People mistakenly think of heart disease as a man’s disease, but it does affect many women. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. New research from the University of California, Berkeley has given woman another reason to keep regular dental visits on their calendars.
A study released in October indicates that women who get regular dental care can reduce their risks for strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems by one-third. Using data from people ages 44-88 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, researchers looked at information regarding nearly 7,000 people from ages 44 to 88. The results did not suggest the same benefits for men.
Data in this study was collected every two years from 1996 to 2004. Over this time, the individuals involved were asked about dental visits as well as whether they had dealt with heart attack, angina, stroke, or congestive heart failure during the prior two years. Any deaths from these cardiovascular problems were also recorded. With this study, researchers were able to show the benefit of routine dental care to a woman’s heart health. As well, the study authors indicated that dental care has the biggest impact if it begins early in the development of cardiovascular disease.
To promote optimal oral health, you should:
• Brush twice a day
• Floss regularly
• Maintain a healthy diet
• Keep dentures clean
• Schedule checkups every six months
If you or your partner snores, you probably consider it a mild annoyance and nothing more. Actually, snoring can indicate a more serious problem called sleep apnea. A potentially life-threatening condition, sleep apnea is characterized by short interruptions of breathing that occur while you sleep. Approximately 12 to 20 percent of Americans experience some level of sleep apnea.
Two types of sleep apnea exist – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. Less common than obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea happens when the brain forgets to send messages to the brain to initiate breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when the throat muscles and soft palate relax so much that they restrict an individual’s airways.
Though sleep apnea occurs in both sexes, more men than women develop the condition. People who are overweight, anyone with high blood pressure, or those who have physical issues with their noses are more likely to experience sleep apnea. As well, genetics may play a part because sleep apnea tends to run in families.
Common side effects of sleep apnea may include:
• Daytime drowsiness
• High blood pressure
• Memory loss
• Poor job performance
Because sleep apnea can impact your overall health, don’t ignore any symptoms you have. Your dentist can recommend non-surgical therapy for sleep apnea, such as an oral appliance. Custom fit for your mouth, an oral appliance will hold your mouth in the proper position, which keeps your airways open and allows you to get a good night’s rest.
When you are missing teeth, your quality of life can suffer. Many people change their diets because of difficulty eating, and they often restrict social activities because they feel embarrassed. Your oral health may also decline. To restore your smile, your dentist may suggest either dentures or dental implants. Both options have pros and cons. After a complete evaluation of your case, your dentist can explain the options and help you select the best choice to revitalize your mouth.
For many years, dentures were the standard choice offered to patients who had missing teeth. When you lose all your teeth, your dentist can design a complete denture for the top, bottom, or on both arches. A partial denture clips onto remaining teeth and fills the gap caused when you have one or more missing teeth between existing permanent teeth.
Modern advances have made it possible to create dentures that look and feel more like your original smile. Getting used to dentures, however, make take several months as your mouth adjusts to the prosthetics. Periodically, you will return to the dentist’s office so that he or she can check the fit and tweak the appliance as needed.
Choosing Dental Implants
Considered the closest replacement to natural teeth, dental implants can revive the health and beauty of your smile. Made from biocompatible titanium, implants serve as artificial tooth roots that a skilled surgeon positions into your jawbone. After your mouth heals and the bone attaches to the implants, your dentist will place a permanent crown on each implant, giving you a complete smile.
Implants can replace one or more missing teeth. Because they are permanently placed in your mouth, they offer unmatched stability. As well, they look and feel like your original teeth. Your dentist will assess your mouth and make sure you have enough bone mass and healthy tissue to support the implants long-term. For patients who can’t handle full implants, mini-dental implants are an option. These small posts are inserted into the jaw bone and function as anchors to hold the denture in place.
As October 31 approaches, children around the country prepare to dress up like ghosts, super heroes, rock stars, or princesses to collect bags of candies. While children love Halloween, not all parents and dentists feel the same way. The occasional chocolate bar or sweet treat won’t ruin your child’s teeth, but consuming candy and junk food in excess can impact oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) offers the following suggestions so that kids and parents alike can enjoy trick or treating this year:
• Limit the amount of candy your child consumes. Even if your son or daughter fill a huge bag full of goodies, insist that your child have a few pieces and then put the candy away.
• Donate most of the candy. Check with local pediatric dentists. Many offices offer a “buy back” program where kids get so much money per pound of candy. In that case, everybody wins.
• Give out alternatives to candy. Set an example and give out crayons, small prizes, or even dental floss.
• Avoid chewy treats. When you let your kids have their candy, stay away from the sticky sweeties like gummy bears and taffy, which can get stuck on teeth and cause decay.
• Encourage brushing and flossing. After the big night out, use Halloween as a chance to remind kids about the importance of good home habits. Give them a refresher on proper flossing techniques so they can leave their teeth sparkling clean.
• Make a trip to the dentist. The candy and junk food offered at Halloween can serve as a great reminder to schedule your child’s next check up.
Most people don’t worry if their children get a cavity or two. Unfortunately, tooth decay can have an impact on can impact, development, nutrition, and behavior. Identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a silent epidemic, tooth decay occurs five times more often in children than asthma. By kindergarten, 40 percent of kids will have developed cavities.
During difficult financial times, such as the ones our country has recently faced, families have to prioritize their spending and dental care is often seen as optional. For infants and children, dental checkups are an important component of overall health. Because tooth nerves are close to the blood supply, tooth infections can quickly and easily spread, which can lead to serious complications.
Other issues can also arise. When children have pain from cavities, they may eat less, increasing the risk for malnutrition. If kids are malnourished, they can have difficulty learning. Sometimes, parents mistakenly believe baby teeth don’t matter, but that’s not the case. If early teeth are lost too soon, permanent teeth can come in at the wrong time and in the wrong location, creating future orthodontic problems.
These tips will help you keep your child’s smile healthy and strong:
Schedule a first exam between ages one and three. Make regular checkup appointments twice a year after that.
Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts.
Limit sticky, starchy, and sweet foods.
Select healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and cheese.
Talk with your dentist about applying a fluoride varnish to protect teeth.