Sunshine Can Save Your Smile | Alhambra Dentist

Cod liver oil, which contains Vitamin D, was the first product to be endorsed by the Council of Dental Therapeutics of the American Dental Association (ADA) in 1931. The ADA judged by scientific evidence at that time that cod liver oil, with vitamin D as the main ingredient, was beneficial to teeth and gums.

In addition to its dental benefits, vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin”, is essential to general health. Without it, cells could not perform their functions and the brain would not fully develop, according to an article published in the Blaylock Wellness Report. The article further states that despite benefits of the sunshine vitamin, the rising number of malignant melanomas in the United States caused alarms to be raised over overexposure to sun. But, by making people vitamin D deficient, we inadvertently, increased people’s risk of developing all forms of skin cancer, including the malignant melanoma. The major source of vitamin D is from the sun. But, getting enough sunshine to produce our own vitamin D has been strongly discouraged, and, as a result, the average person’s level of vitamin D has plummeted, according to the Blaylock Report.

A recent publication by the Mayo Clinic states that vitamin D plays a role in reducing major medical problems including heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The best way to obtain vitamin D is from sunshine. The body synthesizes vitamin D after exposure to sunshine. Casual exposure to sunlight of ten to fifteen minutes twice per week can generate up to 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. For those who live in an area with limited access to sunshine, eating foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, eggs, sardines and tuna fish may also provide sufficient amount of this vitamin. Be sure to consult with your physician about whether you should be taking vitamin D, calcium or any other supplement.

Numerous studies indicate that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies result in bone loss and increased inflammation. Inflammation is a major symptom of periodontal (gum) disease and is recognized by many dental scientists that vitamin D and calcium may be a risk factor for this common disease.

The increase of a protein called “proinflammatory cytokine” is associated with a number of infectious diseases, including periodontal disease. It has been demonstrated through studies that vitamin D can suppress cytokine production, and possibly lower the risks associated with this protein.

According to the ADA, vitamin D synthesis is important in promoting healthy gums, but not the entire answer to treating this disease. Periodontal disease occurs in the presence of specific types of bacteria (periodontal pathogens), in the form of plaque, that triggers in the susceptible host (the patient who is genetically vulnerable) an inflammatory process, including the production of cytokines. This inflammatory cellular reaction incites certain white blood cells (e.g., polymorphocytes) to destroy the bone supporting the teeth. As bone is destroyed, deep spaces are formed between the gum and the root. These are called gum pockets. Over time, these pockets deepened and spread, resulting in the eventual loss of teeth.

Treatment consists of the careful removal of plaque, which is made up of millions of colonies of harmful bacteria lodged under the gum. This procedure is called root planing. If the pockets are normalized after root planing, the patient should return for regular recall visits for disinfection of the pockets. Bacteria that cause gum disease are analogous to termites that destroy the foundation of your house. The disease cannot be cured but can only be controlled through regular maintenance care. Surgery, or special non-surgical methods, may be necessary if root planing and good oral hygiene does not return the patient to normal.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, brush and floss your teeth two or three times daily, see your dentist regularly. You might even try a spoonful or tablet of cod liver oil, along with a little bit of sunshine this summer.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Receding Gums Awareness Month Declared for January | Alhambra Dentist

Because January has been declared Receding Gums Awareness Month, it is important that we spread the word of this revolutionary new procedure to patients that are in need of repairing their receding gums, Dr. Chao’s Pinhole Surgical Technique. If gums recession is left untreated, this condition will worsen and lead to more severe dental issues in the future, even tooth loss. In order to combat this issue, the Pinhole Surgical Technique can reverse the issue with little to no pain, making it the ideal option for patients suffering from receding gums.

In this video, Dr. Chris Bowman visits the set of Charlotte Today to discuss the procedure and educate their viewers on the benefits of having it done. Each one, teach one…

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

A Mile a Day Keeps the Dentist Away | Alhambra Dentist

It is well accepted that regular physical exercise reduces the risk of getting heart disease, colon cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, and a range of other disorders. Now Dentistry News has published a study by researchers from Case Western Reserve University showing that physical activity may also reduce the risk of getting periodontitis, an inflammatory gum condition that afflicts over one-third of the population in the U.S. and is considered to be the chief cause of adult tooth loss.

Data from 12,110 individuals found that individuals who exercised, had healthy eating habits and maintained a normal weight were 40 percent less likely to develop periodontitis. Another similar study reported in the Journal of Dentistry, showed that non-smokers who exercise regularly have 54% less risk of having periodontitis than those who smoke and don’t exercise.

The standard which the Case Western study used was that a healthy exercise regimen should include at least one of the following: walking a mile without stopping, jogging or running, bike riding, aerobic dancing or exercise, dancing, swimming, calisthenics, garden or yard work and weight lifting. If individuals reported five or more moderate physical activities or three intensive activity sessions a week, it was considered a healthy regimen.

Researchers concluded that such exercise programs offer such a wide range of benefits because, at least in part, it reduces C-reactive protein which is associated with inflammatory processes that lead to periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the gums.

Regular brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist reduce the bacterial burden that spreads inflammation of the gums. Regular, healthy exercise apparently reduces the degree of inflammatory response in the gums in the presence of bacterial activity and thus reduces the risk of periodontitis.

The appropriate exercise for an individual should be determined in consultation with a health professional.

Walking a mile a day just might keep the dentist away, at least between regular check-ups.

If you would like more information about walking effects on your 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.

Conquer Tooth Decay with Sugar? | Alhambra Dentist

Yes! A new kind of sugar, called xylitol, when incorporated into chewing gum, can not only prevent tooth decay, but may also help “re-mineralize” or heal small cavities that have not penetrated the enamel, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). This article states, “The evidence is strong enough to support the regular use of xylitol-sweetened gum as a way to prevent caries, and it can be promoted as a public-health preventive measure.”

To understand how xylitol can prevent tooth decay it is important to understand how cavities are formed. Sugar does not directly cause cavities. Rather, sugar introduced into the mouth is converted into acid by bacteria (e.g., Streptococcus mutans) in dental plaque. The increased acidity of the plaque causes “demineralization” of the enamel, which is the highly mineralized, hard covering layer of the crown of the tooth. The reason xylitol is effective in preventing cavities is that its chemical properties does not allow microorganisms to convert it into acid. Furthermore, unlike common sugars, xylitol does not decrease the pH (increase acidity) in dental plaque that would result in more acid formation. In fact, chewing xylitol gum has been shown in some studies to lower plaque formation. Other studies seem to indicate that regular use of xylitol gum can “re-mineralize” enamel undergoing the initial stages of chemical breakdown.

Xylitol tastes almost the same as sorbitol-sweetened gum (“sugar free gum”). Xylitol, according to the JADA article, is more beneficial “in terms of reducing caries risk than does sorbitol-sweetened gum.” Sorbitol-sweetened gum is a “low cariogenic sweetener” rather than a “non-cariogenic sweetener”, such as xylitol.

Xylitol contains only 2 grams of sugar in two sticks of gum. Substituting some xylitol products in the diet can significantly reduce caloric intake. Consider the fact that the average consumption of all sugar is 141.5 pounds per capita in the U.S. in 2003. Much of the sugar intake has come in the form of sodas and juices, both of which have replaced milk and formula in the diets of infants and young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly opposed the practice of manufacturers of sodas and juices in contracting with school districts for the sole right to stock vending machines in the schools, known as “pouring rights.”

Another interesting discovery is that the regular use of xylitol may interrupt the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child, according to a study from Finland. It was reported that there was a “significant reduction in the colonization of mutans streptococci” in the saliva of the infants in this study which involved 195 mother-infant pairs. The cavity rate of the children in the xylitol group was 70% lower than the other groups.

It is recommended by some dental experts that it is beneficial to have a regimen of chewing xylitol-sweetened gum three to five times a day for minimum of five minutes to inhibit plaque accumulation and chemical breakdown of enamel. In combination with regular home care and visits to the dentist, xylitol can be a beneficial adjunct to maintaining your smile for a lifetime. Check with your dentist as to whether xylitol may be right for you.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

90% of Cells in the Body Are Not Human | Alhambra Dentist

But You Need Them to Maintain Systemic and Dental Health

The vast majority (approximately 90%) of cells in the human body are not human at all, according to a 2006 article published in Cell, a highly respected peer-review research journal that covers a broad range of disciplines within life sciences. This profound discovery within the field of human biology is explained by the intriguing fact that many of these non-human cells play important roles in normal human physiology. These beneficial germs (microorganism) involved in the absorption of nutrients into the body, synthesis of vitamins and protection of human cells from infection. It may be said that survival of the human body (host) depends on the interaction between human and non-human cells. Therefore, it is not entirely correct to say that the human body remains healthy because it fights off bacterial invasion. Actually, it may be said that life is maintained by an interdependent, mutually beneficial coexistence between the human and non-human cells.

The human body contains “ecological niches”, such as the oral cavity, to acquire and retain beneficial microorganisms, according to a recent article published this year in Periodontology 2000, a highly respected journal in the field of dentistry. The latter article further stated that the oral cavity is a warm, wet and nutrient-rich environment that is ideal for supporting microbial growth. The benefit of having beneficial microorganisms is not without consequences. Undesirable microorganisms continually challenge the delicate biological balance between the human body (host) and beneficial non-human cells. The host deals with the microbial challenge through the release enzymes and immune factors in the saliva and the blood supply. Thus, in the healthy individual there exists a dynamic balance that arises out of numerous, complex host-microbial interactions. These interactions can be loosely called “inflammation”, a healing process. However, a substantial disruption of this balance over time can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation triggers the release of a cascade of self-destructive immune factors, such as white blood cells and enzymes, that may lead to adverse oral conditions, such as periodontitis (gum disease).

Furthermore, chronic inflammation and its associated toxic by-products may invariably be released into different parts of the body through the circulatory system. Recently research, widely disseminated through the news media, points to the close association between the oral inflammatory processes and systemic disorders, such as diabetes, arthrosclerosis, respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain forms of cancer and even low-weight or pre-term babies.

How does the body facilitate and accommodate beneficial microbes in the oral cavity? Dynamic balance is, by and large, maintained in biofilms, which are initially formed by host cells. This microscopically thin cellular scaffold initially attracts beneficial aerobic microbes that would exist in communal harmony with the host cells.

How do gum disease and cavities develop? Unwelcome anaerobic microbes may invade the biofilms in large numbers under certain conditions, such as inadequate oral hygiene, dry mouth and high sugar intake. The affected biofilms then become dental plaque, which leads to cavity formation and periodontal disease. It is also known that internal (endogenous) factors such as stress, and external (exogenous) factors such as smoking, are associated higher risk of occurrence of gum disease and cavities.

The take-home lesson of understanding this interesting aspect of oral biology is that oral health stems from a dynamic balance of cells of the human body with oral bacteria and other microbes. Provided the body is generally healthy (not under unusual stress), this biological balance can be maintained at a healthy level throughout an entire lifetime if healthy habits are followed on a daily basis, with professional care at regular intervals. These healthy habits include proper brushing, flossing and use of dental aids such as mouthwashes and hydroelectric devices (“water-pik,” “hydrofloss,” etc.). Proper nutrition, stress control and low intake of sugar products are also important in safeguarding this dynamic balance in the mouth. However, the patient should understand that since so many factors must be in sync to maintain this dynamic balance, even with the best of home care, there is no guarantee that this dynamic balance would not change. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is therefore recommended that everyone see the dentist regularly for checkups.

An ancillary conclusion to be drawn from this up-to-date concept of biochemistry in the oral cavity is that antibiotics must not be taken indiscriminately. If antibiotics is prescribed, it is only for a particular condition, such as infection causing pain and swelling in the cheeks. Continual use of antibiotics to ameliorate recurrent acute conditions would tend to obliterate beneficial microbes, as well as those causing the infection. This results in difficulty to form a new dynamic balance that leads to more decay and gum infection. In fact, yeast and other opportunistic microorganisms may take over as a result. It is imperative that the offending tooth/teeth be treated or removed and replace. rather than depending on an antibiotic prescription when an infection recurs. Of course, it is better to prevent the problem in the first place by following good dental hygiene habits and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and maintenance.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Your Tongue and Bad Breath | Alhambra Dentist

In traditional Chinese medicine, some doctors can diagnose an issue just by looking at the patterns and colors on the tongue. Medical doctors and dentists can also tell a lot about your health by looking at your mouth and tongue.

What if you notice your tongue has white spots? It could be tongue plaque. Your tongue naturally cleans itself and renews the cells on the surface to get rid of bacteria, dead cells, and debris. But when someone has tongue plaque, that renewal doesn’t happen, and your tongue gets covered in a white film. This can happen with age, dry mouth, tobacco and alcohol use, and also with fever or illness. You can clean off tongue plaque by scraping your tongue and using mouthwash. There are a few other conditions that can cause white spots on your tongue. If you see separate white spots on your tongue, it could be a sign of a superficial fungal infection, an inflammatory condition, or early signs of tongue cancer. It would be best if you see your dentist or doctor when you suspect something is wrong.

Another reason for having white coating on your tongue is if you’ve been on antibiotics for a while. Prolonged antibiotic therapy could lead to a yeast infection in your mouth that turns your tongue white. For this reason, doctors will also encourage you take probiotics to replenish the “good” bacteria in your intestines when you are undergoing antibiotic therapy.

A healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small, uniform papillae bumps. When you’re brushing your teeth, it’s a good idea to brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria that might be lingering on the surface. A tongue scraper also does the same thing and is a handy tool to have. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to do this if you’re not sure.

Another side effect of having plaque on your tongue would be bad breath which has other causes. So, if you are plagued by bad breath, it could be periodontal (gum) disease. In this disease, bacteria induce a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth. This loss of bone is mostly symptom-free and painless until the advanced stages, when a white coating on the tongue appears, along with bad breath and loose teeth.

Untreated, periodontal disease is associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease. So, if you see white spots, a cream-colored coating or any lesions on your tongue, see your dentist or physician for diagnosis and treatment.

There appears to be more and more medical experiments and studies delving into what in Chinese medicine makes it work, how it works, and why it works. Maybe Chinese medicine has more to contribute to western medical science than what is known in the public sector.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

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.