Investing in Your Teeth is an Investment in Your Health
Infections Go Body-Wide
More than 400 species of bacteria live in the human mouth, where some can infect the gums and underlying bone that support the teeth. Gingivitis is an infection that sometimes renders the gums tender and susceptible to bleeding when they are irritated. It is generally the first stage of periodontitis, a disease that afflicts millions of Canadians. Gradually, as infected gums pull away from the teeth, ever-deepening pockets form, which allow the infection to spread and eat away at the bone, causing teeth to loosen in their sockets. But recent studies show that teeth are not the only organs endangered by this oral disease. Infections in the tissues of the mouth are easily spread into the bloodstream. Even brushing, flossing and chewing can prompt body-wide invasion when periodontal disease is advanced. Recent research is yielding some frightening links to such problems as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, premature births and low birth weight babies.
All other things being equal, people with periodontal disease are one and a half to two times as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times as likely to suffer a stroke as those without this oral disease. The association with heart disease is especially strong in people under 50. Studies have indicated that chronic oral infections can foster the development of clogged arteries and blood clots. Substances produced by oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can precipitate a chain of reactions that result in a build-up of arterial deposits, and several common oral bacteria can initiate the formation of blood clots and disrupt cardiac function.
It has long been known that diabetes predisposes people to bacterial infections, including infections of oral tissues. But recent studies strongly indicated that periodontitis can make diabetes worse. Diabetics with severe periodontitis have greater difficulty maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and treatment of periodontitis often results in a reduced need for insulin. Experts now urge that periodontal inflammation be treated and eliminated in all people with diabetes, especially since such treatment may reduce the risk of injury to the retinal and arteries that is a common consequence of diabetes.
Bacterial pneumonia results when bacteria that live in the mouth and throat are inhaled into the lungs where immune defenses fail to wipe them out. Several agents that cause pneumonia can thrive in infected oral tissues of people with periodontal disease. And other respiratory disease, like chronic bronchitis and emphysema, may be worsened by oral infections when the invading bacteria are inhaled.
One study found that mothers of prematurely born small babies were seven times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease as mothers whose babies were normal weight at birth, even though all mothers in the study were not otherwise at risk of having a premature baby. Oral infections can also induce premature labor.
What Can You Do?
Of course, prevention is always the best bet. Prevention means establishing a routine of daily brushing and flossing and professional dental cleaning every 3 to 6 months, dependent on your individual periodontal health and risk. Keep in mind that early stages of periodontal disease often produce no symptoms.
It is our belief that the prevention of gum disease is an important step in maintaining your overall health and well-being, as well as the function and esthetics of a beautiful appearance of a healthy smile.
We offer one of the latest technological advances in dentistry with digital radiography (X-rays). A wireless sensor is placed in the mouth, and a computer generates an image in 30 seconds as opposed to the general 4-6 minute wait time for images taken on dental film. These X-rays can also be enhanced on the computer and enlarged.
Not only are they friendly to the environment, they are much safer than traditional X-rays. Digital radiographs reduce radiation exposure by 90 percent!
The standard X-ray is essential in determining any dental problems you may have, but unfortunately, it may not reveal everything happening inside your mouth. We are proud to utilize an intraoral camera in our office.
An intraoral camera can project an image of your tooth onto a monitor, so you can see the problem in a magnified version and how we can correct the issue. It can also identify problems that may not be detected by the general means of examination, including cracks in your fillings or fractured teeth. Similar to the size and design of a dental mirror, an intraoral camera allows you to make better decisions regarding your treatment as you can see the same things we see.
We use laser dentistry in our practice for hard and soft tissue procedures. The lasers used are narrow beams of light energy that can penetrate the tissue, producing the ability to vaporize, remove or shape soft tissues such as the gums, cheeks and tongue. It can also penetrate hard tissue and remove decay.
Laser dentistry can be used to correct many problems from uncovering partially erupted wisdom teeth to removing lip pulls in orthodontic customers. Lasers can also obtain small tissue samples in biopsy procedures to detect lesions or potential tumors in the mouth.
Using laser dentistry as opposed to other forms of surgery does have its advantages. Lasers can control the amount of bleeding during the treatment and can sometimes remove gum tissue without causing bleeding. In laser dentistry, there may also be less swelling and pain following the surgery as the laser can seal blood vessels and nerve endings.
We use a microscope in our practice for procedures that require magnification. By using a microscope the magnification will show Dr. Estrabillo everything he needs to see with outstanding definition. Dr. Estrabillo gains visual access to deep, narrow root canals, additional canals that could easily be missed, enamel fractures, old restorations with marginal leakage, right down to the smallest detail. Microscopic dentistry helps Dr. Estrabillo to precisely examine teeth and perform treatment at a microscopic level. When using the high magnification during procedures, Dr. Estrabillo is able to see microscopic details that are simply impossible to visualize with either the naked eye or even loupes. By using surgical operating microscopes, dental restorations have an incredibly precise fit and finish. Microscopic dentistry provides a precision in dental care that is exceptional, and what a huge difference it makes in the quality of treatment that can be performed.