Prevention & Wellness
“The association between oral and systemic health has increased the dentist’s role in early identification and referral of patients with chronic medical conditions.”
– Dr. Crais Ratner, Chair of CDP (Council on Dental Practice) Subcommittee on Health and Wellness
Oral Health and Overall Health
At our practice, we focus on your wellness. Even if you brush your teeth daily, you may still have dangerous bacteria inside your mouth that lead to periodontal (gum) disease. Major and repeated studies show a link between oral inflammation and major health issues.
Plaque-related early onset Alzheimer’s disease, increased pulmonary and respiratory infections, fertility issues and worsening problems with regulation of blood sugar are just some of the issues that have significant links to dental and oral health.
Periodontal Disease: The Scary Facts
According to the ADA, periodontal disease has been shown to be an indicator of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and low birth weight or premature births. A 2018 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients with periodontitis had a 24% increased risk of developing cancer. In fact, periodontal disease has been linked with nearly every systemic disease associated with inflammation.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that one in two adults over 30 years of age has some form of periodontal disease (advanced gum disease).
At the onset, gum disease (or gingivitis) may have few or minor symptoms. As the conditional progresses, bacteria in plaque builds up between the teeth and gums, causing the gums to become inflamed — tender, puffy or even bleeding. If not treated, the inflammation can become more severe and lead to further complications including recession of the gums and deterioration of the supporting structure.
Focused on Prevention
Going beyond basic, subjective, visual assessment of your mouth, obtaining detailed and specific biological information about the bacteria present in your mouth, and evaluating both the inflammatory burden and your susceptibility helps us provide a unique and specialized roadmap to your oral health.
We continually review your medical status and medications. Utilizing diagnostic bacteria analysis of your mouth, we proactively identify potential health issues early on when they are easier to treat. Rather than waiting for worsening signs and symptoms, our recommendations are based on prevention of disease.
Mouth and Teeth Offer Clues
“It’s hard to overstate the value of a great dentist. Dr. Tonelli improved my quality of life and, possibly saved my life, with a simple visual exam. Even after religiously having annual physicals, Dr. Tonelli was the only professional to identify that I had a high risk of having sleep apnea due to my enlarged tonsils. Well, one primary care doctor visit, a visit to a throat specialist, a sleep study, a diagnosis of “severe obstructive sleep apnea”, and a visit to a sleep specialist later, I am now the proud owner of a CPAP machine, experiencing the most restful sleep I’ve had in a very long time, and feeling energized all day long without the help of caffeine. My wife is just as thankful for Dr. Tonelli as I am, since now she can also get a good night’s sleep. At tradition of dental excellence, indeed!”
– R.D., Patient
Anatomy of the jaw, mouth and teeth can be indicative of health conditions which can be detected and proactively treated both medically and dentally. For example, in patients with sleep and breathing disorders including snoring, mouth breathing and apneas, the muscles of the mouth and throat relax during sleep, temporarily blocking the airway and leading to a variety of health conditions. As teeth grinding and certain anatomy of the mouth and jaw can be linked to possible sleep disorders, we routinely check for worn teeth and other indicators as part of our routine exams.
In young children, structure and anatomy such as a constricted jaw or narrow palate benefit from early intervention for orthodontics, to reduce issues with airway development and ultimately, positioning of incoming permanent teeth. Other presentations such as large tonsils and snoring are telltale signs of airway issues that can be addressed through coordinated intervention by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
Acid reflux, GERD and related problems with swallowing and ulceration are often most easily detected early within our routine dental examination. Reflux often presents with dental signs and symptoms earlier than the irritation and destruction noted with advancing reflux disease.