April, 2016

Insurance Companies Connect Oral Health With Overall Health

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Dentists have known for a long time that oral health affects overall health. In the past decade the general public has acknowledged the link as well. We are now beginning to see that insurance companies are connecting good oral health with good overall health as well.

The bacteria that are responsible for oral health problems including gum disease, infections and tooth decay, have the ability to travel throughout the body. Oral bacteria has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, pre-term birth and has even been found to link to certain cancers. Keeping the gums and teeth as healthy as possible and reducing the number of “bad” bacteria in the mouth can have a positive affect on overall well-being.

Some insurance companies are now adding links between their health insurance and their dental insurance. For instance,  Cigna has the Oral Health Integration Program, where patients who are pregnant or have with certain medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, side effects from head and neck cancer radiation, among others, may quality for 100 percent reimbursement for copays or coinsurance for specific dental procedures for periodontal treatment or caries protection. Another insurance company, Aetna insurance started their medical/dental integration program back in 2007 after a study they did with Columbia University found that people with diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis  who were receiving dental care had risk scores that averaged 27 percent lower from those who did not. The study also showed that the medical costs for patients with those conditions who had been treated for periodontal disease averaged 12 percent lower medical costs.

“We’re starting to see this more and more as insurance companies begin to realize how closely oral health is connected to a patient’s overall health,” Dr. Ronald Riggins of the American Dental Association  said. “We want dentists to be aware of these benefits so they can alert their patients, who may not be aware these are available to them.”

Most dental insurance plans don’t cover much so it is nice to see that there are some small improvements. People that have dental insurance usually receive it as a benefit from their workplace. If you do purchase this type of coverage make sure that you are looking at a plan that allows you to see any dentist you wish. Most highly qualified dentists do not participate in insurance plans but will be happy to submit your claim so you can receive reimbursement from the company.

If you are experiencing oral health problems such as bleeding gums, infections, tooth decay or bad breath (a sign of gum disease), please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today. We can help you achieve a healthy mouth which can lead to better overall health and save you healthcare dollars.

Can Mouth Bacteria Increase Risk For Pancreatic Cancer

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

All cancers are scary, but pancreatic cancer is especially so. A new study suggests that certain mouth bacteria may increase the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Previous research has linked a history of gum disease and oral health problems with and increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Some studies have also suggested that certain types of oral bacteria may be involved. Groundbreaking research from the NYU School of Medicine is the first to directly evaluate the oral microbiome.

in 2014 over 46,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and almost 40,000 died. The researchers are hoping that their findings may lead to earlier, and improved treatments for pancreatic cancer. Said Dr. Jiyoung Ahn, “Our study offers the first direct evidence that specific changes in the microbial mix in the mouth – the oral microbiome – represent a likely risk factor for pancreatic cancer along with older age, male gender, smoking, African-American race, and a family history of the disease.” Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for the disease and it is the 12th most common cancer in the United States.

The study involved comparing mouth bacteria sampled from men and women before they developed pancreatic cancer with those sampled from similar individuals who did not have the disease. The study participants had been taking part in a larger study of cancer risk and had been followed for nearly 10 years. When the results were analyzed, the researchers discovered that patients who had Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria present had a 59% overall higher risk of developing this cancer. Another bacteria, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans was linked to a 50% higher risk. Both types of bacteria are known to cause gum disease.

Another recently published study showed that smoking is tied to changes in mouth bacteria. The good news is that once smoking is stopped, the bacterial changes can be reversed. Professor Ahn stated, “These bacterial changes in the mouth could potentially show us who is at most risk of developing pancreatic cancer.”

Gum disease, and the oral bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay, have been linked to many serious health problems ranging from heart disease, premature birth and even cancers. Protect your overall health by keeping your smile as healthy as possible.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Accident Prone? Could Be Your Sleep

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Are you accident prone? Some people just seem to trip, run into walls, bang their legs on the desk corner and get fingers stuck in drawers more often than the rest of us. The reason you might be accident prone could be the quality of your sleep!

A recent study from Canada found that patients with poor sleep quality due to sleep apnea were three times more likely to suffer injuries that were potentially related to tiredness. “Study author Dr. Najib T. Ayas stated “People with sleep apnea have decreased cognitive function, vigilance, attention, and motor function. And we know from previous studies that individuals with untreated sleep apnea are at increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.”

The research looked at a group of patients who were evaluated at the University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Disorder Laboratory to be evaluated for sleep apnea. The researchers compared injury claims of those who were diagnosed with sleep apnea versus those of patients who were note diagnosed with the condition.

It is estimated that up to 25% of adults between 30 and 70 may be affected by sleep apnea which causes stoppages of breathing during sleep. The vast majority of these patients have no idea that they have a sleep breathing disorder — they just know that they wake up feeling unrefreshed and experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping during sleep, large neck size, weight gain and increase in blood pressure. Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, headache, depression, erectile dysfunction and increased risk of accident.

CPAP is usually the first treatment suggested for sleep apnea but most patients have difficulty sleeping with the masks and hoses. Using an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea has been proven highly effective and the majority of patients find the oral appliance comfortable and easy to use. Only a physician can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, and only a dentist can create a custom oral appliance to treat the disorder.

Find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Do You Hate To Floss?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

If you hate flossing you aren’t alone. Patients tell us that they floss, when we know that they don’t. But if you hate to floss there are some alternatives that you can choose to get the gunk from between your teeth.

First, lets talk about why we insist that everyone clean between their teeth. Brushing is great for cleaning the surfaces of the teeth, but a toothbrush can’t reach between the teeth where bacteria and plaque build up. Without removing the plaque it hardens into a substance called calculus (not the math kind) which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Calculus is made up of dead bacteria and minerals — because it has a rough surface it is the perfect place for even more bacteria to congregate. These oral bacteria lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Why Do You Hate Floss?

First, figure out why you hate flossing? Is it a problem battling those long strands of floss, wrapping it around your fingers (sometimes too tightly) and putting your fingers in your mouth? Maybe you feel like you don’t really know HOW to floss. Perhaps you have extensive dental work like dental bridges that make flossing difficult. Whatever the reason, there are options other than regular dental floss.

What Else Can You Use To Clean Between Teeth?

If you hate flossing simply because the whole idea of wrapping string around your fingers and sticking them in your mouth bothers you, try floss threaders or floss piks. These handy gadgets have a little piece of floss on a plastic handle. Use one for each quadrant of your mouth and say goodbye to plaque. You can purchase a big back of floss piks (even mint flavored ones) at the dollar store. Try keeping a bag in the car so you can floss when stuck in traffic!

Water flossers have been around for a long time – you probably remember the Water Pik brand. Water flossers are great at cleaning between teeth and many even come with many different tips to help clean in tight spaces. The water flosser will sit next to your bathroom sink so it is a great reminder to water floss before brushing your teeth. These work whether you have bridges or braces.

Prophy brushes are another great way to effectively clean between teeth. These are tiny little brushes that are gently moved between the teeth to remove debris and bacteria. Prophy brushes come in several different sizes depending upon the spacing of your teeth. Try a few different ones to find the perfect fit for your smile.

Keep that clean smile healthy by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center regularly. Please contact us at 706391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

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