As we approach the end of Stroke Awareness Month we wanted to make you aware of the association between poor oral health and the increased likelihood of having a stroke.
According to researchers from the International Dental Health Foundation, “only one in six people realise that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke”.
In 2004, researchers in Germany identified an increased risk of stroke for those with advanced gum disease, particularly for men and patients under the age of 60. Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease often caused by poor oral hygiene, which affects the hard and soft tissues that support the teeth.
Warning signs to look out for include:
• Red gums that are swollen or tender
• Painful mouth
• Bleeding while eating hard foods, or brushing/flossing
• Persistent bad breath
• Receding gums
• Mouth sores
• Loose teeth
• Any changes to your ‘bite’ (how your teeth fit together when you bite down)
In time, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can make their way below the gum line and spread toxins into the body via the bloodstream. This creates inflammation in the body. If gum disease is left untreated, deep pockets form between the gums and the teeth and the bone supporting the teeth is also destroyed. Bacteria can make their way into these gaps and infect the gums, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Researchers in 2012 confirmed that patients with periodontitis are associated with a higher risk of stroke during a study from the Attikon University Hospital in Athens, Greece.
Inflammation in the body caused by the toxins that have entered the bloodstream due to gum disease leads to hardening of the arteries. This makes it much harder for blood to flow around the body. This can create much thicker neck arteries, which means that blood struggles to flow efficiently to the brain – fundamentally, strokes occur when blood flow is disrupted, or a clot prevents oxygen from accessing a section of the brain.
To avoid developing periodontal disease, you must at the absolute minimum include these basic steps within your oral care routine:
1. Brush your teeth (and tongue) at least twice a day
2. Floss/Use interdental brushes – this removes food particles and plaque between the teeth and along the gum line that brushing alone may have missed.
3. Mouthwash is useful for washing away any remaining residue and freshening the breath
4. Limit your intake of acidic and sugary food and drink
5. Keep to your regular dental appointments so that we can spot any early signs of gum disease and tackle
the issue before it becomes a greater problem for you
Look out for the warning signs of gum disease outlined earlier in this article. If any of them sound familiar to you, please get in touch and book an appointment as soon as you can.
You should act quickly if you have any concerns regarding your dental health. As we have said before, dental issues do not fix themselves, they will only worsen over time. Booking an appointment to see us as soon as possible will give us the best chance of tackling any issues at minimum discomfort to you, and before they become more severe. Our friendly team is here to help.
As we approach the end of Stress Awareness Month we thought this article on the link between dental health and stress would be very timely.
Over 80% of modern diseases have a direct link to stress in some form or another. With a statistic so high, it’s easy to understand how stress can also have a significant negative impact on our oral health. At JL Dental Care, we recognise many signs of stress within our patients based on what we see in their mouths. Repetitive coping mechanisms almost exclusively linked to stress and anxiety such as cheek biting or teeth grinding is not something that anyone else would necessarily know about, but do you know how to deal with these issues? At the practice, we can help you with so much more than just your teeth. Read on for some advice on how to treat signs of stress within your mouth.
Stressed people may find that they grind their teeth or clench their jaw when asleep at night, known as ‘bruxism’. This can lead to generalised wear of the teeth but perhaps most noticeable may be the edges of the teeth becoming more translucent or worn over time. Bruxism can also lead to sleep disorders, headaches, jaw pain, and permanently damaged teeth. We can provide you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep and help relieve the other symptoms too. In very severe cases of teeth grinding, the nerves of the teeth can be exposed, and root canal treatment may be required to remove the nerve from the tooth. Cheek biting can benefit from treatments such as acupuncture or hypnosis in more extreme cases.
If you notice that your gums are bleeding, don’t ignore it. Bleeding gums can be a symptom of gum disease, which itself is exacerbated by stress. Our body’s ability to fight off infection can become compromised during stressful periods, which makes us more susceptible to gum infections. Stress is also an important factor for those who suffer from mouth ulcers which can be quite unpleasant. At times of stress, ulcers will be more frequent. They usually disappear by themselves after a few days, however, but it is helpful to avoid aggravating them by eating anything too acidic or spicy. If you are a sufferer then please ask for further advice.
Stress causes more stomach acid to build up than usual, which can lead to reflux and possibly contribute to bad breath or ‘halitosis’. This can have a detrimental effect on our emotional wellbeing, so antacids may take the edge off the problem in the meantime. It has also recently been shown that reflux can contribute to erosion of the enamel on our teeth. Long-term issues may benefit from further examination of the stomach lining by your GP. Poor diet can also lead to an increase in stomach acid. Stress is actually linked to snacking and comfort eating – stressed people, often tired from a lack of decent sleep can automatically crave and ultimately reach for the sugary energy fix to get them through the day. This can be highly detrimental to the health of our teeth over longer periods of time. Please remember to eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink lots of water and exercise regularly. Keeping your body active can really help to channel stress in a positive way.
Lastly, look after yourself properly and don’t neglect your daily healthcare routines. You will suffer from this in the long term. Homecare is critical for maintaining your dental health.
Although I have talked about the effects on oral health, addressing the stress and its causes is clearly most important. Some stressful situations will be temporary; exams, moving house etc. and will resolve as the situation resolves. Other stresses may take longer to resolve. Make time for you and make yourself a priority. When under significant levels of stress, we can get slack in our general hygiene. Sleep is a time when our bodies attempt to rest, recover and repair, so get as much as you can. If you find that you are struggling to sleep, mindfulness and relaxation techniques readily available on the internet can really help with this. Often, poor energy levels caused by a lack of sleep make the smallest of tasks seem like hard work.
Brushing and flossing are essential components of your daily healthcare routine and should not be avoided. Stressed people may also believe that they have no time to visit us for their regular dental examinations – your routine examinations are important and shouldn’t be neglected, so please make time to pop into the practice. Our friendly team is happy to assist you however we can and make your experience with us a positive one.
Let’s begin with some visualisation: Picture a beach, cocktails, warm sunshine… or perhaps that new piece of jewellery you’ve been eyeing in the shop window for the past year… Whatever treat your heart currently desires, know it can potentially be yours if you manage to quit smoking today. Think of all the extra pockets you’ll need for the cash normally resolved for your smoking habit… perhaps a new coat would be practical?! Jokes aside though, welcome to National No Smoking Day 2018! Today’s the day you join the 1 in 10 smokers who successfully quit on this annual health awareness day. Yes, you can do this. No time like the present.
The UK campaign provides smokers with a sense of community support and reams of information required to kick that expensive and controlling habit once and for all. Since 1984, No Smoking Day has taken place on the second Wednesday of March and focuses on a different tagline each year. This year’s campaign is reinforced by a social media drive using the hashtag #tellusyourway, which seeks to encourage quitters to share with others their personal success stories and the winning way in which they achieved their goal.
Keep this in mind – no matter how long you’ve used tobacco products, quitting now can significantly reduce your risk of gum disease, tooth loss and many other oral health problems. In fact, over time, many of these health risks will diminish until they are almost at levels for non-smokers. Now THAT’s incentive! Plus, once you quit, you’ll be delighted to hear that your body will find it easier and quicker to heal from infections or injury, and the effectiveness of any gum disease treatments will be increased. You will also start to feel a boost in self esteem and confidence as your breath becomes fresher and your teeth are no longer subjected to the staining onslaught from nicotine. In fact, there’s an idea… once your saved pennies start to add up, why don’t you consider popping in to the practice for some advice on tooth whitening treatments? Teeth whitening is simpler and more affordable than ever before, so this is certainly something worth considering if you plan to treat yourself to a reward afterwards!
We are all aware of the benefits to quitting by now, but with regards to your teeth, allow us to remind you of a few important points. Bear in mind that smokers tend to suffer from increased plaque and tartar build up, which leads to decay. Smokers therefore suffer from twice as many cases of tooth loss and infected roots. As smoking diminishes the body’s immune system, this makes it hard to fight back against infection. This means that smokers are up to 6 times more likely to develop gum disease and mouth cancers compared to non-smokers. Furthermore, did you know that smoking can actually mask symptoms of gum disease and prevent healing? As a smoker, you may feel like your teeth and gums are in good shape but this could simply be an illusion created by nicotine. The drug shuts down your blood vessels so that over time the blood supply to your gums decreases. When you stop smoking, nicotine is no longer hitting your mouth, so with increased vascularity you may find that your gums bleed more frequently for a while… but don’t panic! This simply means that your symptoms of inflammation are no longer being masked and steps can be taken to get your dental health back on the road to recovery.
Quitting is achievable. Please believe that you can, and you will. Our friendly team will do nothing but support you in your journey, so seize the moment and make today a fresh start. Don’t look back.
Excessive sugar consumption has become one of the most discussed children’s health issues in Britain over recent years. Unnecessary sugar is found lurking in our children’s favourite sweets, soft drinks and cereals, but also in so-called ‘healthy’ snacks, marketed as an agreeable alternative to junk food.
Fruit snacks, yoghurts, raisins and smoothies are all examples of products found to contain astonishing levels of hidden sugar. Sugar has a detrimental effect on our children’s health, so what is the impact on their teeth?
Tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. A 10% increase in the last 4 years means that nearly 43,000 cases were reported last year alone. With more children having their teeth removed under general anaesthetic in hospital than ever before, it’s time to consider the potential damage to our own children’s teeth and adjust our behaviours to reduce the impact.
How does sugar cause damage to teeth?
When we consume food and drinks that contain sugar, the plaque, that accumulates on everyone’s teeth uses this sugar to feed and multiply and it produces acids. The acids are held against the tooth by the sticky plaque biofilm, and over time, this causes the enamel to become porous and dissolve. When sufficiently weak the surface of the tooth will break down and a cavity is formed. This will now provide an environment for a further increase in plaque accumulation and so the process will continue. The bacteria will also invade the tooth itself. The progress of the cavity into the tooth eventually leads to sensitivity, pain and ultimately, if untreated can cause an abscess.
Simple steps to tackle the issue
Our teeth are under assault for around 20 minutes after we eat or drink. Each time we take an additional bite or sip, that 20-minute attack period is reset.
• Cut down on the sugar.
• Drink a glass of water after you eat or drink. This can be very effective in rinsing the mouth of any lingering residue and will help to dilute any remaining sugars.
• Milk is a friend to teeth. Low in acid, rich in calcium, phosphorus and casein. This winning combination of minerals and proteins work to strengthen teeth and bones and even aid the repair of damaged tooth enamel.
• Try using a straw. This directs the liquid to the back of the mouth and limits exposure rather than allowing drinks to bathe the teeth unnecessarily.
• Try to avoid brushing teeth within an hour of drinking sugary drinks and juice. This allows the enamel to recover and reharden before we vigorously brush.
• Use an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice daily without fail.
• Maintain a routine of visiting the dentist every few months. We dentists can spot potential issues before they become larger problems, plus we are able to provide a more thorough clean than you or your children may be able to achieve.
• Disclosing tablets are useful in showing up areas you or your children may be missing as part of your dental cleaning routine.
If you have any concerns about the health of your children’s teeth please call us on 020 8958 0136.
What’s in a smile? Surprisingly, it was Charles Darwin who was one of the first people to examine the science of a smile and study its purpose. Unlike other body language, which differs from culture to culture, a smile is globally recognised amongst all humans and is one of the most direct and effective methods of communication we have.
We usually smile when we are happy, but did you know that it works in reverse? We are happier when we smile. Our brains interpret our smile as happiness, reacting to this information accordingly by lifting our mood.
Smiles are also infectious. We respond to genuine smiles in a reflexive way, which can generate happiness and positivity for everyone involved. A healthy smile makes you feel better, boosting your self-esteem and confidence. We need to make sure that our smiles truly reflect what we feel, by having the confidence to smile without restraint. So, what can we do to improve our smiles?
These five steps may sound basic, but it’s simply a question of maintaining good habits and routine in your everyday life. We have created a list of healthy practices for you to take on board:
1. Invest in decent tools
Find yourself a good quality toothbrush – preferably electric. You need to be brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, with a fluoride toothpaste to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Make sure you remember to replace the brush head every three months.
Interdental brushes and floss will make it easier to clean crevices that a brush can’t fully access. You will reduce the build-up of food and plaque between your teeth that can eventually lead to cavities and gum disease.
Mouthwash and sugar-free chewing gum are both useful ways of freshening your breath and protecting your teeth between meals. Avoid using mouthwash after brushing your teeth as it will wash away the fluoride.
2. Make regular dental appointments
It sounds obvious, but we dentists can spot potential problems early on in their development before they become a larger issue. If you have a dental-related concern, book that appointment. Do not put it off. Dental problems do not simply disappear on their own. Postponing a visit to us will simply exacerbate the issue and increase your discomfort and the cost of treatment. There is also potential for infections to spread to other areas of the mouth and body. Therefore, act quickly on your concerns!
Sticking to a regular schedule of check-ups every six months will give you peace of mind. Our hygienists will remove tartar and staining from your teeth that you may have missed. Furthermore, because many health conditions manifest themselves in the mouth, you are additionally being screened for potential wider problems such as oral cancer.
3. Keep to a healthy diet
A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease. To avoid unnecessarily exposing our teeth throughout the day to continuous acid in our mouths, it is best to avoid snacking and stick to eating during your three mealtimes only.
Many foods and drinks contain tannins, which stain your teeth. Tea, coffee, red wine, cola and curry are just a few of the major culprits. To try to reduce the impact of staining, you could also try to drink a glass of water after eating or drinking, to wash away any lingering residue.
Sugar intake ideally needs to be kept to a minimum as sugar creates excessive acid which aggressively attacks the tooth enamel, rapidly increasing your chances of cavities and tooth decay. Try eating lots of crunchy fruit and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery – these are both saliva boosters, and as saliva neutralises the acid in your mouth they work well at protecting your teeth.
Top Tip: Using a straw when drinking pushes staining liquids to the back of the mouth rather than coating your teeth.
4. Stop smoking
Stopping smoking is an obvious health benefit for many reasons… but with specific regard to teeth, smoke can cause a stain that soaks deeply into the tooth enamel. It also damages healthy gums, which creates pockets of space around the teeth. This effect can make the teeth appear longer with dark spaces around them and make them loose. Smoking also makes it very difficult to reverse the effect of effects of gum disease.
5. Tooth whitening
If you would like some professional advice and assistance in whitening your teeth, please feel free to make an appointment with us here at the practice. We offer a safe, simple and affordable treatment for our patients.
A healthy smile is a winning smile. It makes you feel better and makes others positively respond to you. We must look after our smiles, and they will look after us in return!
If you have any questions regarding your smile, please feel free to call us on 020 8958 0136 to discuss further.
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month organised by the Oral Health Foundation with the aim of getting more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by increasing education of the risk factors, signs and symptoms. In the coming weeks I will be placing a few videos regarding the risks for mouth cancer, and how to minimise them, on our Facebook page.
Mouth Cancer in the UK
In the UK, more than 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year. The disease has grown by a third in the last decade and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.
Mouth Cancer takes the lives of more than 2,000 people each year in the UK, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. It also takes more lives a year than road traffic accidents. By knowing more about the risk factors, living healthier lifestyles and by learning what to look out for you can help reduce your risk of contracting Mouth Cancer.
Early Detection Saves Lives
Early detection is crucial to increase your chances of survival and Mouth Cancer can often be spotted during a thorough mouth examination. If recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good.
Although there are risk factors heavily linked to the disease (most cases are linked to tobacco and alcohol) Mouth Cancer can affect anybody – that’s why it’s so important to know what to look out for.
Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks. Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth.
Early detection could save your life.
Get A Full Dental Health Check
If you notice any changes in your mouth please call us immediately and book an appointment to see Farrell, Leigh-Ann or me for a full dental health check.
More Information on Mouth Cancer
For more information on mouth cancer and on mouth cancer action month from 1-30 November 2017 please visit: http://www.mouthcancer.org/
As part of our regular focus on health topics which have been in the headlines, we are looking at a new potential wonder drug for people who have suffered a heart attack. For a long time statins have been a great way to lower cholesterol by slowing production in the liver. One of the main problems, however, is the risk of muscle pains when interacted with other medicines.
Statins have been used to treat disease for years but people who were taking them were likely to have another heart attack within 5 years. This is believed to be because of unchecked inflammation in the heart. Excitingly, a new breakthrough treatment has been discovered. Patients were injected with a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called Canakinumab. Doctors have found that people who took the drugs had fewer episodes later in life and were less likely to develop cancer.
During the trial, 10,000 patients were kept on statins as well as being given either the real or placebo injections. For patients who received the Canakinumab injections rather than the placebo, the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular attack. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on Canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.
Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research said of it “This has far-reaching implications. It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations.”
This new research is breaking open a door into the third era of cardiovascular research, this first being healthy eating and stopping smoking, the second being statins and now this which has still got many avenues to discover.
Within the trial doctors found that the risk of lung cancer was reduced by 75%, and while the reasoning is not clear as of yet they are happy that his outcome has happened and plan to research more in the future.
Professor Jeremy Pearson had some closing words “These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”
At JL Dental Care we frequently speak about gum disease and inflammation and the risks associated with a higher incidence of having a heart attack.
In our regular features on general health, we are looking at a new government initiative to cut childhood obesity, where they have introduced new regulations on calorie counts. While the official guidelines will be voluntary the government is prepared to legislate if necessary.
What does this actually mean?
Well, the proposed legislation means that either the portion size will have to be reduced or that some ingredients will have to be swapped out for healthier options.
Why is this happening?
According to government research, 1 in 3 children leaves primary school either overweight or obese. The government also knows that the general population is eating 200 to 300 more calories than they should be a day. Due to the success of the sugar cutting campaign health professionals have put pressure on the government to reduce calories across all food.
How many calories are in our food?
• 260 in a typical burger with cheese in a bun
• 880 in a 10-inch takeaway pizza
• 237 in a Krispy Kreme chocolate iced ring doughnut
• 338 in a Greggs tuna mayonnaise white sub roll
• 244 in a 400g tin of Heinz spaghetti
While these statistics may not seem shocking an average child should be eating around 1600-2500 calories a day. Many children are eating snacks before their healthy lunch and dinner, and this will tip their calorie count over the limit.
Some key statistics
• As a guide, an average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight
• For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000
• These values can vary depending on age, size and levels of physical activity, among other factors
• School-age children are advised to consume anywhere between 1,600 and 2,500
• People on average consume between 200 and 300 calories more than they should
At JL Dental Care we recommend a healthy balanced diet for your child and supervised brushing twice daily. This is the best start they can be given to help them have a healthy smile for life.
We frequently post articles regarding the health implications of smoking, and now we’re probably going to dishearten anyone who has quit cigarettes only to replace them with an e-cigarette.
In recent months new laws came into force which limits the size and strength of e-cigarette tanks, as well as banning certain ingredients, including colourings and caffeine. These changes were introduced as there are still so many unknown potential side-effects to vaping. If you think about it, cigarettes were marketed as having health benefits throughout the middle of the 20th Century and it took decades for us to find out the truly devastating effects on the health of smokers.
E-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory agency before they can be sold. Vape tanks larger than 2ml will no longer be permitted while e-liquid bottles now have a maximum capacity of 10ml. A maximum nicotine strength has also been set at 20mg (2%).
In the U.K. there are now almost 3 million people who use e-cigarettes, which is a rather shocking statistic when you consider this industry has really only boomed in the last five years.
A report released last month by Action on Smoking and Health found that more than half of UK vapers had given up smoking. Health bodies including Ash and the British Medical Association have said that vaping is ‘almost certainly better’ than smoking tobacco. However, experts have raised concerns about the addictive nature of vaping, with worries that it re-enforces habitual behaviour. There are also major concerns that the packaging and fruity flavours are attracting young people to the habit who would otherwise not have had exposure to nicotine.
In the UK, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death, killing almost 80,000 people annually in England alone. At the practice, we see the other effects it has on your mouth including mouth cancer, plaque and tartar, inflammation, bone loss in the jaw, teeth staining and bad breath.
Our advice if you are contemplating quitting smoking is to try and find a solution which isn’t substituting one unhealthy habit for another which could potentially have just as many health implications.
No nicotine is better for your oral health than even small amounts administered in a ‘safer’ way.
Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes.
So, many of you will be wondering why a dentist is quoting these staggering figures to you and why I am positioned to comment on them? What you perhaps don’t realise is that a majority of gum disease sufferers were found to be at high risk of developing diabetes in a recent report.
However, like the old adage ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’, it’s not entirely clear which way around the diabetes and gum disease link works. Researchers studied a representative sample of 9,000 people who didn’t have diabetes, although 817 of them went on to develop the disease. The researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet.
Diabetic patients with poor blood sugar level control are likely to have gum disease more frequently and also in a much more severe manner.
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overemphasised for patients with diabetes as gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) can be treated and reversed. However if left untreated, periodontitis (the advanced stage) can occur which in turn may lead to bone loss.
Risks like impaired vision and limb loss are well known to diabetics, however gum disease is rapidly being referred to as the sixth major risk.
What can you do?
Diabetic patients need to pay much more attention to their oral health and ensure a visit to us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth with one of our hygienists. You should also inform us if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and ask for advice on keeping your mouth healthy.