Your Mouth is Talking to You!
Your Mouth is talking to you!
This is Dr. Michelle of Jax Beaches Family Dentistry, as always coming to you live from zoom and it is just an ongoing learning experience, the whole zoom Facebook interface. The first thing I'm going to do is attempt to screen share our amazing slideshow that Christine Cousart put together for me because I'm on a Mac. I am an iPhone user but I'm definitely not a Mac computer user. It's quite confusing. So here we are, last week was oral-systemic health week. So I'm super excited to bring to you an overview of how our mouth talks to the rest of our body about what's going on with the rest of our body. So that's why our webinar is called your mouth is talking to you. I have the pleasure of working at Jax Beaches Family Dentistry.
I am an owner-operator along with my partner, Dr. Liz Alfuente. Could definitely not do it without her. I was talking to a dentist last night who's a solo practitioner and I explained to him that I've always, except for a very short period of time, worked in a group practice, and it's a huge blessing and allows us to support each other. We're both moms so it allows us to support each other and be out of the office. So yeah, it's a huge blessing to have the support of a partner. And then it's also awesome to have the support alongside of that with an amazing team. So this is our awesome team. This is our complete health summit. We are very blessed. I know I keep saying blessed but really I'm blessed. We work with a company called Next Level Practice and they keep us on complete health tasks.
So here's my amazing team. We were at our summit and we learned so much great information about how the body is connected when it comes to the health of your cardiovascular disease prevention and also Alzheimer's, which we'll touch on later. This is our office. It is relatively recently newly renovated by the amazing Paula Lewis with Del Mar designs. We have, as relaxing as a dental office can be, a relaxing tropical atmosphere and this is our webinars, it’s all connected. So I know that many of you out there have seen in the news and if you come into our office you know that we talk about it a lot. How the health and the inflammation in your mouth is connected to the rest of your body. It used to be really that we felt like the mouth was managed by a dentist and not at all connected with the rest of your body, which is really interesting. It's sort of like `believing that the earth is flat, right? Now that we have all the research that we have, and we're doing the studies that we're doing, it seems kind of silly that we didn't realize the connection before.
So the main thing that we talk about on a regular basis is the same thing that we've been talking about for decades and that is certainly that you want to brush and floss your teeth. The reason that you need to brush twice a day is that that's how often the bacteria builds up, lots and lots of research for, again, many decades has shown that if you don't brush twice a day, you really end up with the decay level of somebody that has some sort of terrible sugar habit. So brushing twice a day is super important. And then if we don't disturb and break loose the plaque that is below the gum line, that's with flossing or any sort of picks, it doesn't really matter to us. It's sort of whatever have it works best for you. We have to get that decay out from under the gum and deep into the pockets. So that's why we do brushing and flossing. Flossing can be done just once a day depending on your gum disease situation. So we're obviously going to touch base on traditional cleaning and we're also going to dig a little bit deeper into the latest, greatest, newest things out there to help us with our prevention.
So your mouth has a window to the rest of your body, and it's a window, partly because when you have certain systemic disease, things do show up in the mouth. So we do talk a lot about how when you have a certain disease, say, for example, diabetes, we notice things in your mouth, which is what creates the mouth being the window to the rest of your body.
According to the Academy of general dentistry, more than 90% of all systemic disease have certain oral signs and symptoms. So that's just another reason to come to your dentist regularly, you want to come to the dentist regularly as in at least twice a year to keep your gums healthy and to get your teeth checked. But along with doing that, it's a great blessing because your dentist might pick up on something that shows up in the mouth that didn't get noticed at your physical exam, because you will sometimes see things in the mouth that don't show up on your blood work when you go to the doctor, medical doctor, that is.
And then the other thing that's super exciting and then we started in our office just last week, is that we can use your saliva as a diagnostic tool. So it's used as a diagnostic tool and you know, we know this now too, after living in and through our COVID situation, that there are things in your saliva that can diagnose diseases, which is why we do salivary. You know, we do salivary testing, but so does the medical profession. The salivary testing that we're doing now in our office is going to be to test the bacteria that's sort of running around in your mouth. So you're going to do like a spitting test that tells us what bacteria you have in your mouth but then we also can do really specific salivary testing deep in the couple of, if anybody out there has gum disease, which I'm assuming that might be why you're motivated to be watching me, but deep in the pockets, there are certain types of bad bacteria that we're finding not only contributes to not being able to get rid of that stubborn gum disease, but it also contributes to other serious diseases like Alzheimer's. So when we start doing that testing in our office, we're are going to be able to really help and partner with patients, physicians to prevent diseases, especially if someone has the beginning signs of a disease and also if they have certain diseases that run in their family.
So I just had my own personal salivary testing done this past week and I'm really looking forward to getting those results. Many of you that have seen my other webinars or know me and are patients, I've talked to you about it, I've had my own struggles with my health and with my gum disease. So I'm looking forward to getting that information about myself. Your saliva protects you. So if you go to our YouTube channel, which you can just look up by looking at Jax Beaches Family Dentistry, I have an entire webinar, It's about 25 minutes about dry mouth and all the different things that saliva does to protect our mouth. The really big take away from that and it's really important topic to drive home is that the minute as a patient that you see that your saliva or you feel that there's dryness, or you feel like there's a change in the saliva, like a thickness, you really want to tell your dentist that right away, even if you're in between appointments, because since I've been a dentist for decades, we're not going to talk about how many decades, I have seen patients end up with significant decay, even in a six month period of time because their mouth went dry, they never let anyone know, they started doing things like sucking on her candy or sipping at drinks that had sugar in it and ended up with significant decay that really could have been avoided if we had known about the issue. So really important to let somebody know that your mouth is dry or that your saliva feels thick because that change changes the dynamics of how your saliva is able to protect you.
One thing that they noted when I was doing the research for this webinar, I love doing the research for this webinar because I always learn something, but saliva carries a protein called histamines, which also protects you against fungus. We talk a lot about how saliva helps with the acidity in your mouth and it also helps fight bacteria, but apparently it has a specific enzyme that helps with fungus prevention. So that's really good to know. And then the other important thing to know is even if you have saliva, even if you're generally healthy, it can't really stop everything without participation from you as the person that's trying to keep their teeth healthy. So we work really hard to make sure that we acknowledge our patients who are working hard to prevent decay. And it's important to acknowledge our patients for brushing and flossing and coming in frequently because as they begin to have frustrations with not being able to prevent things, we then need to dig deeper and figure out what else we can add because otherwise everybody gets frustrated. If someone's brushing and flossing and coming in regularly, and they're still having decay, we need to, we need to work together as a team to figure out what's going on.
So if gum issues, decay and bacteria are left unchecked, then we immediately get Gingivitis. That Gingivitis can then lead to periodontitis. The real difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is the bone. So your teeth are held in by the bone and your jaw. That jaw bone that is in between the teeth that holds them in, can dissolve away if Gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. So that's the real difference. I know when we're reading things or we're seeing ads or we're talking, you're talking to your hygienist or you're talking to your dentist, they start rolling out those two different words and it is good to know what the difference is. So if you're told that you have Gingivitis, the good news about that is it's inflammation, it's generally completely curable by either traditional methods like brushing and flossing differently or better and or adding some things that I'll talk about later.
There are some signs or symptoms sometimes because sometimes there is not a sign or symptom, but healthy gums feel firm, they feel strong and they fit tightly around the teeth. Unhealthy gums, there's kind of a list which I'll go ahead and read off of different signs and symptoms, It can be swollen, It can be bright red. They can feel tender when you touch them, especially when you're brushing, they can bleed, you can suddenly get gaps between your teeth and the teeth can shift. You can notice a mouth odor, which is something I struggled with for a long time, your teeth can get loose, they sometimes can hurt and also sometimes the gums can pull away from the teeth or recede. So you can feel like, oh, this tooth looks like it's longer than it used to be. The other thing that's really important to know and I talk with patients about this a lot is that you can have absolutely not a single symptom and still have pretty significant gum issues. So that's again, another reason to come see a dentist, doesn't necessarily have to be me, but you need to see a dentist to make sure that you're staying on top of that.
So where is the link between the health of your mouth and the health of your body? Most, there's a lot of debates and there's a lot of really good research now that shows two things. It shows that obviously, if you have bleeding gums, the one thing we're really realizing now is that because your gums are bleeding, that barrier that's supposed to protect your body from the bacteria in your mouth is broken and so that bacteria has free access to your circulation and to the rest of your body because of the bleeding. So you have some nasty bacteria in your mouth, if you had an intact barrier, sort of like skin, it didn't have a break in it, that bacteria wouldn't be able to get in your bloodstream, but because your gums are bleeding, then that bacteria can get through. So that's one issue. And then the other issue is the inflammation.
So inflammation has a couple of things. Inflammation is something that causes your body to constantly be fighting it. If your body's constantly fighting inflammation, and there's an additional health challenge, we'll just use COVID for an example, but it could be any health challenge, your body doesn't have the resources to then fight that additional challenge and it puts a big drain on the system. So a lot of the things, the systemic diseases that we're going to be talking about are pointing out the reason that gum.
Disease contributes to them is because you have all this inflammation going on in your mouth every day, all day long, 24 hours a day. And it just sets you up for having things that you can't or other things that you can't overcome that you're presented with.
So the role of inflammation. Experts in the dental field hypothesized that periodontal disease marked by inflammation increases inflammation throughout the mouth. And so there are hundreds of conditions including diabetes, heart, kidney, Alzheimer's, asthma, osteoporosis, and cancer that are more prevalent in people that also have gum disease. And it's for the reasons that I was just saying. Diabetes is the one disease for decades, not even like new research that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt. And it's probably one of the diseases because we've known about for so long that alerted the medical and research community to say, Hey, we need to take a closer look at some of these other diseases like cardiovascular disease, because diabetes forever has been intimately linked with gum disease. If you have diabetes, you have a much higher chance of having gum disease. In fact, if you have diabetes, I strongly encourage you as an adult to get your teeth cleaned every three months and have someone always be probing, checking and looking for bleeding. You, you know, or if you have a loved one that has diabetes more than other people need to have sort of perfect gums, if there is such a thing. And we're going to talk about perfect gum. I do believe there is such a thing. And then periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting folks living with diabetes and this is from a rise in blood sugar from all the conditions, which makes diabetes harder to control. So it's like a snowball effect. If you have uncontrolled gum disease, you most likely have under controlled blood sugar, if your blood sugar isn't in control then it makes your gum disease worse. So, you know, the take home from that really is just that as a diabetic, getting your gum disease and your mouth health under control is more important than for other people.
And then heart disease, we did do a whole webinar on this too which you can also find on our YouTube channel. So heart disease has a lot of research especially in the last four or five years that's really conclusive about a strong time between the two. One of those ties has to do with inflammation like we talked about before. There are inflammatory proteins and markers in the blood, which can be tested, specifically a protein called C-reactive protein. For any research people or for anybody out there that knows blood work, it's elevated in the blood. CRP is elevated in the blood stream of folks living with gum disease. So those inflammatory markers go up and down depending on the level of gum disease and so we therefore can pretty easily show the link between the two. And as always, I have lots of research articles and things associated with this website at the end. Well, you can see our phone number on the bottom, but at the end too I'll share my email address. I'm always happy if you finds something that's interesting or you hear something that you think is a little odd, I'm happy to share the research article with you.
Gum disease and Alzheimer's has a huge link. We're actually going to do an amazing website or an amazing webinar in a couple of weeks called the end of Alzheimer's. I would love to, if you have an interest in Alzheimer's or you know someone, healthcare practitioner, other dentists that's interested in participating in helping folks with Alzheimer's or helping people present it, I would love to share that webinar information with you.
So with Alzheimer's again, it's twofold. When there are some really profound research articles that show that the bacteria, especially certain types of bacteria have been found in biopsies post-mortem in the brain of people that have had Alzheimer's. And then there's also, which we are going to talk about in that webinar that we're doing on November the 10th, there's a huge link between the inflammation and in the prevention of Alzheimer's. So that is definitely beyond a reasonable doubt. Osteoporosis also is impacted by periodontal disease. They're both what we call bone destructive disorders. So they have a lot of links in common. So again, if you, if you have a bone scan and you come up like I did with early onset, osteoporosis or osteopenia, really important to get with your dentist. Again, you know, just say, Hey, I need to take a really hard look at my probing depths and my meeting points And, you know, you can express to them, I want to work with you to get this under control so that I can help fight what's going on with my bones.
Also, when it comes to cancer, again, we know that most types of cancers have an inflammatory disease facet to them. There was a study done in November of 2017. Again, I'm just going to read this because I have to, and it was done at the university of Helsinki and it was a published study saying that [inaudible] this is the bacteria causes caused by Periodontitis can also be responsible for certain types of cancer. It was concluded that the inflammatory characteristics of periodontitis make it easier for harmful bacteria to travel to other parts of the body, therefore boosting the cancer cells. And then in addition to that, there are many studies, many studies, again, especially in the last four or five years, showing that the inflammatory aspect of gum disease perpetuates issues with cancer, pretty much of all types.
Kidney disease. There's also a link with kidney disease. There was a huge study done at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. More than 5,500 participants, half of whom had periodontal disease. And according to the study, the participants with periodontal disease were more likely to have renal insufficiency. Biggest problem with renal insufficiency is actual kidney failure. So that's a very significant study. It's a study with a lot of participants, which makes it more applicable. And then the other thing that has been around for a really long time are studies that show really beyond a reasonable doubt that maintaining the health of your gums when you're pregnant is very important. You increase the likelihood of having a low birth weight early term baby by twenty-five percent. So with all of our pregnant women, we encourage them to come in every three months. Again, it's a little bit like diabetes. I hate to say that, but when you are pregnant, the hormones involved in pregnancy increase the likelihood that your gums are going to be inflamed. And when your gums are inflamed, it increases the likelihood that you're going to have this trouble with your low birth weight babies. So, you know, it's another, just like diabetes, right? When you're pregnant, you want to realize you're more prone to gum disease and be more diligent with your home care, but also come in more often so that we can keep a close eye on you.
Brushing is important. I know. It's a really big newsflash, right? Like we talked about, it's important when we eat. Honestly, to get to the debris out, but then also really important. Like I mentioned earlier to brush twice a day, we highly recommend that you use a rotary brush. They just do a better job. They also often have timers on them, just like when your kids are little, right? And you use little timer with the sand to make sure they keep brushing. The more you brush, the more likely you are to miss spots. And then the rotary brush often has things like a sonic action and then it really makes a huge difference. Anytime we have a patient switching from manual to rotary, and then they come in for our next cleaning appointment or wellness visit, we can always see a huge difference.
It's also important to clean your tongue. There are all kinds of different tongue scrapers on the market. A lot of times they're part of your toothbrush. So like on the handle, there's an ability to scrape your tongue. You can also brush your tongue, which is what I do. But some people that's just too much of a gag reflex, but whatever you do, it is a good idea to clean off your tongue because you don't clean your tongue, it just kind of repopulates the rest of your mouth.
We also talked about the importance of flossing earlier. Flossing actually gets up underneath and below the gum. It often doesn't get all the way to the base of the pocket, but if you pull the floss properly and shimmy it up, you can get pretty deep with floss. Flossing, at least once a day. If people have gum issues, not a bad idea to floss twice a day because you've got to get up underneath the gums in order to get those bacteria that hide down there away from us, which is what causes all the problems.
We also have a modality in our office that has changed my life and changed the lives of many of my patients. I was talking earlier about how frustrated you can get if you're doing all the right things. Like for me, I think it was when I was turning 40, I was constantly having issues with bleeding gums, especially when I got my teeth cleaned. And I said, all right, that's it. I'm going to just start coming in every three months. That'll take care of it, right? If I brush twice a day and flossing once a day, and I get my teeth cleaned every three months, we should be good. Well, I was still really struggling with gum disease to the point where I thought I might have to have laser treatments, maybe start seeing a periodontist a couple of times a year for, you know, potentially consider some sort of gum surgery. And then I came across these perio protect trays, really what they are is a custom tray, they're brilliantly designed, and that they allow you to carry a low dose of hydrogen peroxide to the base of your pockets. So if you have some four to five millimeter pockets, it takes that peroxide shoves it all the way up to the base of the pocket. And then it has a gasket around it. So it acts like a hyperbaric chamber because really periodontal disease and gum disease is a chronic wound. And if you search the AMA, that's the Academy of American medical association guidelines for wound treatment, you will see that if we took that same level of care, which is what we now do in our office to consider a periodontal disease as a wound, then we would need to put some sort of medicament on it on a daily basis. So what you're looking at there are my before and afters. Remember when I was talking to you about how unhealthy gums look well, my gums on the left are not healthy. They're red, they're puffy, they're swollen. And when you look on the right after, I've been on the trays for a couple of years now, but that picture on the right is a picture of my teeth, after using the trays for six months, you can see that the gum tissue is now pink. It's very tight around the teeth. It's not puffy anymore. And then, you know how they were nice aspect of hydrogen peroxide is my teeth are white for the first time in my life, except for the one veneer that stands out, but that can easily be fixed.
So traditional dentistry is amazing. It's also awesome that we have these period protect trays. We also are now having the ability to test for bacteria. And it's nice in dentistry after being in dentistry for I'm going to say it, 30 years, that there's a lot of changes in technology. You know, like we can now design our own crowns and mail them out with a computer instead of taking impressions. But it's great too that there is improvements in technology in terms of prevention because now that we're living longer, now that we're keeping our teeth, we have to be able to offer people something other than brushing and flossing because sometimes it's just not enough, just doesn't work. So that's why I love it.
I want to thank you guys so much for coming. I want to remind you that at any given time, if you're interested in the sources, you can call us or you can email me. I love chatting with you and I love sharing valuable information, but I also want to add that I'm super proud that some of you have taken the time to spend time with me. That means you care about your overall health and you really should be acknowledged for that. I appreciate that you're taking a step by listening to me towards having a better overall health and also for a better health of your mouth. This is my personal email address. Again, if you want to hear about any of the sources or learn more about what we talked about, feel free to just email me or call me at any time. I hope you guys have an amazing day. I am going to figure out how to turn this off. I don't really know how to do that because I didn't really launch it myself. So, Oh, end meeting, right there. Look at that! Have a great Monday.