Obesity and Your Oral Health

Obesity, defined as an excess proportion of body fat, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. This condition presents health risks to many areas of your body, and takes a toll on just about every aspect of your life. What does obesity have to do with oral health? Recent studies have linked the development of obesity with oral bacteria.

By testing the saliva of overweight people compared to individuals within a healthy weight range, researchers have discovered an oral bacteria present in 98 percent of the obese subjects. Experts believe this bacteria is an indicator of developing an overweight condition. Also, they suspect that the bacteria may participate in the body functions that lead to obesity.

Preventing and controlling obesity usually begins with analyzing and changing your diet. A high glycemic diet, which generally means a diet high in sugars, contributes to weight gain. It is also connected with your dental health, because sugars in your mouth are converted into plaque. If plaque accumulates on your teeth and gums, the risk increases for tooth decay and gum disease.

While it will likely benefit your waistline to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, doing so will reduce your risks for oral disease. Likewise, regular dental checkups, proper oral hygiene including brushing and flossing twice daily, and smart diet modifications will also lower your oral health risks. As experts continue to investigate the connection between your mouth and your overall health, following recommendations for caring for your mouth will likely decrease oral bacteria and possibly limit your risks of other health concerns such as obesity.

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Causes and Effects of Gingivitis

Any stage of gum disease (or gingivitis) can cause inflammation, pain, and sensitivity. It can make eating and talking difficult. It’s important to know what causes gum disease and what can happen if it develops, so that you can avoid it altogether or at least catch it before it wreaks havoc on your mouth.

What causes gingivitis?

Plaque buildup is the main cause of gum disease, although other factors can lead to it as well. These include:

  • Illnesses, especially those that interfere with your immune system. Patients with HIV, diabetes, and cancer are often at higher risk for gingivitis.
  • Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menstruation, puberty, and menopause.
  • Some medications affect oral health by decreasing saliva or causing abnormal growth of gum tissue.
  • Smoking can hamper the healing of your gums.
  • Poor dental hygiene, including neglecting brushing or flossing, or using improper techniques.
  • Family history of gum disease.

What are the symptoms?

Gingivitis can sneak up without symptoms, even in the later stages of the disease. However, there are signs that may point to some level of gingivitis. These include bleeding, red, or swollen gums. Ongoing bad breath and receding gums are other symptoms. Deep pockets may form between the teeth and gums, and teeth may shift or loosen. You might also notice changes in how your teeth fit together when you bite down. Your dentist can recognize symptoms even if you don’t, so make sure you have checkups regularly.

How is gingivitis treated?

Treatment depends on the stage of your gum disease, how you responded to previous treatment, and your general health. Treatments range from therapies to control bacterial growth to surgery to restore gum tissue. Often gingivitis can be controlled with dental visits and good dental hygiene.

What can happen without treatment?

Gingivitis may advance to periodontitis, causing permanent damage to your mouth. Advanced gum disease has been linked to stroke, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes complications.

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Mouthwash Does More Than Freshen Breath

Most people turn to mouthwash when they suspect their breath is bad and they want a quick boost. It’s true that mouthwash comes in handy for this purpose, but did you know that it offers other benefits too?

Reduces bacteria

Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinses are intended to kill germs that cause gum disease, plaque, and bad breath. Swishing this type of mouthwash around your mouth after brushing has been shown to lower the bacteria levels, and therefore decrease your risks of the problems that bacteria can cause. It is especially helpful in senior adults or others who have trouble brushing and flossing their teeth.

Promotes healing

Rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash promotes natural healing of mouth and gum irritations, minor wounds, and canker sores. It removes debris that can irritate your mouth, and can also help reduce inflammations from dental and orthodontic appliances.

Adds fluoride

Some rinses contain fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth. Studies have shown that using fluoride mouth rinses in addition to fluoride toothpaste gives you more protection against cavities than toothpaste alone. Fluoride mouth rinse is not suggested for kids under six years old because they might swallow it.

Relieves pain

Antiseptic mouth rinses have been shown to help reduce tooth pain, probably due to lowering the bacteria and inflammation in your mouth.

Helps with certain conditions

Dentists sometimes prescribe special mouth rinses designed for various oral conditions. This may include gum disease, high risk of tooth decay, or dry mouth. Also, oral rinses may be prescribed after periodontal treatments or oral surgery.

Supplements dental hygiene

Many dentists suggest making dental rinses part of your oral hygiene routine, but remember that it’s only a supplement to brushing and flossing regularly.

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Stop the Pop!!

Whether you call it pop, soda, soft drink, or something else, these terms all refer to a sugary, carbonated drink popular all over the country. It is estimated that Americans consume over 13 billion gallons of soft drinks each year. These beverages can cause serious health problems, including negative effects on your oral health.

Soft drinks are one of the most significant reasons for tooth decay, and it impacts all age groups. From babies drinking it out of bottles to teenagers drinking it all day long to older adults sipping it in retirement homes, it is deteriorating tooth enamel and eroding gums of everyone who consumes it.

Why are soft drinks harmful?

The high sugar content in the drinks is the root cause of trouble, and the high acid content adds to the threat. The sugar combines with bacteria in your mouth to create an acid, which adds to the acid from the drink itself. Then this mixture attacks your teeth. Each time you take a drink of the carbonated beverage, an acid attack begins in your mouth. During this time, your tooth enamel is weakened and cavities are just waiting to form. You may think that the risk goes away by drinking sugar-free soft drinks. Although these are less harmful, they are still acidic and can lead to decay.

How can I avoid harming my teeth?

The ideal way to rule out risks from soft drinks is to cut them out of your diet completely. If you think you just can’t live without them, here are some suggestions:

  • Substitute other drinks. Try drinks with less sugar, like 100% fruit juice and milk.
  • Set a good example. Drink alternatives yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.
  • Sip with straws. This helps keep the sugar from direct contact with your teeth.
  • Rinse with water. After drinking a soda, rinse your mouth with water to reduce the amount of sugar and acid hanging onto your teeth and gums.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse. Using fluoride in your daily dental routine helps to reduce decay and strengthen enamel. Also ask your dentist about the possible need for professional fluoride treatments.

We look forward to seeing you in our Shreveport dental office

Dairy and Your Dental Health

Many people find foods such as cheese, yogurt, and milk to be a very enjoyable part of their diet. Not only are some of these dairy items tasty and nutritious, did you know they can also help your teeth and gums? Studies show that consuming dairy products regularly can lower the occurrence of dental diseases. Let’s see which dairy items you should consider incorporating into your diet and why.

Reduce gum disease

The primary benefit of dairy to your dental health is lowering your risk of periodontal disease. Also known as gum disease, this condition affects roughly 75 percent of Americans at some level. It may be minor gingivitis or advanced periodontitis. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, contribute to heart disease and stroke, and worsen diseases like diabetes and osteoporosis. Lactic acid is one of the key ingredients in many dairy items, and researchers believe that lactic acid is related to reducing gum disease.

Choose your dairy

Just because a food is identified as a dairy product, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely healthy for you. Here are some tips to help you choose the ideal foods and beverages for your dental health:

  • Look for low fat and non-fat options.
  • Choose white milk instead of flavored milk, such as chocolate. The added sugars can lead to tooth decay.
  • Consider natural and organic products when possible.
  • Select unsweetened yogurt without sugar or artificial sweeteners. A good alternative is Greek yogurt which you can add fruit or honey to create an appetizing, healthy snack.

Enjoy additional benefits

Avoiding gum disease isn’t the only benefit of eating dairy. It helps build strong teeth and bones, and is rich in vitamins that are good for your overall health. So the next time you get hungry, try some cheese or a glass of milk because these foods will not only satisfy your hunger but also keep you smiling.

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How Your Diet Affects Your Oral Health

The foods and drinks you consume affect more than your waistline. Your diet provides you with the nutrients you need and impacts your overall health, and also affects the health of your teeth and gums. Let’s see what the choices you make in your diet mean to your oral health.

Nutrients

If you don’t include certain nutrients in your diet, it’s harder for the tissues in your mouth to fight infection. This can promote gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if not treated properly and early. Experts suggest that gum disease advances faster and can become more severe in people who don’t have a nutritious diet. Ask your doctor for suggestions for a healthy diet full of helpful nutrients.

Balanced diet

Your goal should be to eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. These include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy items. It’s also important to drink plenty of water.

Sugar

Sugary foods and drinks are enemies for your oral health, because sugar is proven to contribute to tooth decay. When plaque comes into contact with sugar in your mouth, it causes acid to attack your teeth and lead to decay. Limit the amount of sugar you consume by reading the nutritional labels on foods and drinks, and opt for items that are lowest in sugar. Soft drinks, candy, pastries, and cookies are common sources of sugar.

Snacking

Avoid snacking in between meals, and choose healthy foods like fruit or cheese when you do snack. When you eat foods as part of a meal, it is less harmful to your teeth than eating lots of snacks throughout the day. This is a result of more saliva being released during a meal, which helps wash food from your mouth and lessen the impact of harmful acids.

Dental care

Practice good oral hygiene like regular flossing and brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

If you need a dentist in Shreveport contact us today