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Your Oral Health Connection
Autism and Oral Health
The month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Most people are not aware of the direct correlation between oral health and Autism. Autism is a developmental disability that appears within the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It affects every individual differently and to various degrees.
Oral Health in Autism
People with Autism have rare and unusual oral health conditions. Medications and habits can cause issues. There is an increased risk of bruxism (teeth grinding). Individuals with autism often pick at the flesh in their mouth, causing ulcerations of the gums. Some individuals have been noted to regurgitate and erode their enamel, making their teeth more susceptible to cavities. The most common challenges in providing oral care are communication and behavioral problems.
Please Note: We are not recommending or offering treatment to individuals with Autism. We recommend that you reach out to your healthcare and dental professional before starting any new techniques or strategies.
Here are some tips that may assist you in developing and creating a positive experience when it comes to oral health and an individual with Autism:
- Always assist your child when brushing their teeth every day and at least twice a day
- Give lots of praise while brushing your child’s teeth
- Children who are taking medications should brush after each dosage as most of those medications contain sugar which will increase the potential of getting cavities
For a child who may be new to a dental experience, here are some tips that may help make it a fun, smooth experience:
- Tell your child where they are going. Get them excited about the experience
- Inform the dentist of your child and thoroughly explain their needs
- If needed, ask your doctor to talk to your child throughout the appointment
- Try to keep the appointments short
- Praise the positive behavior and ignore the negative
You may have been recently informed that you need a root canal to restore your tooth. Stricken with panic and concern, you begin to search the internet and are overwhelmed with a surplus of information. The internet is a great resource to retrieve valuable information. However, it is often plagued with unreliable sources and dangerously erroneous information. Root canal therapy is one of the most well-known but often misunderstood dental services.
The following are common myths and misinformation about root canals and tooth pain. The more education and knowledge you acquire about this procedure, the more calm and confident you will feel when you return to your dental office
Myth #1: You only need a root canal when you have tooth pain.
Sometimes the tooth is necrotic (dead) and will no longer cause you any pain, but will need to have a root canal in order to avoid becoming infected. There are several temperature and percussion tests that will allow the doctor to know when a tooth has died and needs to receive a root canal
Myth #2: Root canal treatment is painful.
A root canal rids the tooth of pain associated with decay that has reached an area of the tooth and consequentially caused an infection. New and improved technology, along with sedation and anesthetics, allows root canals feel similar to receiving a filling and is often is just as painless.
Myth #3: The benefits of root canal therapy are temporary.
The results of root canals are long lasting. They provide relief for patients experiencing toothaches and preserve the affected tooth. The final restoration or crown is instrumental in the results of the root canal. Along with exceptional home care and routine dental visits, this tooth will last many years.
Myth #4: Tooth extraction is a better alternative to root canals.
A root canal with a good restoration is not only cost effective, it allows you to keep your natural tooth. Bridges, implants and other replacement options usually require additional treatments, more time in the chair, and increased out of pocket costs.
If you would like more information about root canal treatment or believe that you may need one, please contact us at (301) 862-3227. Dr. Cheryl Budd, our board certified endodontist would be happy to help you maintain a healthy, happy and natural smile.
Scientists have shown that chewing your food properly can boost your mouth's immune system to protect you against illness.
The study led by teams at The University of Manchester and National Institutes of Health in the USA, revealed that a specific type of immune cell, the Th17 cell, can be stimulated when you chew.
The immune cell is important in protecting against bacterial and fungal infections that are commonly found in the mouth .
Although it has long been known that the nutrients from food can support a healthy immune system the findings establish that the action of eating itself is important too.
In other parts of the body, such as the gut and skin, Th17 cells are stimulated by the presence of friendly bacteria; it was previously assumed this was the case in the mouth.
However, the team found that damage caused by the abrasion of chewing induced factors from the gums that could activate the same pathways as friendly bacteria and act upon Th17 cells.
However, stimulation of Th17 cells for immune protection can be a double-edged sword: too many Th17 cells can contribute to periodontitis – a common gum disease that is linked to complications in lots of diseases including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart problems and pre-term birth.
The research was funded by the BBSRC and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in the United States
Lead researcher and biologist Dr Joanne Konkel, from The University of Manchester, said: "The immune system performs a remarkable balancing act at barrier sites such as the skin, mouth and gut by fighting off harmful pathogens while tolerating the presence of normal friendly bacteria.
"Our research shows that, unlike at other barriers, the mouth has a different way of stimulating Th17 cells: not by bacteria but by mastication. Therefore mastication can induce a protective immune response in our gums".
Did you know?
Studies reported in the Harvard Medical School’s Health publications indicate that for men and women, there is a large complex variety of bacteria that are present in the mouth. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, has been linked to other chronic or degenerative diseases.
There is a certain, balanced, ecosystem of bacteria in the mouth . When the bacterial species remain in balance, the gums remain protected from disease. When something disturbs that balance, disease-causing bacteria begin to affect the gums and cause damage. These bad bacteria cause inflammation, which further disturbs the body’s immune system. As periodontal disease progresses, the inflammation begins to destroy gum tissue and ultimately the jaw bone, which can lead to the premature loss of teeth.
In addition, patients with periodontal disease have been found to be at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, complications in pregnancy, and even dementia. The inflammation present in all these diseases appears to be the link.
Interestingly, the association between inflammation and the pathogenic bacteria appears to work in two directions. . For example, diabetes research has determined that successfully treating periodontitis reduces the severity of diabetes and vice versa.
So what the important lessons?
Brush, floss, don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, have regular cleanings, and as the Harvard Heatlth Watch states:
Get treatment at the first signs of gum disease: Swollen, bleeding gums; pockets of pus, gums that appear to have pulled away from your teeth. Spaces between your teeth that appear to have widened, and bridges or partial dentures that no longer as well as they once did, may be signs of periodontal disease.
“Scientists have identified the 700 species of bacteria that inhabit our mouths, presenting the possibility of probiotic therapies that prevent harmful bacteria from getting a foothold. Research may also yield a new generation of therapies that wind down the inflammatory response rather than inhibit it completely, and thus may have fewer side effects than current anti-inflammatory medications do.”