Category Archives: Senior Oral Health

Suffering From Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) is caused by a decrease in the amount of saliva in the mouth when the salivary glands do not work properly. The salivary glands help keep your mouth moist, which helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. Saliva helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria, provides enzymes to help digest food, protects teeth from decay by neutralizing harmful acids and keeps oral tissues healthy. Without saliva you would lose your teeth much faster

Dry mouthWhat causes Dry Mouth?
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most common cause. There are over 400 medications that can cause it, but the most common culprits are antihypertensives, antidepressants, painkillers, tranquilizers, diuretics and antihistamines. It can also happen when you are under stress or be a sign of a serious health condition. Other causes include radiation therapy and chemotherapy or diseases such as AIDS, diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome.

Dry mouth can cause several problems including difficulty in tasting, chewing or swallowing. It also allows plaque to build up on your teeth faster leading to a high risk of cavities. It can also lead to bad breath, ulceration or soreness of the mouth, gum disease and difficulty in wearing dentures.

How do I treat dry mouth?Dry mouth relief
Many treatments can help ease the symptoms of dry mouth, including over-the-counter saliva substitutes. Remember to brush and floss twice a day. You may also chew sugar-free gum. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine, smoking, acidic juices, dry foods, and overly salty foods. Drink plenty of water and maintain regular dental visits.

Forgot to Floss? It’s Not Too Late!

You know you need to floss everyday…but you forgot the last week. So why bother flossing now?

Flossing techniquesFlossing daily helps control tartar build-up on your teeth. Plaque is continually developing on your teeth which causes cavities and gum disease. By flossing you remove the colonies of bacteria and germs so they don’t accumulate quite so long. Even flossing two or three times a week helps. So it’s never too late to start flossing.

No time to floss? It doesn’t have to be right before bed. You can floss in the morning, or anytime during the day. Keep the floss by your favorite chair so you can do it when watching TV. It’s more important to do it, rather than what time of day it is done.

The proper technique for flossing is important also. Make sure to form a “c” around your tooth and bring the floss up and down on the sides of the teeth, not just between the teeth. Do your gums bleed when you floss? By using the “c” technique, you will prevent the floss from cutting the gums. The bleeding may also be caused by inflammation from the accumulated bacteria. It should go away within a week or two of regular flossing.Plastic floss holder

Everyone, including kids should floss.  Does arthritis or a lack of dexterity keep you from flossing? Try using a plastic floss holder.  Do you have a bridge or braces?  Use a floss threader.  Just keep on flossing!

Common Habits Can Chip your Teeth!

Woman biting her nailsThough enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it can be damaged.   Using your teeth to open bottles, tear tape, open packages or biting fishing lines can chip your teeth.  Biting your nails or chewing on pencils can also damage your teeth.

Woman opening a package wih her teeth

 

Beware of chomping on seeds, popcorn kernels or even ice.   Your teeth are for chewing food. They are not tools.

 

Woman opening a bottle with her teeth

 

So the next time you hear your mom say “don’t use your teeth to open the bottle,” thank her for the reminder.

Dentures – Are they Efficient?

What is a denture?

DenturesA denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjoining tissues.  Complete dentures replace all of the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from shifting position.  Complete dentures are either “conventional” or “immediate.”  A conventional denture is placed in the mouth after all of the teeth have been removed and the extraction sites have healed.  An immediate denture is placed as soon as the teeth are removed.

Who needs a denture?

Did you know that the chewing efficiency for people with dentures is Old man no teethapproximately 30% from those with all their teeth?  Candidates for complete dentures have lost most or all of their teeth.  So the efficiency has gone from 0% with no teeth to 30% with dentures. 

A partial denture is suitable for those who have some natural teeth remaining. A denture improves chewing ability and speech, and provides support for facial muscles.  A denture can greatly enhance a patient’s facial appearance and smile.

How do you get a denture?

Wax try inThe denture process takes about one month.  There are usually five or more appointments needed to complete the process. The process includes the initial diagnosis; the making of an impression and wax bite to determine the dimensions and proper jaw position; a “try-in” to assure proper color, shape, and fit; placement of the final denture; and any minor adjustments. New denture wearers need time to get accustomed to their new “teeth,” Soft foodbecause even the best-fitting dentures will feel awkward at first. Your normal speaking ability usually resumes shortly after final denture placement.  In addition, in order to become accustomed to chewing with the new denture, it is often recommended that you start with soft, easy-to-chew foods.  To ensure proper fit, see Dr. Marinic on a regular basis.

How do you care for a denture?

  • Remove and brush the denture daily with a denture cleanser or toothpaste and a brush designed specifically for cleaning dentures.
  • Avoid using boiling water to sterilize the denture, because hot water can cause the denture to lose its shape.
  • If you wear a partial denture, remove it before brushing your natural teeth.
  • When you’re not wearing the denture, soak it in denture cleanser or water.
  • To avoid misplacing your denture, store it in the same place after removal.

Should a denture be worn at night?

While you may be advised to wear your denture almost continually during the first two weeks—even while you sleep—under normal Dentures in glasscircumstances, it is considered best to remove it at night.  Research has shown that removing the denture for at least eight hours during either the day or night allows the gum tissue to rest, and permits for normal stimulation and cleansing of the mouth by the tongue and saliva. This promotes better long-term health of the gums.

Are there any alternatives to dentures?

Dentures are no longer the only way to restore a mouth that has little or noimplant-overdenture teeth.  Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place.  Implants and bridges may more closely resemble the “feel” of real teeth, but they tend to be more expensive than dentures.  The chewing efficiency for implant retained dentures goes up to 60% and for implant supported dentures up to 90%.  Not everyone is a candidate for implants and bridges, however.  Talk to Dr. Marinic to learn more.

Cardiovascular Disease and Your Oral Health

Large group of peopleCardiovascular disease is a class of disease that affects the heart and/or blood vessels.  It is estimated that more than 80 million people in the United States have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease.  These forms include

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease (acute heart attack and angina pectoris)
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure

Studies have shown that there is a link between cardiovascular disease andImage gum disease periodontal (gum) disease, the chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue.  Forms of gum disease, such as gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (bone loss), can be indicators for cardiovascular problems, which is why it is important for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease to visit Dr. Marinic on a regular basis, practice good oral hygiene, and keep Dr. Marinic informed of any oral and overall health issues.

How are periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease connected?

circulatory systemIt has been suggested that the inflammatory proteins and bacteria associated with gum disease enter a person’s bloodstream and can cause various effects on the cardiovascular system.  A study published in the February 2005 issue of Circulation examined the presence of the bacteria known to cause periodontitis and the thickening of the blood vessel wall typically seen in heart disease.  After examining samples from more than 650 participants, the investigators concluded that the presence of the same bacteria known to cause periodontitis was associated with an increased level of blood vessel thickening.

What can I do to keep my gums and heart healthy?Woman brushing teeth

Practicing proper oral hygiene is essential to maintaining healthy gums.  This includes flossing regularly, brushing twice a day with antibacterial toothpaste, and visiting Dr. Marinic at least every six months.  A healthy diet and regular exercise can help improve both your cardiovascular health and your overall health.

What do my physician and Dr. Marinic need to know?

Pill bottlesIt is important to keep all medical professionals up-to-date on your oral and overall health issues.  Inform your physician if you have been diagnosed with a form of periodontal disease or are experiencing any issues with gum inflammation.

Likewise, inform Dr. Marinic if you have been diagnosed with any form of cardiovascular disease, have experienced any cardiovascular problems, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease.

What other risk factors are associated with cardiovascular disease?

Individuals who are most at risk for cardiovascular disease include:

  • People over the age of 65
  • African-Americans
  • Hispanics
  • Males

While these particular factors cannot be changed, there are some risk factors that you can change through lifestyle management and/or medical treatment to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include:

  • Smokingsitting on couch
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress

If you have any questions, be sure to ask Dr. Marinic or your physician.

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Child and mom looking at eachotherIt is estimated that up to 20 million people have diabetes, but only two-thirds of these individuals are diagnosed.  Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease than those who do not have diabetes.  This relationship causes great concern because serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood sugar control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.  That’s why it’s important for people with diabetes to visit Dr. Marinic on a regular basis and to keep him up to date on the status of the diabetic’s oral and overall health.

How are gum disease and diabetes related?Tooth erosion

Because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are at risk for gingivitis, a reversible form of gum disease usually caused by the presence of bacteria.  These bacteria produce toxins that create a sticky film that accumulates on teeth, both above and below the gum line, leading to inflammation.  If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, an irreversible destruction of the tissues that surround and support the teeth.

ThrushWhat other problems are associated with diabetes?

Other oral problems associated with diabetes include thrush (candidiasis), an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth, which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and cavities.  To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, Dr. Marinic may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses and more frequent cleanings.

How can I stay healthy?

ToothpasteBrush your teeth with an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride and rinse with antimicrobial mouthwash at least two times a day.  People with diabetes who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance of avoiding gum disease.

To improve their quality of life and their oralTesting for diabetes health, people with diabetes need to pay close attention to diet and exercise. People with diabetes should be sure that both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status.

To keep teeth and gums strong, those with diabetes should be aware of their blood sugar levels in addition to having their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.

What is the best time to receive dental care?

Waking upIf your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both Dr. Marinic and physician about receiving elective dental care.  Types of dental procedures and appointment length are dependent on the level of diabetic control.  Try to schedule morning appointments because blood glucose levels tend to be more stable at this time of day.  If you have a scheduled appointment, eat and take your medications as directed.  See Dr. Marinic on a regular basis and keep him informed of your health status,

Dental Plaque – The Enemy to Our Teeth

Infant smilingIt’s important to keep you and your children’s teeth clean and healthy, and you can help do this by teaching them how to reduce the amount of plaque on their teeth.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria-containing film that accumulates on teeth, plaque on teethespecially in places where toothbrushes can’t reach.  Many of the foods that we eat cause the bacteria in the mouth to produce acids.  Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also can cause acids to form.

How does plaque affect the mouth?

Image of plaque on gumsPlaque produces bacteria that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding.  Consistent plaque buildup can cause tooth enamel to wear away, which will result in cavities.  Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth eventually can harden into calculus or tartar.  This makes it more difficult to keep the teeth clean.

When tartar collects above the gumline, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed easily.  This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.  You can prevent plaque buildup and keep teeth cavity-free by regularly visiting Dr. Marinic, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and cleaning between the teeth with dental floss daily.

How can I reduce the plaque on my teeth and my child’s teeth?

The best way to remove plaque is by teaching your child to brush his or herParent and child brushing teeth teeth, just like you do, for at least two minutes twice per day.  Brushing removes the plaque from tooth surfaces.  Be sure to show your child how to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and instruct them to use a proper circular motion when brushing teeth and gums.  Make sure to teach your child to brush the tongue as well; this removes bacteria and freshens breath.

Mother and child flossing togetherYou can teach your child to remove plaque from between his or her teeth by using floss once a day.  Start flossing between your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch each other (after 1 year old).  Your child should continue to floss as they grow older so that it becomes part of their oral hygiene routine.  In addition to brushing, daily flossing is essential for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

How can my child and I maintain good oral hygiene?

Lead by example and practice good oral hygiene yourself!

Teach your child about the importance of good oral hygiene, and be sure that you and your child brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice per day.  In addition to brushing, you and your child should floss at least once per day.

Further, be sure that you and your child go to Dr. Marinic’s dental office for cleanings and checkups.  Getting you and your child’s teeth cleaned regularly can help prevent gum disease, remove tartar and plaque buildup, and eliminate stains that regular brushing and flossing can’t.  Dr. Marinic also can examine you and your child’s entire mouth and detect issues early—before they become bigger, more painful problems.

Senior Oral Health Care

Seniors smilingProper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement.  Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.

What problems should I watch for?Image gum disease

Most people don’t realize how important it is to take care of their gums.  Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush.  If you have any of these symptoms, see Dr. Marinic at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.

Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease.  In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth.  In the worst caseswollen gums from gum diseases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone.  This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis.  If regular oral care is too difficult, Dr. Marinic can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.

Should I be concerned about dry mouth?Water and faucet

Dry mouth happens when salivary glands fail to work due to disease, changes in medication, certain medications or cancer treatment.  This makes it hard to eat, swallow, taste and speak.  Drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are some ways to fight dry mouth.

Dr. Marinic talking to patientHow can I maintain my overall health?

Studies have shown maintaining a healthy mouth can keep your body healthier and help you avoid diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Keep Dr. Marinic informed of any changes or updates in your medical history to help prevent potentially harmful drug interactions or health conditions.  The best way to achieve good oral health is to visit Dr. Marinic for professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year.

What if it’s too difficult to brush?Large handle toothbrush

If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss.  Ask Dr. Marinic for ways to overcome this problem.  Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers.  Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle.  These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age.  See Dr. Marinic imOral cancermediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue.  Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily.  Dr. Marinic can perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.

Sleep Apnea – Do You Suffer?

What is sleep apnea?

Man sleepingSleep apnea is a serious, potentially life threatening sleep disorder that affects approximately 18 million Americans.  It owes its name to the Greek word apnea (meaning “want of breath”) and refers to episodes in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep.  With each episode, the sleeper’s brain briefly wakes up in order to resume breathing, resulting in extremely fragmented and poor-quality sleep.  If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea or if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Marinic can work closely with your physician to implement and manage a prescribed therapy.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

There are two major types of sleep apnea, both of which can severely disrupt the regular sleep cycle.

  • Obstructive apnea:  As you sleep, the muscles in the walls of your throat relax to the point where the airway collapses and prevents air from flowing into your nose and mouth, but efforts to breathe continue.  This is the most common type of apnea.
  • Central apnea:  Breathing interruptions during sleep are caused by problems with the brain mechanisms that control breathing.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

People with sleep apnea usually do not remember waking up during the night.  Indications of the problem may include:Woman with headache

  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning
  • Excessive snoring, choking, or gasping during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat

What’s the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Couple one snoringUnlike mild snoring, individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, typically between 10 and 60 times in a single night.  If your partner hears loud snoring punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.

Why is sleep apnea a concern?

Studies have shown that people with this potentially life-threatening disorderWoman sleeping on computer are so fatigued during the day that, when driving, their performance is similar to that of a drunk driver. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart attack, and even stroke.

How can my dentist help?

If your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea, he or she will refer you to a physician, often a sleep medicine specialist. Diagnosis and treatment is based on your medical history, physical examination, and the results of a polysomnography – an overnight sleep study, which measures heart rate and how many times breathing is interrupted during sleep.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with your physician to implement and manage your therapy.

What are the treatment options?

If you have mild obstructive sleep apnea, initial treatment may include avoiding sleeping on your back, losing weight, or cessation of smoking. Dental appliances, such as the Thornton Adjustable Positioner ® (TAP®), which reposition the lower jaw and the tongue, have been helpful to some patients with mild sleep apnea.

If you have severe sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems are a commonly prescribed therapy. CPAP delivers air through a small mask that covers the nose, and the constant pressure keeps the airway open, which prevents both snoring and episodes of apnea. For patients who have trouble tolerating CPAP, other treatments, including surgery, can eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.