Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eating disorders

It has been estimated that more than 10 million Americans currently are affected by serious eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.  While anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, they are most common in teen and young adult women.  Eating disorders can have a large negative impact on an individual’s quality of life.

Three different types:

Anorexia typically involves an extreme fear of gaining weight or a dread of becoming fat.  Even though these individuals may be very thin or even extremely underweight, they see themselves as “fat.”  They may attempt to reach or maintain what they think is their perfect body weight by literally starving themselves.  They may also exercise excessively.
Bulimia also includes the fears of being overweight.  But it also includes hidden periods of overeating (binge eating) which may occur several times a week or even several times a day.  After they overeat, the individuals try to “undo” the fact that they ate too much as quickly as possible by forcing themselves to “throw up” or by the misuse of laxatives or enemas.
Binge Eating or Compulsive Overeating may affect almost as many men as women.  In the past, these individuals were sometimes described as “food addicts.”  They overeat (binge eat) as noted in bulimia above, but do not regularly try to get rid of the food immediately by throwing up or by misusing laxatives or enemas. 

General symptoms:

Each of these eating disorders can rob the body of adequate minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients needed for good health. Individuals with eating disorders can display a number of symptoms including dramatic loss of weight, secretive eating patterns, hair loss, feeling cold, constipation and, for women, the loss of their monthly menstrual period. Eating disorders may also cause numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.
Eating disorders can also affect oral health. Without the proper nutrition, gums and other soft tissue inside your mouth may bleed easily. The glands that produce saliva may swell.  Individuals may experience chronic dry mouth. Throwing up frequently can affect teeth, too. When strong stomach acid repeatedly flows over teeth, the tooth’s outer covering (enamel) can be lost to the point that the teeth change in color, shape and length. The edges of teeth become thin and break off easily. Eating hot or cold food or drink may become uncomfortable.  

Prevention and awareness:

Eating disorders arise from a variety of physical, emotional and social issues all of which need to be addressed to help prevent and treat these disorders.  Family and friends can help by setting good examples about eating and offering positive comments about healthy eating practices.  While eating disorders appear to focus on body image, food and weight, they are often related to many other issues.  Referral to health professionals and encouragement to seek treatment is critical as early diagnosis and intervention greatly improve the opportunities for recovery.

Treatment of Oral Health Consequences of Eating Disorders

  • Maintain meticulous oral health care related to toothbrushing and flossing.
  • Immediately after throwing up, do NOT brush but rinse with baking soda to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid.
  • Consult with your dentist about your specific treatment needs.
  • See your dentist regularly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How does toothpaste work?

It is a well established belief that brushing daily strengthens our teeth and makes them healthier. Most of us do this on a daily basis without even wondering how it actually works. One should know not only the mechanism of action of a toothpaste but also the role of individual ingredients which will help in choosing an effective brand. There are three basic mechanisms by which a toothpaste improves the health of our teeth and these are as follows:
Abrasive Action: The abrasive agent in the toothpaste physically removes the solid particles stuck on tooth surfaces and in the oral cavity by abrasive action. It also helps in removing food stains and polishing tooth surface which in turn will improve the tooth's self cleaning contours and limit plaque build up.
Antiseptic Action: The toothpaste contains antimicrobial agents such as Xylitol which inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth which is especially helpful in gum disease.
Action of fluoride: Fluoride is an important aspect of a toothpaste and in various forms is the most popular active ingredient to prevent cavities. Although it occurs in small amounts in plants, animals, and some natural water sources, and has effects on the formation of dental enamel and bones, it is not considered to be a dietary essential and no deficiency signs are known. Sodium fluoride (NaF) is the most common form. It replaces the hydroxypatite of tooth with fluoropatite which is not only much stronger but also resistant to caries. It has been shown that topical fluoride can actually remineralize damaged Enamel and essentially reverse the process by which cavities form!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Understanding Gum Disease

Generally speaking there are two categories of gum disease; Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes Periodontitis (gum disease and bone loss). However, it is important to know that not all Gingivitis progresses to Periodontitis.
In the early stage of Gingivitis, bacteria in plaque build up, causes the gums to become inflamed (red and swollen) and often easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. No irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.
When Gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to Periodontitis. In a person with Periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected and lead to loss of attachment (bone loss). The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.
Toxins or poisons - produced by the bacteria in plaque as well as the body's "good" enzymes involved in fighting infections - start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. When this happens, teeth are no longer anchored in place, they become loose and tooth loss occurs. Gum disease, in fact, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
What is important clinically is to diagnose and treat gum disease before it progresses. At Elite Dental Studios we have the resources and expertise to diagnose, treat and maintain gum disease regardless of it's severity. As a general rule, the sooner the treatment, the better the outcome!