My biggest concerns for all of my dental family are diseases that affect us systemically. They include oral cancer, infections and nighttime airway issues. Here’s how I address these each of these health concerns:
Oral Cancer: At a minimum, oral cancer checks are done annually at your hygiene visits. I’ve surrounded myself with wonderful specialists in the event that anything even remotely suspicious is discovered. One American is diagnosed with oral cancer every hour. Early detection improves a patient’s chances, but the long term prognosis is not good.
Infections: Infections in the mouth come in two ways; infected teeth or infected gums. Infected teeth are painful and easily recognizable by the patient. They are also one of the biggest reasons a patient visits us for the first time. Infected gums are typically not painful, until the patient is nearing the point of losing a tooth (or teeth) due to bone loss. Gums that are swollen, tender, red or bleed when brushing or flossing are an indication of infection present.
What both types of oral infections have in common is that they travel through the body and create other issues. These systemic links include heart disease, stroke, premature/low birth weight babies, as well as additional complications for those diagnosed with diabetes.
If you’ve been diagnosed (or suspect) that you may have an oral infection – do NOT delay!
Nighttime Airway Issues: Typically known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), untreated, it creates an increased risk for hypertension, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, stroke, obesity, day time sleepiness and depression, to name a few. Childhood symptoms include ADD, ADHD, bed wetting, daytime sleepiness (falling asleep in class, need for naps), etc.
The medical community believes that there are between 30-40 million undiagnosed sleep apneics. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the treatment of choice, but studies show that 60-70% of patients abandon (or cannot tolerate) CPAP use. Oral appliances, like the ones created in our dental practice, are very effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. I have actually seen success in treating several patients diagnosed with severe OSA.
If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from OSA, we will gladly do a FREE at-home sleep study! If you’ve been diagnosed, but cannot tolerate or use your CPAP, we’d love to discuss other treatment options.
Let us help you and yours make 2019 a year full of health!