How Deep Are Your Pockets?
Deep pockets are good if it is your finances. If it is your gums, deep pockets may be hiding things that are bad for your brain. Happy Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month! Today is the longest day, and thank you to the caregivers who are taking care of loved ones who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or brain injuries, every day. I imagine some days may feel very long.
Speaking of memory…
Remember Mad Lib? Let’s play a game:
1. ________________________________1st Silly Name
2. _________________________________Unrealistic Profession
3. _________________________________Super Hero
4. __________________________________Super Villain
5. __________________________________Big Business
The Mad Lib:
Meet our hero ________________________________(1st Silly Name).
A super intelligent, piece of string, AKA dental floss. By day a(n) _________________________________(Unrealistic Profession),
By night, a super hero like _________________________________(Super Hero) fighting gross plaque.
After a nasty run in with super villain, bacteria, P. Gingivalis, code name: __________________________________(Super Villain)
From the planet __________________________________(Big Business).
And the story continues…
We can help our memories last longer! Dental researchers have shown a link between a bacteria found in the mouth and Alzheimer’s. The health or lack of health in the mouth can be an early indicator of diseases in other parts of the body. Many people have heard that flossing your teeth helps increase your life by reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, Sherry, RDH says “we’ve known for a long time about the link between gum health and diabetes.” The dental profession has known, have you?
Those bleeding gums have bacteria in it. The deeper the pocket around the tooth the more the bacteria are likely it will spread to the rest of the body.
How much do people really know?
I recently spoke with one of the mothers my practice. She was considering orthodontic treatment so I requested a period chart from her dentist.
* A periodontal chart measures the depth of the pocket from the gum- tooth junction to the bottom, where the gum is attaches to the tooth.
* She thought that bleeding gums are normal. Bleeding gums is a sign of infection.
* We found out that she had periodontal disease. Taking care of the gums helps stop bone loss and bleeding gums.
* She was told that orthodontics would make her lose her teeth. The dentist or periodontist, along with the orthodontist work together to create the best plan and discuss which teeth have a good prognosis and which teeth are weak. Orthodontic alignment help make things easier to clean.
* If the gum disease is not addressed, the teeth become loose and aren’t strong enough to chew food.
And…good news, after just two weeks of flossing her gums are bleeding less, which means less infection by bacteria. But she isn’t the only one who didn’t know. Did you know that only 30% of the population floss on a daily basis? 37% don’t floss at all. I was really happy when my PA asked if I went to the eye doctor and the dentist. Physicians can make a difference by asking if their patients go to the dentist, and to brush and floss for their brain, their heart, and their toes (diabetes).
My assistants and I were at continuing education class and the take home message was:
The good guy is _______________________ (1st Silly Name) AKA DENTAL FLOSS.
The bad guy is __________________________(Super villain) AKA the bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivilis.
FLOSS YOUR TEETH for yourself, for your loved ones, for those great memories.
If it is your mouth, it is in the rest of your body.
4 mm pockets on more than four teeth with bleeding increases your chance of having Alzheimer’s disease.
Bleeding gums is a sign of infection, so floss more not less
Your dentist or hygienist will let you know where to pay extra attention. It might feel like your dentist and hygienist are scolding you, but they really want to help you. My feeling is…if we don’t tell you then we aren’t helping you have optimal health. We frequently get push back when we are giving recommendations, so I can see why some would stop, we have feelings too, which is one reason why I made the mad lib, to make learning more fun.
You don’t have to resign yourself to bad teeth and bad memory that will affect not just you but your family too. It doesn’t take much time and the earlier children start the flossing habit, the better it is for their health. Also, it’s not too late. Many did not have the opportunity for good care when they were children, are learning new skills for better health right now.