Articles on oral and maxillofacial pathology

Do You Know the Importance of Oral Health?

Dr. Ruchit Thakar, Dentist
Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive – they can tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes.New research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems.Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring.Gum disease and health complicationsAccording to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and health complications such asa stroke and heart disease. Women with gum disease also show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.Other research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases (diseases involving many organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems. Such diseases include:DiabetesLeukemiaOral cancerPancreatic cancerHeart diseaseKidney diseaseSince most people have regular oral examinations, their dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages.Poor oral health can lead to other problemsIf you don't take care of your teeth and gums, your poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, including:Oral and facial pain. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infection of the gums that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, and advanced gum disease affect more than 75 percent of the population.Problems with the heart and other major organs. Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.Digestion problems. Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth,and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.What you can do-Seeing a dentist regularly helps to keep your mouth in top shape and allows your dentist to watch for developments that may point to other health issues. A dental exam can also detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Provide your dentist with a complete medical history and inform him or her of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.At home, you can practice good oral hygiene:Brush for two to three minutes, at least twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste.Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can't reach.Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which may contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.Exercise preventive care and schedule regular dental checkups — the surest way to detect early signs of periodontal disease.

How Heart Disease and Oral Health Are Connected!

Dr. Harish Rathi, Dentist
The heart and mouth connection- Did you know that heart disease and oral health are linked? There are two different connections between heart disease and your oral health:People with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.Oral health holds clues to overall health. oral health can provide warning signs for other diseases or conditions, including heart disease.Many of the risk factors for gum disease are the same as those for heart disease, such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and diabetes. Overall, people who have chronic gum disease are at higher risk for a heart attackGum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque build up along and below the gum line. Gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.Research shows that many systemic diseases – including heart disease – have oral symptoms. Dentists can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth and gum infections in some of these patients have led to a decrease in blood pressure medications and improved overall health. If you currently have heart disease,make sure to tell your dentist about your condition as well as any medications you are currently taking.Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:Red, tender or swollen gumsBleeding gums while brushing or flossingGums that seem to be pulling away from your teethChronic bad breath or abad taste in your mouthTeeth that are loose or separating from each other

Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health

Dr. Nirav D Shah, Dentist
Years ago, a physician who suspected heart disease would probably not refer the patient to a gum specialist. The same went for diabetes,pregnancy, or just about any other medical condition. Times have changed. The past 5 to 10 years have seen ballooning interest in possible links between mouth health and body health.Your Mouth, the Gateway to Your BodyTo understand how the mouth can affect the body, it helps to understand what can go wrong in the first place. Bacteria that builds up on teeth make gums prone to infection. The immune system moves in to attack the infection and the gums become inflamed. The inflammation continues unless the infection is brought under control.Over time, inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. The result is severegum disease, known as periodontitis. Inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body.What's the connection between oral health and overall health?Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.In addition, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.Oral Health and DiabetesThe working relationship between diabetes and periodontitis may be the strongest of all the connections between the mouth and body. Inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy.Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.Oral Health and Heart DiseaseThough the reasons are not fully understood, it’s clear that gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand. Up to 91% of patients withheart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% of people with noheart disease. The two conditions have several risk factors in common, such as smoking, unhealthy diet, and excess weight. And some suspect that periodontitis has a direct role in raising the risk for heart diseaseas well.Oral Health and PregnancyBabies born too early or at a low birth weight often have significant health problems, including lung conditions, heart conditions, and learning disorders. While many factors can contribute to premature or low birth weight deliveries, researchers are looking at the possible role of gum disease. Infection and inflammation in general seem to interfere with a fetus’ development in the womb.Though men have periodontitis more often than women do, hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk. For the best chance of a healthy pregnancy.Oral Health and OsteoporosisOsteoporosis and periodontitis have an important thing in common,bone loss. The link between the two, however, is controversial. Cram points out that osteoporosis affects the long bones in the arms and legs, whereas gum disease attacks the jawbone. Others point to the fact that osteoporosis mainly affects women, whereas periodontitis is more common among men.Though a link has not been well established, some studies have found that women with osteoporosis have gum disease more often than those who do not. Researchers are testing the theory that inflammation triggered by periodontitis could weaken bone in other parts of the body.Oral Health and Other ConditionsThe impact of oral health on the body is a relatively new area of study. Some other mouth-body connections under current investigation include:Rheumatoid Arthritis. Treating periodontal disease has been shown to reduce pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.Lung Conditions. Periodontal disease may make pneumonia andchronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse, possibly by increasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs.Obesity. Two studies have linked obesity to gum disease. It appears that periodontitis progresses more quickly in the presence of higher body fat.The Bottom Line on Oral HealthOne thing is clear: the body and mouth are not separate. "Your body can affect your mouth and likewise, your mouth can affect your body," says McClain. "Taking good care of your teeth and gums can really help you live well longer." This means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and going for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.

Oral Health for Overall Health

Dr. (Maj) Varun Nischal, Dentist
The connection between oral/dental health and overall health is well established. There are several ways in which neglected oral hygiene can affect your general health. The following are some examples:HEART DISEASE: Those with advanced gum disease/Periodontitis are at an increased risk of heart attack. The bacteria present in millions in the plaque and calculus deposits in the mouth can travel through the blood stream and cause cardiovascular problems. STROKE: Those with adult periodontitis are at increased risk of stroke.UNCONTROLLED DIABETES: Diabetes can alter the bacterial environment in the mouth contributing to overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Smokers with diabetes increase their risk of tooth loss by 20 times.RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS: Inhaling bacteria present in dental plaque through mouth and throat can lead to pneumonia and other lung conditions. PRETERM/LOW BIRTH WEIGHT INFANTS: Hormonal and vascular changes during pregnancy leads to increased inflammation/swelling of gums commonly in 2nd-8th month of pregnancy. In addition, these oral microbes can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus to infection.SEVERE OSTEOPENIA: Reduction in bone mass (osteopenia) is associated with gum disease and related tooth loss especially in postmenopausal women.THE SOLUTION: SIMPLE, ECONOMICAL & EASY!Brush gently twice daily for strong teeth.Floss daily (after every meal) to keep your gums healthy. Brushing does not clean the food particles stuck in between teeth and gums.Pay a visit to your dentist every 6 months to monitor any budding problem at an early stage. As it has been rightly said, "Nip the evil in the Bud."Get regular professional cleaning/scaling done (at least twice a year).Never ignore anything unusual in your mouth. Home remedies, pain killers, antibiotics do not repair tooth damage.Eat healthy, stay stress-free and love the gums you're with!

Oral Health Is A Window To Your Overall Health!

Dr. Gauri Mulay Arbatti, Dentist
Did you know that your oral health can offer clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Understand the connection between oral health and overall health and what you can do to protect yourself.What's the connection between oral health and overall health?Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them are harmless. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.In addition, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that may lead to a disease.Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.What conditions may be linked to oral health?Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.Cardiovascular disease: Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.Pregnancy and birth: Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight.Diabetes: Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.HIV/AIDS: Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.Other conditions: Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth — and eating disorders.Because of these potential links, be sure to tell your dentist if you're taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you've had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.      4. How can I protect my oral health?          To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:Brush your teeth at least twice a day.Floss daily.Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.Schedule regular dental checkups.Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

Tips for Good Oral Hygiene!

Dr. Babita Sangwan, Dentist
What is Good Oral Hygiene? Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:   Your teeth are clean and free of debris Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss Bad breath is not a constant problem Symptoms of bad Oral condition: If your gums do hurt. bleed while brushing or flossing. you are experiencing persistent bad breath.Any of the above symptoms means it's time to see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem. Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.  How is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced? Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress. There are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:   Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste Rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse if your dentist tells you to Making sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area. In between regular visits to the dentist.Proper Brushing Technique:Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline. Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes. Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.  Proper Flossing Technique -Use about 18" of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with. Gently follow the curves of your teeth. Be sure to clean beneath the gumline, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.

4 Steps to Amazing Oral Health.

Dr. Ragini Parmar, Dentist
Good oral hygiene is essential not only on dates but also to maintain overall health. Your teeth tongue, tongue, and gums are prime locations for bacteria to attack. Hence, regular cleaning at home or professionally keeps bacteria at bay. And no, 5 seconds of brushing won’t suffice. I’m talking get-down-and-clean with your teeth. What’s better is that you get a dazzling smile in the bargain.Four Sure Ways of Maintaining Your Oral HealthI know we’ve read all these golden rules for whiter teeth articles. I’m not here to repeat them, just to enforce them. Taking care of your teeth should be part of your daily routine. Here are four simple steps for good overall health:BrushingBrushing your teeth twice a day to their squeaky-clean best is extremely important. It efficiently removes plaque and sugar, and helps you avoid cavities.The bacteria in your mouth if not removed regularly can travel to different parts of your body and cause infections. Ensure that you clean your tongue every time you clean your teeth. The plaque build-up on your tongue can cause bacterial infections. It is also the major cause for bad breath. Cleaning your tongue seems like a small price to pay to avoid uncomfortable social situations.     2. FlossingIn recent times, many dentists have given a lot of importance to flossing. Flossing helps remove and minute particles stuck between teeth. Please remember a toothpick cant do half the job of a floss. Flossing is needed to remove particles that are hard to reach with gargling or brushing. Flossing also helps you remove plaque that builds up over time.  This plaque can only be removed with deep cleaning or flossing.   3. Massaging GumsJust like a body massage, a gum massage is incredibly relaxing. Massaging can help maintain gum structure, which prevents recession of gums. This in turn prevents gum diseases. Massaging your gums also helps increase blood flow, which helps prevent gum diseases.  It is important to massage your gums on a daily basis.  Your dentist can rain you on the correct method of massaging your gums. Make it a spa day for your teeth.  4. Professional Clean UpIt is suggested by professionals that regular checkups are helpful in maintaining the health of your teeth. Getting your teeth regularly cleaned by a professional will ensure good oral health.This is because your dentist will be able to clean the hard to reach places of your mouth. Use of the right equipment and technique allows them to do a more thorough job than you can.Taking care of your teeth doesn’t end here, you must also pay close attention to the type of toothpaste and toothbrush you use. Also, following the simple at-home steps will shorten the duration and frequency of visits with your dentist. These simple steps followed at home can also help you avoid getting cavities, and losing your teeth early on in life. Not to mention, they don’t burn a hole in your pocket. Early adoption of these steps ensures that kids have healthy teeth as well. Remember, a great smile like a good handshake can win people DR RAGINI PARMAR

Common Oral Conditions and Its Management

Dr. Yogesh Rao, Dentist
In generations past, as we aged there was an expectation to begin to lose our teeth - but more and more of today's seniors have reached their golden years with many or all their adult teeth intact. But to maintain this positive trend, seniors need to be aware of specific oral health concerns so maintaining their teeth can be a realistic goal.GingivitisWhen teeth are not properly cleaned, plaque forms on the tooth’s surface. Plaque can cause irritation of the gums, making them red and slightly swollen – this is gingivitis.More serious forms of gum disease such as periodontitis start with gingivitis.Signs & Symptoms:Red, swollen or tender gums that bleed when brushed or flossedBad breathGood management of gingivitis is a sign of good oral hygiene. This helps prevent halitosis, bleeding gums and other more serious dental diseases. Remember, there is a link between oral health and overall health.So how do you prevent periodontal disease? 4 easy steps:BrushFlossRinse with antiseptic mouthwashGet regular oral checkups and cleanings from a dental professionaBad Breath (Halitosis)In most cases, the cause of bad breath can be simple. However, if the issue is persistent, it can be a symptom of something more serious, and a problem sign of something to avoid long term.Diet places a key role in bad breath, and the food you eat can often affect the smell of your breath.Oral bacteria can cause an odour, and also indicate you have plaque build-up.Dry mouth often affects your breath, as saliva (or lack thereof) affects plaque buildup and food particles from sticking to your teeth. Read more about dry mouth on the dry mouth page.Smoking.Unclean dentures. Just like teeth, dentures need to be cleaned regularly to keep them feeling, and smelling, fresh.Some medical conditions, often affecting your liver or kidneys, can affect your breath. Alerting your dentist of previous medical conditions, or current medications is always a good idea.Treatment and Prevention:Daily brushing and flossing is certainly a great place to start, as they assist in removing food particles and bacteria; don’t forget, this includes brushing the tongue. For more information, read up on Brushing Basics. Drinking water regularly is a great way to flush out your mouth, and avoid dry mouth, while sugarless gum or candies help your mouth stay moist as well. Mouthwash throughout the day is effective on short notice, but particularly helpful killing bacteria before bedtime.If you are worried about your breath, and regular oral hygiene efforts are having little effect, contact your dentist for advice.Dysphagia (Trouble Swallowing)Those suffering from dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, can reduce their risk of chest infection or other serious issues by maintaining good oral health by keeping their mouth clean. Other medical issues include neuromuscular conditions, stroke, dementia, traumatic brain injury, gastroesophageal reflux disease, cancers of the head and neck and certain respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Aspiration pneumonia can also be caused when saliva, food or liquid goes down the trachea into the lungs, instead of the esophagus and into the stomach.Risk of dysphagia increases with age and frailty, as well as smoking, excessive alcohol use, certain medications and poor oral hygiene including your teeth and dentures.Possible Signs & Symptoms:Difficulty when trying to swallowCoughing and choking during or after mealsWet voice during or after mealsWeight loss and/or dehydrationDifficulty with certain textures of foodsPocketing of food in the mouthRegurgitating foodFrequent fevers or chest infectionDry Mouth (xerostomin)Dry mouth, or xerostomin is the result of decreased saliva production, which affects up to 60% of older adults. Saliva lubricates the mouth helping to prevent decay and protect tooth enamel. But don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to manage this condition.Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of reasons, including medications you may be taking, radiation or cancer treatments, smoking, immune deficiency, systemic diseases (such as Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Sjogren syndrome) or salivary gland aplasia.Signs & Symptoms:Red, cracked or swollen gumsDry, cracked tongueCracked corners of the mouthLips that stick to the teethGums that easily bleedBad breathProblems wearing denturesDifficulty eating, swallowing or talkingManagement:Maintain good oral hygiene with fluoridated tooth paste, and regular flossing (or alternative cleaning aids)Sip water or suck on ice cubes throughout the dayUse water based lip lubricantChew sugar free gum or suck sugar free candyUse saliva substitutesUse a mist humidifier at nightConsult with a physician about reducing or changing troublesome medicationsRegular check-ups with a dental professionalAlso, avoid alcohol or alcohol products (including mouth rinses containing alcohol), glycerin or lemon toothette swabs, food or drinks promoting dry mouth (caffeine, sweet sticky foods, spicy, acidic or dry foods) and lemon or cinnamon flavoured candy or gum.Denture CareIt might come as a surprise, but dentures build up plaque and tartar just like natural teeth. Maintaining good oral health starts by ensuring your dentures are clean and fitting properly.Regular denture care includes daily removal and brushing of the mouth, tongue, cheeks and palate. You should also check the denture for any broken or cracked areas.Helpful Hints:Dentures should be thoroughly cleaned everydaySoaking dentures in cleaning solution about 30 minutes before brushing will loosen tartar and plaqueBrush dentures with a denture brush and liquid soap for foam denture cleaner.It is important you use non-abrasive products and materials to prevent scratchingIt is ideal to leave dentures out overnight if possible, or at least 1-2 hours per day minimum.This will let gums rest and help prevent denture stomatitis or inflammationClean the cup you store your dentures in at least once a weekChange denture brush on a yearly basis and denture cup as requiredLabelling DenturesLabelling dentures is something many people likely don’t think about, until it’s too late. In situations where multiple people may have dentures, such as a long-term care facility, it is important for identifying dentures which could have been misplaced or mistaken during meals or while soaking.Labelling can be done professionally, by either a denturist or at a dental office, or at home. Dental professionals will use an engraving tool and apply acrylic overtop to make it permanent. In addition, denture ID kits are also available.For those interested in a do-it-yourself project, here’s what you’ll need:Spray disinfectantEmory board/nail fileIndelible markerClear acrylic nail polishSteps:Always wear glovesClean and disinfect the dentureUse an emery board to roughen the cheek side of the denture at the backPrint the resident’s name on the area with a permanent marker and seal it with clear acrylic nail polishOnce dry, clean and disinfect the denture again and rinse thoroughly with cool waterCold/Canker SoresCold cores are very common for many people and are characterized by small, red blisters on the lips. One common type is herpes simplex. This virus is very common and highly contagious. After the initial outbreak, these blisters can re-occur frequently and there is no cure. However, they tend to heal within 14 days on their own.Over the counter treatments are available. These products typically contain docosonal or benzyl alcohol and are usually available as gels or creams.Common over the counter medications are Abreva and Zilactin. For best results, apply products as soon as there is tingling on the lips. This usually indicates a cold sore is starting to develop.Canker sores can be caused by a number of factors including: injury to the mouth, stress, unhealthy diet, certain medical conditions, come medications, and even nicotine gum.TreatmentSalt water rinses: Mix 1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of warm water. Swish the solution around the mouth and spit out.½ teaspoon of baking soda mixed with a few drops of water until it makes a thick paste. You can use this paste to cover the canker sore.Hydrogen peroxide can be mixed 1 to 1 with water. This solution can be applied to the sore using a cotton swab.Milk of magnesia can aid in the healing process and reduce pain. Apply directly 3-4 times a day.In severe cases, oral medication can be prescribed by a physician or dentist.To ease pain promote healing; avoid acidic foods when cankers and cold sores are present.Oral CancerIn Canada, 3400 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed each year. About 50% of those diagnosed do not live longer than 5 years after diagnosis because it wasn’t detected early enough.The most common sites for oral cancer to be found are the tongue (which has the highest prevalence), throat, floor of the mouth and lips. Regular tobacco use (both chewing and smoking), alcohol consumption and prolonged sun exposure all increase risk in addition to age.Daily Mouth Test (to be completed by someone else):LOOK: Look on all sides of the tongue, on the floor of the mouth, the cheeks, the hard palate, the soft palate, gums and teeth. Look for anything abnormal or different from the day before – any white or red patches, sores, bleeding, loose or broken teeth.FEEL: Feel for any lumps, bumps, sores that bleed and do not heal. Check if the person had trouble chewing or swallowing.TELL: Write down any concerns to discuss with your dentist. If the area of concern is still present or continues to worsen 7-14 days after initial finding, make arrangements to see a dentist of doctor.

Importance of Oral Health

Dr. Parag M. Khatri, Dentist
If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. Yet, many people think it's normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss.Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. If nothing is done, the infection can spread and destroy the structures that support your teeth in your jawbone. Eventually, your teeth can become so loose that they have to be extracted.What Is Periodontal Disease?"Perio"means around, and "dontal" refers to teeth. Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the infection affects the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved.For many years scientists have been trying to figure out what causes periodontal disease. It is now well accepted that various types of bacteria in dental plaque are the major villains. Researchers also are learning more about how an infection in your gums can affect your overall health.Researchers are studying possible connections between gum disease and:What Causes Periodontal Disease?Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque, the sticky substance that forms on your teeth a couple of hours after you have brushed. Interestingly, it is your body's response to the bacterial infection that causes most of the problems. In an effort to eliminate the bacteria, the cells of your immune system release substances that cause inflammation and destruction of the gums,periodontal ligament or alveolar bone. This leads to swollen, bleeding gums,signs of gingivitis (the earliest stage of periodontal disease), and loosening of the teeth, a sign of severe periodontitis (the advanced stage of disease.)Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly (about once every six months, or more often if you have gum disease) can prevent periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing, when done correctly, help remove most of the plaque from your teeth. Professional cleanings by your dentist or dental hygienist will keep plaque under control in places that are harder for a toothbrush or floss to reach.If oral hygiene slips or dental visits become irregular, plaque builds up on the teeth and eventually spreads below the gum line. There, the bacteria are protected because your toothbrush can't reach them.Good flossing may help dislodge the plaque; but if it is not removed, the bacteria will continue to multiply,causing a more serious infection. The buildup of plaque below the gum line leads to inflammation of the gums. As the gum tissues become more swollen, they detach from the tooth forming a space, or "pocket," between the tooth and gums. In a snowball effect, the pockets encourage further plaque accumulation since it becomes more difficult to remove plaque. If left untreated, the inflammatory response to the plaque bacteria may spread to the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, causing these structures to be destroyed.Another problem is that if plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, over time it becomes calcified, or hardened, and turns into calculus (commonly called tartar). Since calculus is rougher than tooth enamel or cementum (a layer that covers the tooth root), even more plaque attaches to it, continuing this downward spiral.Using tartar-control toothpaste may help slow accumulation of calculus around your teeth, but it can't affect the tartar that has already formed below the gum line.Although bacterial plaque buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease, several other factors, including other diseases, medications and oral habits, also can contribute. These are factors that can increase your risk of gum disease or make it worse once the infection has set in.