We live in an age when people have the luxury of being able to research virtually any potential purchase before make it. In many ways, “buyer beware” has been replaced by “buyer be well read.” If you want to, you can spend 5 hours gathering information to aid in your next shoe purchase. You can see the view from your seat before buying a ticket to a basketball game. If you’re shopping for a new body part, that research tends to take on a whole new level of significance. This is more or less the situation when one considers getting a dental implant. Though many people don’t think of it this way, each of our teeth is an individual body part with specific purpose and functionality. Like many other systems in our bodies, the mouth functions most optimally when each of the individual components are in healthy, working condition. Dental implants are different from many other body prosthetics, however. For one thing, they are nearly identical from a functional standpoint to the original body part (whether they are visibly identical to the original tooth depends largely on your choice of implant). Unlike many other body prosthetics, implants are not designed to be removed, refit, or replaced. They also differ from procedures like joint replacements in that much of the hardware being installed can be visible to the patient as well as others. Because so many different factors go into making a good dental implant decision, and due to the somewhat permanent nature of the procedure, researching the various available options is an essential part of the process for any prospective dental implant patient. When exploring one’s tooth replacement options, there are three primary areas of focus to be concerned with. Are Dental Implants the Right Option for Your Particular Situation? Obviously the first step is to determine whether you are a good candidate for an implant to begin with. As we’ve just discussed, there are many things to consider about dental implants. Generally speaking, an implant is the best, longest lasting option for replacing a missing tooth. They can also be an excellent alternative to extensive root canal treatment, which is prone to almost inevitable failure. Implants tend to be stronger, more functional, and more hygienic than bridges and partials. It’s important to ensure that you as the patient have sufficiently healthy gum and bone tissue to support and espouse the implant. Ultimately this is something that your doctor will need to advise you on; more on that in a moment. Thankfully, modern advancements in bone reconstruction and guided bone regeneration have significantly improved the standard of implant care and widened the field of potential implant candidates. With regard to gum tissue, some materials are more conducive to the maintenance of healthy gingiva. What are the Best Implant Materials to Use? While there are myriad options available when it comes to dental implant material, they basically all fall into one of two categories: metal implants and ceramic implants. Metal and alloys were the only option for the first decade or so following the advent of the modern dental implant before ceramic implants began to slowly make their way on to the scene. While titanium is still the most commonly used implant material, titanium implants do carry a higher risk of a plethora of complications. Metal free implants made from zirconia have been used with increasing frequency over the last two decades, and are now widely considered to be the highest standard in dental implant care. This is due primarily to zirconia’s higher rate of biocompatibility in addition to its being an aesthetically superior material. Choosing the Right Doctor for You Carefully choosing your doctor is the most crucial aspect of making this decision. This is of course because the right doctor will be paramount in helping you to make informed decisions on all of the other pertinent factors. Many general practice family dentists offer dental implants as part of their wide range of offered services. As we have discussed here, however, dental implant surgery and treatment entails an exceptionally high number of critical variables; the management of which requires extensive expertise. Finding a doctor whose primary area of focus is implantology will give you the best chance of receiving the best advice and treatment with regard to issues of material choice, implant planning, bone augmentation, and more. Dr. Sammy Noumbissi is one of the country’s foremost experts on pre and post op dental implant care. His office, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, employs the latest techniques and most advanced technology in order to ensure that all of his patients receive the highest standard of care possible. Contact the office today to schedule a free consultation.
Why Get Implants at All?
There are a number of options out there for tooth restoration and replacement. Is an implant really worth the expense and the surgical placement procedure? Actually, you may be surprised at how much trouble can be averted by filling that oral vacancy with a dental implant.
Longevity is something else you should look at in deciding on your tooth restoration. Even well maintained bridges and crowns typically need to be replaced every ten years or so. Plus a natural tooth that acts as a post for a crown is very susceptible to additional decay, making more extensive treatment a likely eventuality.
Perhaps you’re a minimalist. You still have plenty of good teeth left to chew with. Why not just have your problem tooth pulled and carry on with the rest of your life? Before deciding on that course of action, you should understand that empty tooth sockets are an ideal environment to harbor infection. In addition the vacancy in your jaw where the tooth was anchored can be a catalyst for bone deterioration and muscle atrophy. This leads to additional dental and orthodontic complications as well as sagging of the facial features.
One obvious benefit on dental implants is the practical functionality that is unmatched by other form of dental prosthesis. You can eat, kiss and play the kazoo just the same as you did with all of your natural pearly-whites. You don’t have to take them in and out, and there are no new daily maintenance or cleaning regimens to learn.
Concerns Related to Dental Implants
Despite the many virtues of getting dental implants, it is not a procedure to be undergone without proper consideration. There are a number of factors to evaluate when deciding what kind of implant to get, or whether it is a good option for you at all.
The primary concern is that of integration with bone and soft tissue. The act of bonding with the bone is called osseointegration. While the vast majority of dental implants osseointegrate successfully, failed osseointegration can lead to the implant failing or coming out. Integration with the gum tissue is a more common complication.
Dental implants have traditionally been comprised of a porcelain crown that sits atop a titanium abutment. The micro gap that exists between these two pieces can be a source of inflammation to the gums. Furthermore, the porous nature of porcelain and the rough texture of titanium make both materials ideal for plaque to glom on to. There is also evidence that the titanium abutments begin to break down overtime, depositing trace amounts of the metal into your jaw bone. People who are sensitive to the metal are vulnerable to additional complications.
Then there is the issue of aesthetic appeal. As mentioned, porcelain is a porous material. As such it stains rather easily. It is also fairly common for the metallic grey of the titanium to show through the porcelain or even the gum tissue.
Lastly we have the matter of strength. An implant that is too weak has obvious drawbacks; keeping your implant intact is clearly ideal. While it’s important for an implant to be strong, it is also essential that it not be too hard. Porcelain is very capable of causing wear and abrasion to the natural tooth that opposes the implant.
Why Zirconia is the Implant Material of the Future
The vast majority of implants placed by Dr. Noumbissi are comprised of a single piece of zirconia ceramic. Zirconia is a much stronger material than porcelain and nearly as strong as titanium. At the same time, zirconia implants are less abrasive to the natural teeth that they bite against than porcelain is.
The solid piece of tooth-colored zirconia is much more natural looking than the grey titanium abutments. It isn’t a porous material like porcelain is, which means it is not only stronger, but far less susceptible to staining. An added bonus is that the texture of zirconia makes it a much more difficult surface for plaque to adhere to than titanium and porcelain are.
When zirconia implants first came into the market, the primary concern was with osseointegration. Thankfully, new implant technology has made the successful osseointegration of zirconia implants every bit as probable as that of titanium.
Gums attach better to zirconium than to porcelain or titanium, and the gum tissue tends to remain healthier over time. This is due in part to the lack of a micro gap in the the one piece design, but zirconia is simply a more bio-compatible material. You don’t have to worry about metal seeping into your body. Allergies and adverse reactions are much less common also.
Dental implants are a revolutionary technology that has only been available for a few generations. An implant can do wonders for your self image as well as your overall health. It is a major decision however; we’re talking about something that will be a permanent part of you. Thoroughly researching the doctor you use and the materials that go into your body is the most essential step toward ensuring that your implant is successful and effective.
Over the past century, the levels of fluoride in foods purchased at the grocery store have steadily increased due to several factors including; the mass fluoridation of water supplies, the introduction of fluoride-based pesticides and the use of mechanical deboning processes in the meat industry.
One of the biggest problems is produce – both organic and non-organically grown — which is sprayed with pesticides. The newer pesticides contain alarmingly high levels fluoride making the typical North American’s daily consumption about 1.8 milligrams of fluoride — almost twice the amount of fluoride delivered from drinking one liter of fluoridated water. The consumption of non-organic foods is now thought to account for as much as one-third of the average person’s fluoride exposure.
WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?
Early in 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommended that water fluoridation programs should lower the levels added to water from 1 ppm fluoride 0.7 ppm. Although helpful, even this measure clearly does not go far enough to solve the problem, as many children continue to ingest levels of fluoride much higher than is recommended, or considered ‘safe’. When you consider all of the sources of fluoride contamination it isn’t surprising that we are seeing a dramatic increase in dental fluorosis (a tooth defect caused by excess fluoride intake) and a marked rise in cases reported over the past 60 years.
WHERE IS ALL THIS FLUORIDE COMING FROM?
The fluoride-based pesticide called cryolite (a white or colorless mineral made up of fluoride, sodium and aluminum in crystal form) is essentially sodium aluminum fluoride, which is used for its ability to kill produce-loving insects. Cryolite also adheres to produce in a thick layer that effectively ‘seals’ the produce in pesticide and is extremely difficult to remove before consumption. Fresh produce that is temporarily stored in a warehouse environment is also treated with a gas fumigant, used to kill insects and rodents. This fumigant is recognized to leave extremely high levels of fluoride residue “in or on” stored foods.
The naturally occurring levels of fluoride in fruits, vegetables, meat, grain, eggs, milk and fresh water supplies are generally very low (less than 0.1 ppm) with the exception of seafood, tea and deep-well water which all have elevated fluoride levels without human interference. As a general rule, the fluoride level in food increases as a byproduct of the industrial food-making process. This is particularly true in the U.S. where mass water fluoridation programs are in use, since food processors use the public water supply to make their products. The basic rule is more processing equals the more fluoride. Juice that is not made from concentrate will thus have less fluoride than reconstituted juice.
Organic food is less contaminated than non-organic food and a person’s exposure will thus be reduced if they eat more organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Cereals, mechanically deboned meats, and black or green tea are sources to avoid if possible. Mechanically deboned meat is problematic because “most meats that are pulverized into a pulp form (e.g., chicken fingers, chicken nuggets) are made using a mechanical deboning processes. This mechanical deboning process increases the quantity of fluoride-laden bone particles in the meat. As a result, research has found that mechanically deboned meat contains higher levels of fluoride” (The Fluoride Action Network, http://www.fluoridealert.org/content/chicken/), which is then transferred to the consumer’s dinner table. Black and green teas are naturally high in fluoride regardless of whether they are grown organically without pesticides due to how the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system.
WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT FLUORIDE?
Recent studies have shown that hydrofluorosilicic acid levels in the body increases lead accumulation in bone, teeth and other calcium dependent tissues. This happens when the free fluoride ion acts as a transport of heavy metals, allowing them to enter into the soft tissues where they normally would not be able to go, including sensitive organs such as the brain.
In terms of acute toxicity (the amount that can cause immediate toxic consequences), fluoride is more toxic than lead but slightly less toxic than arsenic – which explains why fluoride has long been used in rodenticides and pesticides. It is also the reason accidents involving over-ingestion of fluoridated dental products including fluoridated gels, supplements and water can cause serious poisoning even leading up to death. There are reports of people who have in fact developed crippling skeletal fluorosis – a bone disease caused by excessive consumption of fluoride — from drinking high amounts of iced tea alone.
According to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as a discoloration of the teeth known as dental fluorosis. It has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including;
- bone fragility,
- glucose intolerance,
- gastrointestinal distress,
- thyroid disease,
- cardiovascular disease
- certain types of cancer
People who are at highest risk to fluoride include infants, individuals with kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), and individuals with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.
Fluoride also has the ability to stimulate the harmful effects of other chemicals and heavy metals in the environment, potentially making them even more harmful than they would be otherwise. For example, when you combine chloramines with the hydrofluorosilicic acid, the combination becomes very effective at extracting lead from old plumbing systems, promoting the accumulation of lead in the water supply – water which is then consumed by animals and humans alike.
Brushing our teeth is an exercise in self-care that most of us do at least twice a day but there is also something we seldom consider; the health of that toothbrush. It might shock you to realize that literally millions of microorganisms (bacteria) live on the bristles of your personal toothbrush. That comes down to millions of microscopic bugs that can potentially cause flu, colds and other illnesses.
Recent studies have confirmed that oral health is connected with overall healthfulness. For example, there is a strong correlation between heart disease, diabetes, premature delivery in pregnant women, and strokes; and gum disease. Researchers discovered there are upwards of 10 million bacteria live on the typical toothbrush and we know that tooth decay is also caused by the type of bacteria that can survive on toothbrushes.
Studies have proven that cold and flu viruses and even the viruses that cause fever blisters (Herpes Simplex I) can survive on toothbrushes for several days – infecting and re-infecting the unsuspecting owner of that toothbrush. Here are just a few viruses that thrive on toothbrushes and some of the problems they can cause:
- E. Coli: bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal pain and tenderness with no fever
- Influenza Virus: fever, cough, headache and fatigue, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea
- Staphylococci Bacteria: abscesses, boils, and skin infections
- Herpes Simplex I: can affect the mouth, face and skin and can be present in the body without symptoms, generally causes recurring and painful blisters (cold sores or fever blisters)
- Candida Albicans: mild nasal congestion, blisters in the mouth, sore throat or abdominal pain, and/or fatigue, dizziness and mood swings
- Coliform Bacteria: usually present along other disease-causing bacteria and organisms
Some researchers also discovered bio-film thriving on toothbrushes, which is living colonies of breeding bacteria, with estimated numbers as high as 100 million microorganisms existing on individual brushes.
PROTECTING YOUR TOOTHBRUSH
Surprisingly, it isn’t the bacteria from your mouth that contributes to the worst bacterial problems on a toothbrush, it’s the fact that most people store their toothbrush unprotected in the open, on
the bathroom counter top. By far, flushing the toilet is the worst culprit for germs found on most toothbrushes. Every time you flush the toilet invisible jets of water propels germs into the air, where they can land on toothbrushes.
Family toothbrushes stored side-by-side only compound the risk of sharing germs and viruses. Bacteria, molds, and fungi love moist environments provided by most bathrooms and they also love dark enclosed spaces, so storing toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet may not be as ideal as you might think.
While most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every couple of months, most American’s aren’t likely to change their toothbrushes more than twice a year. Here are some steps you can take to keep your toothbrush germ free:
Storage: Store toothbrushes away from the toilet in a cool, dry place.
Rinse well: Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
Dry it after use: Dry your toothbrush thoroughly between brushings and avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
Store it upright. Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
Keep it to yourself: Never share a toothbrush and avoid storing it side-by-side in the same container with other people’s brushes.
Ultraviolet Light: Studies indicate that ultraviolet light can be effective in killing germs on toothbrushes and are able to kill many of the bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. A study conducted at New York University Medical Center on countertop ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizers found that this device eliminated up to 99.9 percent of bacteria tested on toothbrushes.
Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse: Cheaper than an ultraviolet device and a measure perhaps just as effective could be the practice of rinsing your toothbrush after each use with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is antibacterial, antifungal, kills mold and mildew and when used properly, it is non-toxic for humans, plants, household animals.
Best practice: keep it clean and keep on brushing
Now that you know how to keep your toothbrush truly clean and germ free as a way to protect yourself and your family from harmful bacteria, it is also important to choose a brush that will do the work of keeping your teeth clean without harming the delicate surface of the tooth or gums. Choose a brush with soft or medium bristles, as they are gentler on the gums and may actually clean better because they’re more flexible. Brush twice a day, at least two minutes each time and rinse your mouth after sugary or starchy snacks. Replace your toothbrush frequently. These practices combined with visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings will help to ensure that you have a lifelong healthy smile.
There is good news for folks who remain loyal to the recommended annual visit to the dental hygienist; A recent study from Taiwan suggests that people who routinely get their teeth cleaned (undergo professional tooth scaling) have as much as 24 percent lower risk of heart attacks and 13 percent lower risk of stroke, than those who never actually visit the hygienist. Researchers have also concluded from a similar Swedish study that harmful oral flora is an excellent predictor of heart attack and stroke.
The effects of oral health on overall healthfulness have been the subject of scientific studies for quite some time, and this new research provides added proof that patients who receive regular dental care and follow recommended oral hygiene regimens can successfully reduce their risk of both heart attack and stroke.
The study from Taiwan followed 100,000 participants over a 7-year period, most of whom submitted to professional teeth cleaning at least twice or more in two years; and at least once or less in two years. About half of the adults underwent full or partial tooth scaling while the other half matched with gender and health conditions from the test group but had no tooth scaling.
Although researchers did not adjust for potential heart attack and stroke risk factors prior to the study none of the participants reported a history of heart attack or stroke.
Emily (Zu-Yin) Chen, M.D., cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan concluded from the study that protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who received tooth scaling at least once a year. In other words, clinical oral health care—tooth scaling—reduces bacterial growth that can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions.
In a separate study coming from Sweden, researchers discovered that the value of markers for gum disease predict heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke in different ways and in slightly different degrees. Anders Holmlund, D.D.S., Ph.D. Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, Sweden, and senior consultant; Specialized Dentistry, studied 7,999 participants with periodontal disease and found people with:
- Fewer than 21 teeth had a 69 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the most teeth.
- A higher number of deepened periodontal pockets (infection of the gum around the base of the tooth) had a 53 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the fewest pockets.
- The least amount of teeth had a 2.5 increased risk of congestive heart failure compared to those with the most teeth.
- The highest incidence of gum bleeding had a 2.1 increased risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest incidence.
These studies highlight the importance of educating patients about oral health to stress the potential impact periodontal disease can have on overall healthfulness. Unfortunately many adults develop some type of periodontal disease due to a lack of daily brushing and flossing, and all too infrequent visits to the dental hygienist. Routine teeth cleaning will help avoid periodontal disease, and ultimately can help to prevent heart attack and stokes.
The biggest culprit in tooth decay today is sugars found in processed foods, candy, soft drinks, sweetened juices, and others foodstuff. Fructose, lactose, and glucose are all sugars that cause a rapid production of acid and the resulting destruction of teeth enamel, leading to tooth decay. The carbohydrates in sugars cause bacteria to grow rapidly, breaking down the body’s natural ability to resist attack. Research is indicating that even if you brush all of the offending sugars away from your teeth, just the simple act of eating these kinds of foods can increase the likelihood that your teeth will decay.
Cavities are formed when bacteria feed upon food particles that cling to the teeth or become stuck in crevices or grooves on the surface of teeth. In particular, the bacteria that are responsible for cavities love carbohydrates. As they feed, the bacteria secrete acid that compromises the integrity of the enamel which normally helps to protect teeth. The rate of secretion depends upon the type of carbohydrate that the bacteria are feeding upon – in other words, some sugars are worse than others.
To compound the problem, research conducted on lab rats at Loma Linda University has indicated that there is a definite relationship between what kind of food we eat and our ability to maintain good oral health, regardless of how well we brush and floss. In that study Dr. Ralph Steinman injected rats with a glucose solution so that the sugars introduced into the system would avoid contact with the teeth entirely. He found that glucose levels reversed the normal flow of fluid in the dentin tubules, resulting in all of the test animals developing severe tooth decay. Although animal studies may not be entirely applicable to the human situation, the results clearly point to a need to take a closer look at how nutrition can impact oral health.
THE BIGGER PICTURE ON CAVITY PREVENTION
Good oral health is not just about limiting sugar as a way to avoid cavities. It’s also about learning how key nutrients such as minerals, antioxidants and vitamins can support strong teeth, healthy gums and bone. One supplement that is showing good results at reducing the risk of cavities is vitamin D. Vitamin D induces the production of naturally occurring enzymes called cathelicidin and defensins in the mouth, enzymes that support available antibacterial properties in the saliva. Together these emzymes create a powerful antimicrobial peptide or protein which attacks oral bacteria known to cause cavities and tooth decay.
To take it to the next level, vitamin D taken in combination with a calcium supplement is proving to be a powerful blend of supplements that can prevent cavities. Not only is vitamin D naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, but it comes with no side effects (unlike fluoride) – particularly when activated naturally though exposures to sunlight and/or as long as proper dosages are followed when using supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include: shiitake and button mushrooms, mackerel and salmon, herring, tuna, catfish and eggs – among others – while green leafy vegetables are a good source for calcium – and calcium we already know it is necessary for bone health.
RESTORING HEALTH TO TEETH & GUMS
It is possible to change the course of tooth decay and increase oral healthfulness by maintaining good oral hygiene, adopting a routine of good nutrition and taking supplements aimed at increasing the health of teeth and gums. With just a little effort, it is also possible to strengthen and restore the teeth to perfect health.
People tend to think that teeth are something other than living organs – which is what they actually are. Having an understanding that teeth are alive gives us a chance to rethink how we treat our teeth, and points to the role nutrition can have on teeth and gums. Teeth are nourished both through the bloodstream as it flows into the root to the tooth’s pulp chamber and from saliva and food as it passes through the mouth. Therefore, it is vitally important to nourish the whole body in a manner that allows the blood to be rich in all elements the teeth require to maintain optimal healthfulness.
A healthy diet and body helps to ensure that the saliva will be high in calcium and phosphate. Through this process the daily deterioration caused by chewing and eating acidic foods, commonly called ‘demineralisation’ will be reduced by constant remineralization via healthy saliva balanced in the proper pH range and naturally filled with the necessary and important minerals. In other words, in addition to healthy supply of minerals provided by the bloodstream to the pulp of the tooth — inside the mouth the quality of saliva is of crucial importance in the prevention of tooth cavities since it is this medium which bathes and carries nutrition to teeth.
YOUR HEALTHY MOUTH
Recommended for healthy teeth: Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables (for vitamins A and C), filtered water and tea
Not recommended for healthy teeth: sticky foods that lodge between the teeth, snacking between meals, sweet drinks and snacks, acidic drinks
Natural dentistry has long believed that by maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and using vitamin supplements a person can prevent, if not cure, tooth and gum disease. The best way to ensure that your teeth will be healthy for your whole life is to adopt a healthy eating plan, take supplements if you need to, and most importantly continue to practice good oral care and hygiene, which should include having your teeth professionally cleaned and seeing your dentist regularly.