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
News segment with Terrie Reeves & Dr. Payet on “Train for Life”, on TVNews 14 in Charlotte – coming soon!
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of recording a short interview with the Founder and President (and one of my patients) of the Wellness Coalition of America, Ms. Terrie Reeves, for her weekly segment on TVNews 14 (every Sunday) called “Train for Life.” Each week, Terrie interviews people in different areas of life, all of which are somehow related to our total health and well-being. My first interview was how dentists can be an important part of your health-care team, because many diseases can be diagnosed through various conditions that come up in the mouth – diabetes, leukemia, gum disease – especially this one, because it has been shown to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and more. You can see the video segment that was aired in late spring 2009 at this link: Dental Health and Total Body Health Links (please note that the video must be viewed on Internet Explorer or Safari, but does not play on Firefox – sorry!).
Well, today we’ll be recording 2 new segments to be aired this fall. The first will be on the NTI-tss, an FDA-approved and non-medication treatment for Chronic Migraine and Chronic Tension Headaches, and the second spot (won’t air until November) will cover the most effective and comfortable treatment for periodontal (gum) disease available: the LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) protocol, which can only be performed by a dentist licensed in the use of the Periolase MVP-7 free-running pulsed Nd:YAG dental laser.
I’ll be sure to post links to each of these as they become available! I must admit, it’s kind of fun to become a local expert on dentistry for the media. 🙂
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.”