Jim Erpenbach DDS

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What Can Fluoride Do for You?

Most people know that brushing and flossing are essential steps to take in order to have healthy teeth and gums. But brushing and flossing are not the only way to protect dental health. Many dentists offer fluoride treatments as an extra protection for their patients to help fortify their teeth against bacteria and tooth decay.

Cavities and tooth decay occur as a result of bacteria that form around the teeth and gums. These bacteria live in dental plaque, the clear sticky biofilm that covers the teeth and gums. These bacteria produce acid that destroys tooth enamel over time. This process is called demineralization. Plaque can be brushed and flossed away, but when patients do not routinely brush or floss, bacteria are able to feed and flourish as a result of food particles left behind in the teeth. The more bacteria, the more acid they produce. The more acid present means an increased risk of damage to the teeth.

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Skipping Your Dental Check Up? You Just Increased Your Risk of Pneumonia.

It is well-known that there is a link between oral health and cardiovascular health. But there’s also another proven health link between oral health and pulmonary health. Specifically, between the health of the mouth and a patient’s risk of developing pneumonia. A 2016 study performed by the Infections Diseases Society of America suggests that visiting the dentist twice a year may prevent the occurrence of bacterial pneumonia infections by reducing bacteria in the mouth.

Pneumonia is an infection in the lung that inflames the alveoli, or the air sacs of the lungs. The alveoli are important to the lungs because that is where the gasses of breathing are exchanged; oxygen is converted to carbon dioxide. Pneumonia can cause one or both of the lungs to fill with fluid. This fluid blocks this important gas exchange and makes breathing difficult. Over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with pneumonia each year, of which roughly 50,000 of those diagnosed die. Pneumonia can affect patients of all ages but is more likely to be deadly in patients that are very young or very old, and in patients with chronic health conditions like lung disease or autoimmune disorders.

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Possible Vaccine Against Periodontitis in the Works

Chicken pox? There’s a vaccine for that. Flu? That, too. Even shingles? Yep, shingles. There are many vaccines on the market, and new vaccines being developed to fight off different diseases every year. Currently, a new vaccine is being developed to fight a very common, but yet hard to treat disease. This disease is periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease that can cause bone loss and has severe health consequences for its sufferers. Scientists at the University of Melbourne are currently researching and refining a vaccine against periodontitis, in hopes to eliminate the disease, or at least change the way it is treated.

Periodontitis is usually diagnosed during a dental checkup, when during an examination, it is discovered that pockets have developed along the gum line. The pockets are deeper than 3 millimeters and are the perfect place for bacteria to live and flourish. It can impact the mouth in different ways, and some patient’s see infections in just one quadrant of the mouth, while others experience an infection in their entire mouth. The disease causes swelling, redness, severe bad breath, and bleeding of the gums, which can make eating, drinking and even brushing the teeth painful. If the condition is severe, painful abscesses can develop and put the patient’s health at risk through infection, inflammation, and even malnutrition if the eating becomes too painful. Periodontitis can even impact dental implants and dentures.

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Gum Care and the Oral-Systemic Link

September is National Gum Care Month. This event typically comes and goes without much fanfare for the average American, but many dentists recognize it is a chance to bring awareness to gum health and gum disease prevention. Some of these dentists recognize National Gum Care Month as an even greater opportunity to educate patients on how gum health impacts their overall health.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, over 90 percent of American adults suffer from gum disease. The most common form of gum disease is gingivitis; inflammation and irritation of the gums caused by bacteria trapped in the mouth when plaque builds up. Gingivitis causes gums to hurt and bleed, and bleeding gums are a gateway for serious infections.

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Protect Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

For many women, pregnancy means a lot of appointments. Checkups are necessary to ensure mother and baby are in good health, test blood sugar, and genetics and include ultrasounds, too. Pregnancy also means patients should make another appointment - with their dentist.

Pregnant women should make routine trips to the dentist a part of their prenatal care plan because pregnancy has a significant impact on a woman’s dental health. 50 percent of women experience periodontal disease during their pregnancy. This is because of the hormonal changes in the body brought on by pregnancy. This can trigger tooth decay, gingivitis, and tooth loss. If left untreated these conditions lead to infections that cause complications during pregnancy that impact both mother and child.

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