Monday, October 29, 2012

Gums and Heart Disease

Evidence Grows Stronger: Periodontal Disease Increases the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman are Denver’s specialists in treating gum disease and providing dental implants.  Visiting Periodontal Associates is important not just to protect your gums alone but preventing gum disease can also prevent other diseases.  The body of evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as a host of other systemic diseases has been growing for the past 15 years. Now two new large studies strengthen that evidence and have stressed the benefits of having your teeth cleaned to reduce those risks.

In a Swedish study, nearly 8,000 patients with periodontal disease were evaluated.  Those with a higher number of deep pockets had a 53% increased risk of heart attack.  Those with the highest incidence of bleeding gums had more than twice the risk of stroke.

In the second study, more than 100,000 patients in Taiwan were followed for seven years. Those who had their teeth professionally cleaned and scaled at least once a year had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and a 13% reduced risk of stroke compared to those who had their teeth cleaned and scaled only once or not at all in two years.

The Swedish Study

The Swedish study also found that specific types of gum disease predict an increased risk for heart attack, congestive heart failure, and stroke in different ways and to different degrees.

After adjusting for age, gender, smoking, and education level, the results showed that participants with fewer than 21 teeth had 69% higher risk of heart attack compared to those who had the most teeth, indicating the loss of teeth is correlated to periodontal disease and consequent systemic disease.

Participants with the most infection (the highest number of deep periodontal pockets adjacent to the tooth roots) had a 53% higher risk of heart attack compared to those with the least infection (the fewest number of pockets).  Participants with the fewest number of teeth had 2.5 times the risk of stroke compared to participants with the lowest incidence.

Researchers Holmland and Lars concluded: “Markers of periodontal disease predict future common cardiovascular events in different ways, suggesting that they are risk indicators for different cardiovascular disorders.”

The Taiwanese Study

The Taiwan study examined data on over 51,000 adults who had received at least one full or partial tooth scaling from a dentist or dental hygienist over a seven year period and a similar number of matched controls who had never had their teeth professionally cleaned.

Scientists considered tooth scaling frequent if it occurred at least two or more time in two years, and occasional if it occurred once in two or more years.

None of the participants had a history of stroke or heart attack.  The data came from Taiwan National Health insurance records, and the researchers ran statistical tests to compare the cardiovascular event rates between the two groups for an average follow-up of seven years.

Researchers found that participants who had their teeth professionally scaled frequently (at least twice or more in two years) had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and a 13% lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not.

Researcher Chen, a cardiology fellow at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, concluded: “Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year.”  She suggested that professional tooth scaling removes inflammation-causing bacteria thus causing a reduction in pathogens which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke.  Periodontal Associates has registered hygienists specially trained with work closely with patients who have gumdisease.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman will also check every patient during the root planning and scaling appointments for full coverage!

Gum Disease is a Proven Risk Factor for Heart Disease

As Periodontal Associates previously discussed in prior writings, the American Heart Association (AHA) recently published an article in their journal that reviewed 537 studies addressing the relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

Concluding remarks from this analysis were as follows: “Observational studies to date support an association between periodontal disease and asymptomatic vascular disease independent of known cofounders.  They do not, however, support a causative relationship.”

The first AHA news released about this article issued in April of this year appeared to de-emphasize the relationship between gum disease and heart disease and resulted in media coverage declaring there is no link between gum disease and heart disease.

To clarify its views on the relationship between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease in the wake of this misleading coverage, the AHA issued a second statement in May that studies have found there is “an association between the two diseases that cannot be explained by the common risk factors.”

The August edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association featured a guest editorial by two of the authors of the AHA article, Dr. Panos Papapanou, a periodontist, and Dr. Maurizio Trevisan, a cardiologist, exploring what is known about the association between the two diseases.  They state as a matter of fact that ‘[gum disease] is associated with increased risk for atherosclerosis; the association is independent and cannot be attributed to shared risk factors.”

In summary, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman know that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease and stroke.  While we have no scientific evidence that it directly causes these diseases, the preponderance of evidence shows that periodontal disease is strongly associates with these diseases and many others, likely because of the common inflammatory pathway.  Regular cleanings at Periodontal Associates will decrease gum inflammation.

Evidence for the Connection with Other systemic Diseases

In addition to these studies, there is scientific evidence for the connection between periodontal disease and 21 different systemic diseases.  These include:  heart disease, infectious endocarditis, carotid artery stenosis, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, mouth and throat cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, kidney infection, lung infection / COPD, low fertility in men, erectile dysfunction, brain abscesses, cognitive dysfunction / Alzheimer’s, infectious mononucleosis, pre-term babies, yeast infections, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and congestive heart failure in dogs. (Yes, man’s best friend also needs a good cleaning, but ask your veterinarian to find out how often.)

Castillo et al demonstrated the presence of DNA from periodontal pathogens in blood samples of patients with severe periodontitis before and after scaling – 19% before scaling and 5% after scaling. Geerts et al found endotoxin levels in the blood stream increased fourfold after mastication in patients with periodontal disease and detected periodontal bacteria in atheromatous plaques which are associated with the thickening of vessel walls. The thickening of vessels allows for blockage and heart attacks.

Buhlin et al found gum disease was associated with angiographically-verified coronary artery narrowing in 506 patients.  The coronary artery is responsible for supplying blood and oxygen to the heart itself. 

Each year, 335,000 people suffer an acute plaque rupture from the center of plaque.  Figuero et al found 100% of 42 atheromatous plaques from carotid arteries tested positive for one or more periodontal pathogens and correlated with the periodontal status of the patient.  These ruptures result in intracoronary thrombosis which are thought to account for most acute coronary events including heart attack and sudden cardiac death.  Only 25,000 survive.

Six studies found brain abscess was associated with the periodontal pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans.  Noble found periodontitis was associated with a 200% increase in Alzheimer’s disease.

With statistics like this, Periodontal Associates hopes you will call shortly to see Drs. Versman, Heller, or Beckman soon.

Changing How Dentistry is Practiced

Now that physicians are acknowledging the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, dentists are changing the way they practice.

Realizing that saving teeth saves lives, they are more and more emphasizing to their patients the connection between periodontal disease and systemic diseases.  Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman not only get referrals from general dentists, but physicians as well.

And they are striving to collaborate more closely with their patients, physicians, and cardiologists to jointly prevent and treat these diseases which take so many lives each year.

Some health insurers are taking a more active role in helping members prone to complications from dental disease keep current on their office visits in the hope of preventing the need for costly medical care down the road.  Prevention is the key to saving both your health and financial future.

Aetna’s oral-health integration program is designed to identify members with chronic conditions such as diabetes who haven’t had a recent dental visit. Aetna’s nurses and health coaches telephoned more than 250,000 members: more than half of them resumed regular dental visits. Many of Aetna’s medical plans also cover certain periodontal treatments.  This means seeing a gum disease specialist like Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, or Dr. Eric Beckman does not have to be expensive as you might think.
Many of Cigna’s medical plans now cover treatment of gum disease for members who are pregnant, have cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, head and neck radiation, organ transplants, and diabetes.
When factoring in potential costs related to medical treatment for illness resulting from poor oral hygiene, Mile Hal, chief clinical dental officer for Cigna in Dallas says:  “If you treat and maintain gum disease, you can observe medical-cost savings on an annual basis.” And lives may be saved.

Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman do not want to scare or worry our patients; however, Periodontal Associates wants to be sure to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene to prevent and treat gum disease.  Our Aurora, CO office offers professional services with primary focus on gum disease. For more information, please visit our website at  Also, feel free to give us a call at (303) 755-4500 or click here to make an appointment.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman serve all surrounding Denver, Colorado areas with patients even traveling from out of state to see Periodontal Associates’ specialists. We look forward to visiting with you and coordinating an individual treatment plan to fit your needs and health concerns.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Celiac Disease and Oral Health

Celiac Disease and Oral Complications

Oral health is more important to maintain than some may realize especially as certain people are more at risk for oral diseases when dealing with complications such as diabetes, pregnancy, or old age.  Also, visiting Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman regularly is not only critical for individuals with these risk factors, but routine visits allows Periodontal Associates to discover other issues such as celiac disease.  October is Celiac Disease Awareness month, and Periodontal Associates would like to highlight important need to know information linking celiac disease and oral health.
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that affects the small intestines and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. However, consequences from celiac disease extend beyond the digestive tract resulting in weaknesses in teeth enamel.  For some patients, dentists are the first to alert them of any issues that may suggest celiac disease.  

Dental problems caused by celiac disease often include tooth discoloration and poor enamel formation.  Enamel can look pitted, banded, or translucent looking on teeth. The imperfections are also often symmetrical and seen more so on incisors and molars.  Due to these permanent changes, dentists can spot there is a problem.  

Even after the patients are aware of celiac disease, diet change and avoiding gluten cannot reverse the defects in dentition.  Most treatment for damage includes bonding, veneers, or other cosmetic solutions depending on the severity.

Not only does Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman take a close look at all their patients’ teeth, they also conduct oral examines to check for oral cancers and sometimes rare but present signs of celiac disease.  Other symptoms seen in the oral cavity include:
·         canker sores or ulcers that recur inside the mouth
·         a red, smooth, shiny tongue
·         dry mouth syndrome
·         squamous cell carcinoma—a type of pharynx and mouth cancer
With October being Celiac Disease Awareness month, we hope it is a reminder to call Periodontal Associates to schedule your next hygiene appointment.  At that time, we will provide high quality cleanings as well as oral exams from the doctor.  We want to help you maintain great oral health, but Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman want to provide protection and early detection of cancers or celiac disease.  For more information, please browse our website at or call us at (303) 755-4500.  We are proud to say we serve Denver, CO and surrounding metropolises. We look forward to speaking with you soon and protecting your mouth and body.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dog Kisses May Promote Gum Disease

Puppy Smooches and Gum Disease

Hello to all dog lovers!  Periodontal Associates knows how special pets can be to their owners as they provide love and affection, and for some hugging and kissing your furry ones are normal ways to show love.  However, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman would encourage their patients to be careful about their affections as smooching up to pets could increase the risks of gum disease.

Exchanging kisses or allowing a pet to lick an owner’s mouth could allow pets to pass along gum disease.  Dogs’ mouths contain various forms and great numbers of bacteria that are easily transferred through saliva.

This alarming warning became relevant after researchers in Japan examined the dental health of dog owners.  These researchers found bacteria, normally only in dogs, present in 16 percent of owners’ mouths.  Based on questionnaires, most of these 16 percent had a close relationship with their animals.

And if you really love your furry friend, you should know that bacteria can also be passed from owner to pet, too! Researchers also found ten different human gum disease related bacteria in their pets.  Many pets suffer from periodontitis; so yes, dogs need regular hygiene cleanings too! 

Infectivity can occur from a one-time occurrence or with frequent interaction.  Obviously, the more regular the contact the higher the chances are for cross-contamination, but the likelihood of bacteria exchange can decrease if dental hygiene habits for man and his best friend is maintained well.  

Dr. Paul Maza from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University told America’s Fox News, ‘Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. If owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, such as brushing their teeth, a pet’s mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth.’ 

Periodontal Associates wants you to make yourself and your furry friend a priority when it comes to good oral hygiene.  It is a good habit to brush, floss, and use mouthwash on a daily basis for humans and brushing your pet’s teeth often. 

Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman only take care of owners here in our Aurora, CO office, but most veterinary clinics can do thorough cleanings.  Also, just like you can pick up brushes and supplies at the store, many pet stores offer at home care products for your pup. 

Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman do not discourage love towards animals, but they do ask everyone to take caution with certain types of contact.  Especially if you are at higher risk for gum disease, like dealing with old age, diabetes, or pregnancy, it is even more important to keep kissing to a minimum.  

For more information about how to symptoms of gum disease, risks, and treatments, please come in to visit with Drs. Versman, Heller, Beckman and our hygiene team.  You can click here for an appointment or simply give us a call at (303) 755-4500.  We look forward to helping you and your gums stay strong, healthy, and pink!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guitar Floss

String your Guitar... with Floss?

Floss... we all get some after our visit to see Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman, but how many people use it for flossing teeth? Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Periodontal Associates hopes you continue this good habit of flossing; however, it can be fun to think of other way to utlilize this great tool.  Ewan Dobson is a guitarist who plays with a guitar only strung with floss.  In this video on Youtube, he gives a visual of how he uses the floss, and then he continues to play a fantastic piece. 

If you are a guitarist, let us know what you think about this make-shift string. Also, if you are in need for a back-up container of floss, just stop by Periodontal Associates for your next hygiene appointment and we will always sent you home with a goodie bag!

For more information about everything Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman have to offer, like dental implants and gum disease treatment, visit our website at or call us at (303) 455-7500. We are conventiently located in Aurora, CO and serve patients all over the Denver metro area.  We cannot wait to see you!  And next time, feel free to bring your floss strung guitar and play us a toon!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Toothbrush Recorder

Tooth Brushing Accountability

No matter how many times we visit the dentist, it seems we are repeatedly asked the same questions.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman ask: Do you brush at least twice a day? Do you floss regularly?  As much as our patients want to say yes to these questions, it is not shocking to think some people may be slightly fibbing.  To help remind and keep patients more accountable, a new toothbrush has been invented that can keep tabs on brushing frequency which will be a big help to Periodontal Associates and our patients.  This inventive brush is called the Beam Toothbrush.  As you brush, it connects to your phone through an app.  

The Beam CEO Alex Frommeyer states, "The Beam toothbrush is the first app-connected toothbrush.  Nothing about how you brush your teeth changes at all, but what we can do while you’re brushing your teeth does change." 

How exactly does this work?  The brush contains a sensor in the handle, making the brush look larger, almost like an electric toothbrush.  The body’s bioelectricity is sensed when the brush is placed within the mouth.  As soon as this sensor begins, it is able to record how long the brush is being used or placed inside the mouth.  When the brushing is finished, the data is automatically uploaded to the user’s Beam smartphone app.  As time passes, each user can gauge how long and often they brush.  It also alerts when the head needs to be replaced.  Not changing out brushes regularly is a common problem and important to do for proper use.  

There are benefits for both the users and doctors, like Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman, in recording this information.   Each user can change their brushing goals for better oral health.  This is also great as the user’s information can then be sent to their dentists or providers through the phone app.  By allowing the doctor access to a patient's brushing journal, each patient can be monitored and have individual plans and brushing goals set for them.  This way when Drs. Versman, Heller, or Beckman asked those routine questions, accurate information can be passed along.   

There is only one set beck to this sophisticated brush; although it can sense the amount of time spent brushing, it has no way of identifying the quality of brushing from each individual. It can only be hoped that the brush will continue to be updated and increase in functionality to better calculate the quality of brushing in the future.

So if you are excited about this new brush and want to send your results over to Periodontal Associates for our hygienists and Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman to see, it will become available in November, 2012.  "This is a manual toothbrush. There could be an electric toothbrush in the future. Flossing is just as big of a compliance problem, so there’s a lot to be quantified and there are multiple streams of data there. We want to be a leader in the hardware space of digital health," says Frommeyer.

If you are unsure about what your dental goals or routines should be, do not hesitate to give Periodontal Associates a call.  Our doctors pride themselves in providing individual attention.  All of our patients need different treatments at both the office and home depending on gum disease present, dental implants needed, or even age of patient. For more information, please browse our website at or call at (303) 455-7500.  We are more than happy to set up an appointment for a free consultation or a regular hygiene appointment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Whiten Teeth Naturally

Look in the Kitchen for Whiter Teeth

Periodontal Associates strives to give you a life changing smile by helping you understanding how to properly care for your teeth.  However, instead of focusing on what not to do, we want to share some helpful hints that may promote a sparkling smile.  It is no surprise that there are plenty of food and drink products out there that will stain your teeth. Some of those stainers are red wine, coffee, tea, or even soft drinks.  However, there may be foods that can help reverse that damage and may brighten your smile (Besides visiting Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman).  Here are a few foods to choose from: 

1.       ‘Say Cheese’: Cheese is a product that contains lactic acid.  Lactic acid is believed to help prevent teeth from building decay.  Hard cheeses, like cheddar or parmesan, are better for this than soft cheeses, like goat and feta.

2.       You have a ‘berry’ nice smile: Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries galore! You may think, how these could brighten your smile when they stain your clothes and get seeds stuck in your teeth, but these also contain acidic juices to brighten your grin.  The acid in berries is called malic acid.  These are best used when eaten and left in and around the teeth for 5 minutes followed by a regular brushing. If you are patient, you may see the effects after a couple of months.

3.       Chomp on the crunch: Strive for crunchy foods, especially fruits and vegetables with this texture.  Not only do some of these raw foods contain more acids, these foods are slightly abrasive.  The benefits of this are to keep the teeth clean and the enamel strong.  Look for foods like carrots, celery, and pears.

4.       Bobbing for apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman are not suggesting that bi-annual visits are allowed to be postponed, but eating right may prevent or postpone the need for serious dental work. Apples are great as they provide acid and a slightly rough texture, but they also help to increase saliva production.  By doing that, apples can fight off cavity producing bacteria.

5.       Sour foods for a sweet smile:  Lemons often make people frown and pucker, but if you can get through the taste, the acidity with lemon juice mixed with salt or baking soda can help whiten your smile.  The caution with this suggestion is that you do not want to over use it as it can cause some sensitivity.
As great as it sounds to whiten teeth inexpensively, naturally, and quickly, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman would suggest discussing your home care with them before you get started.  Periodontal Associates can help create an individual plan to best help your health and aesthetic needs.  

We are happy to schedule a free dental implant consultation or appointments for any other dental needs like cleanings.  We are located in Aurora, CO, but our clients come from near and far all over Colorado to see our specialists, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman.  Please click to schedule an appointment or call us at (303) 755-4500.