I guess it’s because I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I confess that – until quite recently – I had absolutely no idea who this guy Dr. Oz is. A friend recently told me that Dr. Oz has some really good material about dental health that can be shared, and since it’s sometimes easier to use someone else’s material instead of having to write it all from scratch myself 🙂 , I figured I’d check it out, and WOW! I’m impressed! It’s sad to say, but many physicians really have no idea about how the health of the mouth is connected to the rest of the body, and how valuable their dental colleagues can be in diagnosing a number of medical conditions. Dr. Oz is definitely not one of them! I’ll kick things off here with one of his articles. I have added some bold italics for emphasis (all mine).
One look inside the mouth will reveal that there are bacteria everywhere. For the most, part we cohabitate without a worry – but badly-behaving bacteria can collect in gum pockets to cause swelling, bleeding and bone loss that in turn can cause teeth to loosen and fall out.
People with gum disease (periodontal disease and gingivitis), may harbor up to 500 species of bacteria, and the proximity of that bacteria to the normally sterile bloodstream can be worrisome. Bacteria can enter small blood vessels, travel to other parts of the body and release toxins and trigger inflammatory chemicals that assault arteries and organs. Gum disease and tooth loss is now considered a harbinger for coronary artery disease, infective endocarditis, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke. Periodontal bacteria have also been detected in the mouths and amniotic fluid of women who have experienced threatening premature labor, miscarriage and may contribute to low-birth weight.
Breath can be telling too. More than 90% of the time bad breath (halitosis) emanates from bacteria living in gum pockets, under dentures and on the surface of the tongue. It is not only unpleasant to people close to you, but it may also be a clue to other medical conditions.
Oral cancers, lung cancer, certain leukemias and dry mouth syndromes such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause bacterial overgrowth that contribute to bad breath. And sometimes a systemic disease produces distinct chemical odors:
- Sweet or fruity odor may indicate uncontrolled diabetes
- Mousy ammonia odor may indicate liver disease
- Urine-like fishy odor may indicate chronic kidney failure
- And fecal odor may indicate intestinal blockage.
To find out if you have foul-smelling breath, ask a truthful friend, or lick your hand and smell the saliva.
Changes in the tongue can also be a tip-off to disease. A pale, smooth, flattened and sometimes tender tongue can point to iron or vitamin B12 deficiency, a hallmark of the common blood disorder, iron-deficiency anemia. People with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may notice tiny ulcers. If the tongue looks like a geographic map with areas of dark and light it may indicate an autoimmune disorder such as psoriasis or discoid lupus erythematosus. Recurrent episodes of white patches indicate thrush, an overgrowth of the yeast Candida, which may indicate diabetes. Strawberry red swollen tongue with a white coating and big red bumps is a symptom of Kawasaki disease.
Hairline cracks in the teeth can indicate tooth-grinding, the sleep disorder bruxism or mental stress. People with bulimia have enamel loss on their front teeth from the assault of stomach acid from repeated vomiting.
Keep Oral Traditions
Keeping up with a good program of oral hygiene and tending to dental and gum problems before they worsen is key to keeping mouths healthy. People with declining dexterity may need to make modifications that assure that good dental care continues. Electric toothbrushes, vibrating gum massagers and dental water jets can help. Routine dental visits are crucial, especially if you are planning to become pregnant or are facing a course of chemotherapy, which can reduce immunity against oral bacteria and cause mouth sores.
Here’s some help for halitosis, guidance for gums and tips for tooth care.
- Investigate any changes in your oral health
- Brush in the morning, at night and after meals with a soft toothbrush or African chew stick
- Use a tongue scraper along the length of the tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria
- Use an antiseptic mouth rinse
- Floss between teeth and inside the crease where the gum and tooth meet
- Keep well hydrated and avoid mouth breathing
- Don’t smoke or be near someone smoking (that can cause smoker’s breath too!)
- Try chewing on neem leaves, green cardamom, cloves, parsley, guava peels and gum mastic for breath control
- Visit the dentist regularly
I really, truly love treating patients for migraines and chronic headaches, and this was a case that was even more satisfying than usual, because my patient was only 10 years old when we made his NTI. He was in for a 6-month exam and cleaning today, and in talking with both him and his mother, we found that he was faithfully wearing his NTI and having 100% relief! Here’s what his Mom wrote to us in thanking us for helping her son, even though the other doctors he’d seen said there was nothing wrong with him:
“Hassan began suffering from frequent headaches last year. It took a while to pinpoint the source of these headaches until Hassan visited Dr. Payet’s office for a routine cleaning. During the exam, jDr. Payet asked Hassan if he had headaches in the morning and how often. This was a key question that eventually led to the discovery that Hassan would need a NTI to assist in aiding him with the necessary buffer to relieve the pressure of him clenching his teeth @ night. The clenching was the direct cause of his headaches.
I’m happy to say that Hassan has been 100% pain free since he received his nightguard!
We cannot thank Dr. Payet enough for the major role he played in correcting a major issue for Hassan.”
Snoring Isn’t Sexy has recently added a FREE DOWNLOAD eBook and Self-Test on their website. I HIGHLY recommend this website for anyone who has concerns about sleep apnea, who is looking for a dentist in Charlotte who treats sleep apnea with oral appliances, and general information.
13yo girl with back pain, headaches, jaw pain, acid erosion of teeth, ADD, gastric reflux, sleeps poorly….
So what’s the connection amongst all these things? Is it possible there’s one condition/issue that is a primary driving force behind all of these that, if addressed, could make an amazing difference in a young girl’s life……for her entire life? The answer is (of course, or I wouldn’t be asking such obvious leading questions, right? LOL 🙂 )
So what’s the driving force behind all these health-issues, and what can be done about it?
Let’s list all those conditions out again and start connecting the dots:
- Lower back pain (no history of any accidents or trauma — this one is a bit of a stretch, but since there are no other contributing factors, and she’s been checked for scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and cleared, the fact that she’s been suffering from back pain is most likely due to the muscle spasm involved in the other issues, and perhaps she needs a new mattress for better lower back support.
- Long history of headaches (decreasing somewhat recently, but still significant for a girl only 13 years old) – quite a bit of research now indicates that both chronic tension and migraine headaches are connected to sleep disorders, and it makes sense – if you can’t breathe well at night and your brain gets less oxygen than it really needs, your brain/nervous system will get hypersensitized; any little trigger will make it go haywire, make muscles spasm like crazy, and result in headaches.
- Jaw pain/TMJ pain – Same as with the headaches; when the nervous system goes haywire, the muscles spasm like crazy, and your jaws will hurt; the joints get way too much pressure and pain can result, also the tissue in the joint gets scarred.
- Acid erosion of teeth, signs of wear/bruxism on teeth – Connected to both the last 2 items (jaw pain/TMJ pain and headaches) AND to the next one (gastric reflux/GERD), if the muscles are spasming like crazy and making your teeth grind, they will show signs of wearing down. When acid from the stomach gets sucked up the esophagus during that snoring (it’s a vacuum, really) and put in the mouth, especially at night, it sits there for hours and eats away at the enamel just like soda does.
- Gastric reflux (very odd in a 13yo girl) – With sleep apnea, the throat gets closed off and you literaly stop breathing for short periods. When your throat suddenly opens again, it’s like a vacuum suddenly releasing and acid gets sucked up your throat from your stomach. VERY dangerous, and lots of research shows it can drastically increase your risk of Barrett’s Esophagitis, which can lead to throat cancer and is VERY VERY VERY NASTY!!!!
- ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) – Again……decrease the oxygen level to the brain every night…..do you think your brain will function at normal levels? Nope! Common sense, really, and yes, the research is pointing in this direction.
- Poor sleeping – Just like anyone who can’t breathe well at night, do you think you’ll sleep well? Nope! You can sleep for 10 hours, but if you have trouble breathing well for 6 of those hours, how do you think you’ll feel in the morning?
- Asthma – The research on this is a little bit more in the initial stages from what I understand (could be further along and more definitive, though), but again it just makes sense. After all, what is asthma but inflammation of the lungs, right? Well, if you have some acid reflux at night, it’d be pretty easy to inhale just a little bit of that acid during the episodes of apnea, and imagine even a tiny bit of stomach acid getting into your lungs…..talk about irritated lungs!
So……..it really doesn’t seem like a stretch, does it? You probably first thought…….no way! But when looking at all of the different problems that this young lady faces at such a young age, there has to be something going on. Given she has a pretty big tongue, big tonsils, and a very narrow throat, it was easy to determine she is at high risk for sleep apnea.
I can only hope that her mother listened and takes her for a thorough evaluation. Besides keeping her teeth healthy, proper diagnosis, perhaps removal of her tonsils, an oral appliance, and some other possibilities for treatment, treatment could literally add years of healthy living!!!
Quite frequently I get very puzzled looks from patients when I ask them if they have heartburn or have ever been diagnosed with acid reflux. First, they’re thinking, “Why in the world is my dentist asking if I have heartburn?” and secondly they’re thinking, “What in the world would heartburn have to do with my teeth?” Thirdly, they get even more puzzled if I ask if they suffer from asthma or anything like ADD/ADHD. So what’s the connection among all these conditions, and why am I, your dentist, asking these questions?
First, when it comes to the question about ADD/ADHD, please refer back to my recent post that followed up on NPR’s reporting on Sleep Apnea and Behavioral Issues. There’s some great information in there for parents.
Secondly, when it comes to heartburn and teeth, think about this: Just what is heartburn? It’s also known as Acid Reflux, and when it gets severe, it’s known as Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease, or GERD. It’s acid from your stomach, and what does acid from your stomach do? The same thing that acid from any other source such as sodas, sucking on lemons or oranges, etc. – the acid literally eats away at the enamel of your teeth. So yes…..if you have heartburn frequently, you are most likely also going to have many more cavities, see greatly increased/worsened wear on your teeth, probably will see increased gum inflammation.
So why do I also have ADD/ADHD and asthma in my post title? Simple because heartburn/acid reflux/GERD may play a real role in both of these conditions as well, because they are also linked to sleep apnea. While I could go into a lot of detail on the topic, there are others who have written it already, so I’m going to provide you the link to the Cleveland Clinic’s website relating to these topics (asthma & GERD), where you can read those extremely informative articles.
If you are concerned that you and/or your spouse or children suffer from these conditions, consider calling us for a consultation at 704-364-7069 or request an appointment through our website: Smiles by Payet Dentistry.
NPR aired a story this morning (March 5th, 2009) that has to do with snoring, sleep apnea, and the wide-ranging effects that they can have on behaviour, brain function, etc. This is something I”ve been studying and talking to patients about for several years now, but it’s gaining wider acceptance in the medical fields. On the most basic level, sleep disorders cause a decrease in oxygen levels to the brain, which results in various decreases in function and can have significant effects on your overall health.
Please take some time to listen to the reports and read the articles – wonderful information!
As we keep our main practice website current and applicable, we’ve recently added a new page that you will find useful: a Helpful Links page.
This page (along with our Blogroll) will have a variety of links to other websites, to helpful articles, and more.
In the near future, you will find a subset of this page help you find dentists around the USA and even around the world, whom Dr. Payet personally knows and recommends. While we are always sorry to see patients leave, in a town as transient as Charlotte, we know that many of our patients leave town for new relationships, for new jobs, to care for family, for retirement…..but we’ll do our best to ensure that you find an excellent dentist to continue your care or to help you maintain your current dental health. Even if you’re out of town on vacation and something unexpected happens, you may well find yourself as well-cared for as if you were seeing Dr. Payet and his Team right here at home.
There is a rapidly growing area of dentistry concerned with treating sleep apnea and snoring. There’s an important reason for this, too….people who snore and/or experience sleep apnea on a regular basis are at SIGNIFICANTLY higher risk of certain health issues. I am going to relate a very personal story that I hope will help drive the point home, as well as give you a link to a website that will provide you with FAR more detail than I can provide in this blog.
My dad turned 63 in March ’08. Up until that time, he had always been a very healthy individual with no particular health problems. He regularly traveled the world for his job and had been doing so for many years; he and my mom enjoyed an active life, involved with their church and the arts. The only problem that had plagued him for a couple years was a nagging cough that simply would not resolve, no matter what he took. Not just a nagging little cough, but a deep, powerful, and often painful cough that would sap his energy, leaving him drained.
(To interject a bit of dental history: I’d been telling my dad for a number of years that he clearly has a history of grinding his teeth, and coupled with the fact that he had always been an EXTREMELY LOUD SNORER (to the point my mom often kicked him out of bed or slept in another room herself), I’d also recommended he get a sleep study done. With his travel and work schedule, though, it had just never quite worked out.)
Well, in early 2008 he’d finally had enough of the cough and went to see a pulmonologist. During a routine visit to see how well a certain medication was working, they noted that his heart rate was at an alarming 140 beats per minute!! Naturally, they immediately sent him to the hospital! He ended up staying for several days for evaluation.
It ended up taking many months of testing, trying several medications, and undergoing several procedures for his heart and to drain some disgusting and nasty fluid, before they finally got things under control. One of the most crucial tests of all, though, was a sleep study. Remarkably, his sleep apnea was SO BAD that the doctors woke him up halfway through the night to put him on a CPAP machine.
Long story short: the doctors determined that his sleep apnea was one of the largest contributing factors to his heart problems, which had led to the lung problems. Since he started using a CPAP machine to help him breathe at night, he is a different man. Dad says that he now wakes up and feels amazingly well; he actually feels like he slept well! He no longer has the rapid heartbeat; his lungs are no longer filling with awful fluids; he sleeps well; my Mom sleeps well; and he’s healthy again!
If you know that you snore loudly; if you’re a man and your neck size is 16.5 or greater; if you often wake yourself up with “snorts” at night; if you always wake up and feel you’ve slept poorly no matter how many hours you were in bed……..these are some of the risk factors/warning signs that should tell you to see your doctor and your dentist.
I’ll talk more about treatments and how dentists can help in the future, but for now, here’s a link you should follow to learn a lot more — QUITE LITERALLY, THIS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE, AS IT HAS MY DAD’S. DON’T TAKE A CHANCE: