Alzheimer’s Disease Is Linked to Oral Bacteria | Alhambra Dentist

Abnormal inflammation within the brain is thought to play a pivotal role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study further states that inflammation from the body may worsen that brain inflammation, specifically gum disease being a chronic infection associated with elevation of serum inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein), has been found to be associated with several systemic diseases, including AD. This study reports on the mechanisms through which gum disease can contribute to the onset and progression of AD.

In simple language, gum disease can cause the inflammatory level of the whole body to go up. This can raise the inflammatory level in the brain. Thus, heightened inflammation caused by gum disease can lead to AD. The good news is because chronic periodontitis is a treatable infection, it might be a readily modifiable risk factor for AD. In other words, treat gum disease and you will lower the risk of getting AD.

In confirmation of the above study, Dr. Judith Miklossy, the director of the International Alzheimer Research Center in Switzerland, states in an interview that, “Yes, six different periodontal pathogen spirochetes [gum disease bacteria] were found to be present in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. Recently, we have reviewed all the data in respect to the detection of spirochetes in Alzheimer’s disease and the analysis of this data showed a very strong statistical association between the spirochetal infection in Alzheimer’s disease. So, it is extremely important to take care of the oral health.”

Spirochetes is a group of very toxic germs, some of which are associated with syphilis and Lyme disease, while others are found in the oral cavity. It is postulated that these oral types of spirochetes actually find their way to the brain to compound the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, the conclusion is very clear. See your dentist regularly. When you go to your regular dental check-up, seriously consider any advice given by your dentist about your gum condition. Remember, it’s not only your teeth, it’s your brain and the rest of your body that will benefit when your gums are healthy and free of any infection.

If you would like more information about Alzheimer’s disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Too Much Sugar: Diabetes and Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

We know too much sugar can cause cavities. So, it is not surprising that too much glucose, also called sugar in your blood from diabetes, can cause pain, infection, and other problems in your mouth, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Glucose is present in your saliva – the fluid in your mouth that makes it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.  Therefore, diabetics who are not careful in controlling sugar intake are more prone to cavities as well as gum disease.

Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way, according to the American Diabetic Association. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, especially when blood glucose is high, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.

It can be said that overconsumption of sugar may be a major cause of two of the most prevalent diseases in the world – gum disease and diabetes.

National surveys have found that the average American consumes around 85 grams of sugar every day. According to the new USDA guidelines, we should really be eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 22 grams of sugar per day, for adult men it’s 36 grams daily, and for children it’s 12 grams a day.

Over time, consistently taking in more sugar will lead to insulin disease, otherwise known as diabetes. What’s alarming is that many people do not realize they are on the road to diabetes. This epidemic of “on the way to diabetes” is called prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t appear suddenly and the slow, long and invisible road that is “prediabetes,” which is where blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal over a long time, slowly affects insulin signaling.

So, overconsumption of sugar leads not only to cavities and gum disease, but also can predispose you to prediabetes and even diabetes. In summary, cut down on the sugar intake, be consistent with your home dental care, as well as your dental visits.

If you would like more information about the affects of too much sugar, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Good News: Healthy Gums Lower Blood Sugar | Alhambra Dentist

According to the American Diabetic Association, roughly 10% of the U.S. population have diabetes and about 30% (84 million) have prediabetes. 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Now for the good news…

It has been known for a long time that people with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, have more gum disease than those without diabetes. According to the American Dental Association, scientists are finding that gum disease may raise blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes. Conversely, the good news is that in people with type 2 diabetes, treatment of severe gum disease can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. The benefit is about the same as you might find if you add another drug to your usual diabetes medicine.

For the 84 million Americans who have prediabetes, there is also good news. The American Dental Association has reported a study in Denmark that showed periodontitis accelerates the progression of prediabetes into diabetes. Hence, treating and controlling periodontitis is a way to lower the risk onset of diabetes for these 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic.

How would one know whether or not one is already pre-diabetic? When you see your physician on a regular basis for routine blood tests, screening for diabetes will reveal your status. One of the clues to whether you have additional risk factors for diabetes is a family history of diabetes. And incidentally, one of the risk factors for gum disease is family history of gum disease and loss of teeth.

How does gum disease make blood sugar levels go up? Scientists think that some of the germs in infected gums lead into the bloodstream after normal activities such as chewing or tooth brushing. This starts a reaction from your body’s defense system, which in turn produces some powerful molecules (biochemicals, such as cytokines) that have harmful effects all over your body. One of the things these molecules do is to raise blood sugar levels.

Since 40% of the population has issues with diabetes or prediabetes, and half of the population have periodontitis, it is essential that everyone visit the physician and the dentist regularly.  It will save your life and your teeth. Healthy teeth mean a healthy life, and a healthy life means healthy teeth.

If you would like more information about gum disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

What Causes Loose Teeth and How to Save Them | Alhambra Dentist

A loose tooth in a child often signals an exciting rite of passage. Once a person reaches adolescence, however, a loose tooth is no longer a normal occurrence. Adults may be alarmed when they notice loose teeth. Adult teeth are permanent and designed to last a lifetime. Some causes of loose teeth in adults are harmless. Others require the care of a dental professional to save the tooth, remove it, or replace it with an implant or bridge.

Gum disease. Poor dental hygiene may cause a loose tooth. Also known as periodontitis, this stage of gum disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums, usually caused by poor dental hygiene habits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States report that half of the country’s adults aged 30 or older have gum disease.

When brushing and flossing efforts do not remove plaque, gum disease can develop. Plaque contains bacteria. It sticks to teeth and hardens over time until only a dental health professional can remove it. Hardened plaque, known as tartar, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps that can become infected. Over time, this process can break down the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, causing the teeth to become loose.

Other signs of gum disease include:

  • Gums that are tender, red, painful, or swollen
  • Gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed
  • Gum recession
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together

Any signs of gum disease should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent tooth loss.

Pregnancy. Raised levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues in the mouth. Having more of these hormones can alter the periodontium, which is the collection of bones and ligaments that support the teeth and keep them in place. When the periodontium is affected, one or more teeth may feel loose.

The changes to this part of the body will resolve after pregnancy, and they are not a cause for concern. However, anyone experiencing pain or loose teeth during pregnancy should see a dentist to rule out gum disease and other oral health problems. It is safe for pregnant people to have dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays, according to the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In fact, because of a possible link between gum disease and premature birth, pregnant women are encouraged to see dentists regularly.

Injury to the teeth. Injuries sustained because of contact sports may cause loose teeth. Healthy teeth are strong, but an impact from a blow to the face or a car accident, for example, can damage teeth and surrounding tissue. The result may be chipped or loose teeth.

Similarly, clenching the teeth during times of stress or grinding them at night can wear down the tissues and loosen the teeth. Many people are unaware of their clenching or grinding habits until they result in jaw pain. A dentist may be able to detect the problem before the teeth are permanently damaged. Anyone who suspects that an injury has damaged the teeth should see a dentist as soon as possible. Sports injuries, accidents, and falls, for example, can cause dental damage.

Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become porous. As a result, even minor bumps and impacts can lead to broken bones. While osteoporosis commonly affects the spine, hips, and wrists, it can also damage the bones in the jaw that support the teeth. If the jaw bones become less dense, the teeth may loosen and fall out. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. also report a possible link between bone loss and an increased risk of gum disease.

Certain medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause dental health problems, though this is uncommon. In rare cases, drugs called bisphosphonates, which help to treat bone loss, can lead to lose teeth. This is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Authors of one study suggest that osteonecrosis rarely occurs in people who are taking bisphosphonates in pill form, but that the condition may develop in people who receive the medication intravenously. Trauma and surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, can also cause osteonecrosis.

How to prevent teeth from coming loose:

Loose teeth cannot always be prevented, but a person can take steps to reduce the risk. Tips for tooth and gum health include:

  • Brushing the teeth thoroughly twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Refraining from smoking
  • Attending dental checkups and cleanings as often as recommended
  • Wearing a properly fitted mouth guard while playing sports
  • Wearing a bite splint, when nighttime grinding or clenching is an issue
  • Asking a doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplementation to help prevent osteoporosis
  • Keeping diabetes under control, as diabetes is a risk factor for gum disease
  • Being aware of medications that may affect the teeth

Treatment options for a loose tooth:

A range of treatments can help, and the best option will depend on the cause of the looseness. Treatments include:

Splint loose teeth to firmer teeth.  Splinting means a way of stitching your teeth together with hidden wiring.  You have probably seen a retainer-type of wiring the back of the lower front teeth to prevent teeth from moving after braces. That’s what your dentist can do for your loose teeth.    In some select cases the loose teeth can be splinted together with crowns.

Scaling and root planing. This is a type of deep cleaning procedure that can treat and help to reverse gum disease.

Medications or mouth rinses. These can help infected gums to heal and combat bacteria in the mouth.

Surgery. The aim will be to remove inflamed gum tissue and bone that has been damaged by gum disease.

Bone grafts. These can help to rebuild bone lost to gum disease.

Soft tissue grafts. Also known as gum grafts, these can prevent further gum or tooth loss in people with gum disease.

Dental appliances, such as bite splints. These can reduce damage from grinding and may help the mouth to heal after dental surgery.

Treatment for diabetes. Appropriate treatment is important for dental health.

So, if you have loose teeth or suspect you might be prone to have them, see your dentist as soon as possible.  As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”  What we dentists can also say, “Splint your teeth in time, you will be fine.”

If you would like more information about loose teeth, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Marijuana Use May Lead to Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

Long-term marijuana use may lead to gum disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Marijuana (cannabis) is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as many as 22.2 million people used cannabis in the previous month.

Marijuana use is common among teenagers. NIDA reports that nearly 20% of 12th graders are currently using marijuana. Short term detrimental effects include feelings of fear, anxiety, delusions, psychosis and hallucinations.

In the context of prior research, marijuana use may raise the risk of accidents and injuries, bronchitis, cardiovascular problems, infectious disease, and poor mental health, according to authors of the JAMA article.

The JAMA 30-year study tracked 1037 individuals from 3 years old to when they turn 30. This study found “clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use – namely, periodontal disease”. This study was able to isolate risk factors associated with smoking cigarettes from those associated with marijuana use. The evidence regarding marijuana use include loss of bone that support the teeth. This loss is generally the main detrimental result of periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease is the major cause of the loss of teeth in adults. Nearly 50% of American adults 30 years of age or older have gum disease. Poor oral hygiene, smoking and diabetes are known causes of periodontal disease.

If you are using marijuana under the care of a medical provider, it is recommended that you see your dentist regularly to check for gum disease. Certainly, you should discuss with your dentist the additional ways you can prevent gum disease. This may consist of developing thorough (but gentle) hygiene habits, more frequent regular checkups and the proper use of hygiene aids, such as appropriate mouth rinses and flossing devices.

If you would like more information about the dental effects of marijuana use, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Colorectal Cancer May Be Started and Accelerated by Oral Bacteria | Alhambra Dentist

Two recent studies suggest that a type of gut bacteria found in the mouth may trigger colorectal cancer by influencing the immune response and switching on cancer genes. The researchers believe their findings may lead to more timely and improved ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death from cancer among Americans. The culprit is called Fusobacteria, a type of bacteria in the mouth that is associated with periodontitis, more commonly called “gum disease”. This gum condition is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

These two studies were recently published in the Journal of Cell Host and Microbe. In the first study, the researchers determined the oral bacteria called Fusobacterium were found in benign tumors that later turned cancerous. Furthermore, in the mice model they found that Fusobacterium sped up tumor formation through the release of a type of immune cell called “myeloid cells”. The latter cells penetrate tumors and trigger inflammations that can lead to cancer. The researcher, Wendy S. Garrett, MD, PhD from the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center stated that, “Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumor growth and spread.”

In the second study, another group of researchers found that Fusobacterium uses a molecule that lives on the surface of the bacterial cells. This molecule allows the bacteria to stick to the human cells and facilitates the invasion of the normal human cell. The molecule called Fusobacterium adhesion A (FadA) switches on genes that spur cancer growth, triggers inflammation in the human cancer cells. The end result may be cancer. The researchers also found that the FadA is much lower in normal patients. This report also said that they identified a compound that can stop the effects of FadA on cancer cells. Even better news is that FadA, according to author Yiping Han of Western Reserve University of School of Medicine, FadA is a “marker that can be used for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, FadA can be used to find “therapeutic targets to treat or prevent this common and debilitating disease.”

The conclusion to be drawn from these two studies, as far as dentistry is concerned, is the importance of dental hygiene and regular professional dental care. Keeping the mouth as clean as possible, following common sense instructions and seeing the dentist and the dental hygienist on a regular basis is the best way to prevent abnormal growth of “bad” bacteria, including the latest villain, Fusobacterium. Thus, it can be said that you have a lessened risk of colorectal cancer as well as other cancers if you keep your oral health in the optimal condition.

Also remember increased inflammation in the mouth may increase the inflammation index for the whole body. Abnormal inflammation in the body is associated with many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, heart ailments and diabetes to name just a few. As the eyes are windows to the soul, the mouth is the same to the body.

If you would like more information about colorectal cancer, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.