Archive for the 'dental' Category

What is the most common children’s chronic infectious disease?

It’s tooth decay. While there has been much improvement in the oral health of America’s children during the last quarter of the 20th century, this improvement has not reached the 1 in 4 children who are born into poverty. These children and adolescents have twice the tooth decay as other children AND it is unlikely to be treated.


Untreated tooth decay and other oral diseases, such as gum disease, lead to chronic pain and difficulty eating.  And, remember, chronic inflammation and poor oral health has been linked to heart disease.


What can be done to protect children’s oral health, especially in today’s difficult economy?


  • Good oral health begins in the womb, when teeth are forming.  Every pregnant woman should have prenatal care, beginning during the first three months of pregnancy. Use every means available to eat healthy food and take the supplements prescribed by your healthcare provider. Apply for WIC You are not alone and you are investing in your baby’s future.


  • After the baby is born, continue with a healthy diet and supplements, especially if you are breast feeding. You are investing in your baby’s future.


  • As soon as the baby’s teeth begin coming in, wipe down the teeth with a damp cloth twice a day. DO NOT put anything but plain water in the baby’s bottle at naptime or bedtime. Milk, formula or sugar water will remain in the baby’s mouth and encourage tooth decay.


  • Begin brushing your baby’s teeth at around two years old. Use very little toothpaste (about the size of a pea), especially if you are using a fluoride toothpaste.


  • Take your baby and children for regular check-ups and ask your healthcare provider about oral care. You are investing in your baby’s future.


February is Children’s Dental Health Month. 

For more information access


Floss to Prevent Heart Disease

That’s right. It’s not just what you put into your mouth that counts. How you take care of it is also important. There is increasing evidence linking dental and gum disease with heart disease, stroke and overall health.

This isn’t strictly news. The evidence for this link has been around for at least three years. In 2006 I wrote a newsletter issue on heart disease. In that issue I referred to this link. What is news is that the link has been studied further and the evidence continues to mount.

In a March, 2008 article by Victoria Elliot in the American Medical Association online news, a plea was made for increased attention to oral health by physicians. Today the American Health Association published an online article on inflammation, heart disease and stroke.

How does inflammation, particularly gum inflammation, affect the heart?

Studies are finding that inflammation plays an important part in the development of atherosclerosis, that fatty buildup which narrows arteries. Some studies indicate that an infection may even cause atherosclerosis. It’s hypothesized that bacteria from diseased gums (or other chronically infected areas) enters the blood stream and begins a generalized inflammatory/anti-inflammatory response in the body. This response may be linked to the laying down of fatty deposits in the arteries.

A measure of the degree of the body’s overall inflammation level is C-reactive protein (CRP). A measure of the degree of inflammation within blood vessels is the high-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP). Three years ago the American Heart Association recommended that only individuals at high risk for initial or recurrent coronary events or cardiovascular disease be tested for hs-CRP. However, now the recommendation is that individuals at intermediate risk for heart disease have their CRP level checked. Individuals who have known heart disease and those at high risk for heart disease should be treated aggressively regardless of their CRP level.

So, preventing gum disease through good oral hygiene is another measure you can take to prevent heart disease. If you have gum disease, work with your dentist/hygienist to reduce or eliminate it.

Have any infection or inflammation evaluated by your healthcare provider. It will do your heart good.

Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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