You may not be shocked to learn that keeping your mouth clean can help prevent tooth decay and other dental issues. However, you might be surprised to learn that maintaining adequate oral hygiene can help you keep the rest of your body healthy and free of disease. The concept that your mouth‘s health is linked to your physical wellbeing is not a knew one: the first known dentist, Hesi-Re, was a renowned physician in ancient Egypt, and even Hippocrates (the Greek philosopher and physician) believed that physical deterioration was linked to dental diseases. The oral-systemic connection, as this link is now called, has been exhaustively studied by researchers around the world. Within the last few decades, however, it has been increasingly supported by scientific results and evidence. As a dedicated dentist in Lafayette, Dr. Michael Young is also concerned with his patients’ wellbeing as well as their oral health. Today, we explain some of the methods by which the oral-systemic connection can affect your health.
Oral Bacteria—A Common Thread?
While there are several different oral-systemic theories, each regarding a different aspect of your physical health, one common thread among the majority of them is the transfer of bacteria. At any given moment, there are over 600 different kinds of bacteria lounging around in your mouth. Not all of them are harmful, but the ones that are warrant extreme caution considering the damage they can lead to. For example, the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, which enables tooth decay by producing acid to erode your tooth enamel, is of the same bacterial family that causes strep throat (a throat infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria). A more dangerous culprit, however, is the germ associated with advanced gum disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis. By inciting your immune system’s inflammatory response, P. gingivalis accelerates the destruction of your gum tissue and supporting jawbone structure. It is also suspected as a risk factor for other chronic inflammatory diseases. (more…)
November is National Diabetes Month. While there isn’t much to celebrate about diabetes, there is plenty of awareness to be raised, and this month, health professionals across the country are focusing their efforts on doing just that. The majority of discussions regarding diabetes awareness may focus on the various health conditions and complications associated with diabetes, but not many health professionals discuss the importance of proper oral health care in the midst of the disease. To help bring attention to the serious risks involved in poor oral hygiene, Lafayette dentist Dr. Michael Young explains why diabetics should pay extra attention to their oral health.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to properly process sugar in your blood. Insulin, a naturally-occurring hormone whose purpose is to regulate blood sugar, garners special attention in diabetic cases. Most patients either have too little insulin, are resistant to insulin, or both. Irregular blood sugar can also help bacteria multiply and flourish, increasing your risk of developing serious oral health issues such as gum disease.
The Prevalence of Gum Disease
In America, over 70% of adults over the age of 60 have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. Despite its wide-spread occurrence, periodontal disease is not contagious. It does, however, form rather easily in the midst of poor or inadequate oral hygiene. When oral bacteria collect, they form dental plaque to protect them and adhere to your oral surfaces. As plaque accumulates on your gumline, the bacteria release toxins that irritate your gums and cause them to pull away from your teeth, creating pockets for plaque and bacteria to gather and continue their destruction. Diabetes lowers your body’s ability to fight infections and invading microorganisms, making periodontal disease development more likely and proper oral health care more important. (more…)
Sleeping next to a snoring partner can be annoying. It can also keep you awake and grate on your nerves, and in extreme cases, snoring can even strain the relationship between two otherwise loving people. Sometimes, however, there is more than meets the ear, and snoring may be more than a mere irritation, even if you don’t realize it yet. Lafayette dentist Dr. Michael Young explains how a snore can be more than a snore, and why you shouldn’t ignore the nighttime nuisance.
Why Do People Snore?
When you sleep, all of the muscles and tissues in your body relax. This includes the muscles and tissue in your mouth and throat. When oral and throat tissues relax too much, they can collapse into your airway, limiting the space for air to travel through as you breathe. Snoring is actually the sound of air trying to squeeze past compacted tissue as it travels through your airway. But what happens if this tissue collapses enough to completely block your airway? (more…)
For decades, experts have known that there is a link between the health of your mouth and your physical wellbeing. Numerous studies support the link, and some of them have established undeniable evidence of the connection; however, more research must be done to understand exactly how one affects the other. In a step towards understanding the oral-systemic connection, dental researchers at New York University have linked the destructive inflammation of gum disease to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this November, Lafayette dentist Dr. Michael Young explains how gum disease and dementia are connected.
The Circumstances of Gum Disease
Although not as often discussed as most chronic systemic diseases, gum disease has been dubbed “the silent epidemic” by some experts. It affects over 75% of adults in America, and is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the country, as well. It starts with dental plaque, which is comprised of hundreds different types of oral bacteria. When plaque accumulates at your gumline, the bacteria release toxins that irritate the gum tissue, causing it to separate from your teeth and create pockets for more bacteria to collect. Left unchecked, the infection will continue to work its way down through your gums, destroying the connective tissue that holds it to your teeth and eroding the supporting jawbone that holds your teeth in place. Certain bacteria also incite your immune system’s inflammatory response to harmful biological agents, and oral inflammation is the driving force behind the compounding destruction of gum disease. (more…)
The season is ripe for the candy harvest, and children of all ages are gearing up to roam the streets searching for sweet treasures or crash monster parties to celebrate. In fact, candy largely makes Halloween the successful holiday it is today. Aside from making Halloween special, however, candy also poses a considerable threat to your oral hygiene if you’re not careful. To help you protect your teeth this Halloween, Lafayette dentist Dr. Young revisits proper dental hygiene practices.
Tips for a Healthy Mouth
- Brushing your teeth is perhaps the most important dental hygiene habit. If you do it incorrectly, however, it can prove more of a hindrance than a help. Be sure to gently brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush with an American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Brushing too roughly, or with a stiff-bristled brush, can wear away your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
- The ADA also suggests brushing your teeth twice a day for about two minutes each session to ensure a thorough cleaning. Pay close attention and ensure that you brush every surface of every tooth. Brushing to a short, catchy song can help you keep track of the time during your routine. (more…)
The human tooth is an interesting biological study. Although small and perhaps the most commonly lost body part next to hair, teeth are surprisingly strong. Your teeth are strong enough to continually handle a human bite, which can exert up to 200psi of pressure. The enamel that covers them is the second strongest substance on earth next to diamonds, and yet is susceptible to decay and acid erosion. Our teeth are interesting enough to have garnered the attention of our earliest ancestors, and evidence from as far back as 7000BC points to ancient attempts at treating toothaches. Yet, humans only possess a very small portion of the world’s teeth. Lafayette dentist, Dr. Michael Young, explores the teeth of our animal neighbors, and finds that our teeth are not the only interesting ones around.
Interesting Animal Teeth Facts
- A healthy adult human mouth contains 32 teeth, including the four last molars known as wisdom teeth. Giraffes also have 32 teeth, dogs have 42, and cats have 44 teeth.
- Humans are only granted two sets of teeth in our lives; our first set, or primary teeth, are usually completely replaced by our teen years. A shark’s mouth, however, contains row upon row of teeth, and while they lose teeth every week, these are replaced. In fact, a shark can have more than 20,000 teeth total in its lifetime. (more…)
Our readers and patients know that brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once are essential habits for maintaining your oral health. Dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease typically begin with excessive plaque buildup, which proper oral hygiene can help you limit. Unfortunately, however, the best dental habits cannot always protect you from an emergency situation, such as severe tooth sensitivity or trauma. Your Lafayette dentist, Dr. Michael Young, shares these dental first-aid tips to help save your tooth in the face of a dental emergency.
Improve Your Chances of Saving That Tooth
- Severe Tooth Sensitivity: Tooth discomfort can indicate a number of different oral health issues, from tooth decay to dental trauma that has left the tooth root exposed. If your tooth suddenly becomes uncomfortable enough to be considered an emergency, rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water, and use dental floss to dislodge any food particles. To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack or cold compress to your cheek. (more…)
Saliva is the clear, watery liquid in our mouths that we don’t generally wish to think a whole lot about. You may be surprised to know that saliva plays a rather important role in your dental health. Saliva is like a soldier waging battle against bad breath, dry mouth, and bacteria. Your Lafayette dentist, Dr. Michael Young, challenges you to a quiz on the dental benefits of your salivary glands.
Q1. True or false – Most saliva production occurs while you sleep.
Q2. True or false – Saliva helps to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
Q3. True or false – There are two major salivary glands on either side of your cheeks.
Q4. True or false – Dry mouth is a minor condition that is uncomfortable, but harmless. (more…)
The sugar craving bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, are key components in tooth decay. However, when distributed correctly, such as inside the human intestines, bacteria can play a role in achieving good, balanced health. With this information, we can potentially control S mutans when they reach harmful levels in the mouth.Your Lafayette dentist, Dr. Young, explains how a research study of marine sponges focuses on understanding how bacteria work.
Bacteria’s Role in Tooth Decay
Bacteria gather into densely populated colonies called biofilms. Scientists have been able to discover that bacteria use something called quorum sensing to communicate with each other, and collectively attach to hard surfaces, like teeth. Food debris, saliva, acid, and bacteria meld to create plaque. (more…)
Candy, candy everywhere, so let’s all have a bite. Starting in October, children will be leveled with a barrage of seasonal candy displays in grocery stores. As school carnivals sweep in with cakewalks and apple bobbing, it might seem impossible to protect children’s teeth. However, Dr. Michael J. Young provides a few tips to help avoid extraneous dental sugar-shock.
Eliminate Over-Consumption This Halloween
Every child dreams of loading their grab-bag with more sweets than they could possibly carry. Participating in trick-or-treating is a joyous event, and children should be allowed to collect as much candy as desired. Allow children to accrue their desired amount of candy, but then require them to select a limited number of items to be consumed periodically.