Periodontal disease is extremely common. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly half of adults age 30 or older have some form of periodontal disease.
Early periodontal disease is called gingivitis. A key symptom of gingivitis is bleeding gums caused by inflammation and a low-grade infection. If bleeding gums go untreated, periodontal disease can progress to the bones that surround and support the teeth. The gums pull away from the teeth, the bone is lost and teeth become very mobile or even fall out.
The good news is that periodontal disease is very treatable if you focus on good oral hygiene such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. You will also need to get regular professional cleanings.
Periodontal disease is more common in smokers, diabetics and older people.
A lot of research supports a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease.
The current proposed mechanisms are:
Systemic inflammation: Inflammation in one area of the body can affect the whole body. This inflammation contributes to three things: blood vessel walls become more permeable, cholesterol becomes more sticky, (contributing to plaque growth) and platelets become more sticky (making a heart attack more likely).
Direct invasion of the blood vessels by oral bacteria: the oral bacteria that get into the blood attack the lining of blood vessels. This causes inflammation and contributes in the ways mentioned above.
The good news is that people with early periodontal disease who get effective treatment have a minimally-increased risk.
If the disease has progressed to the point of losing teeth, severe periodontal disease is a more powerful predictor of heart disease than risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, diabetes and smoking.
What should you do if you have severe periodontal disease?
Get effective treatment. This involves both good home care and special treatments to remove plaque by your dentist.
Decrease your other risk factors that contribute to both conditions, especially diabetes and tobacco use.
Consider switching to a plant-based diet if you are not already following one. It has the proven benefits for reducing your risk of heart disease and is associated with less periodontal disease.
By following a healthy lifestyle and practicing good oral care, you will have nicer teeth and lower your risk of periodontal disease, diabetes and heart disease.
Note: Even though periodontal disease is associated with heart disease and there are plausible mechanisms as to how it may contribute to heart disease, science has yet to fully endorse the connection.
More than 50% of the population is not getting enough sleep, and people suffering from sleep apnea are 300% more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Inadequate sleep makes you more likely to suffer a heart attack as well as serious maladies such as stroke, diabetes and weight gain.
One tell-tale sign of sleep apnea that Dr. Coker observes in his dental patients are shortened teeth. Many times when a person is fighting for air while sleeping they will grind their teeth together. If you have signs or symptoms of sleep apnea, Dr. Coker will send you home with a sleep monitor or will refer you to a local sleep clinic.
Most sleep clinics prescribe a CPAP machine which you wear while sleeping. You wear a mask covering your nose and mouth and the CPAP machine forces oxygen into your throat to keep your airway open. Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than 50% of patients with CPAP machines do not use them as prescribed, therefore, your sleep apnea is not being treated.
Dr. Coker offers a comfortable, quiet alternative called an Oral Appliance.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Whenever you come in for treatment at Dr. Coker’s Smile Studio, your blood pressure will be checked. In the United States, according to the American Heart Association, nearly 1 in every 3 adults over the age of 20, has high blood pressure.
If left untreated or uncontrolled, high blood pressure can cause heart failure, vision loss, kidney disease or a stroke. During the summer when the temperature is warmer, blood pressure is often lower. In the winter, when it is colder, blood pressure often rises.
Some causes of hypertension include being pregnant, being overweight, being sedentary, being a smoker, drinking too much alcohol, eating too much salt, having diabetes, having psoriasis or eating too much fat.
If we find that your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, we will want you to go to your medical doctor who will either suggest medication or major lifestyle changes.
Tooth loss is often caused by tooth decay or trauma. Although it can be corrected with restorative options like dental implants, bridges and dentures, a large number of people forego treatment and simply live with the loss.
By failing to replace a tooth, you could leave yourself at risk of developing additional, more costly problems that may interfere with your everyday life. These problems include:
A loss of bone in your jaw.
Causing other teeth to shift of move which can cause a domino effect with your entire bite,
An improper bite can lead to things like headaches, muscle pain, unnatural wearing of teeth and more tooth loss.
Being able to chew your food properly.
When your jaw bone shrinks, your face can begin to look sunken and aged.
Difficulty pronouncing certain words.
Dr. Coker will want to help you regain function by replacing missing teeth.