Dental disease can lead to heart attack

Dental caries is the most common bacterial disease of the oral cavity. And although Poles know a lot about dental caries, they know the principles of prevention, there are still many myths about it, and statistics show that unfortunately knowledge is not followed by concrete actions. How to avoid caries? What are the truths and myths about this disease?

– The statistics are alarming. Well over 90 percent of adult Poles have tooth decay. Is it possible to avoid it?

Dentist. Danuta Borczyk: – Almost everyone of us has or had cavities caused by caries, commonly called simply holes in teeth. However visible cavities are a later stage of caries development. In fact, it starts unnoticed. Bacteria in the mouth break down food, resulting in the formation of acids that destroy enamel. First, it becomes porous, calcium compounds precipitate and weaken, micro cavities appear. If we do not take action, the cavities get deeper, and in the final stage of caries even the loss of tooth crown occurs. Yes, the development of caries is favored by our diet rich in sugars, some people have a natural predisposition in the form of weak enamel, but caries can be avoided and it is not extremely complicated for the patient.

It is enough to follow a few rules, the most important of which is proper oral hygiene. We should brush our teeth at least 2-3 times a day. What is important is not so much the quantity as the quality of brushing. A dental hygienist in the office can teach us the proper techniques. Many problems with teeth come from the fact that we do not know how to brush them thoroughly. We also cannot rely on the toothbrush alone. It is important to use dental floss to thoroughly clean the spaces between teeth where bacteria and food debris accumulate, which are an ideal medium for the development of caries. We can clean teeth with dental floss once a day. Do not forget to thoroughly clean the tongue, which also accumulates bacteria. And after a thorough cleaning of teeth and tongue, it is worth to rinse the oral cavity with antibacterial liquid. Not only does it kill the bacteria that brushing didn’t manage to remove, but it also very often has fluoride, which strengthens the enamel. And let’s pay attention to minimize the amount of sugars in our diet, and eat plenty of products rich in calcium.

– Give up sweets completely?

Not necessarily, complex sugars provide us with energy so necessary for life. We can eat practically everything, but on condition that we do not snack between meals and, additionally, that we brush our teeth after each meal. This does not mean, of course, that sweets are not harmful to teeth at all. And what is interesting – toffee candies are more harmful than chocolate because they cover the tooth surface and demineralization of enamel occurs even faster; it is also more difficult to remove possible residues with a toothbrush or floss. In case of eating sweets, it is worth paying attention to our eating habits.

Usually sweets are eaten between meals, often in places where we cannot brush our teeth. Moreover, if we often reach for sweets during the day, we do not give our teeth time to remineralize. Many people claim that e.g. fruit is harmless to our teeth and sweets damage them. But what does it turn out? Chocolate is less harmful than apples, bananas or raisins. And drinking sweetened beverages between meals is just as harmful to our teeth. That is why I recommend replacing sweet juices or sodas with plain mineral water. Carious bacteria find a breeding ground practically everywhere. The best way to enjoy sweets is to eat one dessert e.g. after dinner and then brush your teeth after 15 minutes.

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– Chewing gum after meals instead of brushing – is it true or myth?

If we do not have a possibility at the moment to brush our teeth after a meal we can chew gum to minimize the risk of caries. However, it is important that the gum should not be chewed for longer than 1 or 2 minutes and, of course, the gum should be sugar-free. I recommend chewing gum with xylitol. Why? Xylitol has antibacterial effect, restores proper pH of the oral cavity and increases absorption of calcium. Interestingly, xylitol also inhibits further development of caries and even heals cavities, provided they are small. Xylitol also prevents periodontal disease and periodontitis, increases saliva production, which also neutralizes the acid reaction of the mouth, relieves dry mouth and eliminates unpleasant odor from the mouth. Do not forget that the bacteria that cause caries can easily get into the bloodstream and, consequently, cause heart disease and even lead to a heart attack.

– When and how to treat tooth decay?

The simplest answer to this question is that as soon as possible. Caries is not e.g. an open wound on the body, which will cicatrize and regenerate on its own. The longer we delay with going to the dentist, the more we risk an extensive cavity, the necessity of root canal treatment and, in consequence, even tooth loss. I am not talking about other diseases that can be associated with the occurrence of caries, such as: gingivitis, abscesses, and also – which may seem inconceivable to many patients – heart disease or even a general blood infection. The initial cavities cannot be seen or felt on our own, e.g. with our tongue, therefore we should visit our dentist every six months and then we will find out whether there are new cavities to be treated or whether it is enough to perform only prophylactic hygienization procedures such as scaling, sanding or fluoridation. However, if we have cavities, the dentist will certainly choose an appropriate method of their treatment. Everything depends on the extent of the cavity.

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– Many patients get goose bumps at the thought of drilling. Can you cure tooth decay without drilling?

In the case of very small cavities, we can do without drilling, but it is necessary to get to the dentist’s chair as soon as possible. Nowadays, it is not necessary to use drilling in order to clean the tooth of changed enamel. If the carious changes are early, we can use ozone therapy, which is completely painless. Ozone has strong anti-bacterial properties and penetrates all tooth spaces perfectly, reducing bacteria by 99%. Infiltration treatment is also available, where the tooth is coated with a special resin that penetrates the tooth and heals it. However, these are still not widely used treatments.

– We talk about the causes and treatment of tooth decay. And still in between is prevention. How does it help us protect ourselves from tooth decay?

Poles are careless with prophylaxis. We visit the dentist rarely, usually only when something starts to hurt. Meanwhile, thanks to prophylaxis we are able to protect our teeth against decay. As we know, fluorine and calcium are our allies. Apart from regular fluoridation, sanding or scaling in the dentist’s office, we should not forget about choosing toothpastes with a high fluoride content. However, as I have already mentioned, the most important element is not the choice of toothpaste but the brushing technique, with which so many of us have problems. But let’s not forget that if we take in too much fluoride, stains can appear on our teeth. The key to good health is multi-step: both ongoing oral hygiene, prevention and regular dental visits.

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