June, 2019 Dentistry Newsletter
Birth Control Pills and Your Oral Health
For most women there will be a time in her life where she has to make a decision about birth control. There are a variety of different options and each has its own pros and cons. Of course this is a highly personal choice for each woman with factors such as side effects, cost, availability and convenience all weighing in on which choice to go with. One factor that may not have been a consideration is oral health impact. Few women realize that birth control can have an effect on oral health, but it definitely can.
As a woman’s hormones change at various times in her life such as puberty, menopause or pregnancy, these fluctuations can have an impact on overall health, which includes oral health. Any time that there’s a major hormonal swing it can alter your oral health, this includes the addition of birth control. The biggest impact from birth control is typically felt in the first month of use as your body adjusts to the new influx of hormones. In terms of your oral health this will reflect itself through swollen or bleeding gums. These symptoms can be confusing for some women as they may appear to indicate gum disease. It’s important to see the dentist if you’re unsure what the source of your gum discomfort is.
The good news is that women have options. Many of the birth control pills available today have lower levels of estrogen and progesterone than they did previously. If you want to protect your body from oral health issues, as well as many other health problems found to be linked to increases in hormones, be sure to ask your doctor to prescribe a birth control pill with the lowest effective amount of hormones. This is an especially good idea for women who already have gingivitis as you are more likely to have a problem with gum disease through the introduction of birth control pills.
It’s important to let your dentist know about your birth control pills. It may seem like they’re not connected, but they definitely are. Your dentist will want to watch for dry socket after you have a wisdom tooth pulled as well as monitor you more closely for problems related to blood clotting as both of these are risks associated with birth control pills. Also if the dentist needs to prescribe any medication it’s always critically important that they be made aware of any other medications already being taken to avoid a potentially harmful interaction.
In addition to requesting a low hormone dosage, women can also limit the amount of time that they take birth control to reduce their risk of gum disease. Studies have found that prolonged use of birth control pills increases the risk of gum disease. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting or stopping your birth control pills though. As always, be sure to maintain a proper oral health care regimen to minimize the impact of birth control on your teeth. Get serious about brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups!
How Smoking Affects Your Teeth
Most American’s realize that smoking causes health problems, but still 42 million people in the U.S. continue to smoke. For over 40 years now the American Cancer Society has held their Great American Smokeout to make people aware of the cancer risk associated with smoking by creating a day specifically set aside to encourage people to come up with a plan to quit smoking. The team at Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. is supporting the cause and urging our patients to stop smoking as well. While the most serious potential risk of smoking is lung cancer and oral cancer, there are several other dental problems directly linked to smoking.
Smoking has been proven to increase the risk of gum disease, cause tooth discoloration and bad breath, and increase the loss of bone in the jaw. This increased risk is significant. The American Academy of Periodontology says that tobacco use doubles the risk of developing gum disease and is the biggest reason gum disease progresses to the most serious state. Once gum disease develops, continuing to smoke has also been found to limit the effectiveness of treatment. Quitting smoking is an absolute must when it comes to preventing and treating gum disease.
While smoking causes gum disease, gum disease causes a whole host of other problems. It has been linked to tooth loss, pregnancy complications, Alzheimer’s, stroke, arthritis, heart attack, diabetes and osteoporosis just to name a few. Gum disease is not something to be taken lightly. However quitting smoking can have an immediate impact on your likelihood of developing these complications. If you quit smoking today you can reduce your likelihood of developing gum disease to the same as someone who never smoked, in just a few months. It’s worth it to keep trying to quit smoking until you’re successful.
Your teeth will benefit from stopping smoking as well. In no time at all you’ll see them begin to return to their more natural color, your breath will improve and your gums will look and feel heathier. Plus without needing time to go smoke you’ll have more time for proper brushing and flossing! The benefits to your mouth are virtually endless when you decide to kick the habit. There are many products and services available to help you with ending your smoking habit, visit the American Cancer Society’s website for resources or if you need guidance talk with your dentist at Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. during your next dental exam. We’re here to help you improve your oral health in every way.
Summer Plans…Add a Visit to the Orthodontist
Summer has finally arrived and while you’re children are enjoying time at the pool, playing outside or just NOT being in school, they should also be taking care of some of those things that are harder to do during the school year, such as doctor and dentist appointments. If you’re the parent of an elementary school child you should add a visit to the orthodontist to that “to do” list. The American Academy of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontics consultation for braces by the age of 7! This may seem totally crazy to you as most adults think braces are a middle school or high school issue, but the key to effective dental work is early intervention.
A consultation for braces involves a visit to the orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating bite issues such as over & under bites, teeth crowding, misaligned jaw, and gaps in teeth. The visit is usually pretty straight forward with some discussion with your child, possible x-rays, and then a treatment plan discussion with mom and dad. In some cases the treatment plan is just to continue maintaining good dental practices such as brushing and flossing, but in other scenarios it’s time to start thinking braces or at least annual monitoring.
One thing to keep in mind is that the goal of the orthodontist is more than just to give your child straight teeth and a beautiful smile. He or she is actually helping to prevent larger nutritional or digestion problems that can result from a misaligned jaw as well as prevent more serious dental problems down the road from tooth overcrowding. A beautiful smile is important but a healthy smile is the priority.
Getting your child in early can allow for a treatment plan to be put in place while permanent teeth are still coming in, which can make future treatment shorter and easier for your teen. Keep in mind that it’s never too late to address a problem so if 7 years old has come and gone for your child you should still get that orthodontic consultation done. At any age it’s important to get the treatment started as soon as possible. Call Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. today to get your child’s dental visits scheduled and get them on track to that healthy, adult smile!