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Attention Mom’s To Be: Are You Aware of the Effects of Gum Disease on Your Labor and Delivery?

Hello to all my loyal readers!  This article is geared toward those of you who are either currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the future.  I recently read an interesting article about the effects of gum disease on labor and I want to share this information with you.  Today, we are going to discuss gum disease and how its presence in the mouth of the mother can affect the delivery of your unborn child.

Gum Disease and Labor

One would normally not consider gum disease to be something to be of concern when contemplating becoming pregnant.  You probably wouldn’t even consider it an issue at any point in your pregnancy unless you’re aware that what goes on inside your mouth can be transmitted to other parts of your body.  Since most people don’t realize that gum disease has any part at all in a pregnancy and delivery, we are going to talk about it today.  A bit of research that came out of Cape Town, specifically from the University of Western Cape (UWC), has confirmed some issues that involve pregnancy and chronic inflammation of the gum tissues.

The research

Professor Charlene Africa, from UWC’s department of medical biosciences evaluated oral swab specimens that were extracted from pregnant women in Rwanda and Kwa-Zulu-Natal (KZN).  What she found in her query revealed that approximately 20 to 30 percent of the preterm deliveries were traceable back to bacteria from something she referred to as pregnancy-related gingivitis or gum disease.  Her research showed that approximately 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women presented with some degree of periodontal disease!

Periodontitis

This is a term that is defined as a progression of gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease. This periodontitis is a disease that not only affects the gum tissues but also can cause bone loss as it advances.  It is created by the abundance of plaque and bacteria that grows in the oral tissues and is the most commonly found cause of tooth loss if it goes untreated.  The four-year study done by Professor Africa involved 200 mothers from Rwanda and about 400 from KZN.  She accumulated samples of plaque and the records of the deliveries of the participants.

Study Results

What she found was confirmation of a correlation between the various stages of gum diseases and preterm births!  She focused on a group of bacteria known as the “red complex” and its association with periodontal disease.  As we all have read, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel anywhere in the body that blood flows — including the uterus.  This stimulates the production of prostaglandins which is a hormone-like lipid that is proven to control inflammation.  But, the problem with this is the fact that these same prostaglandins can also play a role in childbirth by stimulating uterine contractions.  Additionally, a similar study done at Duke University School of Medicine in the United States found a connection to the thinning of the chorion, which is a membrane that separates the mother from the developing fetus, and the buildup of bacteria.

Good News

So what’s the good news?  Well, despite the controversy that surrounds treatment of various conditions and situations in pregnant women, it has been established that dentists can safely treat gingivitis during the second trimester of the pregnancy.  So, ladies, it is vital for the health and well-being of both you and your baby for you to achieve and maintain as healthy a mouth as possible during your pregnancy.  It is very important to report any oral changes to your dentist as early as possible.  Your Long Island Periodontist can help you do this.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with laser instead of a scalpel.

Pinhole Surgery; A Solution For Receding Gums

Receding gums are caused by inflammation and infection around the tooth and can be quite serious. If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, you might be developing gingivitis or periodontitis, technical terms for gum disease. It is important to contact us should you find the bleeding to be excessive.

Gingivitis is caused when bacteria, food particles, and tartar build-up accumulate and irritate the gums. You might notice changes in your gums such as redness, swelling, tooth sensitivity, and bleeding. Swelling creates pockets between the tooth and the gum, where bacteria will flourish. The gums will begin to recede as the infection progresses.

While this condition is relatively painless, your teeth may become sensitive to heat and coldness as more of the root is exposed. Your smile might take on a worn or aged appearance. And, since more of the tooth’s surface is exposed, the chance of developing a cavity is greater. Eventually, failure to address receding gums will lead to increased symptom severity and pain is likely to follow.  At this stage, when the bacteria has begun to attack the root of the tooth or teeth or even the jawbone, the infection becomes known as periodontal disease. However, if the development and progression of Gingivitis can be controlled, the effects of gum recession can be addressed.

Surgical Solutions

  •  Traditional Gum Grafting Surgery: To correct gum recession, some dentists take tissue grafts from the roof of your mouth, and then scale back the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. After the flap has been created, the tissue graft is sewn in place, and the existing tissue is sewn over the top. Although this technique is effective, some patients report that it is painful and recovery time is long.
  • Pinhole Surgery: If you are looking for a pain-free alternative to traditional gum grafting surgery, ask Dr. Scharf if pinhole surgery is right for you. During pinhole surgery, Dr. Scharf will place a tiny instrument through a small hole in the upper part of your gum line, and then use the tool to push down your gum tissue. To keep the moved tissue in place, small collagen strips are inserted through the hole. In addition to improving the look of your smile in one procedure, pinhole surgery is largely pain-free, and recovery time consists of 1-2 days.

By practicing good dental hygiene, and proactively addressing any symptoms of gum recession by contacting our office for an exam and treatment, your teeth and gums will remain healthy for many years to come.

Gentlemen, How Does Your Oral Health Stack Up? Part 3

Hi all!  Welcome back to the conclusion of this important article series on men’s oral health and how it affects their overall general health and some pretty serious medical conditions. Today, we are going to talk about a couple more health conditions related to your oral health of which you need to be aware, so let’s finish this article series by talking about impotence and cancer.

Impotence

This topic is of particular interest to men regardless of their age.  The research in the area of periodontal disease and its relationship to other diseases and physical health issues is showing that if you are male, younger than age 30, older than age 70 and have periodontal disease, then your risk of impotence is increased by the presence of periodontal disease.  This data was presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Urological Association and researchers theorize that the link between periodontal disease and impotence is inflammation.  They believe that the chronic, prolonged inflammation that is present in periodontal disease as well as other inflammatory disease conditions causes vascular damage which can lead to impotence.  This damage to blood vessels has been and continues to be well documented in  ongoing research in the area of heart disease and diabetes.

Cancer

This is a word we all dread and pray that we never hear associated with anyone we love.  We especially do not want to hear it uttered by a doctor in connection with our own physical condition and testing.   Well, let me share with you some older research that goes back to 2008 in the field of Oncology.  Research data was published in June 2008 that revealed men who have gum disease have a 14% increased risk of developing cancer than men who have healthy oral tissues.  This data is even more specific, citing the increased risks of kidney cancer for men with gum disease over women  is 49% and of pancreatic cancer, they cite the increased risks at 54%.   As I am sure you will agree, these are some pretty significant and frightening statistics especially if you are male.

What can you do?

What can you do to prevent or reduce these risks?  The answer lies with getting and keeping your mouth healthy.  To do this, you will need to be more consistent with brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.  Regular visits to your local dental professional for regular cleanings and Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation (CPE) on an annual basis will help achieve improved oral health.  Call Dr. Scharf, your Periodontist in Long Island at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

Gentlemen, How Does Your Oral Health Stack Up? Part 2

Welcome back!  As you may recall from last week, we talked about some research that showed increased risks for some serious general health conditions that men face which are higher than those of women.  We talked about the study findings supporting basic dental behaviors like flossing and regular dental checkups being, in part, some of the reasons for the increased risks for men’s poorer oral health.  Today, we are going to talk about some of those serious health conditions and why the risks are higher for men.

Prostate-Specific Antigen

Prostate-specific antigen or PSA is described as an enzyme that is produced in the prostate and, under normal conditions, it is found in very small amounts.  When there is inflammation in the prostate, this enzyme is produced in larger quantities.  This also occurs when there is inflammation caused by infection or when cancer present. As I am sure you are well aware, PSA is one of the lab tests ordered for men when routine blood work is done for most annual physicals by your medical doctor or primary care physician.  The research has found that men with periodontal disease, which includes bleeding with probing, and prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate, their PSA levels are higher than those men who only have one of the these conditions.  This strongly suggests a similar relationship between prostate inflammation and periodontal disease as that which has been positively established between periodontal disease and diabetes — one affects the other especially as either of the diseases progresses and exacerbates.

Heart Disease

Yeah, guys, you had to know this topic would be part of this scenario, didn’t you?  There is plenty of research out there that supports the increased risks of heart disease in men over women and this study only adds to that support.  Research has already clearly established that having periodontal disease increases your opportunity to develop cardiovascular disease.  Scientists believe that the connection exists because both diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions and the inflammation provides the link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease.  So, guys, improving your oral health and preventing periodontal disease may actually be another way that you can reduce your overall risks in this area.

Next time, we will discuss impotence and cancer as diseases that should also concern you.  In the meantime, I urge you to make that dental evaluation that you may have been putting off. Call Dr. Scharf, your Periodontist on Long Island, at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

Gentlemen, How Does Your Oral Health Stack Up? Part 1

For all of the men out there who are reading this, I have some questions for you.  How is your oral health?  Do you see your dentist regularly?  Did you know that you are at higher risk for periodontal disease than the ladies in your life and that this risk can lead to even worse health issues?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then I urge you to come along with me while we talk about the risks that exist for men and their oral health.

Laundry list of risks

Guys, I’m sure you’re likely well aware that you face a higher risk of  heart attacks and cancer than women and that these risks can  shorten your life span.  But are you also aware that recent research also adds periodontal disease to your laundry list of risks?  And, did you know that men have been shown on average to lose more teeth than women? This is the first of a series of articles on the oral health risks that men face which are more serious than those of women.

The Research

The research recently published in the Journal of Periodontology found some interesting comparisons between the behaviors for example of men versus women.  It was felt that poorer oral health of men was, in part, due to the difference in the oral hygiene habits between the genders. The research also found that women were more likely to have had a dental checkup within the past year and they were more apt to follow through with the recommended dental suggestions and treatments resulting from those checkups.  Men also tend to have more of the dental problem indicators, like bleeding with probing of the gums, dental plaque and tartar and the reason for this, it is felt, is due to the fact that women are three times more likely to floss daily than men.

Additional Health Risks

In addition to the increased risk of periodontal disease as a result of the issues noted above, men also face increased risks of some pretty major heath problems like heart disease, diabetes and some that are unique to men.   Periodontal research is strongly recommending that men pay more attention to their periodontal health and strive to be more diligent in an attempt to lessen the impact of these and other health issues on their general overall health.

Next time, we will discuss some of the major health issues for which men are at increased risk but, in the meantime, please keep up with those regular dental checkups, regardless of your age or gender.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can achieve maximum oral health for every member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

What Do You Know About Fighting the Inflammation of Periodontal Disease?

Let’s assume you have just been diagnosed with periodontal disease.  Let’s also assume that you have heard about some of the more serious maladies that can result from untreated periodontal disease and that you aren’t interested in going there.  Do you know how you can treat the periodontal disease effectively?  There is some newer information about a new breakthrough in treating periodontal disease which can help you avoid some of those serious medical conditions and diseases about which you have been hearing.

The inflammatory process

As you may already know, periodontal disease is basically an inflammatory disease process.  This disease process creates pockets between the teeth and the gums in which food particles hide, ensuring the appropriate fuel for the infection process to prosper.  Eventually, this infection process can result in the loss or the sloughing away of the jaw bone.  The same inflammation that causes these changes can also cause some pretty major changes all over your body.  This inflammation can present it self as bad breath and tooth loss in the mouth but is also connected to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, pneumonia and even cancers!

More statistics

There is research that reports that men who have gum disease are at a 54 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer and approximately 49 percent higher risk of developing kidney cancer!  But, ladies, don’t stop reading because they estimate that the percentages of these cancers are likely to be pretty consistent in the female gender as well.

So what can you do?

I am sure you’ve been indoctrinated  by your dentist  about the principles of good oral hygiene and how important it is to floss at least once a day and brush a minimum of twice a day.  I am sure that previously recommended treatments of periodontal disease included the prescribing of antibiotics to treat the infection in addition to instructions and suggestions on how to improve your daily oral hygiene.  But new research suggests that treating the inflammation is also of great value.

How do we treat inflammation?

No, the answer isn’t necessarily a frequent and repeated use of antibiotics and steroids to treat the infection and inflammation.  The research is recommending that patients take 2,000 mg of DHA-omega-3 each and every day for three months along with low-dose aspirin.  They recommend 81 to 162 mg of aspirin daily but the appropriateness of that regimen for you specifically should be addressed by your medical doctor.  The DHA-omega-3 has been found to shrink the pockets made in the gums by the inflammation as well as decreases  in the gums the measurable levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-1 beta, two known inflammatory markers.  When the aspirin is taken along with the DHA-omega-3, the aspirin helps the DHA become more usable by the body.  For men over 35 years of age and women over 45 years of age, they recommend taking 162 mg of aspirin with 1/2 glass of warm water before and after.

So, add the DHA-omega-3 and aspirin to your supplement regimen, improve your daily oral hygiene habits, eliminate or at least significantly limit inflammatory foods like added sugars, syrups, refined grains and red meat and make sure add a minimum of 30 minutes per day of increased exercise and your smile will dazzle your dentist.  Keep up with those regular and routine dental checkups with your Long Island Periodontist and you’ll have a regimen that can’t be topped.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

 

Can Your Teeth Tell Stories About You? Part 2

Welcome back!  This week we will conclude this interesting topic about lead in the enamel of teeth.  As you may recall from part 1, we talked about a study that was conducted by George D. Kamenov from the University of Florida that showed a new way to identify the background and history of decomposed human remains or even of archaeological finds.  And this week, we’re going to go deeper into how the enamel of the teeth develop.  So, let’s get started on the conclusion of how your teeth can tell stories about you.

How Lead Isotopes Affects the Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel develops throughout the early years of life.  It’s development locks the lead signals or composition into the tooth and preserves them, so that by the time you become an adult, you have recorded the signals of the local environment in which you grew up. Researchers can identify the isotopes and where the body lived at several different stages of life by the amount and location of the lead in the tooth and in the enamel.  Apparently, different teeth can provide information on certain facts.  For example, the first molar enamel has completed formation by the age of 3 years, so this enamel reveals information about where the person was born and spent their toddler years; incisor and canine enamel begins to form later and formation is completed at approximately the age of 5 years so we have some insight into where the person spent their early childhood; and the third molar enamel doesn’t begin to develop until approximately age 8 years of age and so gives us information about the whereabouts of the person in late childhood.

Lead Analysis Can Even Shed Light on What Time Period the Body is From

This is all pretty cool stuff, don’t you think?  Anyway, this analysis that they can do on lead has different signals or compositions.   Due to mining processes, the natural composition of lead has changed over the past century.  The use of leaded gasoline has also had an influence in the composition of lead and the combination of these two issues alone has allowed a distinction to be made between modern and historical human exposure.  This allows archaeologists to identify early European bodies in the New World areas…they can literally go back in time and attempt to reconstruct human migration patterns. Like I said…pretty cool, huh?

Let me blow your mind one more time…they can even determine if the human remains are American versus European!  The researchers report that American teeth are like none of the others in the world.   Available data for areas like South America can overlap with Europe, but American teeth are literally identifiable anywhere in the world because of the usage of ores that have distinct isotopes signals that occur only in the United States.  This is just another example of how your environment can get into your body.

While you can’t necessarily control the lead content in your teeth or those of your children, you can help to identify gum disease and achieve good oral health by regular dental checkups with your Periodontist on Long Island.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

 

 

Can Your Teeth Tell Stories About You? Part 1

Hello to all my wonderful readers!  Today, I think you will find this topic quite interesting as well as thought provoking.   Did you answer the title question? I’ll bet your answer to this question is something like, “yeah, right!” If so, you would be so very wrong!  Actually there is some pretty good research going on to support this.  So, let’s get started talking about this installment of how your teeth can tell stories about you.

The Research

The University of Florida geology researcher George D. Kamenov has led a study that revealed trace amounts of lead found in historical and modern day human teeth can provide insight into the origin of the human subject.  The data has been published in the Science of The Total Environment, August 2015 issue.  They say that this could be used as a tool in the resolution of cold cases by law enforcement, saying that if a decomposed body is found, testing for lead could enable the law enforcement entity to focus their investigation to particular geographic areas instead of everywhere and anywhere.  This would enable law enforcement to better utilize their resources more effectively.

The Science Behind the Research

The researchers tell us that lead is made up of four variants which are called isotopes.  The quantity of those isotopes varies when compared to different rocks, soils and ores.  This correlates to different areas of the world.  They also point out that mining and other pollution processes release this lead into the environment and, if you live and breathe, it will also accumulate in the body, especially those bodies of any children in the vicinity.  This accumulation into the bodies of our little ones occurs as they grow and mature as a result of inhalation of dust and ingestion of soil when they put their hands and fingers into their mouths.  While the presence of lead in the rocks, soil and ores may not be new information for you, I think the exposure to lead in the development of tooth enamel over the first 8 to 10 years of your child’s life may be.

The lead content in the enamel of your children’s teeth develops over the first 8 to 10 years of life and, next time, we will get into that development more deeply as well as shed light on another very interesting spin off from this research.  In the meantime, please keep up with those oh so very important dental checkups for each and every member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf, your Periodontist on Long Island, at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

 

 

Attention All Parents: Do You Know How to Prevent Dental Erosion in the Teeth of Your Children?

Hello to all those parents and potential parents who are reading this article.  The topic of this article is basically dental erosion and what causes it.  Why should we be interested in dental erosion?  Why should you, as parents, be concerned about the causes? Are the causes controllable?  We will endeavor to answer these questions in an attempt to provide a healthier environment for the development of the teeth of your children.  Let’s talk a bit about dental erosion.

What is teeth or dental erosion?

Basically, the enamel of your teeth is the strongest tissue in the body.  It protects the lower layers of the teeth from damage from the wear and tear that comes with biting and chewing as well as protects against damage from acids and chemicals.  The enamel of the teeth can erode over time and some pretty significant damage can occur to the underlying tissue structures.   As the enamel erodes, cavities can develop and you’ll notice things like sensitivity to hot and cold foods or beverages and even when you eat sweets.  This sensitivity occurs because there are holes in the enamel that allow the foods and drinks to get down into the underlying tooth nerves.

The causes of teeth erosion

One cause is too many sweet treats.  The bacteria that live in your mouth really thrive on sugar.  When you consume sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria use the sugar to create acids which can eat away at the enamel structure.  This problem worsens if the teeth aren’t cleaned properly or often enough.  Conversely, sour foods in too large a quantity can also be detrimental as they actually contain acids.   Dry mouth is a contributing factor as the saliva needed to wash the teeth clean simply isn’t present in sufficient quantity.  Another cause that most people don’t realize is acid reflux — commonly known at GERD.  In this condition, acid from the stomach regurgitates into the mouth and works to eat away at the tooth enamel

Why should parents be concerned

Dental research has issued warnings to parents about the dangers of soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks and other high acid drinks.  They warn that these products pose a “triple threat” to the long term health of the teeth of their children.  This threat poses permanent damage to your children’s teeth and it starts early in life! The research shows that acid damage begins within the first 30 seconds of contact with the acid-laden food or drink.  Frequently, this is combined with nocturnal grinding of teeth and undiagnosed acid reflux to form the “triple threat” noted above.  The damage is generally not noted until extensive wear of the tooth has occurred.   The repair of the damage caused by these attacks that begins early in life can be very extensive and expensive…both in terms of the dollars needed to fix the problem as well as the overall general health implications from gum disease and inflammation.

What you can do

You must  simply intervene in the choices being made by your children in the foods and drinks they consume.  Starting early with training your children to make healthier choices will go a long way toward helping them make better choices as they mature.  Try to limit the sports drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices and acidic foods your children consume.  Actually, giving your children fresh fruit is so much better than fruit juice.  The acid in the fresh fruit is healthier because fruit juices can have added acids in them.  The fresh fruit has more important nutrients than that which is contained in the juices.

Get your children to your Periodontist on Long Island to be examined for any potential dental erosion that may be present.  He can guide you on any dietary changes that may be necessary.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Fiber? Part 2

Welcome back! As you may recall from the last segment, we were discussing some interesting things about fiber of which some of you may not have been aware. We talked about the two basic categories of fiber, how each category works, the two major ways you can get fiber and which way is recommended by medical and nutritional experts. Today, we will conclude this topic with a brief discussion of about nine different types of fiber and their benefits to your overall general health.

  • Cellulose and some hemicellulose:  this type of fiber is insoluble and is a natural laxative, decreasing constipation and the risk of diverticulitis as well as aid to weight loss.  This is naturally found in nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, bran, seeds, edible brown rice and the skins of produce.
  • Inulin oligofructose: this one is soluble fiber that is extracted from onions and byproducts of sugar production from beets or chicory root.  It is commonly added to processed foods to increase fiber contact.  It is thought to increase beneficial bacteria in the gut and enhance immune system functions.
  • Lignin: this fiber type is insoluble and is found in flax, rye and some veggies.  It helps heart health and also is thought to possibly aid the immune system functions.  Caution is advised if your are celiac or gluten sensitive or intolerant.
  • Mucilage, beta-glucans: another soluble type of fiber that is naturally found in oats, oat bran, beans, peas, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, oranges, apples and carrots.  It helps to lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, decreases the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  This is another one to use caution in your consumption if you are celiac or gluten sensitive or intolerant.
  • Pectin and gums:  this type of fiber is both soluble and insoluble. It is naturally found in fruits, berries and seeds, as well as in extractions from citrus peel and other plants that increase fiber in processed products. It helps to slow the progression of food through the gastrointestinal tract and helps to decrease blood cholesterol.
  • Polydextrose polyols: this is a soluble fiber type that is added to processed food products to bulk it up and act as a sugar substitute.  It is created from dextrose, sorbitol and citric acid.  It benefits you by adding bulk to stools to help eliminate constipation.  This type of fiber may result in bloating and gas.
  • Psyllium: this soluble fiber type is extracted from rushed seeds or the husks of the plantago ovata plant.  This type of fiber is added to foods and used in fiber drinks and aids in the decreasing of  cholesterol and prevention of constipation.
  • Resistant starch: this is a soluble fiber that is starch found naturally in plant cell walls, unripe bananas, oatmeal and legumes.  It is also extracted and put into processed food products to add fiber content.   It aids in weight loss because it creates that “full” feeling as well as helping to control blood sugars.
  • Wheat dextrin:  this soluble fiber type is extracted from wheat starch and can be found in many if not most processed foods.  This fiber help to decrease cholesterol, both LDL and total cholesterol, decreases the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  This is another one of those fiber types that should be avoided if you are celiac or gluten intolerant.

As you can readily see, there are many types of fiber that are available to you and the benefits of these fiber types are definitely suggestive of the importance of their inclusion into your dietary regimen.    So, consider adding or increasing them in your daily diet regimen and reap the wonderful benefits.  Also, reap the amazing benefits available by keeping up with those routine dental checkups with your Periodontist on Long Island.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.