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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Low birth weight and premature babies

Most women are aware that smoking, drinking, and drug use have negative effects on pregnancy.

Something that many women may not be aware of is the effect that having gum disease has on pregnant women.

There are studies that show pregnant women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to pre-term and low birth weight babies when they have gum disease.

It is important for more research to be done regarding this correlation, but one thing is for sure…

Any active infection in pregnant women should be avoided at all costs; gum disease is a living, breathing infection in your mouth. Get it treated.

Studies by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry revealed that women with gum (periodontal) disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a pre-term, low birth weight baby. Compare that with the effects of alcohol and smoking, which are said to increase the odds of a low birth weight baby by only three times.

Gum Disease and Moms-to-be

How can your gums affect the weight of the fetus? It has to do with the fact that periodontal disease causes bacterial infections. Pregnant women should avoid any situation where they can obtain an infection, knowing that there may be repercussions on their health or that of the unborn baby. It is becoming clear that an infection of gum tissues is no exception.

Women who have experienced problems with their oral health are most likely to experience gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease) during pregnancy. Even tissues in the mouth undergo changes during pregnancy. Gingivitis usually appears in the second or third month and can last all the way through the eighth month of pregnancy. If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, this could indicate that you have gingivitis.

If a Dental Professional does not treat these red and swollen gums, the condition can deteriorate to periodontal disease, which can attack the gums and bone surrounding the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss. The natural space between your teeth and gums becomes infected. Pockets can form where bacteria thrive. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that toxins are then released into the bloodstream, and the body reacts by producing chemicals that cause premature labor.

Will I know if I have gum disease?

You may not normally experience pain with gingivitis or periodontal disease, but there are other symptoms:

1) red, swollen, or tender gums
2) bleeding gums when you brush or floss
3) gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
4) loose teeth
5) a change in your bite
6) pus between teeth and gums
7) persistent bad breath

More research is underway to determine how pregnant women with periodontal disease should be treated. For now, we suggest having your oral health checked before you consider pregnancy or as soon as possible after you know you are pregnant.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a major concern for many older men and women. It’s estimated that more than 40 million people either already suffer from the disease or are at risk for developing it. Recent research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. When bone loss in the jaw occurs, teeth that are usually supported and anchored by the jawbone may become loose; tooth loss may occur.

What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Normal human bone looks like a honeycomb, but bones affected by osteoporosis have holes and spaces that are much bigger. This means the bones have lost density or mass. As bones become less dense, they become weaker and more brittle making the simplest chores like picking up a newspaper potentially hazardous. Something like picking up a child or even sneezing could cause a break.

Bones are living tissue and are constantly being absorbed and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the body cannot create new bone quickly enough to keep up with the removal of old bone. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the human body, including the jawbone. It can occur in men and women, but it most often occurs in Caucasian women over the age of 65.

How does Osteoporosis Affect my Oral Health?
Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease. Because osteoporosis can occur in any bone in the body, the jawbone is susceptible to the disease. Low bone density in the jaw can result in loose teeth and tooth loss. Women who have osteoporosis may have trouble with loose or ill-fitting dentures as the bone is absorbed but not replaced over time.

Women with periodontal disease and osteoporosis are especially susceptible to tooth loss. Studies have recently shown a strong relationship between periodontitis, osteoporosis, and tooth loss. It has been suggested that the loss of bone density in the jaw may leave teeth more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum disease.

Steps Towards Healthy Bones
Preserving the health of your bones is vital to your overall and oral health. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you have optimal bone health:

1. Eat a balanced diet rich with vitamin D and calcium.
2. Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training are best for keeping bones strong.
3. Do not smoke; limit alcohol consumption.
4. Report any issues with loose teeth, detached or receding gums, or ill-fitting dentures to your dentist immediately.