Doctor Oz did an episode called “The Lifesaving Appointment You Must Make This Year” on how to prevent health problems by making regular visits to your dentist’s office. The dentist can help prevent and detect Heart Disease, Dementia and Cancer. All of us know that we should not skip our visits to the dentist, but the thought of the metal pick scraping your tooth’s enamel and the possibility of drilling out a cavity are enough to make many of us push off going to the dentist for as long as we can. However, your dentist can help detect early warning signs of serious medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, cancer, strokes and even Diabetes. 1 in 4 people have untreated tooth decay and many other people have gum disease. Dr Oz was joined by Dr Jonathan Levine, a dentist, who said that a dentist is the first line of defense for your health. Dentists are Dental Detectives and you want them to get in there early to see if you have any warning signs of big medical problems.
1. Dentists Prevent Heart Disease
Dentist Jonathan Levine told Dr Oz that heart disease can be caused by plaque, which is the thick substance that you can form on your teeth at night. Plaque can cause decay and the more plaque you get, the higher your risk for getting heart disease. What happens is that as you let the food sit on your teeth, bacteria starts to form a hardened plaque made of minerals. The plaque is what your dentist scrapes off with a metal tool.
Dr Oz did a demonstration with a plastic tube to represent an artery and a red liquid to represent blood. If you are healthy, the blood just flows nicely through the artery. However, as you start to get plaque buildup, you get bacteria into your blood stream (which Dr Oz represented with little metal beads). As the layer of plaque forms, your blood flows less through your artery. Eventually, if your blockage makes it so that no blood can flow through the artery at all, you can will suffer a heart attack. By having a professional cleaning twice a year at your dentist’s office, you prevent calcified plaque buildup.
2. Dentists Prevent Dementia & Stroke
Dr Oz said that your dentist can also help to prevent dementia and strokes. Gum disease causes chronically inflamed tissue, and people with gum disease have a much higher chance of having a stroke, memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Inflammation in your body causes dementia, it is not just about your brain.
Gum Disease also causes your gums to recede and creates Gingivitis. Then, your gums release bacteria that can go to your brain and cause blood clots that cause strokes and dementia. Dr Oz showed how you can look in your mouth to examine for gum disease and gingivitis – you want to look for redness in your gums and swollen gums. My dentist also told me that if my gums bleed a lot when I brush my teeth or floss, that is another sign of gum disease forming. The good news is that gums that are inflamed are reversible. Try using a Rubber Tip on your gums, which Dr Jonathan Levine said is like lifting weights for your gums. You just place the Rubber Tip between your gums and your teeth and run it over your whole gum, this will help create tissue tone.
3. Dentists Prevent Oral Cancer
Dr Oz showed a tongue to give us an understanding of just how large the tongue structure is… it is much larger and goes back deeper than just the pink tongue that we stick out at each other when we are young! You have to examine the back and side of your tongue. People with Gingivitis have a higher chance of getting oral cancer. Dr Jonathan Levine showed Dr Oz a great new technology that lets you detect oral cancer early. He used a machine called a Velscope, which is a blue florescent light that makes normal tissue glow a light blue / green color, but if you have Oral Cancer, it shows up as a dark black area. Your dentist should check the floor of your mouth and the sides of your mouth. Dr Oz said that we should make sure to ask our dentists to check for Oral Cancer at our next dental appointment!