Rob Reidel, RPh - Akron - Summa's Centers of Excellence Building on the Akron City Hospital Campus
Q: Why is dental health so important?
A: Dental health is very important for many reasons. Since we are only given one set of adult teeth, good oral hygiene is a must. Nothing is nicer than a beautiful smile and good oral hygiene also helps with maintaining proper speech. It's a lot less costly to maintain good healthy teeth versus having to correct problems that arise from poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gingivitis, periodontitis, and is associated with other health conditions as well.
Q: What should I do to promote a healthy mouth?
A: To promote a healthy mouth there are many things you can do. Eating a well balanced diet, limiting sugar consumption to meal times, and brushing at least twice daily are essential. You should also visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings. Brushing and flossing (with a soft bristle brush) after breakfast and at bedtime is preferred, and replacing your brush every 3 months is recommended. For people with dry mouths, the use of oral moisturizers is a good idea as well. Tobacco use is also very detrimental to the teeth and gums.
Q: Are there natural products I can use?
A: There are many natural products that can help maintain a healthy mouth. Vitamin A helps with maintaining healthy mucous membranes, formation of tooth tissue, and salivation production. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B7, B12 and folic acid all help reduce tongue inflammation and discoloration of oral tissues. Vitamin B2 seems to remedy the dry cracking some people get in the corners of their mouth as well. Vitamin B3 has shown to reduce symptoms of gingivitis. Vitamin E can help with healing damaged oral tissues. Calcium supplements reduce gingivitis symptoms and also help with maintaining healthy bones therefore reducing the incidence of jaw bone degradation. CoQ10 also has been associated with gum healing and reducing inflammation.
Q: Are there prescription
medications which can affect dental health?
A: Many prescription medications can affect oral health, this is why it is so important to keep your dentist informed of your medications. Medications such as antihistamines and antidepressants can lead to dry mouth, which can lead to the promotion of tooth decay. Many inhalers contain steroids that if not used correctly can lead to oral fungal infections (thrush). Antibiotics in the tetracycline class, if used in young children, can cause permanent discoloration of the teeth. Biphosphonate medications used for osteoporosis are documented to cause jaw bone destruction. Others include calcium channel blockers (overgrowth of the gums) and cancer medications. While this list is not complete, it is a good starting guide. Talk to your Ritzman pharmacist if you have questions about your medication.
Q: Someone told me that dental health and heart health are related - is this true?
A: Yes this does seem to be the case. Medical researches have linked people with gum disease (periodontitis) to being more prone to heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that this is due to the body's response to the bacteria in the bloodstream.