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27 Mar 2021
March 27, 2021 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Bacteria: The Good, the Bad & the Neutral

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health shares all about oral bacteria and its role in your mouth and body.Living in a land of antibacterial gels, soaps, plastics, and even fabrics, it might surprise you to hear that tons of bacteria live in your mouth every day, and they aren’t all bad! In fact, some play an important role in keeping up your overall health. 

Some oral bacteria, however, can cause serious problems and must be fought with good oral hygiene. Dr. David Case from Family Dental Health in Portland would like to help you understand the role bacteria play in your health and wellness.

What are Bacteria?

Bacteria are very small organisms made of just one single cell. That’s compared to over 37 trillion cells in the human body! Bacteria have their own DNA and they need sources of energy (food) just like you do. Nearly 700 different kinds of bacteria can live in your mouth, but most people only have 34-72 types present at any given time.

What Do Bacteria Do?

Of all the bacteria in your mouth, some are good, some are bad, and some simply neutral. The good bacteria – called probiotics – assist with digestion, which begins in the mouth.  The bad bacteria, however, can cause tooth decay and severe gum disease. The following three kinds of bacteria are on the Most Wanted list for being known to harm your oral health: 

  • Streptococcus mutans are bacteria most often blamed for tooth decay. These bacteria feed off any sugar left in your mouth after eating. As they feed, they produce acid that breaks down your tooth layer by layer.
  • T. denticola and P. gingivalis are the biggest offenders causing gum disease or periodontal disease. These bacteria produce toxins that harm your gum tissue. Your body’s natural response is to create inflammation to fight the toxins. But long-term chronic inflammation is bad for your mouth and body and can even cause tooth loss.

The Oral-Systemic Link: “The foot bone’s connected to the…leg bone!”

Remember the simple lesson we learned when we were kids, that every part of your body is connected to another part? If you’re unhealthy in any area of your life, another area will become unhealthy too. This is especially true when it comes to your mouth. 

The health of your teeth, gums, and jaw are a good indication of the health everywhere else in your body. Your mouth is a major entry point into your body through both digestion and your bloodstream. Harmful bacteria can infect other parts of your body by traveling through your gut or entering the blood vessels in your gums. 

Heart health and diabetes are the most well-known connections between oral health and overall health, but research is growing and expanding every day. All of these connections, or, links, form the oral-systemic link. Dentists, doctors, and researchers work together to understand the oral-systemic link and how we can use it to promote better health in all areas of your life. 

A recent study showed “significant associations” between the antibodies of certain oral bacteria with pancreatic cancer! Antibodies are your body’s way of fending off harmful substances. If your mouth has a lot of antibodies for a certain kind of bacteria, it could mean your body is fighting illness—both in your mouth and in other parts of your body. This is amazing news because pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and fight. By harnessing the power of the oral-systemic link, you can get far ahead of severe health problems before they even start. 

In 1880, W.D. Miller said, “Oral bacteria can explain most, if not all, of the illnesses of mankind.” Ahead of your time, much, Mr. Miller?

Good oral hygiene—brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly—is important for keeping the bad bacteria at bay. If you’d like to learn more about how a healthy mouth promotes a healthy, happy life, make an appointment with us today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

13 Mar 2021
March 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Can Gum Disease Cause Birth Defects?

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health tells patients how gum disease in pregnant women is linked to birth defects and pregnancy complications.What is Gum Disease?

The short answer: gum disease is a common gum infection that can become very problematic, but you can prevent it! The long answer: all the tissues in your body have a self-defense mechanism called “inflammation.” When bacteria build up in your mouth, your gum tissue will inflame to try and kill it. Gum inflammation is called gingivitis and looks like red, soft, and sore gum tissue.

Over time, gingivitis can lead to more troublesome gum disease (called periodontitis) that can grow even deeper and start to harm the bones of your teeth and jaw. Severe gum disease can wreak havoc in your mouth. Pregnant women need to be especially careful because gum disease is linked with pre-term births and babies with low birth weight. 

Every mom and mom-to-be wants the best start for their baby on their journey into parenthood. Read on to learn more from Dr. David Case of Family Dental Health about gum disease and pregnancy.

 

Gum Disease, Pregnancy, and Birth Defects

Here are the facts:

  • Up to 75% of pregnant women get gingivitis. About 50% of those women will see it worsen during pregnancy.
  • Hormonal changes and diabetes – conditions common to pregnancy – can increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Studies show higher maternal age and lower socioeconomic status are both risk factors for gum disease during pregnancy.
  • Though we don’t yet fully understand the reasons, gum disease is proven to increase your risk of preterm birth and having a baby with low birth weight.


Why is this important?

Babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds have an increased risk of slower development (physically, socially, emotionally) for the rest of their lives. Babies born too early can have those same complications as well as problems with their vision, breathing, hearing, and digestion. Talk to your doctor to learn more about preterm birth and low birth weight.

 

How You Can Prevent Gum Disease

There’s no hall pass for brushing your teeth while pregnant. Preventive oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, professional dental cleanings) is both safe and necessary, especially for pregnant women. Not to mention your pregnancy cravings may have you enjoying an extra sweet treat or two these days – ice cream for breakfast, anyone?

Stay ahead of the game and prevent gum disease by eating tooth-friendly foods and keeping your mouth clean. If gingivitis crops up, don’t hesitate to get a professional cleaning at the dentist. You can also ask for prescription-strength mouthwash if you need the extra help.

Talk to both your primary doctor and your dentist about your overall health, including the state of your gums. If you’re looking for a Portland dentist, we’d love to care for you during this special time. Contact us today to make an appointment!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Feb 2021
February 27, 2021 by David CaseBlog

Did George Washington Really Have Wooden Teeth?

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health sheds light on the myth of George Washington and his wooden teeth.When he became the first president of the United States, George Washington had only one real tooth left! You heard right—just ONE. Everyone has heard something about this great man and his dental history, but if you heard that Washington had wooden teeth, then you heard wrong.  This myth is totally false—and Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health is here to tell you the truth.

Dental Care in Colonial Times

It was a combination of bad genes and even worse medical practices that led George Washington down the path to becoming toothless. Washington experienced many health problems throughout his life, and he was often treated with “calomel,” a common medicine of his time. Calomel contained mercury, which ruined teeth. The toothpaste of that era was also made from very abrasive materials like tree bark and brick dust, which likely continued to break down Washington’s natural teeth.

Many people in Washington’s era had fake teeth, but none were made of wood. As disgusting as it sounds today, rich citizens at the time were able to purchase real human teeth to fill in their own smiles.

George Washington Had Dentures

Washington’s personal diary records frequent sore teeth, inflamed gums, and even his first tooth extraction for 5 shillings at the young age of 24. By the time Washington lost the rest of his teeth, he was rich enough to get a very fancy set of his own dentures – which contained no wood at all. Washington’s dentures were made of a combination of human teeth, cow teeth, and ivory from elephant and hippopotamus. His dentures also included gold, lead, and metal springs. How’s that for a mouthful?

It was important to Washington’s self-esteem that he had the total appearance of a strong, healthy leader, and he believed it was important for the reputation of his new nation, too. Historical letters show Washington begging his dentist to be sure that his dentures wouldn’t be obvious with a closed mouth. Sadly, Washington went to great lengths to keep his mouth closed, so he rarely laughed or smiled. Not only were his dentures high maintenance (needing regular care from a dentist) but they also caused his mouth a lot of pain. It is believed that Washington’s dentures negatively affected his leadership because he avoided public speaking.

Washington’s wife, Martha, started off with strong teeth but eventually needed dentures herself. Inspired by the oral problems both she and her husband suffered, Martha was always sure to take good care of her children’s oral hygiene.

Take Care—Before You Need Dentures, Too!

Did you know that 20-30% of all adults in the US have gum disease severe enough to threaten the loss of their teeth? If you do need dentures or implants, we can certainly help. But we’d also love to help you keep your teeth in the first place. Contact us today for the best chance of keeping all your natural teeth!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Feb 2021
February 13, 2021 by David CaseBlog

History of the Toothbrush

Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health tells you how the modern toothbrush came to be!If you had to give up your toothbrush or your car, which would it be? According to a recent survey, 42 percent of adults and 34 percent of teens would rather turn in their keys, computer, cell phone, or microwave than get rid of their toothbrushes. It seems that many people love toothbrushes the way your Portland dentist Dr. David Case does. Family Dental Health would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the history of the toothbrush and discuss choosing the one that’s right for you.

Toothbrushes are Older than What?!

Did you know that toothbrushes were invented before soap, deodorant, and even toilets? The idea of the toothbrush is over 5,000 years old, although back then they were a lot different than what we have now. In ancient times, people used sticks, bones, and all manner of animal hair and products to brush their teeth and take care of their gums. The switch from animal hair to synthetic materials (for bristles) is fairly new, and the mass production of toothbrushes has only existed for a couple of centuries.

Today, you can find a toothbrush just about anywhere. In fact, there are so many different kinds of dental products that picking the right one can be an overwhelming task. Between sonic toothbrushes, manual, soft or medium bristles, tongue-cleaning attachments, specialized grips, bristle configurations, gum stimulators, and the dozens of brands available, buying a toothbrush is not as simple as it used to be. How do you know what to get? Call us! Our team loves to help patients make the choices that best suit their individual needs.    

Protect Your Smile by Protecting Your Toothbrush

Once you have the perfect toothbrush, do you know that where you store it makes a big difference in keeping it clean? Bathrooms serve many purposes, but most of them don’t preserve the integrity of your toothbrush. To protect yourself from nasty germs, keep at least six feet of distance between the toilet and your toothbrush and close the lid before you flush. Also, make sure to use a toothbrush holder that does not collect standing water or crusty, leftover toothpaste, and put a reasonable distance between your toothbrush and other items. Finally, replace your toothbrush every three months or immediately following an illness. 

The best way to use your toothbrush? Brush for 2-3 minutes at least twice a day, making sure to cover the surface of the tooth, as well as the backs, edges, and corners, and brush the tongue. It is estimated that 38 days of the average American’s life is spent using a toothbrush and the U.S. spends nearly $800 million on them each year. Dr. David Case wants everyone to enjoy the excellent dental health that comes from true toothbrush love, so contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Jan 2021
January 27, 2021 by David CaseBlogDental Health

The Tooth About Teeth Grinding

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health, discusses teeth grinding, headaches, and bruxism, suggesting nightguards as a solution.Headaches in Portland are a dime a dozen. We all know the frustration of having your day interrupted by throbbing, shooting pains in the head. If you suffer from frequent headaches that never seem to go away, Dr. Case would like you to know about bruxism, or teeth grinding. 

At Family Dental Health, we love spreading the news about all things dental health, so here is some headache information that just might change your life.

Bruxism & Headaches

You may not be aware of it, but everyone clenches and grinds their teeth at some point and to some degree. It’s a natural reaction to stress. During the day, you might catch yourself doing it and make a conscious effort to stop, but during the night, you are unaware of it and will naturally grind much harder. Unfortunately, some people in Portland have such problems with bruxism that they may experience:

  • Frequent, painful headaches
  • Damaged, worn-down teeth and surrounding tissues
  • TMJ/TMD

According to Dr. Noshir Mehta, chairman of general dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and director of its Craniofacial Pain Center, the upper and lower teeth come into contact for as much as 40 minutes of each hour. The force exerted on some teeth, such as the first molars, can be about 250 lbs, as opposed to the 20-40 lbs involved in regular daily chewing. 

If you grind your teeth and have frequent headaches, don’t panic. Bruxism is easily treatable with custom-fit nightguards that Portland will personally fit for your teeth. To find out more about how we can make your headaches disappear, contact Family Dental Health today.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Jan 2021
January 13, 2021 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health provides all you need to know about toothpaste with this ultimate guide.Fresh breath sets the tone for every moment of your day: first thing in the morning, before an important meeting, after working out, or just before bed. Whether you prefer cool mint, invigorating cinnamon, or herbal anise, it’s your favorite trusty toothpaste that delivers that fresh, clean feeling.

So, what’s the scoop on toothpaste? What knowledge is essential to get the most out of your toothpaste? You might be surprised as you learn more about this common product. Dr. Case in Portland gives you the full story on toothpaste to empower you to take oral health into your own hands.

What is Toothpaste?

Toothpaste is an important preventive product. It can prevent tartar (hardened plaque) and gum disease if used regularly. Toothpaste comes in a variety of forms – paste, gels, powders. But all toothpaste has similar ingredients that allow it to work, and work well.

  • Abrasives — The most important thing toothpaste does is remove unwanted stuff from the surface of your teeth. Long ago, people used gritty materials like brick dust, charcoal, tree bark, and animal hooves to wash away unwanted gunk from their teeth. Thanks to technology and modern science, we now have much gentler ingredients proven to be safe and effective.

    • Detergent — An ingredient more often associated with dishes or laundry, detergent makes toothpaste foam. This foam helps move particles off your teeth that water alone cannot.

    • Fluoride — This mineral strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to decay. Some parents of small children are concerned about fluoride in children’s toothpaste because kids swallow a lot of paste as they are learning to brush (and too much fluoride is not good to ingest). Toothpaste follows regulations for safe use, but talk with your dentist if you become concerned.

    • Humectants — These substances keep the paste from drying out, which is very helpful since you open and close the toothpaste tube multiple times each day.

    • Flavor — Thanks to modern science, our toothpaste has amazing flavors like peppermint, cinnamon, and bubblegum without any sugar or components that would cause tooth decay.

Can You Use Toothpaste Wrong?

Dish soap doesn’t work unless you scrub the dirty dishes, and no toothpaste would be effective without the actual brushing motion.  Be sure you’ve got your brushing technique down to get the most out of your paste.

To start, you only need a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The size of a pea is just enough. Commercials show toothbrushes overloaded with paste, which encourages you to use more than you need and use up that tube (and spend money) faster than necessary!

For the healthiest smile, take your time. You want more than just a quick brush for fresh breath. Hold your brush perpendicular (at a 45-degree angle) to your teeth and gums and brush gently for a whole 2 minutes. Be mindful of brushing each tooth and near your gum line. Be sure not to swallow any excess toothpaste.

Which Toothpaste is Right for Me?

When it comes to different kinds of toothpaste, you have no shortage of options. The most important thing is that you buy toothpaste that will make you excited to brush your teeth!

  • Sensitive — If you have sensitive teeth, that painful zing is caused by dentin (the bone at the core of your teeth) being exposed.  Kinds of toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth have ingredients that work hard to protect teeth and alleviate pain related to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Holistic — If you’re into natural health and wellness, there are plenty of toothpaste brands that use fewer chemicals. These products are not always studied or proven effective, but will still work if you maintain good brushing techniques.
  • Whitening — All toothpaste removes some stains, but whitening toothpaste uses more abrasives to scrub harder at those stains and provide more dramatic results.  Be mindful of the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste, as it may lead to increased tooth sensitivity.  If you want whiter teeth without that risk, consider getting a professional whitening treatment.

When shopping for toothpaste in stores, look for seals of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). The FDA tests toothpaste for safety and the ADA makes sure that toothpaste does what its labels claim.

Toothpaste is good at preventing plaque buildup on your teeth and infection in your gums, but cannot replace the effect of a professional dental cleaning. Only dentists can remove tartar, which is buildup from food or other materials that have hardened and cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone.

Your teeth and gums serve you every day, it’s only fair to treat them well in return. Get in touch with Family Dental Health today for a hygiene appointment!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Dec 2020
December 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Do You Have TMJ? You Might Have Sleep Apnea

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health explains how TMJ and sleep apnea are related, how they affect your health and your treatment options.Your jawbone (the mandible) meets your skull bone (the temporal bone) at the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. On a good day, this joint allows your mouth to open and close, to speak and eat or rest. On a bad day, you can develop pain and dysfunction in the TMJ that affects many areas of your life and health. Portland dentist Dr. Case explains more below about how problems with your TMJ are connected to problems with sleep.

TMJ Disorders
If you have a recurring problem with your temporomandibular joint, it’s called temporomandibular disorder (or TMD, although TMD and TMJ are often used interchangeably). The National Institutes of Health estimates that 10 million people have TMD, though the cases are usually mild. 

TMD frequently includes pain, clicking or popping, and tight, sore facial muscles. TMD can be caused by genetics, arthritis, or jaw injuries. Sometimes it’s hard to diagnose what’s exactly causing the problem because stress and jaw problems can turn into a painful, self-perpetuating cycle.

Clenching and grinding your teeth may be chronic or stress-induced habits that make TMJ pain worse. You may also notice that pain from TMD can spread into your face, neck, head, and shoulders. Many TMD sufferers suffer from chronic headaches and migraines.

TMD & Sleep Apnea

One study found that 43% of people with TMD also have problems sleeping. So what’s the link between TMD and sleep apnea? When the airway collapses as it does with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the body’s automatic response is to push the lower jaw forward to open up the airway. This constant motion of the TMJ throughout the night can cause a lot of stress and tension in the jaw joint and is the primary reason TMD and sleep apnea go hand-in-hand.

TMD is also known to be linked with chronic fatigue syndrome which can exacerbate sleep apnea and impact your overall health.  It could also be the physical position or misalignment of your jaw (malocclusion) that prevents the airway from staying open while you sleep. When you think about how connected your airway is to the position of your jaw, the connection between sleep apnea and TMD becomes very clear.

Improving TMJ & Your Sleep

Sometimes TMD goes away on its own, but you don’t have to live with the pain and difficulty of TMD. Because good sleep is so important for every other part of your health, it’s a good idea to take care of yourself and get better rest at night.

Possible treatments for TMD include:

  • Oral splints and mouthguards
  • Medication such as muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatories
  • Surgery for severe cases
  • Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain
  • Botox® injections to relax muscles
  • Counseling to decrease the stress that causes clenching and grinding 
  • At-home gentle massage and stretching exercises
  • TruDenta® therapy

Sleep apnea will not go away on its own and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Sleep apnea increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and many other serious diseases, and can even be deadly.

Possible treatments for sleep apnea include:

  • Oral appliance therapy
  • CPAP machine
  • Surgery for severe cases

If you have any sleep issues or develop pain in your jaw, you should see Dr. Case immediately to begin looking for answers. 

Life is no fun if you’re sick, tired, and in pain! Make an appointment today at Family Dental Health in Portland to take the first step toward a healthier you and a better quality of life.

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Dec 2020
December 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Baby Dentistry: Teething & Other Joys

Portland dentist, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health shares all you need to know about baby dentistry and early pediatric dental care—teething tips, hygiene and more!It’s easy to think that baby teeth aren’t that important. They make their grand entrance (however painfully) and leave your baby’s mouth soon thereafter. But your baby’s oral health is very important, both in the present and to set the stage for a lifetime of health. Today Family Dental Health would like to talk about those tiny teeth and how to care for them. 

Teething Facts

  1. Teething begins anywhere from 3-9 months and can continue until your child is 3 years old. Every baby is different.
  2. Teeth emerge in a consistent pattern: lower 2 front incisors; upper 2 front incisors and 2 additional lower incisors; first set of molars; canines; then second molars. 
  3. One reason we get baby teeth is that our baby mouths aren’t big enough for the size and number of adult teeth we need later in life.
  4. Babies have 20 teeth that fall out. They are then replaced by 32 adult teeth. 
  5. Chewing on a cold, wet washcloth, extra snuggles, and a little pain-relieving medicine are certain to help ease the pain of teething.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, teething is not proven to cause sickness like diarrhea, fever, or a runny nose.
  7. Children should see the dentist as soon as their first baby teeth start coming in.

Taking Care of Baby Teeth

  • Breastfeeding: According to a recent study, babies that exclusively breastfed for at least six months have a 72% less chance of developing an improper bite. Breastfeeding also reduces your child’s risk of baby bottle tooth decay and cavities.
  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Overexposure to sugar in the liquids your baby drinks can cause early tooth decay, which is when the important, hard enamel cover of your teeth breaks down. Enamel never grows back, so it’s very important to protect. Avoid baby tooth decay by only using either formula or breast milk in your child’s bottle, not putting honey or sugar on their pacifiers, and not letting them fall asleep drinking from the bottle.
  • Cleaning: “Welcome to earth! Now, let me wash your gums.” It may seem silly, but you’re actually supposed to wash your baby’s gums from the first day they are born. Use a clean washcloth and water, and maintain the habit as all the baby teeth start coming in. Once a tooth erupts, you can use a grain of rice size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. After age 3 you can use a pea-size amount of toothpaste.
  • Thumbs and Pacifiers:  Discuss thumb sucking and pacifier use with Dr. Case. Usually, both are fine until babies become little children. However, they can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay, jaw misalignment, and an improper bite. Consider weaning off either of these habits depending on what your dentist recommends.
  • Insurance for Pediatric Dental Care: Most states cover dental visits for children on governmental support. And most dental offices have flexible payment plans to help everyone prioritize oral health for the whole family. Don’t let finances hold you back from keeping your baby as healthy as possible—feel free to reach out to us, we’re happy to help.

Once your baby’s first tooth has emerged, it’s very important to begin a regular dental care routine. Contact Family Dental Health today to make an appointment. We’d love to see your little bundle of joy smile!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Nov 2020
November 27, 2020 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Don’t Have a Stroke – Your Dentist Can Help

Portland dentist Dr. Case of Family Dental Health explains the connection between oral wellness and stroke, and how you can increase your protection.You might be surprised to hear that the state of your oral health has a lot to do with preventing a stroke. There’s a certain kind of bad oral bacteria that cause gum disease, travel to other parts of your body, and cause harm.

A stroke is a common but dangerous medical condition that causes a lack of blood in the brain. The effects of a stroke can be long-term and life-changing. People of any age can experience a stroke, but it’s most common in adults 40 years and older. 

 

Oral Wellness
The Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center lists favorable oral health among its top five factors that prevent stroke, and a growing number of studies are finding the link between certain kinds of oral bacteria and the harm they cause to your brain. For example, these bacteria can travel into your head through your bloodstream, causing brain bleeding and dementia. This sounds scary—and it certainly can be. But with good, simple oral hygiene, you can take care of your mouth and prevent a lot of other overall health issues. There are also a number of companies that provide testing for these bacteria using saliva samples.

Gum disease is incredibly common and can range anywhere from slightly tender and red gums to a mouth full of discolored, receding gums. Adults over 30 years old have a 50/50 chance of developing gum disease. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it or live with the consequences. 

You can prevent gum disease (and many other oral and systemic health problems) by:

 

The Stroke Connection

Not all oral bacteria are bad-in fact, some are necessary for digestion and immunity-but research continues to prove some bacteria are especially harmful. Cardiovascular disease is just one condition that can be deeply affected by your oral health. Others include mental health, diabetes, pregnancy, and arthritis. There are three main links between “bad” oral bacteria and heart health:

  • Cholesterol: gum disease increases your risk of developing bad cholesterol (LDL) and its buildup in blood arteries.
  • Chemicals: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become thin and more vulnerable to cholesterol.
  • Stickiness: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become very sticky, which attracts more plaque and cholesterol buildup.

You can see how each of these three circumstances has the potential to put your health at risk, especially in combination; they can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  When this kind of buildup happens in your brain, blood flow slows or stops.  The brain becomes starved of blood, causing a stroke.  Brain cells without blood can die within minutes and prove fatal – or cause lifelong health problems to stroke survivors. 

The good news is that science is getting better at finding the dangerous bacteria that cause these problems. If you have signs or a diagnosis of gum disease, ask your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

 

Your Dentist is Your Partner

Dentists are medical professionals who can do a lot to save your health and even your life. If you have any concerns about your oral health, Dr. Case in Portland can answer your questions and help you start taking better care of your overall wellness. Make an appointment at Family Dental Health today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Nov 2020
November 13, 2020 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

“Buy-Up” Dental Insurance: A Little Extra Protection

Family Dental Health discuss how Buy-Up dental insurance worksWhen it comes to dental insurance, it seems like there can be as many (or more) questions as there are answers. Even when you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, navigating its use can still be very confusing. Many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought – until the day comes when they need to use it.  Today, Dr. Case at Family Dental Health would like to talk to you about an option not everyone knows about – “buy-up” dental insurance.

What is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance?

“Buy-up” dental insurance allows enrollees with group insurance to “buy-up” to more generous benefits by paying higher monthly premiums and receiving more comprehensive dental coverage in return. The differences between “regular” and “buy-up” dental coverages are easy to pinpoint when benefit summaries of the plans are viewed side by side: “buy-up” dental calendar year maximums are higher, annual deductibles are lower, and a percentage of more extensive restorations like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and sometimes even orthodontics are covered, while regular group dental insurance plans often provide little to coverage for these procedures. As with any other insurance plan, whether dental providers are in-network also factors into the level of coverage when considering “buy-up” dental.

Is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance Worth the Added Cost?

When the only factor under consideration is economics, one recent study would likely call it a draw. The sample showed the average insured household spent $978 in out-of-pocket dental costs – including premiums – while the average uninsured household spent $1,007 – a mere $29 difference. If “buy-up” dental insurance becomes an option for you, the specific pros and cons of your individual and family situation will need to be weighed when you choose your insurance plan.  

If you are a weekend hockey player, have kids that need orthodontia, or just tend to be unlucky when it comes to your teeth, it’s hard to put a price tag on your peace of mind. Dental insurance can be a saving grace for those with unusually high dental expenses from serious financial hardship, and better-than-average coverage would only ease the burden. 

It may seem like a gamble to dig into your pockets and invest more money in a higher-priced dental plan when the extra coverage may never be needed. However, to reiterate – many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought until the time comes when they NEED it – and when you need your dental insurance, you really need it. Some of the most expensive dental procedures are also the most unexpected and in many cases, they are true medical emergencies that require treatment. 

One way to think about “buy-up” dental insurance is to compare it to enhanced towing coverage for your vehicle, such as the type offered by AAA. You can pay one nominal annual fee that covers unlimited towing costs, so no matter where your vehicle breaks down within a certain geographical radius, there will be no additional cost to you for your car to be towed. If you carry this coverage, your vehicle may not break down during that coverage year and your benefits may never be used, but if your vehicle does break down and you do require towing, the annual premium price is about the same or less than one tow, and the coverage has paid for itself with just one use.

Dr. Case and our team are always happy to discuss your insurance coverage, as well as your other financing options if you need additional help working dental care into your budget. Contact us anytime – we’d love to help!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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