Posts for: February, 2016
While the medical community is still learning about the link between oral health and heart health, one thing is clear: taking care of your teeth and gums can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions.
Periodontal or gum disease is characterized by inflammation or swelling of the gums, and may be a warning sign of problems elsewhere in the body. When plaque builds up and clogs the arteries, this is an inflammatory process that can limit the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart and brain, increasing the risk of a heart attack of stroke. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection, and should be taken seriously anywhere it occurs.
Most of the bacteria that grows in our mouth is harmless. The body will naturally keep bacteria under control, and taking care of our teeth and gums aids in that process. However, if we don’t practice good oral care, that bacteria can multiply and lead to infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Some studies have shown that bacteria from the mouth can travel into the bloodstream and contribute to the development of heart disease. Whether this is proved true or not, it is important to keep your teeth and gums clean and free from inflammation and infection. And if you already have a heart condition, you should let your dentist or dental specialist know, and give them a list of any medications you take.
Bacteria and inflammation are also linked to other health issues including diabetes, dementia and some cancers. The exact relationship is not clear yet, but we know that link exists.
The best way to ensure optimal oral health and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and other serious medical conditions is to practice good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss at least once every day
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months — or when the bristles show signs of wear
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
You should always pay close attention to the health of your teeth and gums -- and be aware that what happens in the mouth may be a warning sign for what is happening in the rest of the body.
Sorting out the different types of anesthesia, and knowing which one is best for you, can be confusing. This is especially true with in-patient oral surgery procedures, where patients are sometimes given several options, and need to choose which type of anesthesia they feel most comfortable with.
- Local Anesthesia - Topical anesthetics, such as novocaine and lidocaine, numb a small area of the mouth. They are commonly used by the oral surgeon for simple extractions. They can also be used in combination with other forms of anesthesia.
- Nitrous Oxide – Commonly known as “laughing gas,” this anesthetic is inhaled through a mask that rests over the patient's nose, and can be given in small or larger doses. With nitrous oxide, the patient will feel relaxed, but will still be aware of what is happening. Nitrous Oxide, when used in combination with a local anesthetic, can provide a pain free and relaxed experience for patients having oral surgery.
- Conscious Sedation - With this method, the patient is given a sedative, but is still alert and awake for the procedure. Conscious Sedation can be administered orally by a liquid medication or pill, or given intravenously. Patients usually have some memory of the procedure, but feel comfortable and relaxed.
- General Anesthesia - Deep sedation or general anesthesia involves administering a medication that places the patient in a state of monitored and controlled unconsciousness. It is most often administered intravenously and the office will evaluate the patient continually while they are asleep. Specialized training and equipment is required to administer general anesthesia in a surgical office, so be sure to ask your doctor for credentials and find out how the office is set up for sedation.
The anesthetic plan that is most appropriate depends on the patient’s current medical condition, the type of surgical procedure, and the patient’s level of comfort with the procedure.
Your oral surgeon should offer a consultation prior to the surgical appointment. At this visit the doctor will obtain a comprehensive medical history, conduct an examination, and make recommendations about the procedure, anesthesia and recovery. Make sure to come with a list of questions, and don’t schedule your procedure until you feel comfortable that you have the answers you need.