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Stay Young With Healthy Smile

stayyoung

by Chris Edwards, DDS

May/June 2010

Good oral health cornerstone of longevity

THERE IS A LOT that can be done these days to improve the esthetics of your smile. A healthy smile literally adds years to your life. Worn, chipped, discolored, malaligned teeth can all be corrected. Bonding, porcelain veneers and whitening, create a much more youthful smile.

 

As the Baby Boomer generation gets older and lives longer, sheer population numbers alone mean that cardiovascular diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other medical conditions related to aging are likely to increase in prevalence in the coming years. The picture is similar in dentistry: root caries, worn out fillings, receding gums, TMJ problems, misaligned bites, dry mouth and fungal infections.

But, as with your health in general, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Research has implicated the health of your mouth as having an impact on your overall health in more ways than one. Periodontal disease and heart disease are related, as is receding gums and osteoporosis.

To minimize the time and expense of being in the dental chair, while maintaining your overall health in general, there are a few things you can do. Brushing and flossing regularly as well as regular visits to your dentist to ward off problems is still the standard of care.

Nutrition is very important in anti-aging, and the first step in good nutrition is mastication. The proper bite and shape of your teeth for incising and chewing food is critical. Replacing missing teeth with implants or bridgework enables proper chewing and the start of digestion. Even dentures can be made to fit better, and they can be anchored to your jaw with implants. Chewing with an improper bite puts added pressure on your tempromandibular joint, which can become painful and lead to posture and neck problems.

Even with the best of oral health, wear is inevitable. The enamel on your teeth is the hardest tissue in your body but it is still subject to wear. An improper bite adds added stress to certain teeth. This is complicated when you have amalgam fillings that come with a limited life span. The bigger the amalgam filling the more compromised the tooth structure and the more likely the tooth will inevitably crack or break off at some time in the future.

There are fixes for all these problems, and, as with anything in life, the earlier you take care of the problems the simpler the fixes will be. Teeth can be repaired by crowning or capping, replaced with implants and spared the ravages of an improper bite or bruxism by adjustments and mouth guards.

Flossing Extends Life Expectancy

Periodontal health is paramount to your overall health. Studies show that people who floss live on average six years longer. Gums support the bone formation of the teeth. Unhealthy, bleeding gums are the signs of a bacterial infection that can enter your blood stream and create havoc through your body. It is common for patients with heart incidents to have pre-existing periodontal disease. Statistics show an increase in the number of babies born with low birth weight to mothers who have periodontal disease.

Healthy smile adds years to your life

There is a lot that can be done these days to improve the esthetics of your smile. A healthy smile literally adds years to your life. Worn, chipped, discolored, malaligned teeth can all be corrected. Bonding, porcelain veneers and whitening, create a much more youthful smile.

Many people by middle age are taking some form of medication. Xerostomia or dry mouth is a common side affect of aging and medications. It is a hidden cause of gum disease and tooth loss in three out of every 10 adults. If left untreated, xerostomia decreases the oral pH and significantly increases the development of plaque and dental caries. Oral candidiasis is one of the most common oral infections seen in association with xerostomia.

Frequently dry mouth results from taking medications that adversely affect the salivary glands. The first step is to analyze the drugs you are taking to see what is causing the dry mouth. With this information you will be able to see if it is possible to eliminate or reduce the drug, change the manner in which you are taking it or substitute another drug for the one you are taking.

With the advances in medicine and dentistry, oral health is achievable and maintainable as we age, and is a cornerstone of living healthy through out life. Make sure that you see your dentist regularly to detect and treat problems early and to maintain good oral hygiene.

 

Dr. Edwards graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Temple University School of Dentistry. He completed a general practice residency at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. To reach Dr. Edwards you may call 321-751-7775 or visit www.SDICFL.com