A large part of what we do is educating our patients about oral health and answering questions they may have about dental procedures. Here are some frequently asked questions we hear from patients that may help you as well.
“What is functional dentistry?”
Functional dentistry is an approach to dental care that:
- Emphasizes prevention for oral disease such as oral microbiome management, treatment of sleep-disordered breathing, and dietary recommendations
- Aims to use non-toxic, or the least toxic available, materials when treating dental issues
- Focuses on the root causes of oral disease and works with each patient to develop an individualized plan of care
- Promotes an all-body approach to dental health, recognizing that the health of the mouth reflects overall health
“What is Oral-Systemic Health?”
Oral-Systemic Health is the connection between oral health and overall health. Countless studies have demonstrated a link between poor oral health and systemic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even pregnancy complications.
“Why does my mouth burn?”
Burning Mouth Syndrome can be due to dry mouth, medications, fungal infection (oral thrush), oral lichen planus, Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12), allergic reactions to foods or products, acid reflux, endocrine disorders such as diabetes or (hypothyroidism), overusing mouthwashes or having too many acidic drinks.
“Why does my tongue have different patterns and colors?”
Geographic Tongue: possible causes such as emotional stress, psychological factors, habits, allergies, diabetes and hormonal disturbances, vitamin deficiencies of zinc, iron, folic acid and B6 and B12.
“I see ads about dental implants and teeth in a day. What are they talking about?”
Same day dental implants usually refer to someone already wearing dentures or that needs to have all their remaining teeth removed. Multiple implants are placed, and temporary dentures are supported on the implants the same day. Healing then takes up to a year before the final teeth are made on the implants.
“Are root canals bad?”
Root canals done well can remove the infected nerve and maintain the tooth longer, however if reinfection or lingering infection occurs, the bacteria can spread and be harmful to other teeth and the body. The root canal sometimes can be redone, but more than likely, the tooth will need to be removed to fully remove the infection.
“Are cavities contagious?”
Tooth decay is a communicable or contagious disease caused by the sharing of cavity causing bacteria. Carbohydrates and sugar are food sources for these bacteria that then produce an acidic byproduct that eats into the tooth causing a cavity. Parents and caregivers that share their saliva with young children, putting them at risk for getting cavities.
“Does the health of my mouth impact the health of my body?”
Absolutely! The health of the mouth impacts the health of the heart, brain, blood sugar levels, systemic inflammation, autoimmune problems, sleep, growth, and development, and so much more.
“Is gum disease the only oral health problem tied to the rest of the body?”
No. There are other oral health conditions which have significant impact and consequence to the rest of the body and your general health. We know that gum disease is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, etc. Other conditions include oral cancer, oral airway, and sleep apnea, TMJ – headaches & migraines, dental decay. These connections between the mouth and the body highlight the importance of good oral health and dental stability in assuring better general health.
“Does diabetes affect my mouth?”
Yes, diabetes and oral health are closely related. Most diabetics are prone to gum disease and have a harder time healing. Gum disease and inflammation in the mouth also make it harder to balance blood sugar and insulin levels. It is particularly important for diabetics to see a dentist more frequently than a healthy individual.
“Why doesn’t dental insurance pay more?”
Dental Insurance works differently than medical insurance. Think of it like a coupon for about $1,000 to $2,000 to use on basic and preventative dental care for the year. Once you have used it up, there is no further benefits for the year. Many people will often pay more in premiums than they actual use. For some, it is better to self-insure or use an HSA to pay for dental care. Unfortunately, dental benefits have not increased in decades with inflation.
“What does it cost to treat gum disease?”
Like most services, the cost of treating gum disease is based upon the time required and the difficulty of the procedures involved. Each person has unique and individualized problems which must be accounted for in determining a proper course of treatment. A proper evaluation will determine the extent of the disease and map out the best course for treatment along with its attendant costs. As usual, costs can be dramatically reduced and controlled by thorough and meticulous control of bacteria biofilms which will promote faster healing and better health maintenance.
“What are the benefits of ozone in the mouth?”
Benefits of Ozone in Dentistry:
- Cavity fighting
- Disrupts bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites in the mouth
- Helps decrease gum disease inflammation and infection
- Decreases tooth sensitivity
- Improves healing after surgery or trauma to tissue
- Improve healing of ulcers and cold sores
“Why is having a dry mouth unhealthy?”
A dry mouth can be due to medications, alcohol-based mouth rinses, acid reflux, autoimmune disorders, hormonal changes, and can increase the risk of gum disease, bleeding of gums, oral sores and irritations, cavities, and bad breath.
“What drinks cause problems in my mouth?”
Beverages that harm teeth are acidic and have sugar. Examples include sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, sparkling water, wine, and vitamin waters.
“Is it normal for my gums to bleed?”
No, bleeding gums is a sign of bacterial invasion, an imbalance of the oral microbiome, infection, gum disease, hormonal imbalances, or autoimmune problems. This is a warming sign that something is wrong and should not be ignored.
“Is bad breath a sign of gum disease?”
Bad breath, or halitosis, happens when bacteria and dead skin cells and other organic debris, decay and putrefy, producing sulfur compounds which give the characteristic bad breath smell. These bad-breath chemicals can cause breakdown of delicate gum tissues allowing bacteria and their toxins to enter the gum tissue easier as well as the body’s circulatory system. Chronic bad breath should always be viewed as a bad sign and a risk factor for tissue breakdown and disease.
“Why is breathing through my mouth bad for my health?”
Mouth-Breathing can lead to a dry mouth, bad breath, cavities, and inflamed or bleeding gums. Kids that mouth breath have a mouth and face that will grow differently than someone that nasal breathes. They are prone to crowding of the teeth and are more likely to have speech disorders and snoring or sleep apnea. Kids that snore need may need early intervention with an ENT and orthodontist and myofunctional or speech therapist. Mouth breathers are prone to seasonal allergies and get sick easier.
“Should I be concerned if I hear my child or partner snoring?”
Snoring is not normal for kids and should be alarming. It is often due to larger tonsils and/or adenoids. Kids that snore often have airway issues and oxygen deprivation during sleep. This can manifest in kids as similar daytime behavior as ADD and ADHD. If your kid snores, ask for a sleep study and have their tonsils examined.
“Does charcoal whiten my teeth?”
Charcoal products have some cleansing and detoxifying properties but can be abrasive and can wear away the protective enamel of teeth. Don’t overuse or use too aggressively. There are better ways to whiten the teeth.
“Can I whiten my teeth if they have tetracycline staining or a dark color?”
Yes, but it is more difficult and takes longer to achieve results. A good whitening system to use is the KOR Deep Bleaching products. We have had good results with our patients using KOR with little to no sensitivity.
“How do Vitamin D levels affect my mouth?”
Vitamin D levels affect many things in the body. Bone strength, immune system, cardiovascular health, energy, teeth, and gum health. We often suspect a low vitamin D level when the gums are bleeding. Make sure this is being tested when you get regular blood work.
“How are digital x-rays safer?”
Digital x-rays or radiographs use a much lower dose of radiation than traditional films. The image quality is also better and can easily be shared with other health care providers.
“Can the bacteria in my mouth hurt my heart health?”
Certain high-risk oral bacteria can put you at a higher risk for a heart attack and stroke. These bacteria also are the cause of gum disease and bleeding gums. We can test the mouth for these heart damaging bacteria and better treat the patient knowing the composition of the bacteria in the mouth.
“Can the bacteria in my mouth impact dementia and Alzheimer’s?”
Yes, certain oral bacteria have been shown to increase the chance of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These bacteria are also the same bacteria seen in gum disease and heart attacks. We can test for these oral bacteria and help the patient reduce the levels in the mouth. This is especially important if there is a family history of dementia.
“What is the oral microbiome?”
The oral microbiome is connected to the gut microbiome since they are both a part of the digestive system. Just like we can have a “leaky gut”, we can have a “leaky mouth”. This means the balance of the bacteria can be off balance and the bad bacteria can leak into the blood supply and spread to other area of the body. Things like a healthy diet, good oral hygiene habits, hydration, and probiotics can help re-balance the environment.
“Can oral health impact gut health?”
Yes, exacerbation of gut inflammation driven by oral organisms that migrate to the gut has important ramifications in emphasizing to patients the critical need to promote oral health as a part of total body health and well-being.
“If I need to have my silver fillings removed, how can that be done in a safer way?”
Yes, a barrier around the tooth can be placed, high speed vacuum to remove particles, oxygen supplementation, a HEPA air filter near the mouth, and charcoal rinses to help absorb mercury.
“Can food sensitivities impact my mouth?”
Yes, we often see food allergies and sensitivities that manifest as symptoms in the mouth. Burning mouth, sloughing, or peeling gums or cheek tissue, patterns on the tongue, ulcers, and redness. A foot sensitivity test, like the FIT Test, that we can perform in the office, can help determine the culprits.
“How can I keep my nose and sinuses healthier?”
The nasal and sinus areas filter allergens and act as a humidifier. It is important to be able to breath through the nose clearly. Chronic sinus infections can cause tooth aches and infection can spread. We like nose rinses that have sterile saline with xylitol and grapeseed extract like XLEAR or colloidal silver sprays to rinse away allergens and kill bacteria and viruses.
“Does genetics play a part in gum health or gum disease?”
Despite their oral regimen, some patients may be more susceptible to gum disease simply by virtue of their genetics. There are tests available which can help determine if you are at risk for developing periodontal disease in your lifetime, and what you can do to treat it.
“Can stress impact the health of my mouth?”
Stress is linked to many disease and periodontal disease is also on that list. Stress makes it more difficult for the body to fight infections and therefore increases the risk for developing inflammatory diseases, like periodontal disease.
“Can medications impact the health of my mouth?”
Yes, some of the oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, heart meds, and other drugs, can affect your oral health. Some drugs, like statins, will also contribute to deplete the body of certain minerals and vitamins. Many medications can also cause a dry mouth and contribute to grinding of teeth.
“Can systemic diseases impact my mouth?”
If you suffer from any inflammatory diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, then you are at high risk for developing gum disease. These systemic diseases, when not controlled, can contribute to the development of periodontal disease because they make it harder for your body to fight off infection and inflammation.
“What can I do at home to protect my oral health?”
Periodontal disease and tooth decay are diseases of bacterial origin. Meticulous oral hygiene, using specific beneficial oral probiotics to repopulate the beneficial bacteria in the oral cavity, and using antibacterial rinses and solutions are steps you can and should take at home. By making good oral health a priority, you can be better assured of a health mouth and of lowered risk factors for developing other general health problems.
Dallas Functional Dentistry
Copyright 2020 Sarah Tevis Poteet, DDS, PA