Friday, February 27, 2015

Your Dental Checklist – Part I

If you are like me, check lists help you get to the end of each day, week, and month having accomplished all that needs to be done on the list. Checking off items on a check list has actually been shown to be psychologically beneficial in goal setting; it is cathartic to see what is done and what still remains. Check lists can be a good tool when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy as well.

How can check lists help with dental care? There are two key check lists that come to mind for dental care. The first is a list for your dental care routine. As an adult, your routine is probably well established. However, it is always a good idea to review the list to ensure that everything that needs to be included in your routine is actually there. Additionally, if you are a parent or a child caring for an aging parent, using a list for establishing or ensuring the continuation of a good dental routine can be an important tool. The second list is a check list of topics or questions for your dental visit. Being prepared [with a list made in advance] to discuss questions or concerns with your dentist is a great way to make sure you do not forget anything that needs clarification or some explanation.

For today’s topic, we will go through a check list for your dental care routine. But, be sure to stop back in to our blog for our next post, which will cover the check list for your visit to the dentist.

My Daily Dental Good Health Check List:

□ Did I brush at least twice today?
Be sure to brush twice daily, particularly after meals or eating foods that may stick to teeth. Be sure to brush two to three teeth thoroughly, and then move on to the next cluster of two to three. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too. Brush for at least two minutes, though five is better. For small children, use a two minute timer to be sure they are spending enough time brushing away food and debris before they turn to plaque.

□ Did I store my toothbrush uncovered and standing upright?
Storing your toothbrush this way will allow bristles dry fully so they are effective for the next time you brush. Without moisture from being covered, microorganisms are less likely to grow.

□ Did I floss before brushing?
Someone once asked me if I need to floss all of their teeth. The response, Only the ones you want to keep." Flossing removes stubborn food stuck between teeth so it cannot develop into plaque that will erode your teeth It is an essential part of your routine as it may help prevent gum disease, which is associated with heart disease, stroke, lung issues and Alzheimer's disease.

□ Did I check to make sure my toothbrush is still in good shape? Have I chosen a good toothbrush?
Check your toothbrush daily to make sure bristles are still standing up straight, not pushed off to the side and unable to do their job. We recommend changing your toothbrush every six weeks to avoid bacteria build up and ensure bristles are strong. Be sure to select a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. The small head will help you access hard to reach places in your mouth, while soft bristles will keep you from hurting yourself by brushing too hard.

□ Did I rinse with an anti-bacterial mouthwash after brushing?
We all miss places in our mouth when brushing. Mouthwash helps rinse loosened plaque and wash away bacteria. As a bonus, your breath will be minty fresh! For children, there are kids’ flavors to get them used to using mouthwash and enjoying a favorite character on the bottle.

□ Did I make sure to eat right today?
Busy lives often result in quick food choices rather than healthy ones. There are some quick things to remember when choosing what to eat, drink and snack. Remember to drink water. It washes away food bits in your mouth and is vital to every organ of the body. Choose cheese to snack on. The calcium is important for your teeth and stimulates saliva. Fruits and vegetables really are your friends! They are fiber rich, helping stimulate saliva that keeps food moving toward the stomach and neutralizing acids that attack the teeth. Plus the sweet taste can satisfy your need for a treat with artificial sugar. Sugars contribute to tooth decay. Don't feel as though you have to give up sweet foods entirely.  Try to enjoy sweet treats in moderation and, of course, be sure to brush.

□ Did I schedule my regular dental check-up?
Seeing the dentist twice per year will enable you to catch any dental issues that may be starting, as well as get a professional teeth cleaning.  Visiting your dentist now may save you time, money and pain later. Be sure to schedule your visit.

Checking off each item daily and making sure to go for regular check-ups will help you ensure a healthy mouth, and are good for your overall health.

Remember to check back in next week for Part II for a check list to bring with you to the dentist.

Wishing you bright smiles!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Healthy Smile, Healthy Heart

February is, for many, the month of the heart.  As Valentine’s Day approaches, we turn our thoughts to those we love and prepare for the day with flowers, chocolates and reservations for dinner.  While the heart may grow fonder from these lovely gestures, the heart may be healthier if your oral health is healthy too.

Many reports have been published on the oral-systemic link. This is the relationship between your oral health and your overall health. In no part of the human body is that more evident than the relationship between good oral health and good heart health.  Study after study has shown that those with moderate to severe gum disease (gingivitis early on and periodontal disease in its later stages) are at an increased risk of developing heart disease.

There is an abundance of plausible data showing that the two are intertwined. The leading body of cardiologists and the leading body of periodontists in the U.S. recently came together to publish a report in each of their respective professional journals on the topic, following the review of more than 100 studies showing the link between oral health and heart health. They arrived at several conclusions linking the two including:

  • Gum disease is a risk factor for coronary heart disease
  • Gum disease is a risk factor for stroke
  • There is a direct link between gum disease and clogged vessels in the legs

How to Tell if You are At Risk

Poor nutrition, diabetes and tobacco use, among the highest risk factors for heart disease, are also risk factors for gum disease. In fact, many risk factors for one will be found on a list of risk factors for the other. When plaque builds up below the gum line or along the gum line, gum disease begins to develop. A growing body of research shows that the bacteria contributing to this gum disease can actually detach and move along the bloodstream to attach to blood vessels. This begins the process of clot formation. These clots clog the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow freely, and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

What Signs Should You Look for

Gum disease is often undiagnosed, yet affects the majority of people in the United States. Your best defense is to pay attention for any warning signs that gum disease may be beginning. If you are experiencing any of the following, it is time to act:

  • Bleeding gums when flossing or brushing
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that appear to be separating from teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath

Any one of these symptoms on their own may not mean gum disease is developing, but the best course is to discuss it with your dentist. Make an appointment today for a check-up, cleaning and a discussion of whether you are showing signs of gum disease.

What Can You Do

It is vital that you take steps each and every day to ensure good dental health.  Thorough brushing and flossing is key, and be vigilant about seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will provide a comprehensive exam that should include checking for any signs of gum disease and a vigorous cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar that has built up since your last visit.

If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, even in its early stages, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Having your doctor and your dentist work together on ways to help you reduce your ongoing risk of heart disease is important in your overall planning.

A cardiologist can be a great ally in your battle to combat heart disease – either to prevent an initial diagnosis or, if already diagnosed, to prevent progression of the disease process. Your cardiologist can work with you to reduce blood pressure, increase blood flow and make your heart a healthier organ once again. Many cardiologists do this by prescribing medications designed to improve blood pressure, cholesterol and overall health of the cardio vascular system. Some cardiologists, however, are expanding to a more integrative approach. At PM Dental Care, we live under the same roof as Integrative Cardiology Center of Long Island (ICCLI), a practice offering a combination of traditional medical therapies with yoga, weight loss, stress reduction, vitamins and supplements. Dr. Regina Druz, founder of the practice and an experienced cardiologist, brings her expertise along with that of each member of her team, to patients seeking a comprehensive approach to good heart health. Patients walk in for their preliminary visit apprehensive about what can be done to improve their heart health. Following the course of treatment laid out by Dr. Druz and her team has resulted in smiling patients, many of whom note they feel better now than they have in years. For more information on Integrative Cardiology Center of Long Island or Dr. Regina Druz, visit or call (516) 746-1103.

The various systems and parts of our bodies do not operate in a vacuum. The intertwining of our systems means we need to take good care of ALL of our systems. And taking care of one part, may benefit another. So keep up the good daily dental care you may reap the benefits all over your body.

One last Valentine’s Day note…dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that may benefit the heart. So, you can enjoy some holiday sweets while with your sweetie too.  Just be sure to brush before bedtime.

Wishing you bright smiles to fill your day and a healthy heart to keep you going.