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How to Prevent Weight Loss in Seniors Caused by Oral Health Problems


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How To Prevent Weight Loss in Seniors Caused by Oral Health Problems
by Sally Phillips

Aging comes with the deterioration of bones, muscles, and one’s dental health. While seniors are at risk of chronic diseases of the mouth and tooth loss, it appears that oral health problems are also some of the top factors that contribute to involuntary weight loss in older adults.

In a study involving a hundred elderly patients, it was found that general oral health problems were the cause of significant weight loss within one year. Moreover, it was revealed that poor dental health had more impact on involuntary weight loss among the elderly than any other factor such as household income, age, or nutrient intake. Apart from eating healthfully and exercising, seniors should make it a point to take care of their teeth to prevent involuntary weight loss or malnutrition.

Dangers of involuntary weight loss among the elderly
Studies have shown that involuntary weight loss among seniors aged 65 and older can lead to gastrointestinal disease, psychiatric conditions, and an increased risk of death. Poor oral health is just one of the reasons why seniors lose weight, but other factors such as medication effects, emotional problems, lack of access to food, and loss of ability to feed oneself can also contribute to significant weight loss. While these factors may be more challenging to tackle, one thing that the elderly can do to prevent this from happening is to take care of their oral health.

Common dental health concerns among seniors
If you’re a senior, one of the things that you may have to deal with is tooth loss. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 27.27% of seniors over the age of 65 have no remaining teeth. Meanwhile, those who do have teeth have an average of 18.90 remaining teeth. Seniors are also at risk of developing cavities and gum disease, with the latter being linked to other health problems such as heart disease.

You’ll also notice that your teeth look discolored, and you may or may not experience having bad breath due to a dry mouth. This can be caused by taking certain medications, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 commonly used medications can contribute to dry mouth. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to prevent these health concerns or manage them if you’re already experiencing them. Here are some tips on how to take care of your teeth and mouth to prevent involuntary weight loss.

Practice good oral hygiene
Seniors should brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day to reduce plaque and prevent periodontal disease. Use a fluoride toothpaste and try using a fluoride rinse at least once a day.

Increase oral hydration
To prevent bad breath, seniors should ask their doctor if their medication can be switched for one that doesn’t cause dry mouth. You should also drink plenty of water and try chewing sugar-free gum. You may also want to decrease your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether as alcohol can dehydrate your body, and it also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers.

Avoid consuming food or beverages that stain the teeth
Some of these include red wine, soda, tea, coffee, candy, and sweets. Instead, eat cheese, which increases saliva in the mouth to keep it hydrated. Seniors can also have yogurt, apples, leafy greens, and celery, which are all good for dental health.

Visit your dentist on a regular basis
It’s crucial to visit your dentist no matter if you’re wearing dentures or if you still have a complete set of natural teeth. Having regular professional care will help to maintain the health of your teeth and mouth, and your dentist can also ensure that your dentures fit properly at all times.

Follow these tips to take care of your oral health to prevent involuntary weight loss. Having healthy teeth can lead to better overall health and a good quality of life in your golden years.
 

The Benefits of Composite Fillings

The Importance of Dental X-rays and Your Protection from Radiation



Why do you need dental Xrays?
Dental examinations help to diagnose disease before it becomes hazardous to your health.  An important component to your regular exam includes routine dental X-rays.  This allows the dentist to detect problems that cannot be seen by the naked eye including: loss of bone (periodontal disease), cysts, decay between the teeth, and tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous).
 
According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, by using an X-ray to make certain no pathology is present, the dentist can help save the patient time, expense, pain, money, and possibly avoiding additional treatments in the future.  In some cases, when dental x-rays show the location of cancerous growths, it can be responsible for saving a life.
 
Preventing X-ray Radiation Exposure
While X-rays remain an important diagnostic tool, many patients may be concerned with radiation exposure.  However, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has found exposure associated with dentistry actually represents a minor contribution to the total exposure from all sources.  Both the American Dental Association along with the NCRP conclude radiographs can help the dental practitioner evaluate and definitively diagnose many oral diseases and conditions.
 
The FDA is encouraging dental professionals to make a simple switch to "faster" X-ray film to further reduce your radiation exposure.  At Madison No Fear Dentistry, we offer digital radiography which means even less exposure to radiation than the traditional X-rays, even those at the fastest film speed. 
 
X-ray Apron with Thyroid Protection
We also take preventative measures to ensure the safety of our patients while protecting them from any potential exposure.  In accordance to the recommended guidelines, we still drape the patient in a lead apron featuring a thyroid shield.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower front of the neck that secretes hormones into the blood and is carried to every tissue in the body.  The thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs functioning properly.   

According to a publication released by the American Thyroid Association in 2013, the thyroid is among the most “susceptible sites to radiation-induced cancer.”  However, the prognosis of thyroid cancer is excellent especially for patients younger than 45 years of age and those with small cancers.

Prevention is always better than treatment.  By actively preventing disease and decay through regular home care, professional dental cleanings, and routine comprehensive exams with X-rays, patient and dentist together will be able to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
 

Gum Disease and Your Heart: What You Need to Know

February is Heart Health Month! 


February is American Heart Month, a national initiative dedicated to preventing heart disease and stroke by empowering everyone to make heart-healthy choices. Did you know that there is an association between gum disease and heart disease?  Many studies show an association between gum disease and several serious health conditions–including heart disease–even after adjusting for common risk factors. 
 

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Below are some of the most important things you can do to avoid gum disease and maintain good oral health (including prevention of tooth decay or cavities):

  • Brush teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.

  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.

  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

  • Visit Madison No Fear Dentistry regularly for oral examinations and professional cleanings.

Healthier mouths can mean healthier hearts,
and we want you to know that we are here to support you.

 

If you suffer from heart problems, here are some things to remember when it comes to your dental care:

  • Provide us with a complete list of the names and dosages of all the drugs you are taking for your heart condition (as well as any other prescription or nonprescription drugs that you may be taking). This will help us decide on the best treatment course for you, including the appropriate medications to use for dental procedures.
  • Give us the name and phone number of your doctor(s) in case we need to speak to him or her about your care.
  • If you are particularly nervous about undergoing a dental procedure because of your heart condition, talk with your dentist and heart doctor. Your doctor(s) and our staff can provide you with information and work with you on strategies for controlling dental pain and easing your fears.

Please reach out to us with any concerns or questions.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Nutrition, Teeth, and Good Health by Thomas McGuire, DDS

When most people think about good nutrition, they assume that the only important thing is what's in their food.  Well, chew on this: Teeth - that's right, teeth! - play a critical role, too.

The connection may not be obvious at first glance, but if you have missing teeth or dental disease, simply won't get the maximum nutritional value from food.  Maybe you already know that unhealthy teeth and gums can contribute to serious diseases, such as heart ailments, osteoporosis, and even diabetes, and severely stress the immune system.  The end result is that your quality of life and longevity may suffer.  But I'm betting you don't know how teeth also fit into the nutrition part of this equation.

For the body to do its best job assimilating food, two things are necessary.  One is a healthy digestive tract; the other is the ability and willingness to chew.  Here's where human anatomy comes into play because, despite whatever notion we may have about being king of the jungle, our digestive system doesn't measure up to that of other creatures. 

Carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores each have a distinct kind of digestive system with teeth designed to match the needs of that system.  Take cats, for example.  These meat eaters don't have to chew - sharp front teeth enable them to just rip, tear and swallow- because their digestive tract can handle tough animal tissue. 

Similarly, the digestive system of herbivores, such as cows, sheep, and deer, has evolved to the point where it can digest and assimilate the tough cellulose fibers surrounding all cells in plants.  Though their system does that job very efficiently, herbivores still must chew plant food so their bodies can completely absorb it.  That's why herbivores don't have the tearing, canine teeth of carnivores; instead theirs are broad, flat molars that effectively break down the fibrous cellulose.

And what about us omnivores?  Our digestive system is set up to process both meat and plants.  But it's no match for the digestive abilities of carnivores and herbivores, and to make up that shortcoming, we must use our teeth more efficiently.  Because we can't digest cellulose, we have to chew vegetables and plants very thoroughly to extract all of their nutritional content.  The same goes for the protein foods, animals or otherwise.

Your conscious brain plays a key role here, too.  What you decide to do with the food in your mouth - chew it well or gulp it down - is the last time you'll have conscious control over how much nutritional value can be extracted from it - no matter whether it is  salad or a steak.  After you swallow food, chemical digestion, which you can't consciously control, takes over in the stomach and intestine.  So chewing is your one chance to determine how efficiently food will ultimately be digested and assimilated. 

This is where teeth come in.  Our most efficient tools for grinding and breaking down both plant and animal products are molars.  Humans have eight of these powerful dental food processors - two on the top and two on the bottom on each side of the mouth. 

Let's say you lose a tooth and don't have it replaced.  Or you have gum disease or an abscess and simply can't chew on that tooth or on that side,  Functionally, you end up losing two teeth, not just one.  Think about it.  Take away a top tooth and the tooth below it has nothing to chew against; that makes the bottom tooth useless.  It also means you lose 25 percent of the molar's chew efficiency.  Take away two teeth on top and you lose 50 percent of efficiency.

You've heard the expression, "You are what you eat."  At first glance, that sounds pretty good, but in reality, it isn't accurate.  In fact, you are what you assimilate.  It doesn't matter what you put in your mouth because, first, if you don't have your teeth, or their artificial replacements, to properly chew food, your body won't be able to effectively digest it.  Second, regardless of how healthy the food is, it can't be assimilated if it isn't digested.  And third, if it isn't assimilated, food has little or no nutritional value.

What You Can Do About It:
If you have lost any teeth and haven't had them replaced you are putting your overall heath at risk.  If you are serious about improving your overall health, you will need to have the lost teeth replaced.  There are many options available to you and the first step in this process is to make a dental appointment.  My recommendation is to schedule one with a mercury free/holistic/biological dentist.  He/she will be more aware of the important relationship of oral to overall health and will be better suited to support your efforts at achieving optimal oral and overall health.  Those who are committed to mercury free/safe dentistry will be able to provide you with safe mercury amalgam (silver) filling removal protocol to protect you against unnecessary exposure to toxic mercury vapor. 

Bottom line: you cannot be healthy without healthy teeth and gums.



About the Author:  Dr. Tom resides in Sebastobol, CA and is the author of the best-selling books, Healthy Teeth-Healthy Body: How to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health, The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam Fillings... Hazardous to Your Health, and Mercury Detoxification: The Natural Way to Remove Mercury from Your Body.  He is a leading authority on mercury amalgam silver fillings, chronic mercury poisoning, mercury detoxification, and holistic dental wellness.  Dr. Tom specializes in patient education and is available for phone consultations about topics within his area of expertise.  He has the largest and most visited website of its kid, with over 350 pages of information.  His website: www.dentalwellness4u.com has the largest database of mercury-free and mercury-safe dentists available on the Internet.  You can contact his office at 1-800-335-7755
 

The Benefit of Digital Dental Radiographs

Madison No Fear Dentistry Invites You to See the Difference with Digital Radiographs 
Almost every severe oral health issue can be prevented or minimized with routine dental exams and cleanings. During your preventative visit, we thoroughly check your teeth, gums, and tongue. Another tool we utilize to help with early detection of potential oral health issues is radiographs, or dental x-rays. Our digital radiographs are essential in identifying cavities, assessing the condition of existing restorations, and diagnosing other dental health concerns unnoticeable to the naked eye.


How is it Different? 
Our PreXion3D Cone Beam CT brings x-ray imaging to the next dimension by providing 3D images that allow us to safely diagnose and customize patient treatment like never before. 

Traditional 2D Panoramic and other dental x-rays are limited when compared to 3D images that can show different angles and planes, allowing us to view any part of the patient's anatomy from any direction or angle.  The PreXion3D combines the highest quality imaging and the most powerful software in the industry, enhancing our implant planning, oral surgery, endodontics, periodontics, restorative, general dentistry and much more.

What is the Benefit? 

The PreXion3D scanner offers enhanced accuracy, visibility and predictability.  The results are a reduction in procedure, surgery, and anesthesia time, which ultimately translates into a quicker and more comfortable recovery.

 

The PreXion3D scan is completely painless and can dramatically reduce x-ray radiation exposure when compared to normal CT scanners and some older traditional dental x-ray machines.   

 

Preventative dental care and updated radiograph technology can minimize your risk for more painful or severe dental health issues and higher expenses in the future. 


                  Traditional X-ray                                                 3D Digital Image

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation the majority of oral cancer develops from two primary causes.  One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol and the other is through exposure to HPV (human papilloma virus, specifically version 16), the same virus which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women.  A small percentage of people (under 7 %) do get oral cancers from no identified cause. It is currently believed that these are likely related to some genetic predisposition.

As you are well aware, dentists are often the first line of defense against oral cancer, through the process of early discovery.  When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate.  Unfortunately, the majority of cases are not diagnosed until the later stages accounting for the high fatality rate; nearly one person dies every hour of every day. 

 

The American Dental Association recommends continued awareness of the early indications of oral cancer especially between your routine dental visits.  If any of the following symptoms persist longer than two weeks, please contact us to get evaluated: 

     • a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
     • red or white patches
     • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
     • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
     • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
     • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

Over 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year. When it is detected and treated early, overall health problems are reduced.  The UW Carbone Cancer Center is offering a FREE ORAL CANCER SCREENING on Friday, April 25th from 10:00AM - 1:00PM at the Otolaryngology/ENT Clinic (Atrium, 2nd Floor) at UW Hospital and Clinics located at 600 Highland Avenue.  No appointment necessary and free parking available.  For more information or questions about the screening, contact Heather Geye at 608-265-6260.    


The Link Between Your Diet and Cavities: It's more than just soda

We all know that cavities are caused by soda and sugary snacks like candy.  However, just because a beverage or food does not have “sugar” listed in the ingredients does not mean it does not cause tooth decay.  It is important to read ingredient lists closely and watch out for additives such as corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, laevulose, maltose, modified food starch, molasses, natural flavors, and sucrose.  All of these elements are sugars that are often hidden in foods. 

One of the most frequent things people say when they hear they have a cavity is, “but I don’t drink soda.”  Sweetened liquids such as juices, sweetened tea, and sweetened coffee are often the culprits of cavities. Adding creamer to coffee often contains cavity causing ingredients.  Also, be cautious of sugar substitutes such as Equal, Sweet and Low, and Splenda which contain dextrose.
 
It is not only about what you eat or drink, it can also be how you consume it.  The frequency in which you eat or drink can increase your risk of tooth decay.  Habits that increase the possibility of cavities include habitual snacking, eating before bedtime, chewing sugar gum, and regular use of candy or breathe mints.  Medications that require everyday use such as cough drops, syrups, and antacids can also cause cavities.

Soda Pop Causes Similar Damage to Teeth as Illegal Drugs

The Academy of General Dentistry revealed that drinking large quantities of carbonated soda could be as damaging to your teeth as methamphetamine and crack cocaine use in their recent press release.  According to a case study published in General Dentistry (the clinical journal of the AGD), the consumption of illegal drugs and abusive intake of soda can cause similar damage to your mouth through the process of tooth erosion.  

Tooth erosion occurs when acid wears away tooth enamel, which is the glossy, protective outside layer of the tooth.  Without, the protection of enamel, teeth are more susceptible to developing cavities, as well as becoming sensitive, cracked, and discolored.

The case study compared the damage in an admitted user of methamphetamine, a previous longtime user of cocaine, and an excessive diet soda drinker.  Researchers found the same type and severity of damage from tooth erosion from each participant.  It was noted that each individual admitted to having poor oral hygiene and not visiting a dentist on a regular basis. 

Lead author of the study, Mohamed Bassiouny, DMD, MSc, PhD, comments, "Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their 'drug' of choice - meth, crack, or soda."  The soda drinker consumed 2 liters of diet soda for three to five years.  Academy of General Dentistry recommends patients minimize their intake of soda and drink more water.  "The striking similarities found in this study should be a wake-up call to consumers who think that soda, even diet soda, is not harmful to their oral health."


To see photos showing the similarities in damage caused to teeth by the soda drinker and the meth user, click on the AGD Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/generaldentists#!/photo.php?fbid=10151634852693633&set=a.110853138632.88386.35969038632&type=1&theater

Floss or Die: The Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene on Your Body

Floss or Die Infographic
Via: YourLocalSecurity.com