SAN FRANCISCO- Having a sparkling smile and breezy dental appointments shouldn’t be your only motivations for achieving good oral health. Did you know the condition of your teeth and gums impacts overall health, too?

“The oral cavity isn’t isolated from the rest of the body,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley. “In fact, the mouth is an ideal environment for bacteria growth and a gateway to the bloodstream. Poor dental health carries systemic health consequences.” 

Numerous studies have confirmed connections between gum disease and a broad scope of general health problems. Gum disease, which affects almost half of Americans ages 30 and older according to the Centers for Disease Control, is elicited by poor dental hygiene. Here are the most serious threats we think you should be aware of: 

Heart Disease

The American Academy of Periodontology says people with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to have heart disease. About 91 percent of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease. One WebMD article says high levels of certain bacteria in the mouth increase the chances of developing atherosclerosis in the carotid artery in the neck. Experts suspect bacteria enter the bloodstream through inflamed, diseased gums. 

The gum/heart connection appears to run both ways. Swollen or bleeding gums could be considered signs of an impending cardiovascular issue, but that doesn’t mean a pristine dental hygiene routine negates the need for medical check ups and care. Those at a heightened risk of heart disease should treat unexplained gum issues as an additional indicator of a developing cardiovascular problem. 

Diabetes

Arguably the most established connection between the mouth and body, gum disease has shown to hinder the effectiveness of insulin in diabetic patients. Inflammation originating in the gums appears to inhibit the body’s ability to control blood sugar. This isn’t good news for diabetics who already lack insulin, the hormone responsible for converting sugar into energy. 

Complicating matters further, the often high blood pressure of diabetic patients create the ideal environment for infections, including gum infections. If you’re diabetic, take extra care to keep your gums healthy. 

Pregnancy Issues

Pregnancy and gum disease are strongly intertwined. Surging levels of the progesterone hormone increase the risk of gum disease in expectant mothers. The phenomenon is referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis,” and it puts growing babies at risk. 

Low birth weight and early labor are often reported with babies whose mothers have gum disease. Low birth weight can lead to learning disabilities and heart and lung conditions. We encourage pregnant patients to receive a through dental exam to ensure healthy pregnancy for mom and baby. 

Connections to dementia, arthritis, kidney disease and osteoporosis have also been uncovered, but more research is necessary to confirm the findings. Read more about it here

The consequences of neglecting your oral health are serious, but it’s easy to prevent them. Gum disease is a bacterial infection brought on by poor oral hygiene and irritants from food debris. By simply maintaining a good dental hygiene routine and receiving professional preventive care two to four times each year, you can reduce your risk of acquiring more serious oral and general health conditions. 

A good dental hygiene routine consists of: 

- Gently brushing teeth and the gum line for two minutes at a time

- Daily flossing

- Use of an antibacterial mouthwash according to its dosage recommendation 

A healthy smile will help you achieve a healthy body, and professional care is vital to maintaining strong teeth and gums. Since most people don’t seek medical attention until they are ill, we recommend patients visit Dr. Walley for health and wellness visits so we may identify impending health concerns. Contact us at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. to set up your appointment today. 

SAN FRANCISCO- Have you ever received that subtle nudge from a friend suggesting you reach for some mints? Millions of Americans live with embarrassing bad breath, known medically as halitosis. Sadly, no amount of minty freshness can mask the underlying causes of foul breath. 

“Unpleasant breath hinders confidence and your ability to converse with those around you,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley. “It’s important to recognize the factors that contribute to that bad odor so you can prevent it.” 

The culprit behind all cases of smelly breath is an accumulation of odor-causing oral bacteria. Such bacteria claim residence in your mouth for multiple reasons, a few of which may surprise you. Here’s four chief reasons why your breath may be less than fresh:

1. Substandard oral hygiene. Diligent brushing, flossing and adequate use of an antiseptic mouth rinse is key to ousting harmful (and odoriferous) bacteria. If food debris remains in the mouth for too long, it promotes the growth of odor-causing bacteria on the gums, between teeth and on the tongue. 

Be sure to implement a thorough oral hygiene routine to eliminate the offending bacteria, especially in the morning and at night. Salivary glands slow during sleep, which creates an environment perfect for bacteria to multiply. (Ever wonder where morning breath originates?) If you neglect your oral hygiene, acquiring a nasty case of bad breath is a certainty. 

2. Mouth breathing. Some people are natural mouth breathers, while others turn into one when fighting a bout of nasal congestion. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth. If you find yourself relying on your mouth for air, be sure to hydrate often. Drinking water will stimulate saliva production (necessary to rinse away food debris and toxins between brushing) and replenish dry tissues that spur the development of stinky bacteria. 

3. Too much protein. Onions and garlic aren’t the only foods that leave your breath smelling funky. Ever heard of “Ketobreath?” That’s the product of burning fat through a low carb/high protein diet. Pungent-smelling ketones are produced as the fat is dissolved. Dairy products and foods rich in protein generate amino acids, which feed into oral bacteria. 

4. Illness. Certain illnesses contribute to bad breath in a number of ways. Some medications cause dry mouth, which hinders saliva production and allows bacteria to develop and collect. A cold or sinus infection produces mucus that promote bacteria growth. Some conditions even cause bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. These include:

-  Kidney disease

-  Gum disease

-  Diabetes

-  Pneumonia

-  Bronchitis

-  Postnasal drip 

 

How To Curb Bad Breath:

Because bad breath stems from the presence of odor-causing bacteria, it’s important to make the cleanliness of your teeth and gums a priority. All it takes is a few more minutes with your toothbrush and floss to kick out nasty bacteria and achieve fresh breath. 

Depending on the amount of certain bacteria naturally present in the mouth, some patients may have a more difficult time nixing their bad breath. That’s where Dr. Walley and our staff at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. come in. We can assist patients with more severe cases of halitosis by administering deep professional cleanings and treating gum disease, a common cause of foul breath. 

Contact us at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. to learn more. We look forward to giving you the healthy smile (and great breath) you deserve. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a crystal ball to predict every health ailment and prevent it from becoming serious?

When it comes to periodontal disease, we have a crystal ball of sorts in the form of a powerful diagnostic tool: OralDNA testing.

Periodontal disease - also known as gum disease - is called the silent epidemic for good reason. Early stages of it can be undetectable. It can cause gum recession, bone loss and tooth loss if left untreated. Periodontal disease also has been linked to more serious systemic ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies continue to reveal to us that the mouth is a window into our overall health, and good oral health can promote overall health. 

OralDNA testing combats this silent epidemic. The MyPerioPath salivary diagnostic test identifies the type of harmful bacteria that have been shown to cause gum disease, as well as the concentration of that bacteria.

The test is simple. We give you a saline solution to swish around in your mouth for 30 seconds. Then you spit the solution into a collection tube and we ship it to OralDNA Labs for testing.   

“Once we have this information, we know how to better approach preventive care,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley. “Some people are genetically prone to periodontal disease, regardless of their home care regimen, and this testing identifies the type of bacteria present in the mouth. Knowing what we’re dealing with enables us to provide more effective treatment.” 

Why is this a big deal? The most common cause of tooth loss among adults is untreated periodontal disease. Thirty percent of people have gum disease even though they brush and floss regularly. One quarter of adults who are age 65 and older have lost all of their teeth due to untreated oral disease, according to a public health report released by the National Library of Medicine. 

“We have an opportunity to change that statistic when we identify who is prone to periodontal disease,” Dr. Walley says. “This is another tool at our disposal that will enable more people to keep their natural teeth healthy for a lifetime.”

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