Why should we care about gum disease?

February has been designated Gum Disease Awareness Month! Initially launched by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, its purpose is to raise awareness about gum disease and encourage healthy dental habits to prevent it.

What is gum disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease, also referred to as periodontitis, is the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In the early stages, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. As it progresses, the gums can pull away from the tooth, which can eventually result in bone and tooth loss. Not only does gum disease affect your mouth, it can affect your body as well. Regular check-ups and good oral hygiene are important to ensure everything is healthy.

Risk Factors

Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults, with 47.2% of those aged 30 years and older having some form of it. This risk only increases with age. On top of age, there are many other risk factors that can increase your chance of developing gum disease. One of the primary risk factors is smoking, followed by poor oral hygiene, diabetes, stress, hormonal changes and medications that cause dry mouth.

How can gum disease affect your body?

While gum disease starts in the mouth, when left untreated, it can start affecting many other parts of the body as well. This includes respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of gum disease to watch out for include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums.
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums.
  • Gums that feel tender when touched.
  • Gums that bleed easily.
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing.
  • Painful chewing.

How can gum disease be prevented?

The best way to help prevent gum disease is to have regular checkups with your dentist, brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease. If you’re having any symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out.

Welcome Back, Dental Benefits!

Another year is upon us! Did you know that goals related to a healthy lifestyle — such as eating better and exercising more — consistently rank among the top new year resolutions? Considering the connection between oral health and overall wellness, taking care of your smile fits right into the mix. And while some resolutions can be hard to stick with, prioritizing your dental care is very easy to do since dental insurance benefits typically reset at the beginning of the year.

Preventative Care

While plans vary, most dental insurance providers cover preventative care in full. As Cigna explains on their website, this most often includes two cleanings and checkups, along with routine X-rays. Keeping up with routine preventative care lowers your risk of gum disease and helps detect any problematic issues early. This can prevent more serious — and costly —  problems from developing down the road.

Annual Maximum

Delta Dental explains that an annual maximum is the most a dental insurance provider will pay toward your dental work in a given benefit year. This amount can vary depending on the type of plan you have. At the beginning of a new benefit year, your annual maximum resets, so the entire amount is available again. For most plans, this amount is always the same, regardless of how much of it you used in the previous benefit year. Any unused funds do not roll over, so it’s a good idea to take full advantage of them.

It’s important to note that even if the entire amount of your maximum allowance is available, there may still be a cost associated with your treatment. The amount you owe will depend on the type of insurance plan you have, the type of treatment you receive, and the maximum allowance amount. More information about how private dental insurance works can be found here. It’s always a good idea to get more information from your insurance provider so you are fully informed about what your plan covers and whether you are responsible for a patient portion and/or a deductible.

No dental insurance? You can still save!

For patients without insurance, savings are still possible with our Smiles360 Dental Savings Club. Those who purchase an annual membership fee receive preventative care at no additional cost, along with generous discounts on a variety of treatments.

Contact Us Today

Make oral health a priority in 2022! If you have any questions about treatment options available to you or would like to make an appointment, contact us any time.

Exploring the Association between Oral Health and IBD

December 1 marks the beginning of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. As the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation explains, approximately 3 million Americans live with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which fall under a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the two conditions are not the same. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the  gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to anus, whereas ulcerative colitis typically affects only the colon or large intestine. Both conditions can impact oral health.

How IBD Impacts Oral Health

Having IBD can affect oral health in a number of ways. For example, IBD may manifest in the mouth as painful ulcers, decreased saliva production or gingivitis, among other problems. Indeed, one study published in PLOS One journal reported that IBD patients underwent significantly more dental procedures than control patients, most often related to dental caries and tooth loss. Another study estimated that as many as 50% of patients with IBD experience oral lesions such as canker sores. Evidence also suggests that oral health problems may stem from the medications used to treat IBD, as well as from the body’s decreased ability to absorb essential nutrients.

How Oral Health Impacts IBD

Although findings show that having IBD can have an important impact on oral health, the reverse is also true: how healthy your mouth is can also help or hurt IBD. In fact, recent research published in the journal Cell found that periodontitis, or gum disease, aggravates gut inflammation as bad bacteria in the oral cavity migrate to the gut. While that seems like bad news, it tells us that maintaining proper oral care can affect how often those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis experience flares, and is yet another indicator of the substantial role of oral health in overall well being.

Proper Oral Care for Patients with IBD

For patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the following oral health tips can not only help improve your gut, they can benefit your overall health:

If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, we can help you find the treatment plan that works best for your condition. Schedule with us today!

Thank a Hygienist in October!

With October comes changing leaves, chilly breezes . . . and National Dental Hygiene Month! It’s the time to recognize your hygienist for the work they do to keep our mouths, teeth and gums clean and healthy. It’s also a great opportunity to spread the word about the importance of maintaining your oral health.

What’s so great about hygienists?

Your hygienist is so much more than the person who cleans your teeth. Hygienists are gum experts who can educate on and treat all forms of gum disease. They also screen for and/or monitor important aspects of your overall health, including blood pressure, sleep apnea and oral cancer. Many patients spend more time with their hygienist than anyone else in the practice! That means hygienists play a key role in your overall experience at the dental practice, and they place great efforts in building a positive relationship with their patients. 

How can I observe dental hygiene month?

The best way to recognize dental hygiene month is to make sure you are caring for your smile with regular preventative appointments. If you don’t have your next visit scheduled, now is a great time! Your hygienist can help remove tartar build-up and detect any potential problems before they worsen. For those with insurance benefits, scheduling before the end of the year also means taking advantage of the benefits already available in your plan. For those who don’t have insurance, no worries! Our Smiles360 Dental Savings Club offers two preventative care visits at no extra cost. 

Happy National Dental Hygiene Month!

This National Dental Hygiene Month, say thanks to your hygienist for the great work they do to keep your smile healthy! And don’t forget to floss!

Playing fall sports? You might want to wear a mouthguard.

With fall sports on our minds, it’s a good time to talk about the best ways to protect your mouth. If you or your kids are planning to play football, basketball, hockey, soccer, or any other sport this fall, one of the most important pieces of safety equipment to invest in is a mouthguard. Learn more about what mouthguards are and how they can keep your smile safe.

What is a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a protective device worn inside your mouth to prevent or reduce injury to the teeth, lips and gums. They are typically made of soft plastic and adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of your upper teeth. Research shows the overall risk of orofacial injury is nearly double when mouthguards are not worn.

When should you wear a mouthguard?

On their MouthHealthy.org website, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that mouthguards be an essential part of sporting equipment. While many consider high-contact sports like football and basketball to put you most at risk, dental injuries can also occur in no-contact sports, including gymnastics.

What kinds of mouthguards are there?

The ADA describes three different kinds of mouthguards:

Stock or ready-made: These mouthguards can be found in many grocery and drug stores and are ready to wear out of the box. They are the least expensive option; however, they often do not fit very well, and can sometimes make breathing and speaking difficult.

Boil-and-bite: Also available in stores, boil-and-bite mouthguards usually fit better than the stock versions. Before using, you soften the guard material by boiling it, then “bite” into it, allowing the material to mold around your teeth and gums.

Custom-made: A custom-made mouthguard is made just for you by your dentist. For many people, this option offers the best and most comfortable fit. When your dentist makes your mouthguard, he or she can also tailor it to the needs of the individual athlete and their sport. 

Remember, any mouthguard protects better than no mouthguard! If you or your child plays fall sports, a mouthguard is an important piece of equipment that will prevent injury to teeth and gums. Choose one that is comfortable to wear, otherwise it may be left in the locker room. Talk to your dentist if you’re interested in having a customized mouthguard made just for you!

Abbeville Dentistry is a part of Mortenson Dental Partners.

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