August 22, 2017

Edmond Dentist Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS Explains the Link between Oral Health and Overall Health

Edmond DentistGum infections can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions, according to Dr. Damon R. Johnson. Here, the Edmond dentist opens up about why cavities aren’t the only issue that can arise from poor oral hygiene.

Interviewing Experts: Before we begin we wanted to thank you, Dr. Johnson, for taking your valuable time to chat with us today.

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: It’s not a problem at all. I’m glad to have the opportunity.

Interviewing Experts: We would like to start a series on health. We understand that the mouth is regarded among dental professionals as the portal to the rest of the body. Is that true?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: It is. Germs that build up in the mouth can enter the body…

Interviewing Experts: Is there a link between infections of the mouth and diseases of the body?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: There is. A long-term mouth infection may increase a person’s risk to contract a number of illnesses. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pregnancy complications included.

Interviewing Experts: How much more likely are people with gum disease to suffer with heart problems?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Studies have found that coronary heart disease occurs twice as often in people with periodontitis.

Interviewing Experts: Does bone loss of the mouth increase the risk of stroke?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Yes, it can. Gum disease can trigger atherosclerotic plaques, a risk factor in stroke and heart attack.

Interviewing Experts: How is periodontal disease related to diabetes?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: It’s unclear how, but researchers have found evidence that gum disease has a negative effect on metabolism which can lead to pre-diabetes.

Interviewing Experts: And if it’s treated…?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Type II diabetics that seek dental treatment for periodontal disease have fewer instances of a condition known as oxidative stress.

Interviewing Experts: What is that?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Oxidative stress is when the body has a lower than normal level of antioxidants – molecules that inhibit the oxidation of damage to the body’s other cells.

Interviewing Experts: Aside from the telltale swollen, bleeding gums… I understand that periodontal disease is no joke…

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Not at all. Some studies have even linked gum disease to depression, stress, and a host of other mental health concerns.

Interviewing Experts: I get the feeling that’s not the worst of it.

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: I wish it was. Untreated early-onset periodontal disease may quadruple a person’s chances of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are still working to find the conclusive link, but the research is promising enough that gum disease might just be a preventable risk factor for this debilitating brain disease.

Interviewing Experts: You mentioned pregnancy complications…?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: One of the most concerning things I can tell my expecting patients is that their babies may be at-risk of low birth weight and even prematurity if they have gum disease. That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women to maintain a relationship with their dentist.

Interviewing Experts: What other major organs can poor oral health affect?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: If you want the short answer: all of them.

Interviewing Experts: Even the kidneys?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: Yes, unfortunately. Failure to care for teeth properly may actually lead to kidney disease and even worse, if left unchecked, renal failure.

Interviewing Experts: All of this sounds like we need to go brush our teeth right now!

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson: I’d say that’s not such a bad idea.

Cavities and You | A One on One with Damon R. Johnson, DDS

Damon R. Johnson, DDS Dental Excellence is a leading provider of general and cosmetic dental services in the Edmond, Oklahoma, area. Today, we speak with founder and namesake Damon R. Johnson, DDS.

Q: Dr. Johnson, we are so pleased you could be here today.

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It’s my pleasure, any time.

Q: We want to talk about what is seemingly the most common dental issue out there – cavities.

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: If it’s not the most, it certainly ranks up there.

Q: What are cavities?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Simply stated, cavities are tooth decay.

Q: Cavities affect the enamel of the teeth, correct?

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: Yes, along with the soft tissue underneath, dentin.

Q: What causes tooth decay?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth eroding enamel. When the enamel dissolves, it leaves tiny little holes. These holes are what we call cavities.

Q: Who gets cavities?

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: While cavities are considered a common problem for children, adults get them too. This is especially true of adults who don’t engage in proper dental hygiene practices.

Q: What is the most prevalent cause of cavities in senior adults?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Older adults may not have been exposed to a proper amount of fluoride in childhood. Many seniors have extensive dental work because of it. Decay can form around broken or weakened fillings, bridges, or crowns.

Q: Do cavities have any symptoms?

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: In the beginning, no. Most cavities are caught during a regular dental exam.

Q: What about those that are not?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: A cavity that’s been around for a while may cause a toothache. Often, it’s only noticeable after drinking something hot or cold or consuming sweet foods.

Q: Are cavities treatable?

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: Most cavities can be filled. At Damon R. Johnson, DDS Dental Excellence, we use composite material for this.

Q: That is the tooth-colored filling material, right?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It is. We prefer it to mercury, gold, or silver amalgam.

Q: What can I do if the cavity is beyond being filled?

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: This is when crowns become an option. A crown is essentially a cap that goes over a severely damaged tooth.

Q: When is a root canal needed?

Edmond Dentist Damon R. Johnson, DDS: A root canal is used only when the pulp of the tooth is no longer viable. A dentist will remove the decayed tooth segments along with the nerves and blood vessels surrounding. The roots are then filled with a sealing material and the rest of the tooth is crowned.

Q: That sounds painful. We are going to go out on a limb and say that prevention is best in this case.

Edmond, OK, Dentist Damon R. Johnson: I won’t argue that.