Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body

 Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body

 

Once upon a time, it was thought that the mouth was “separate” from the rest of your body, and that problems in the mouth had nothing to do with your general overall health. So if a tooth was infected or it was “rotten”, you’d simply extract the tooth and voila, problem solved! It was believed that the removal of said rotten tooth was a cure for gum disease and the patient was at no further risk. 

We know now that this is definitely not the case. 

Periodontal disease is a complex, chronic inflammatory disease that affects the tissues and bone supporting the teeth.  Scaling with instruments and the use of mouthwashes are typically successful in eliminating the cause of periodontal diseases by disrupting and removing the bacterial colonies.  However, recent studies have shown that these methods are insufficient in halting periodontal disease progression because they don’t take into account the biology of the periodontal tissues and the inflammatory process. 

Research is starting to show that the inflammatory process in one organ can lead to disease in another organ or tissue. There can be communication between distant parts of the body.  Bleeding is a common sign of periodontal inflammation, and every time a periodontal pocket bleeds, bacteria can enter into the blood circulation.  How much bacteria can enter the blood is unknown, but regardless of the number, a healthy immune system can eliminate the bacteria efficiently.  An immune response that is defective can result in the progression of inflammatory diseases as a result of these migrating bacteria. 

There is strong evidence that there is an association between chronic periodontal inflammation and other inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes and rheumatoid arthritis.

One would assume that periodontal disease and Type 2 Diabetes are completely different since they affect different organs, however they share a common element: unresolved inflammation. Recent evidence shows high levels of inflammation in the body resulting from the entry of periodontal bacteria into the blood circulation, which can further connect the impact of periodontal disease on diabetes.

The association between oral infections (mostly periodontitis) and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease has now been supported with significant evidence. There is a significant increased risk for cardiovascular disease in people with periodontitis and the link between both is through inflammation.  A localized area of inflammation (such as in the periodontium) can increase vascular inflammation in the body.  

Why are you afraid of the dentist?

Why are people afraid of the dentist?  The most common reason I hear is that they had a bad experience in the past.  This could have been as a child, with a dentist who perhaps was not as skilled at dealing with nervous children, resulting in a horrible appointment.  There are situations where the fear develops later in life.  This may be from a situation where the dentist was not able to get you “numb” and continued to drill (not certain why I continue to hear this story, but I do). Perhaps the impressions taken made someone feel as if they were choking or suffocating. There are many potential past traumatic experiences that result in the thought of getting back in the dental chair impossible.

At times, the fear and anxiety is not initiated by previous dental treatment.  Unfortunately, I see many people who have been victims of assault.  Lying in the dental chair can make someone feel vulnerable, and this can be very triggering.  

Whatever the cause, the fear can result in the avoidance of dental care. There is often an acute physiological reaction to the dental treatment. The intensity of the adverse reaction may also vary depending on what dental procedure is being done…for example, some people may be fine with a dental scaling, but the thought of hearing a drill in their mouth is anxiety inducing. Many people may be fine with dental fillings, but can’t deal with the idea of having a root canal.  There are people who are unable to sit in the reception area, as the sounds and smells trigger past horrible experiences.  Whatever the cause of the anxiety, the end result is typically the same… “I will get hurt so I best run”

Here at Balmoral Dental Arts, we appreciate how difficult coming to the dentist can be. We are sensitive to the fact that past traumatic experiences may make it very challenging to walk through our door.  We will work with you to make your dental treatment possible.

People who are frightened at the thought of going to the dentist are frequently not understood by friends and family.   Simply being told “get over it” or “suck it up” is simply ridiculous! This can increase shame and as a result, increase anxiety.  They just don’t understand. There are so many people who are afraid of the dentist.

When calling to book an appointment, advise us if you have fear or anxiety about seeing the dentist. We can assist you in making your first dental appointment, perhaps in years.