4 Common Major Roles in Oral Health

Daily Habits to Better Oral Health

You might not be aware that some small everyday items can assume major roles in your dental health if you just let them.

Sugar-free Gum

Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals and snacks has been proven to help keep teeth healthy. According to the Oral Health Foundation, chewing on sugar-free gum stimulates the production of saliva which in turns helps to neutralize plaque acids. It increases the amount of saliva we produce, which is the body’s natural defense system for our mouth and teeth. It helps wash away food particles before they become trapped on, around or in between our teeth. It also helps remineralize tooth enamel, which helps to strengthen our teeth. Gives fresh breath, too.

New Toothbrush

Replacing your toothbrush at least every 3 months or as soon as you start to see wear on the bristles can do your health a lot of good. A new, good quality toothbrush can do better work. Dentists sometimes recommend using an electric toothbrush as it has proven to be quite effective in helping clean our teeth. Remember to be gentle on your teeth and gums. Hard brushing can destroy enamel and bruise soft tissue.

Fluoride in Toothpaste

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and increasing the rate of the remineralization, thus strengthening the teeth. It helps to discourage the growth of bacteria. Check the presence of fluoride in the toothpaste you buy and have regular mouth-wash with fluoride in them also. Know if your community water supply is also fluoridated; studies show that there is lowered incidence of cavities and decay in areas where the water system incorporates fluoride.


This is another simple, everyday tool that contributes to oral health. At least once-a-day flossing before retiring to bed can assist your tooth-brushing routine. With proper flossing, you remove food debris stuck in-between your teeth as well as under the gumline. This removes the chances of bacteria starting in surfaces your toothbrush cannot reach.

Knowledge is Power in Bellingham

Know more about simple stuff that play major roles in good oral health. More importantly, keeping your dental appointments enables you to really be on top of things where your teeth and gums are concerned.

New Study: Linking Dental Health and COPD

COPD Patients Ignoring Oral Health

A small observational study published in the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Journal of the COPD Foundation found that people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have poor dental hygiene practices and reduced quality of life that is oral health-related. In the context of poor dental health, the greater number of patient’s teeth involved correlated with worsened daily respiratory symptoms.

Patients with COPD are reported to have poor oral hygiene and dental problems. With worsening symptoms, patients are unable to obtain adequate dental care possibly due to impaired mobility due to illness, use of oxygen, continued smoking, or poor access to dental insurance.

The small 60-day study included healthy controls and patients with COPD. Participants were 40 years or older. The COPD group had to have specific spirometric findings and at least a 10 pack-year smoking history. The healthy controls had to have no airflow obstruction and no current smoking. 30 participants were recruited (10 healthy controls, 20 with COPD). All 10 healthy participants completed the study, and in the COPD group, 3 dropped out.

Both groups had similar teeth brushing habits, at least once a day. More of the healthy controls had more frequent dental visits. Healthy controls also usually flossed once per day, while COPD participants, none. They also had a history of more dental infections, tooth extractions and higher prevalence of dentures, as well as fewer teeth. The COPD group had higher average amount of plaque on tooth surfaces but not statistically significant. Breathlessness was also positively correlated with the number of teeth had a positive correlation with percentage of days with cough, and wheeze, and sputum production.

The researchers noted that the microbiome of the lungs resembles the oral microbiome. The more diseased teeth a patient has potentially provide a large reservoir of pathogenic bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, in saliva, which could create worsened respiratory symptoms. In addition, chronic periodontitis is a common inflammatory disorder and has previously been described in patients with COPD, but was not measured in this study.

Knowing Your Health

Bellingham dentistry is well aware how dental health can be impacted by certain medical conditions as serious as COPD. We monitor patient’s medical conditions whilst we treat their dental concerns. It’s always good to let us know health concerns or issues, especially history, before treatment.

Treating Sleep Apnea with Dental Care

Understanding the Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Dental Care

Sometimes patients are surprised that dentist ask them about the quality of their sleep. Many Americans don’t get enough sleep they need, and some don’t know why. Snoring and sleep disturbances are often signs of obstructive sleep apnea, and these are usually blamed on oral health. The dentist is often the earliest diagnostician of sleep disorders.

What happens if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea will cause the patient to have repeated breathing interruptions throughout the night. These interruptions last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 or more times per hour. This is due to the muscles in the back of the throat becoming flaccid, the tongue is too large, or the jaw is too small, causing airway obstructions. The patient experiences restless sleep and feel unwell or fatigued waking up in the morning.

If sleep apnea is the root cause, there are several options to care for it, including oral appliance therapy, such as the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is considered the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and has been available for 30 years. While it is the primary option for care, it’s a mask that must be worn at night, and some patients don’t want to sleep wearing one.

The director and some of his colleagues at the Dental Sleep Medicine and Orofacial Pain at the UTHSC (University of Tennessee Health Science Center) are coming up with a solution to stabilize the whole mechanism, the jaw and everything else, to prevent the jaw from dropping back.

The appliance is custom fit to the patient’s mouth and holds the lower jaw in a slightly forward position, much like a retainer or a sports mouth guard. Some are attached a little, some are not attached at all, but they still have some mechanism to prevent that collapse. The device can also help to prevent snoring in some of its patients. The patient is fitted with the device that best suits the mouth shape and the breathing issue. Follow-up visits ensure it sits properly and is relieving the problem.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options in Bellingham

Learn more about sleep apnea from your Bellingham dentist and know that the condition can be managed by oral appliance therapy. Sit down with us and let’s talk your sleeping disorder.