THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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MOUTH INFECTIONS LINKED TO DENTURES


Similar to the surface of an individual’s natural teeth, plaque, or biofilm, may also be found on dentures. Plaque is a sticky substance with a complex mixture of oral bacteria, fungi and other organisms. It’s estimated biofilm contains more than 10 organisms per milligram, involving more than 30 different species. While often not life-threatening, the presence of biofilm on dentures has been associated with denture stomatitis and more severe systemic conditions – health conditions affecting the entire body.


There is a relationship between oral health and systemic diseases, whether you are edentulous or not. Oral bacteria is linked to:



Prevention of bacterial and fungi growth on the surface of dentures is crucial in helping to avoid denture stomatitis. The role in denture stomatitis of Candida albicans, a common microorganism found in our bodies, has been well investigated. As many as 67 percent of existing denture wearers have Candida- associated denture stomatitis, meaning the Candida fungus has triggered the issue.


To help prevent denture stomatitis and support oral health, the American College of Prosthodontics has established oral health care guidelines for denture wearers:



Denture cleansers are the most effective solution for removing bacterial and fungi biofilm from dentures. Avoid using other chemical disinfection methods, such as bleach, vinegar, alcohol or other antibacterial solutions typically used for other purposes. Stick to products specifically designed for dentures. Using non-denture-specific products may cause irreversible roughness, discoloration and damage to a denture appliance. Since many dentures are made of porous acrylic material, it can also be dangerous to use anything other than denture cleanser products for cleaning them.


Although prevention is the best therapy for denture stomatitis, treatment is sometimes the only option. The scope of treatment for denture stomatitis is broad. It includes strategies that target the biofilm formation on the denture and the bacterial and fungal infection of oral tissues. Depending on a patient’s medical history, current medications and the severity of the denture stomatitis, an oral health professional will determine a treatment plan for their needs.


Dentures should be checked annually by a dentist, prosthodontist or dental professional. An annual check will help ensure optimal dental appliance maintenance. It will also encompass an evaluation of denture fit and function and allow for an oral cancer screening and assessment of one’s overall oral health.  

DR. SAMELA DE LIMA PEREIRA


Dr. Sámela de Paula Lima Pereira is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in the division of Prosthodontics. Her clinical interests include full mouth rehabilitations with removable, fixed or implant-supported dental prosthesis, crowns, bridges and veneers. Dr. Pereira sees patients at the UK Dentistry Faculty Practice Clinic in the Dental Science Building at 800 Rose Street. More information about UK Dentistry is available at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

The National Center for Health Statistics estimates more than 36 million individuals in the United States do not have any permanent teeth, a situation referred to as complete edentulism. Of these individuals, it is believed some 90 percent wear a type of denture – an appliance used to replace missing teeth. Regardless of the kind of denture worn, individuals should still follow oral hygiene guidelines to keep their denture appliance clean and help maintain their overall health.


While some believe age is a crucial factor in permanent tooth loss, you don’t have to lose your teeth just because you get older. Only 26 percent of the U.S. edentulous population are between the ages of 65 and 74. Income and education levels have the highest correlation or connection with tooth loss. While the rate of complete edentulism in the United States continues to decline, we may see an increase in the next two decades with continuous population growth.


A widespread issue denture wearers face is called denture stomatitis. Up to two thirds or more of denture wearers suffer from this inflammation of the gums. Denture stomatitis symptoms are noticeable and will appear with small red bumps on the roof of the mouth or as general mouth redness. Common causes of denture stomatitis include: