Effect of Periodontal Disease in Men: An Introduction

How it Impacts their overall health

The incidence of periodontal disease tends to be higher in men than in women. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, more than 50% of men have some form of periodontal disease, while it is only about 38% for women. Such difference could be due to the fact that men tend to have poorer oral hygiene and/or are less likely to pay a visit to their dentist, be it for curative or preventive treatment. Or it could also be a result of habits like smoking which causes increased plaque and calcular deposits.

Achieving and maintaining periodontal health in men is of utmost importance, as it may influence their overall health. Listed and discussed below are some of health conditions associated with periodontal disease in men.

Cardiovascular Health:

Lots of studies have proven the connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular health. Periodontal disease may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease, particularly of the condition called infective endocarditis. Both periodontal disease and endocarditis are chronic inflammatory conditions and it is suggested that inflammation is the connection between the two.

Since men are more prone to developing heart problems compared to women, maintaining oral health is a good way to reduce their risk.

Prostate Health:

Periodontal disease is also linked to prostate health by the increased levels of PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen. PSA is an enzyme normally synthesized and released in small amounts. The levels of this enzyme rise when the prostate becomes infected, inflamed, or cancerous.

According to research, men suffering from both periodontal disease and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) tend to have higher PSA levels compared to men who have either condition alone. This suggests the possible two-way connection between periodontal disease and prostate health.

Impotence:

Studies show that men with periodontal disease, particularly those between ages 30 to 70 are more susceptible to developing impotence. The mechanism, according to researchers, is that the chronic inflammation associated with periodontal disease results to damage of blood vessels all over the body, including those that supply the genitals.

Cancer:

Men who have or have had periodontal disease are said to be 14% more likely to develop cancer that those who don’t. The types of cancer associated with this oral health problem include pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and blood cancers. The association between periodontal disease and the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was reported by a study conducted in Harvard School of Public Health. The study involved more than 50,000 male participants aged 40 to 75 years old.

The researchers did a 16-year follow-up from 1986 and 2002, and found that more than 200 of the participants developed pancreatic cancer. Thus, they came up with a conclusion that men who have had periodontal disease have more than 60% chance of developing pancreatic cancer compared to men who have no history of this oral health problem.

Take note, though, that while there is statistical association between the two diseases, the direct cause-effect relationship between them is yet to be established.

If you are dealing with periodontal disease and it seems to be affecting your health already, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist and physician about it. These health professionals shall help your with your health maladies, especially your dentist who can help detect periodontal disease and treat it before it can have the chance to affect other areas of your body. But it is also advised that you do your part in improving your oral health by practicing good oral hygiene.

Brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, flossing, and regular professional cleaning will help minimize your risk for periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease in Women

How it has something to do with the different phases of their life

A woman’s periodontal health is influenced by number of factors, the most important of which is the fluctuating hormone levels. The two hormones that contribute to periodontal disease in the female are the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both of these increase blood flow to the gum tissue, causing its increased sensitivity to plaque and other offending agents.

In addition, there are also some studies which say that increased levels of estrogen and progesterone actually promote growth of disease-causing bacteria. As a result, the gums become easily swollen.

The following conditions are some of the instances where women’s hormones go out of whack, causing them to be more susceptible to periodontal disease.

 

Puberty:

During puberty there is increased level of progesterone which causes the gums to appear red and swollen. It is also likely bleed easily upon slight manipulation. This reaction of the gum tissue can easily be reversed by removing the irritant. This can be done through meticulous oral hygiene practices and regular professional cleaning by your dentist.

Nonetheless, as pubertal period comes to an end, this reaction tends to lessen or tone down. Even so, it is still important take good care of your oral health.

Menstruation:

Some women may also experience this so-called menstruation gingivitis, which appears about three to four days prior to a woman’s period and begins to clear up after her period has begun. It is characterized by bleeding, swollen gums that are bright red in color.

In some cases, the salivary glands may also become swollen, while the tongue and the inside of the cheek may develop painful sores. Some women, though, don’t experience any changes at all. But for those who experience any discomfort, your dentist may recommend cleaning, topical anesthetics, or other special treatments to provide some relief.

Pregnancy:

Pregnancy has long been suggested by numerous studies as a possible risk factor for periodontal disease, as it causes hormone levels to rise considerably. Gingivitis is present during the second month of pregnancy up to the eighth month, and it starts to wane during the ninth month.

To control the disease, your dentist may prescribe more frequent cleaning visits especially during the second trimester or early third trimester.

Sometimes, an overgrowth of tissue called “pregnancy tumor” may show up during the second trimester. It is a localized, painless, and non-cancerous swelling that usually appears between the teeth and is also believed to be caused by excessive plaque accumulation. It is characterized as having a mulberry-like mass that bleeds easily. It usually resolves on its own once the baby is born, but some women opt for surgery especially if the tumor is so big that it interferes with function.

The association between these two conditions is a two-way street as hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy may predispose to periodontal disease, while any infectious disease like periodontal disease pose a risk to the unborn baby’s health.

According to studies, periodontal disease cause pregnant women to have premature and/or low birth weight babies.

However, further studies are needed to confirm the effects of periodontal disease on adverse pregnancy outcomes. Still, experts recommend pregnant or planning-to-be pregnant women to have a periodontal evaluation especially if they notice some changes in their mouth during pregnancy.

Menopause:

Women who are in their menopausal or post-menopausal stage may experience changes like dry mouth, altered taste, burning sensation, increased sensitivity to heat and cold, pain, and other discomforts. A small percentage may also develop menopausal gingivostomatitis, which is described as dry, shiny gums that bleed easily. The color of the gums range from very pale to deep red. According to some experts, supplementation with estrogen may help relieve symptoms.

Every phase of a woman’s life brings about many changes, some of which are good while others are not-so-good. Such changes may include ones that affect your oral health.

If you start to see of feel any changes that you think may be related to any of the conditions above, talk to your dentist or periodontist. They will be happy more than happy to address any concerns you have regarding your oral health.

Self-Performed Methods of Dental Plaque Identification

Plaque pertains to the slimy, sticky substance that collects on the surface of the teeth. It is the major cause of both tooth decay and gum disease, thus making it extremely important to get rid of plaque deposits before they can wreak havoc on your mouth.

But the thing is, plaque can be pretty hard to detect with the naked eye, because it has the same color as your teeth. But worry not, for there are tools for dental plaque identification, which can help detect where plaque builds up and let you know how good you when it comes brushing and flossing your pearly whites.

Why Remove Plaque?

Plaque disclosing agents are often used by dentists to show their patients where and how much plaque has accumulated on their teeth.

Removing plaque deposits while they are still new and soft is recommended in order to prevent them from turning into hardened deposits called tartar or calculus, where plaque and bacteria can continue to thrive.

Tartar cannot be removed by simple brushing and flossing, but only through professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Methods of Plaque Disclosure:

Plaque Disclosing Tablets:

One method of plaque disclosure makes use of special disclosing tablets made up of red dye. This dye gets absorbed by plaque, thus staining it and making it much easier to detect. To use these tablets, get one tablet and chew it thoroughly. Swish the chewed tablet-saliva mixture onto your teeth for about 30 seconds. Spit it out, rinse off with water and then examine your teeth. You may use your bathroom mirror, or even a small mirror to get a closer look.

Red stains indicate plaque. These stains highlight the areas where you should improve your brushing and flossing.

Now, some individuals may frown upon the idea of bright red staining, not only on the teeth but on your gums, tongue, or lips as well. Take note that the staining is temporary and will be gone after a few hours.

Plaque Disclosing Solutions:

Plaque Disclosing Solutions work in pretty much the same way as disclosing tablets, only that they are in liquid form already. Like in the tablet form, you have to swish the solution around your mouth for about the same time. Then, you also have to spit it out and check your teeth afterwards.

Some disclosing solutions are available as two-toned agents, which help differentiate between old and new plaque deposits.

Plaque Disclosing Swabs:

These swabs are pre-saturated with a disclosing solution. They are used by dabbing the swab along the tooth surface to show the plaque deposits. Compared to disclosing solutions, there are more convenient, more easily controlled, and less messy.

Plaque Light:

Plaque light requires the use of a special fluorescent solution that you’ll swish around your mouth and then rinse off with water. To detect plaque, you will have to use an ultraviolet light. The light will help make plaque more visible by giving it bright yellow-orange color.

The main advantage of the plaque light and fluorescent solution combo is that it doesn’t produce any visible stains in your mouth.

After using any of the disclosing products brush your teeth after and be sure to improve your brushing on the areas where plaque accumulates the most. Brush as thoroughly as you can until there are no stains left.

If you wish to be sure about the efficiency of your oral hygiene, use a disclosing agent for as long as you wish until you see less and less plaque.

Plaque disclosing agents are particularly helpful for kids, orthodontic patients, and individuals prone to tooth decay and gum disease.

Using Mouthrinses in Kids: Top Considerations

When it comes to their kids’ oral health, parents must always be looking for ways to help improve care of their kid’s teeth and gums.

Needless to say, brushing and flossing are still the best ways to avoid of tooth decay and gum disease, but some kids – especially the older ones – may start to show some interest in incorporating mouthrinse as part of their oral hygiene routine.

For parents, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to let your kid use a mouthrinse.

Proper Age for Using Mouthrinses in kids

In general, kids younger than six years old must not be allowed to use a mouthrinse to avoid the risk of swallowing the product. It can be quite tricky and challenging for young kids to learn to swish the liquid instead of swallowing it like a drink.

Meanwhile, those aged six to twelve may use mouthrinse, but only under close adult supervision.

One good way to determine if your kid is ready to use a mouthrinse is to ask him or her to take a sip of water, gargle it around his or her mouth for a few seconds, then spit it out. If your kid can handle rinsing with water, they are more likely to do the same with mouthrinse.

Choosing between Alcohol-Containing vs. Alcohol-free Mouthrinses

Many different types of mouthrinses are available on the market, and the two varieties include the alcohol-containing and alcohol-free. Alcohol-free products are recommended because they can be just as effective as the alcohol-containing variety, but much more pleasant to use. When it comes to fluoride mouthrinses, parents are advised to avoid them for now, as fluoride can result in fluorosis of the kids’ developing teeth.

Fluorosis is a harmless condition, but it can be unsightly due to the changes it can cause to the teeth’s color and texture. It can cause formation of white spots or brown streaks on the tooth enamel, or make the tooth surfaces uneven and bumpy.

Using Mouthrinses while on Orthodontic Treatment

Kids who have dental braces can benefit the most from using  mouthrinse, because mechanical cleaning via toothbrush and floss is often not enough in removing plaque buildup underneath the wires and brackets.

Mouthrinses can be a good adjunct to loosen debris and neutralize the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. With this three-pronged attack – brush, floss, and using mouthrinse – against plaque, kids should be able to adequately protect their teeth from tooth decay and gum disease while wearing braces. This, in turn, helps to ensure a successful orthodontic treatment that will result to straighter teeth in the end.

Mouthrinses as an Adjunct to Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

Regardless of the type of mouthrinse your kid uses, be sure to constantly remind him or her that they should not, in any way, replace the good old twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing. While it is true that mouthrinses offers great benefits against plaque, it cannot match the benefits provided by mechanical cleaning.

Follow the Advice of Your kid’s Dentist

Because mouthrinses is not advisable for every kid, consult with your kid’s dentist first. He or she will help determine if using a mouthrinse will indeed be beneficial for your kid’s teeth.

5 Most Common Dental Concerns of Teens

Teenage years are probably the most awkward period in one’s life. It’s that time when you worry too much just about anything, most especially on how you look.

Dental problems are just one of the many issues teens have as they go through the adolescent period. Most of these dental concerns are so common that they were deemed normal part of life.

Learn more about what these concerns are and find out what you and your dentist can do about it.

Crooked or Misaligned Teeth

Misalignment of teeth is a very common dental anomaly that occurs not just in kids and teens, but even in adults as well.

It often occurs when the space left for the erupting permanent teeth is too little or too much. Too little space leads to crowding, while too much space results to spacing or diastema.

Both can result to an unpleasant smile, malocclusion (a.k.a. bad bite), early wear of teeth, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems. To correct misalignment, installation of dental braces is often necessary.

Dental braces are placed in the patient’s mouth by an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in the correction of malocclusion.

Braces are typically made of metal secured in position by colorful dental elastics. But for some teens, metal display is an issue so there’s also ceramic braces that looks less obvious and Invisalign which, as its name suggests, is virtually invisible.

Consult your dentist to find out which option is best for you.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

The third molars, more commonly known as the wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. They come out at the age of 17 to 21.

Most of the time, there isn’t enough space for them or their position simply does not allow them to erupt straight up.

In both cases, they are referred to as impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth must always be removed unless contraindicated. If left in the mouth, they may lead to other problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and damage to adjacent teeth.

Impacted teeth are extracted through a surgical operation known as odontectomy. In this procedure, which is done under local or general anesthesia, the dental surgeon makes an incision on the area of the impacted tooth.

The overlying gum tissue is then lifted or reflected to expose the tooth. Bone reduction may be done as necessary.

Once the tooth is extracted, the gum tissue is then put back into its original position and the incision is closed with sutures. Complete healing of the surgical site takes about 3-6 months.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay pertains to the destruction of tooth structure by the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. It is caused by eating lots of sugary foods without brushing the teeth after.

Much as it is the most common dental disease, it is also very preventable. The best way of avoiding it is to practice good oral hygiene and do regular visits to your dentist for consultation, professional cleaning, and topical fluoride application.

Fluoride helps make the teeth stronger to stop further decay.

But if the decay is already extensive and tooth enamel has been worn off, your dentist will remove the decay and fill the cavity with an appropriate filling material.

And if the destruction has reached the pulp, the damage is said to be irreversible and a simple filling won’t solve the problem. In such case, the treatment would either be root canal or extraction.

Bad Breath

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is brought about by accumulation of bacteria in the tongue and teeth.

In most cases, a simple improvement in one’s oral hygiene is enough to get rid of this problem.

A good oral hygiene means brushing at least twice a day and using floss to clean in-between teeth. And as always, regular dental visits are also necessary.

Tooth Discoloration

Tooth discoloration may result from surface stains or from changes within the tooth. Surface stains are referred to as extrinsic stains.

This type of stain affects only surface of the enamel, and is commonly caused by smoking and consuming dark-colored food and beverages.

Intrinsic stains, on the other hand, are those that affect the inner structures of the tooth – the dentin and pulp.

Causes of intrinsic stains include too much fluoride, tetracycline antibiotics, and trauma. Discoloration may also be age-related.

As we age, our teeth appear more yellow as the enamel thins out, causing the yellow-colored dentin to show through.

Extrinsic stains can be removed by regular brushing using whitening toothpastes and by professional cleaning.

But if you want your teeth to be whiter than their natural color, bleaching is recommended. Intrinsic stains won’t respond to whitening products nor bleaching.

To get rid of them, your dentist will either cover the stains with tooth-colored filling material or put veneers on the facial surface of the teeth.