Author: Dr. Chea Rainford

Diet A Big Factor In Controlling High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. It is measured in millimeters of mercury and recorded as two numbers-systolic pressure (when the heart beats) over diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats). Both numbers are important. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. But when it stays elevated over time, then it’s called high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.

High blood pressure affects more than 65 million-or 1 in 3- American adults. About 28 percent of American adults ages 18 and older, or about 59 million people, have prehypertension, a condition that also increases the chance of heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is especially common among African Americans, who tend to develop it at an earlier age and more often than Whites. It is also common among older Americans-individuals with normal blood pressure at age 55 have a 90 percent lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can be controlled if you take these steps:

 Maintain a healthy weight.

 Be moderately physically active on most days of the week.

 If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

 If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take it as directed.

 Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes foods lower in sodium.

The lower your salt intake is, the lower your blood pressure. Studies have found that the DASH [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov] menus containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium can lower blood pressure and that an even lower level of sodium, 1,500 milligrams, can further reduce blood pressure. All the menus are lower in sodium than what adults in the United States currently eat-about 4,200 milligrams per day in men and 3,300 milligrams per day in women.

Scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted two key studies. Their findings showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

This eating plan-known as the DASH eating plan-also includes whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. It is reduced in lean red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages compared to the typical American diet. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.

The DASH eating plan also emphasizes potassium from food, especially fruits and vegetables, to help keep blood pressure levels healthy. A potassium-rich diet may help to reduce elevated or high blood pressure, but be sure to get your potassium from food sources, not from supplements. Many fruits and vegetables, some milk products, and fish are rich sources of potassium. However, fruits and vegetables are rich in the form of potassium (potassium with bicarbonate precursors) that favorably affects acid-base metabolism. This form of potassium may help to reduce risk of kidney stones and bone loss. While salt substitutes containing potassium are sometimes needed by persons on drug therapy for high blood pressure, these supplements can be harmful to people with certain medical conditions. Ask your doctor before trying salt substitutes or supplements.

Burning Mouth Syndrome Still A Mystery

Burning mouth syndrome affects about 1.3 million Americans with the large majority being postmenopausal women, and it still remains a medical/dental mystery. It is characterized by a burning sensation in the tongue or other areas of the mouth. Once the oral burning sensation starts, it usually persists for many years.

Pain is the chief complaint in this condition. More than half of all patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome report the onset of pain as spontaneous with no specific triggering factor. About 1/3 of all patients who are diagnosed with Burning Mouth Syndrome attribute the time of onset to a recent illness, a dental procedure or therapeutic medication.

Besides the burning sensation of the tongue, some people also have a burning feeling in the front of their hard palate and/or their lower lip. Affected individuals often have multiple oral complaints including dryness of their mouth and taste alterations.

Typically, individuals awaken without pain but discomfort occurs at a moderate level by mid-morning and progressively worsens into the afternoon and evening.

Hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies [vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and zinc] high glucose levels, dysfunction of cranial nerves, dry mouth, Candida infections or personality and mood swings are often seen in people with Burning Mouth Syndrome. However, no causal relationship has been established.

What can be done to alleviate this problem? After resolving local oral conditions and/or managing systemic situations, if burning persists, a diagnosis of Burning Mouth Syndrome should be considered.

Some of the methods of treatment include Hormone Replacement Therapy, nutritional supplementation, high fluid intake and medication. In low doses antidepressants such as Elavil and Librium may be effective with Burning Mouth Syndrome. It is not clear why these medications work.

Call our office if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.

Straighten Out and Smile Right

Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that concerns itself with aligning the teeth and jaws in proper position when they are out of sync. This happens commonly when the growth of one jaw does not keep pace with the other. This is a problem that you might inherit from your parents. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting are other factors that could contribute to malocclusion [misaligned teeth]. When the occlusion [bite] is out of balance and/or teeth are crooked or crowded, a person becomes more susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay and chipping or fracturing teeth. Speech and phonetics may be compromised. It’s not unusual for people with teeth irregularities to refrain from smiling, because they are embarrassed by the looks of their mouth. With orthodontic treatment, crooked or crowded teeth, underbites or overbites, spaces between teeth and improper jaw position [i.e. retruded or protruded lower jaw] can be corrected. Both function and cosmetics can be restored. Orthodontic treatment consists of removable or fixed appliances and may involve brackets, bands, wires and/or elastics to provide the necessary movement of your teeth. The ideal time for braces is for youngsters between 10-14 years of age, while their face and mouth are still growing. However, many adults are now improving their smiles and correcting minor problems by wearing braces. The time required for treatment depends on the complication of the problem. The average time is 1-3 years followed by several months of wearing a retainer to stabilize the straightened teeth. As one get older, the same treatment could take longer. During the treatment, there will be periods of some discomfort as the wires are tightened to apply the necessary pressure, and extra special care must be taken in oral hygiene to prevent demineralization or decay of your teeth. Just look at orthodontics as an investment in your appearance and long-term, continual dental health. So straighten out and smile right!

Can Teenagers get Gum Disease?

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.

This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.

Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.

But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.

You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Is Oral Piercings Safe?

Oral piercing is a form of body art and self-expression that’s all the rage among teenagers and young adults. While piercings of the tongue, lip or cheek might seem safe because “everyone has them,” that’s not entirely true. The mouth is a moist place, which means it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. And the primary danger of oral piercing is increased risk of infection. There are other risks, too. Oral piercings can also chip or crack teeth, cause nerve damage and produce an allergic reaction to metal. Some people also notice that it’s more difficult to speak, chew and swallow after piercings.
Do the smart thing and have your teenager see a dentist before piercing. Learning about the potential risks will make for a happier, healthier loved one.
And if your teen decides to go ahead with a piercing, make sure he or she keeps it clean! This is the single most effective way to fight off infection. And if your teen notices any of the following symptoms, schedule a dentist appointment right away:
·        Pain, soreness or swelling
·        Chipped or cracked teeth
·        Damage to fillings
·        Sensitivity to metals
·        Numbness

Nitrous Oxide: A Quick Fix for Dental Fear

Sometimes it’s not enough to have a great dentist, caring dental staff and soothing office environment – you or your children may still feel anxious about dental visits. That’s why many dentists use nitrous oxide; it helps calm patients of all ages – from timid tykes to anxious adults. Nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) has been used by U.S. dentists since the late 1800s. Its benefits are many, and the risks are few.
Nitrous oxide is safe for all ages. Nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest anesthetics available. It is well tolerated by patients of all ages, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic.
It reduces pain and anxiety. The effect of nitrous oxide is often remarkable, for both kids and adults. It’s typical for an adult or child to be relaxed and calm just minutes after receiving nitrous oxide. And when you’re calm, that means a faster, more comfortable dental visit.
You remain conscious. With nitrous oxide, you remain completely conscious and in control of your reflexes. You can talk and respond to your dentist. The point of nitrous oxide is to help you relax.
Comfort comes fast. Nitrous oxide takes effect within minutes and lasts for as long as you’re inhaling. After treatment, oxygen is used to flush the nitrous from your system just as quickly as it entered.

Xylitol: The Tooth Friendly Sweetener

Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and taste like sugar. It is found naturally and can be extracted from birch, raspberries, plums, corn and mushrooms. Technically it is not a sugar but a sugar alcohol that is sometimes called wood sugar or birch sugar. Our bodies produce up to 15mg everyday as part of normal metabolism.

The great benefit of Xylitol in preventing tooth decay was “discovered” in Finland in the early 1970’s. Streptococcus Mutans, bacteria found in the mouth, produces toxins and acids that can dissolve teeth when foods with refined sugar [sucrose] are eaten.

Xylitol is not fermented by oral bacterial, so it cannot cause cavities [caries]. It works its magic on many levels.

 It inhibits the growth of cavity-producing bacteria S. Mutans and lactobacilli. The number of these acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%

 It prevents the transmission of S. Mutans from mother to child

 It reduces the adhesion of plaque to your teeth

 It stimulates salivary flow creating a greater buffer capacity against acids and aiding remineralization of your teeth

 

Therapeutically, Xylitol is added to chewing gum or candy. The dosage is critical. To receive tooth decay prevention benefits, you must receive 6-10 grams of Xylitol per day. When reading the label of a Xylitol containing product, Xylitol should be the first sugar listed and, ideally, the only sugar component. To be effective, the Xylitol gum must be utilized several times a day over long periods – 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.

Xylitol is also to added to some oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss, fluoride supplements.

Chewing Xylitol gum after meals is a great alternative when brushing or flossing is not an option. Anybody who is at high risk for dental decay such as people with dry mouths or those with exposed tooth root surfaces should consider this decay prevention therapy.

On a precautionary note – excessive chewing could lead to headaches and/or pain in the TMJ joint near your ear. Don’t over do it!

Call our office for product recommendations.

It’s No Laughing Matter Or Is It?

Dentists often hear, “Don’t take this personally, but I don’t want to be here.” Or, “I’d rather give birth than go to the dentist.” Dental visits are anxiety producing for some individuals and result in uncomfortable stressful situations. The good news is that we have the “cure.” It’s been used safely for over 100 years and goes by many names such as Nitrous Oxide, Tranquilizing Air and Laughing Gas. The bottom line is that this sweet smelling blend of nitrous oxide and oxygen reduces anxiety, minimizes an overactive gag reflex, raises your pain threshold and helps make your dental visit pleasant and comfortable with its calming effect.

Nitrous Oxide is non-addictive, predictable, and reliable and is, perhaps, the safest sedative in dentistry. During the treatment, you remain fully conscious and have all your natural reflexes. Both adults and children can use it. In fact, 85% off all pediatric dentists use “laughing gas” with their patients. You quickly recover in about 5 minutes after the nitrous oxide is turned off, and you are switched to pure oxygen to breathe. It is safe to drive and return to your normal activities after the visit.

The nitrous oxide is administered through a “mask” or nosepiece that fits snugly over your nose. The amount you receive can be individually adjusted to satisfy your personal needs. A euphoric effect is produced that may be accompanied by a tingling in the hands and feet. Some report feeling giddy – thus the name laughing gas. The most common response we hear is “I’m aware of what is happening, but it doesn’t bother me.”

Contraindications to the use of nitrous oxide are pregnancy, if you are uncomfortable with something around your nose or if your have a respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult. It is recommended to refrain from eating for about 2 hours before treatment. Nitrous oxide is excellent for patients with a history of heart problems because it reduces tension and provides 2-3 times more oxygen than breathing normal air.

Nitrous oxide does not numb teeth, so most patients use it in combination with a local dental anesthetic. However, after being placed on nitrous oxide for several minutes, many patients report, ” I hardly felt the injection.”

Call our office to find out how nitrous oxide can dramatically help you.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants offer people an alternative to the traditional ways of replacing missing teeth. The actual implant is an artificial root [anchor] made from synthetic material, usually titanium metal. There are three phases to the implant process.

First, the dental implant is surgically placed into the jawbone. It takes 3-6 months to fuse with the bone [called osseointegration]. An abutment [post] is attached to the implant and protrudes above the gum tissue. A replacement restoration is cemented or screwed to the implant abutment. Depending on the situation, dental implants can support a fixed crown or bridge or act as a stabilizing base for a full denture. The procedure can take up to 9-12 months for completion and has a high degree of success.

Some individuals have had so much bone resorption [loss] that the remaining bony ridge is too thin to hold an implant. In many cases, synthetic or natural bone can be grafted [added] or grown to allow for dental implants as an alternative treatment.

Implants have a great advantage for people already wearing full dentures since they can support and stabilize the denture while minimizing further bone loss of the denture ridge.

Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. There are certain risk factors that may limit success including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic bruxism [grinding teeth], systemic problems such as diabetes and individuals with poor oral hygiene.

Dental implants offer a “second chance” to those who have lost all of their teeth. For people missing only one or several teeth, dental implants provide benefits as an alternative way to restore your mouth. To determine if implants are for you, a clinical examination, x-rays, study casts and other appropriate records and measurements will be necessary. Call our office if you have questions or would like to schedule an implant exam.

X-Rays: Yes or No?

While we share your concerns about potential risks from too much exposure to radiation, x-rays [radiographs] are a necessary part of the dental health process.

Our philosophy is that x-rays should not be routine but utilized when they will contribute to diagnosis or treatment of oral disease. Of course, we will cover you with appropriate body shielding prior to taking any x-rays.

Radiographs allow us to see and interpret signs of disease or potential problems that are not visible through direct observation. X-rays can be used to discover abscesses [pus-pocket], cysts, and/or tumors. They help us locate impacted, unerupted or extra teeth or determine congenitally missing teeth. Radiographs can demonstrate the presence or degree of periodontal [gum] disease. They can pinpoint the location and severity of cavities that are not visible to the naked eye. Basically, radiographs provide us with a view of the underlying structure and condition of your teeth, soft tissue and bone. Foregoing x-rays could result in an inaccurate diagnosis or incomplete treatment.

Usually, new adult patients will be given a full series of x-rays that will serve as a frame of reference for future changes or problems. The time frame between [6-18 months], type and number of follow-up x-rays will be determined by our assessment of your individual needs and the condition of your mouth. Growth and development are additional factors taken into account with young children. Certain situations such as root canal treatment necessitate several x-rays as part of the procedure. Patient with periodontal disease or implants will require radiographs at specific intervals to monitor their condition. As we are sensitive to your concerns, our office continues to keep abreast of ongoing radiological advances, and we utilize techniques and x-ray films that will minimize your exposure and maximize your excellent oral health.