Checking in with Dr. Willis
Burke, VA Dentist
To ensure the highest quality treatment for his patients, Dr. Willis continually researches the latest dental news, products, and procedures. In the posts below, he shares information that he thinks is especially important for you to know.
To Floss or Not To Floss?
Posted: September, 2016 by Dr. Willis
By now, you have likely seen news reports questioning whether flossing is necessary for your oral health.
We want to answer your question right away with an absolute YES. Cleaning between your teeth is an essential part of caring for your teeth and gums.
Whether you use traditional string dental floss, a water flosser, an interdental (between teeth) brush, or other form of interdental cleaning, it is important that you clean between your teeth correctly and on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, in the quest for catchy headlines, many news agencies have been providing a great deal of incomplete and inaccurate information.
Here’s the truth: Plaque and bacteria can be prevented from building up between teeth when flossing is done correctly on a daily basis.
Why does that matter? Build-up of plaque and bacteria between teeth is one of the leading causes of periodontal disease, a condition which not only affects your mouth, teeth, and gums, but has been linked to complications with diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other systemic health issues.
The next time you visit our office, ask your hygienist to show you the most effective way to clean between your teeth. For more information on flossing and interdental cleaning or to schedule an appointment, contact us.
You Can Start Today!
Posted: September 7, 2016 by Dr. Willis
Dr. Willis is dedicated to helping you achieve optimum oral health and is concerned with more than your teeth. He wants you to have overall health and to live life to its fullest. He’s providing here links to a handful of videos that may help motivate toward that goal. We hope you’ll enjoy watching them and that the information shared will be helpful!
Optimize Your Health
Scientific evidence is leading people today to new considerations regarding their dietary choices. Could consuming a plant-based diet improve your physical and mental health? Whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables provide rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, fibers, phytochemicals, and protein. Start optimizing your health today!
Exercise Anti Aging
Our bodies were created for movement. Regular exercise augments muscular strengths, improves blood circulation, and increases energy. Exercise can boost the mood and decrease depression. Take the stairs, play with the children, swim, bike, walk, hike. You can start improving your life today!
Are You at Risk
Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are reaching epidemic proportions. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels should be checked regularly. Many health problems can be avoided by regular exercise, avoiding tobacco, and consuming a healthy, plant-based diet. Start lowering your risk today!
Addictive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and caffeine impact the structure and function of the brain, affecting consciousness, perception, memory, attention, judgement, imagination, and will, not to mention the risk of mental and physical problems associated with addiction. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are killers world-wide. A life without addiction is a free life! Start your addiction-free life today!
Does Diet Affect Oral Health?
Posted: October 2, 2014 by Dr. Willis
Everyone knows sugar is bad for us. We don’t need a dentist to tell us that soda, ice cream, and cookies can cause cavities, but what about fruit drinks, sports drinks, and diet sodas? Certainly, orange juice is healthy, right? Sorry, but even carbonated water, though plain and unflavored, can erode your enamel.
In addition to the sugars and sweeteners typically added to food and drinks, their acidity also can destroy enamel, leaving your teeth more susceptible to staining, sensitivity, and decay. Even natural, unsweetened drinks and food items containing acidic ingredients, such as lemons and tomatoes are brutal on enamel. Considering the fact that the types of bacteria that cause cavities flourish in an acidic environment, this combination becomes more than some teeth can bear.
Many people have come to recognize the benefits of controlling their weight through diet and exercise. Be aware that some of the popular dietary supplement drinks (shakes, powders, cleanses, etc…) may have relatively acidic principal active ingredients. Such ingredients can contribute to increased tooth staining, hypersensitivity, and cavities. Juicing has also become popular, but many of the drinks are high in acid and fermentable carbohydrates, which can lower the pH of your mouth and lead to the same destruction of enamel as soda.
To guard against the effects of acidic foods and drinks, consult your healthcare team, study the labels of foods and drinks for their acidity, and limit your intake of acidic fruits and vegetables. For comparison, the pH of water is 7.0, and the pH of battery acid may be less than 1.0. While no one in their right mind would consume battery acid, some of the foods we do eat are quite acidic. For example, lemons and limes have a pH ranging from 1.8 to 2.4. The pH of orange juice is approximately 3.0. Most sports drinks and energy drinks have a pH ranging from 2.5-3.2.
Ultimately, your oral and systemic health is your personal responsibility. Only you and your professional healthcare team can decide if you should completely eliminate any of these foods or products from your diet. If you do consume them, please rinse thoroughly with plain water afterwards, then wait approximately 30 minutes before brushing with toothpaste which contains abrasives.
If you have questions about the effects of diet and nutrition on your oral or systemic health, please consult with us or your physician.
The Connection Between Oral and Cardiovascular Health
Posted: September 9, 2014 by Dr. Willis
When people think about keeping their heart healthy, they usually think about working out at a gym and eating salad. And rightfully so; there is great benefit in maintaining a medically-supervised diet and health program. But few people make the connection between cardiovascular health and oral health. For instance, did you know that people with periodontal disease (gum disease) are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (heart disease)? Or that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gingivitis (inflamed gums), cavities, and missing teeth, is as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels? [Source: American Academy of Periodontology].
Some studies indicate a link between periodontal disease and stroke. In fact, epidemiologist Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, was the lead author of a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. He and his co-authors found that people who had higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth were more likely to have atherosclerosis in the carotid artery in the neck. Clogging of the carotid arteries can lead to stroke. Another study suggests that people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.
The association of oral health and heart health has been illustrated in several studies. I should clearly point out that a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven. However, research has indicated there is an increased risk of heart disease when periodontal disease is present. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients with certain heart conditions may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Please consult your dentist and cardiologist to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.
Many patients with heart problems may also be at risk for being diabetic. Those with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. Some scientists believe the increased risk is related to the fact that people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections and have a longer healing time from those infections. Some healthcare providers consider periodontal disease to be a complication of diabetes, but others suggest that the relationship is a two-way street, meaning periodontal disease may cause some diabetics to have increased difficulty controlling their blood sugar.
It is certain that there is an association between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, but it should be clearly stated that at this time it is unclear if the association is causal or coincidental. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that periodontal disease is a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So, under your doctor’s supervision, keep going to the gym and keep eating salad. But combine that effort with brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist.
If you have questions about periodontal disease, or if you have reason to believe you may be at risk, call my office today so we can schedule an appointment for you.