Occlusion and Long Term Health

Occlusion is how teeth bite and fit together as they function. Most of the time when patients think of occlusion, they think of crooked teeth in need of braces for cosmetic reasons. The teeth in the back of the mouth usually go unnoticed because they aren’t seen. While this is a very common concern, occlusion goes much further into the health of not only each tooth, but the entire mouth.

When new restorations or dental prosthesis are used, such as a crown, bridge or denture, the occlusion is carefully adjusted and styled so that the appliance fits in perfect form with other existing teeth. Even so much as 1 millimeter of a discrepancy can cause discomfort or other side effects. Having a tooth that is high, wide, etc. can lead to it or the opposing teeth to wear at an abnormally fast rate. Excess wear ages the function of the tooth, causing it to become short and not as functional.

Our teeth are made for chewing, biting and grinding. Large or older restorations are not meant to withstand the forces that are needed for normal use. Sometimes this means that as your dentist detects an aging filling, it may need to be replaced long before you ever have any symptoms of it wearing out. Not replacing it soon enough could lead to one single bite causing the enamel around the filling to fracture and break off of the tooth. Unfortunately, correcting problems like that are usually more advanced and costly than replacing the filling in the first place.

Malocclusion (misalignment of how the teeth bite together) may negatively influence conditions like TMJ disorder, which causes pain and headaches. If teeth do not occlude together correctly, malocclusion can lead to strain in the TMJ area during normal use. For patients that have habits of grinding or clenching, a bite guard or night guard can help prevent excess wear and muscular fatigue.

Surprisingly, your tooth alignment can also influence your cardiovascular health and other systemic health conditions. Teeth that are crowded or misaligned are at an increased risk to have gingivitis and periodontal disease. Plaque is difficult to remove from these areas, due to the position of the teeth. Studies show that misaligned teeth develop periodontal disease much quicker. (1) Further studies show that the severity of periodontal disease correlates directly with coronary and systemic health conditions (2). Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, premature birth and low birth weights are all linked with gum disease.

So there you have it. Occlusion isn’t something that just means straight, pretty teeth. It’s much more than that. A proper occlusion effects normal everyday activity, and long term health!

1. Harrel SK, Nunn ME (April 2001). The effect of occlusal discrepancies on periodontitis. II. Relationship of occlusal treatment to the progression of periodontal disease. J Periodontology,72, 4, 495–505.

2. Amabile N., Susini G., Bonello L., Gil J, Arques S., Bonfil J.J., Paganelli F. (2008). Severity of periodontal disease correlates to inflammatory systemic status and independently predicts the presence and angiographic extent of stable coronary artery disease. Journal of Internal Medicine, 263, 6, 644-652.

Dental Tips For Tea Drinkers

Mornings can be tough and caffeine is typically the way Americans muddle through that portion of the day. Not all caffeinated drinks are created equally as some are naturally better health choices than others. One of the healthiest options of all is opting for green tea over coffee, as the elixir is well known for having high levels of antioxidants, which are essential for your general physiology and your dental health.

Previous research on green tea has shown that consuming the unsweetened beverage Journal of Periodontology has shown the benefits do not stop there. In the Japanese study, research gauged the oral health of 940 men based on the three main conditions associated with periodontal disease clinical attachment loss of gum tissue, periodontal pocket depth and bleeding upon probing of the gum tissue. Their findings have indicated that for every cup of green tea consumed, a marked decrease in all the symptoms was noted.

The research team was unable to determine what component of green tea sparked the symbiotic relationship, but their theory revolves around the antioxidants naturally present in green tea have the power to reduce the body’s natural, inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria.

Not everyone enjoys a cup of green tea as some like their leaves black. Black tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and new research has indicated that the naturally occurring fluoride levels in the beverage are significantly higher than originally anticipated.

New information released by the Medical College of Georgia have indicated that heavy, black tea drinkers are at risk for developing bone problem caused by consuming too much fluoride over long periods of time. It would take ingesting about 20 milligrams a day over 10 or more years before bone problems would develop, however the risk is real. On average, people consume a safe level of two to three milligrams of fluoride on a daily basis courtesy of their toothpaste, drinking water on food.

Previous research had indicated that black tea had one to five milligrams of fluoride per serving. However, the new research presented by Dr. Gary Whitford, Regents Professor of oral biology in the School of Dentistry at the International Association of Dental Research Conference in Barcelona, Spain, has intimated that the beverage may actually deliver 9 milligrams of anion F− per serving.

Type 2 Diabetes – Screening for Diabetes in the Dental Chair

Periodontitis, a disease of the gums and tissues underlying the teeth, is the most common cause of tooth loss and can be a complication of Type 2 diabetes… it is more common when uncontrolled blood sugar is present. High blood sugar causes inflammation, leading to infection by bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria can release dangerous toxins into the bloodstream and even cause death if not treated promptly.

It is estimated about 8 million people in the United States alone are walking around with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can be life-threatening and lead to many serious complications if not diagnosed early. Periodontitis is present in about a quarter of people diagnosed with this form of diabetes.

Researchers at Boise University in Twin Falls, Idaho, United States, looked at the possibility of having Type 2 diabetes diagnosed by dental hygienists when clients are treated for periodontitis. Their study, reported on in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene in March 2015, included 50 participants with periodontitis and at least one other risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes…

  • 16 dental patients were found to have prediabetes, and
  • 17 were diagnosed with full-blown Type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis and discussion of diabetes with each dental patient took 14 minutes on average, and cost $US9.00. The dental clients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were advised to see their family doctor within 2 weeks… 9 were seen by their primary care provider within that time frame.

From these findings it was concluded diabetes screening by dental hygienists was an effective and convenient method for Type 2 diabetics to be diagnosed. Test kits for chairside or home use are available, and require only a simple prick of the finger.

Once Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and the primary care practitioner notified, early treatment can help to prevent further advances in periodontitis as well as other complications related to this form of diabetes. Because blood carries sugar throughout the entire body, most organs can be affected. If weight can be brought down to normal, many times complete remission or dramatic improvement is possible.

A normal HbA1c level is 5 percent. Bringing it down to below 7 percent is the goal most doctors set. This is accomplished with…

  • weight loss,
  • a healthful diet primarily made up of vegetables, and
  • exercise.

If you are overweight or obese, have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, have delivered a baby that weighed over 8 pounds, or are over 50, screening for diabetes when you have and teeth cleaning is something to consider. If you have periodontitis plus another risk factor, it is definitely a good idea.

Getting the Most Out Of Cosmetic Dentistry

Today, dentistry is no longer merely a case of extracting and filling teeth like it was for many years. Nowadays lots of people are turning to aesthetic dentistry as a technique of enhancing their facial appearance, very much as they would make use normal cosmetic surgery. Frequently used dental procedures include bonding, crowns, bleaching, veneers and contouring and teeth reshaping.

Which is the Best Procedure for You?

Your dentist will be able to answer any questions which you could be having about available techniques to perk up your smile. If you are interested in further reading, the International Journal of Esthetic Dentistry could also guide you on what is the best procedure for you as it contains comprehensive notes on cosmetic dentistry.

If you are contemplating a dental treatment, there are several questions you could ask your dentist prior to deciding if a specific procedure is suitable for you. Some of the questions could be:

– How will the changes on me look like?
– What should I be expecting throughout the treatment course?
– How long will the treatment take?
– What kind of maintenance will be needed?
– What are the costs involved?

How Can I know one is a Good Cosmetic Dentist?

To confirm that your dentist is skilled in aesthetic dentistry, the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID) advocates that before agreeing to undergo treatment, you ask him or her for the following items:

– Ask to be shown several before and after photos. These types of photos allow you to opportunity of examining the results of the other patients who have been treated by the same dentist to ensure that his or her work fits well with your dental needs.

– Let him or her show you some references which will allow you to have a sense of the quality of care that is being provided.

– Seek evidence of continuing education. Dentistry is a dynamic and growing branch of health care. Ascertain that your dentist has been taking continuing education courses and trainings to remain up-to-dated with the most recent techniques in clinical aesthetic dentistry. For example, a dentist who is an active member of the Australasian Academy of Dento-Facial Aesthetics (AADFA) is likely to be very up-to-date because the AADFA is known for offering regular training courses for dento-facial surgeons.

Depending on your particular dental needs, the following methods are available:

Bleaching or Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening or bleaching happens when your discoloured teeth get bleached with a safe whitening agent.

Dental Fillings and Teeth Bonding

Dentists are now using porcelain materials and composite resins to replace teeth. These materials naturally ape the feel, look and function of your natural teeth. Through advanced bonding techniques, your natural tooth enamel and artificial dentin get fused to produce a strong dental structure which reacts and looks much just like the original tooth.

Dental Implants, Crowns and Veneers

A dental implant replaces your missing tooth and helps in maintaining the bone support of your adjacent teeth. Crowns or dental caps cover your tooth to restore its appearance and normal shape. Veneers, which are thin pieces of plastic or porcelain, are placed over your front teeth to modify the shape or colour of your teeth.

Dental Braces

Also known as orthodontics, they are performed by orthodontists to bring your teeth back to their original position in case they might have shifted or had some injuries which made them move. For the latest regarding Orthodontics, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) website would be a good resource for you to visit.

The 7 Things You Should Know Before You Choose an Implant Dentist

* Ask the implant dentist how many implants he’s placed in the past 6 months

Implant Dentistry is a highly skilled discipline and should be maintained through practice. As most dentist offer a range of treatments, it’s important to check that the dentist regularly places dental implants to ensure you are getting the best possible treatment.

* Ask the implant dentist if they have a dedicated sterilisation suite

As with all treatments, sterilisation is a must. That’s why it’s reassuring to know whether the implant clinic you choose has a dedicated staff member and room for sterilisation. This will ensure that every possible measure has been taken to prevent infection, keeping you safe and giving you the best possible care.

*Ask the dentist if they offer a FREE aftercare service

It’s reassuring to know whether a member of the team is available to answer any questions you may have after your treatment. This will give you peace of mind knowing you are receiving the best possible care even after your implants have been fitted. Some clinics offer a 24 hour hotline number to patients and it’s worth asking if they offer this service as you may have a query in the middle of the night that just can’t wait.

*Ask the implant dentist whether he has testimonials from happy patients

If the dentist can’t prove that he has happy patients then what’s to say that you will be happy with your treatment? This is a good way of showing what other patients say about the dentist, and also a good way of seeing if he has treated someone in a similar position to your own. Ask the dentist to show you signed, written letters or maybe even videos of grateful patients.

* Ask the implant dentist if he’s had any dental related articles recently published

This is a good way to gauge whether the dentist is active in the dental community and up to date on the latest techniques. Some well respected publications include Implant Dentistry Today, Private Dentistry, The British Dental Journal, The Probe and The Hygienist magazine.

* Ask the implant dentist what professional bodies he’s a member of

These can include:

* The British Dental Association
* The Association of Dental Implantology
* Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry
* International Congress of Oral Implantology

You should also ask what the implant dentist does to keep up to date with the latest developments in implantology. Ask whether he attends any dental conferences or even if he lectures at them himself! And Last But Not Least..

*What can they do for you?

Don’t be shy, ask any other questions you want answered, no matter how trivial they may seem. The implant dentist and his team are there to give you your teeth back and you can’t show off that beautiful new smile unless you’re actually happy with your dental implants.

It may seem a little daunting, having to ask the dentist these questions, BUT… A good implant dentist would be happy to answer these questions..