A recent Gallup poll found that 1/3 of Americans haven’t visited the dentist in the past year and that women are more likely to get dental checkups. We decided to sit down with a dentist and see why you need regular dental checkups and what exactly 1/3 of Americans are missing out on.
We here at Fit, Wealthy, & Wise recently had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Koilpillai. Now you are probably wondering who Michelle is? Dr. Koilpillai is an associate dentist practicing in Maryland with her father. She graduated with her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 2013.
Do my oral health habits (brushing and flossing) affect the rest of my body?
Oral health habits do affect the rest of your body. Studies have shown that there is a relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Conversely, your overall health can affect your oral health. For example, people who have diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease because diabetes can lower your resistance to infection and slows the healing process. Also, diet will affect your oral health. Eating or drinking food/drinks with sugar puts you at a much higher risk for getting cavities. Taking care of your overall health can help improve your oral health and taking care of your oral health will improve your overall health.
What signs should I watch out for in my mouth that may indicate a problem in my body?
Any type of swelling of the gums or gum bleeding could indicate a tooth related or gum related problem. Your dentist should check out any tooth pain that persists for more than one day. Other important things to keep an eye on are: a sore or irritation that does not go away, any red or white patches that do not go away, a lump or thickening area in or around your mouth, any difficulty in chewing, swallowing or moving your jaw, and a change in the way your teeth fit together. The bottom line is, if something looks or feels out of place, please get it checked out right away by a dental professional. Being proactive early on can save you a lot of worry and pain later on.
What can I do to improve my dental health?
Practicing good home care by flossing daily and brushing at least 2 times a day will help prevent cavities from forming and keep the bad bacteria at bay and therefore help reduce the risk of gum disease. I really recommend using an Oral B or Sonicare electric toothbrush. While the portable floss picks are good for flossing on-the-go, they don’t get deep down into the gums. That is the reason that the traditional string floss is better for a deep clean. So for flossing I recommend Glide floss.
How often should I get a dental exam and cleaning?
We recommend you get regular dental checkups at least 2 times a year. If you have gum disease or are a border-line gum disease patient, we will recommend coming in more often for a dental cleaning to make sure the bad bacteria that causes this disease is at a lower count and more damage does not take place.
Why should I go see a dentist when I can just brush my teeth, floss my gums, and use mouthwash at home?
Coming in to see a dental professional regularly is a great idea because we do an oral cancer screening, check for any abnormalities in the mouth, and check for cavities. Oral cancer can progress very quickly and it is very important to catch it early on. We want to make sure these things are caught early on when they can be fixed by a more simple procedure. If these things are ignored for a long time, they may require a more complex or expensive procedure. We as dental professionals always want to help our patients keep their own teeth and maintain a healthy mouth.
My wife and I are expecting our first baby this year. So I’ve been researching more into stem cells. Have there been advancements in research for stem cells within the field of dentistry?
First of all, congratulations! That is exciting! Here’s a recent study that was published in the Journal of Applied Oral Science. What this study tells us is that baby teeth are a really good source of postnatal stem cells. They named these special cells, Stem cells from Human Exfoliated Deciduous teeth, or SHED. When the SHED were harvested and cultured, researchers found them to be able to regenerate bone, tooth, and neural tissue; and possibly even work in reversing degenerative diseases. So save those baby teeth!
Thank you Dr. Koilpillai for sitting down with Fit, Wealthy, & Wise and educating us on why we need regular dental checkups. We really appreciate the education that you provided to our audience.