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Dental Health – Important At Any Age

Groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association suggest children start dental care when their baby teeth emerge, or by 12 months of age.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 40 percent of children have decay by the time they reach kindergarten. It is estimated 59% of 12 to 18 year-olds have had cavities, with about 20% of those cases being untreated. Bacteria forms on the teeth and grows down into the space between the teeth and gums.  These pockets become breeding grounds for bacteria and cause inflammation, tenderness, bleeding, and infection.

By adulthood, about 92% of people have had cavities. This is especially true of people between 20 and 64 years old. The percentage of cavities as well as tooth loss and associated gum disease increases after age 65.

A three-year study, published in a 2019 Journal of Dental Research, from the Universities of Dundee, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff, Queen Mary University of London and Leeds, comparing three treatment strategies for tooth decay in children’s teeth finds no evidence to suggest that conventional fillings are more successful than sealing decay into teeth, or using preventive methods alone.

The research showed 43% of those participating in the study experienced toothache or dental infection regardless of the treatment received.

Professor Nicola Innes, Chair of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Dundee stated, “What is absolutely clear from our trial is that the best way to manage tooth decay is not by drilling it out or sealing it in — it’s by preventing it in the first place.”

Unfortunately, 80% of Americans have some form of gum disease (periodontal disease) and people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event.

According to Cleveland Clinic studies show that the type of bacteria that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. This elevates C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, in blood vessels that leads to an increased risk of heart disease.

Published in the March 2021 American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, adults with periodontitis, are significantly more likely to have higher blood pressure compared to individuals who had healthy gums. Another study published 2020 British Medical Journal revealed people with a history of chronic periodontal disease was associated with a 43% and 52% increased risk of esophageal cancer and gastric cancer.

Peri-implant diseases are also inflammatory conditions affecting the soft and hard gum tissues around dental implants. Similarly, to a natural tooth, bacteria can build up on the base of the implant, below the gum line.

Dr. Marietta Ambrose, MD., MPH, FACC, an assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine says, “People with heart valve disease are particularly at risk when gum disease is present. The bacteria that live in your mouth when you have gum disease can cross into your bloodstream, enter the heart, and directly infect the vulnerable heart valves. That’s especially concerning in our patients who have artificial heart valves.” 

Reported in the 2020 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, NIA scientists suggest bacteria that cause gum disease are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, especially vascular dementia.

Their research suggests bacteria and the inflammatory molecules they make can travel from infections in the mouth through the bloodstream to the brain. The study showed Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria is the most common culprit of gum disease and suggests that plaques of beta-amyloid protein, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, may be produced as a response to this bacterial infection.

New research, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring, from NYU College of Dentistry and Weill Cornell Medicine also showed “increases in “bad” bacteria and decreases in “good” bacteria in gums is associated with beta-amyloid protein in their cerebrospinal fluid.”

Dr. Mony J. de Leon, EdD, professor of neuroscience in radiology and director of the Brain Health Imaging Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine said, “The present study adds support to the understanding that pro-inflammatory diseases disrupt the clearance of amyloid from the brain, as retention of amyloid in the brain can be estimated from CSF levels. Amyloid changes are often observed decades before tau pathology, or the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are detected.”

Therefore, practicing good oral hygiene is the most important action that a person can take to prevent and treat gum disease.

Brushing your teeth and massaging your gums properly every day is especially important. Sanitizing your toothbrush is also important. To disinfect your toothbrush, rinse the bristles thoroughly in water after brushing. Then place into a cup of antiseptic mouthwash or ¼ tsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide and enough water to cover the bristles. Soak for 15 minutes only so you do not damage the bristles. Rinse thoroughly with water.

Spry Xylitol Dental Products by Xlear Inc. significantly decreases gum disease.

Xylitol is classified as a bacteriostatic, which means it stops bacteria from re-producing and lowers the population of bacteria that may be present on teeth and below the gum line.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring, sweet-tasting, sugar alcohol that is found in different fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is also present in small amounts in oats, birch tree sap, and corn husks or cobs. Unlike the standard sugar we’re all used to, however, Xylitol does not produce acid that damages teeth or many of the other negative side-effects of eating too many sugary foods.

Studies show as Xylitol limits the production of oral bacteria, patients with gum disease experience reduced soft tissue irritation and bleeding. Xylitol also lowers acid levels on your teeth, which prevents the development of tooth decay, and has been shown to re-mineralize dental enamel, making teeth stronger over time.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn’t break down the way that regular sugar does, and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.

Many Dental Insurance companies including Delta Dental promote xylitol dental products to reduce gum disease and tooth decay.

To effectively fight acid-producing bacteria you need 2 grams of Xylitol three times a day (for a total of 6 grams). In just four weeks of Xylitol use, decay-causing bacteria can be reduced by more than a third. Using Spry toothpaste, mouth wash, mints and/or the most popular Spry Xylitol gum makes it easy. Two pieces of gum contain two grams of Xylitol. For more information go to

While xylitol is perfectly safe for human consumption, DO NOT give it to dogs or other pets as it could be deadly.

When your gums are healthy, you reduce your risk of developing bad breath, dental decay and a whole range of harmful inflammatory diseases including Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Most importantly it is never to early to start taking care of your gums and teeth!

Let’s help our community to be healthier! Please share this information with friends, co-workers, and family.

Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner  Tree of Life Wellness Center Seekonk MA 508-336-4242

Host Holistic Healthline Radio