ease, comfort, and efficiency.  Replacing missing teeth with implants and dental crowns is more of an investment than placing fewer dental implants and functioning with a removable denture that snaps onto the implants.

Depending on your bone structure and the strength of your bite, you may be a candidate for mini dental implants.  The advantage to mini dental implants, if you should be a candidate for them, is that the time of treatment from beginning to end result is much faster than regular dental implants, and the investment is less than for other options available.  For long term success, dental mini implants are not for everyone.  They were originally designed to serve as temporaries for patients having dental implant procedures who wanted teeth that didn’t move while they were waiting for their dental implants to become part of the jaw.  More about dental implants in the future.

December 6, 2012

Are You Struggling With Your Dentures?

If you’re struggling with your dentures you are not alone.  Many people can adapt and function well with dentures when they have enough bone remaining under the gums.  However, after teeth are lost, the natural process in the body is to resorb, or dissolve, bone.

After teeth are extracted nature reacts like this.  The tooth roots in the bone are no longer there and when they are gone, the body sees no reason to keep that dental bone there, and so, it resorbs it.

When enough bone is resorbed (this happens over time), this means struggles for the denture wearer.  Usually, the longer you have been missing teeth, the less bone there is to support your dentures.

If you wear a maxillary, or upper denture, you probably have managed to function fairly well with your dentures because of suction.  Upper dentures can have very good suction.  It’s like taking two panes of glass and putting water between them- it’s difficult to separate the two pieces.  If enough dental bone is lost the palate flattens, and the flatter the arch of the palate, the less suction there is.  Even with suction, you can struggle and suffer embarrassmemt because if you cough or sneeze or even laugh too hard, the suction seal is broken and your dentures can fall down or out of your mouth.  If you’re lucky, you can catch them with your tongue and push them back up, hopefully before anyone notices!

If you wear a mandibular, or lower denture, you are the exception if you function well with it.  Think about it.  When the teeth are missing there are only muscles surrounding the dental arch.  The lips and cheeks are moving your denture on one side and the tongue is moving your denture on the other side.  There is no stable surface with which you can chew and no advantage of suction- that’s not physically possible.

Let’s explore your options in the next blog. 

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