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Watch Your Mouth: Michigan Association of Endodontists Offers Four Part Series on Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- During National Root Canal Awareness Week (March 30 to April 5), a four part series of articles is available for publication courtesy of The Michigan Association of Endodontists. Topics include healthy dental tips for aging, facts about root canals and new technology that can make the procedure virtually painless.

Healthy smile? Healthy heart?

Dental health can affect your overall health

Oral health is not only important to your appearance and sense of well- being. It's also important to your overall health.

According to experts at the Michigan Association of Endodontists (MAE), cavities and gum disease may contribute to many serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and pre-mature and low weight babies.

"Inflammation, bacteria and their byproducts in the mouth may cause these diseases to worsen, which can, in turn, cause the oral condition to deteriorate," explains Dr. Michael Lindemann, an endodontist and member of the MAE. "The oral conditions can and should be treated to reduce the risks of systemic diseases.

"Several studies link chronic inflammation from gum disease with the development of cardiovascular disease," he said.

Researchers believe that this is due to oral bacteria present in gum disease that can affect the heart if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. These bacteria can attach to fatty deposits in the coronary arteries and contribute to arterial clot formation - clots that can dislodge and cause heart attacks and stroke.

In addition, people with diabetes often have periodontal disease, often more severe than individuals without diabetes. Some studies indicate that periodontitis, in turn, can make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

"The key issue is maintaining good dental health throughout your life. That means avoiding actions that can lead to inflammation and infection, which are caused by cavities in teeth, periodontal disease and root canal infections," Lindemann noted. "These concerns increase with age and are accelerated by lifestyle issues like poor oral hygiene or not having regular dental appointments."

Endodontists (root canal specialist) include an evaluation of oral history, an oral examination and radiographs in all evaluations, Lindemann said. This allows them to note any irregularities, such as periodontal disease, devital teeth, or bone or tissue softening, that can lead to disease or future problems.

"Early treatment of these issues can reduce the effect they may have on your general health," he said.

Lindemann says prevention is the best option.

"Brush your teeth at least twice a day, eat a balanced diet with limited snacks, and schedule regular checkups," he said. "And if you notice changes or have concerns about your dental health, see an expert right away."

For more information, or to locate an endodontist near you, visit .

Make dental health a priority at any age

Childhood is often filled with memories of parental admonishments to "brush your teeth!" School health classes and assemblies often focus on healthy dental habits as well. We learn early on that no matter what your age, dental health should be a priority. Specific dental concerns, however, can change as we grow older, according to the Michigan Association of Endodontists (MAE). Endodontists are root canal specialists.

"When we are young, dental cavities are a chief concern," explains Dr. Michael Lindemann, endodontist and MAE member. "This is because children are just learning the keys to good dental hygiene, such as brushing twice a day and avoiding sugary snacks."

As children get older, and more involved in school and social activities, sports injuries are a concern. In addition, some periodontal problems can develop, he said.

Lindemann explains that individuals in their 20s or 30s need to continue to focus heavily on avoiding cavities and dental trauma due to injury. As people enter their 50s, they often develop more issues with periodontal and endodontic conditions. However, Lindemann cautions that all ages need to be aware of dental hygiene.

"Thirty-year-olds do develop periodontal and endodontic problems, and 50- year-olds do have cavities, so each age group needs to be mindful of regular dental check-ups so problems can be detected early and resolved quickly," he said.

As individuals enter their later years, it is important to be aware of how health conditions and medications can affect dental health. And vice versa.

"Problems in the mouth, like gum disease or decay and infection, can influence systemic health," Lindemann says. "Many conditions like diabetes or heart problems may be made worse because the mouth isn't healthy."

Medications can also have a significant impact.

"Most older adults take both prescription and over-the counter drugs. Many of these, especially medications to treat hypertension, can cause dry mouth, a condition that can lead to serious oral health problems," he said.

Lindemann explains that "our saliva is so vital to the health of our mouths that when the quantity is reduced, oral health can suffer. Dental decay can appear. Many times this decay strikes the vulnerable root surface which may have become exposed as we age."

At any age, partnering with appropriate dental experts is essential.

"A sparkling healthy smile is attractive at any age and is important to both health and socialization," Lindemann said. "Our teeth work hard for us over the decades, so take care to treat them well."

For more information, or to locate an endodontist near you, visit .

Advancements in technology make painful root canals a thing of the past

For patients facing an upcoming root canal there is good news - painful root canals are a thing of the past. According to members of the Michigan Association of Endodontists (MAE), specialists in root canal procedures, three things have drastically improved how root canal therapy is performed.

"The use of the surgical operating microscope provides both intense magnification and shadow-less light so canals and the tooth anatomy can be clearly seen and effectively treated," explains Dr. Michael Lindemann, endodontist and member of the MAE. "Second, nickel titanium alloys, similar to those used in the space program, are now used to make endodontic instruments. The instruments are very flexible and can be used to shape the inside of the root canal very efficiently."

The result has been significantly reduced postoperative sensitivity, he said.

Third, Lindemann said, ultrasonic hand pieces allow for more conservative removal of the tooth structure and provide excellent access to the canal. The tools also more thoroughly remove dead pulp tissue and bacteria.

"Root canal therapy enjoys a success rate of well over 90 percent when these advances are employed," Lindemann said.

Endodontists are specialists in providing root canal therapy, he explained. After dental school, endodontists spend an additional two to three years in a formal academic residency that provides a thorough review of research, didactic course work and extensive clinical training.

Endodontists also are experts at managing trauma to a tooth that has been hit or knocked out.

"We are specially trained to provide an accurate diagnosis in determining when someone has dental or neurological pain and often make determinations as to whether teeth with large cavities, broken cusps or fractures are restorable," he said.

For more information, or to locate an endodontist near you, visit .

So you're having a root canal - what to expect

Mention "root canal" and, for most people, the word "painful" comes to mind. However, according to experts at the Michigan Association of Endodontists (MAE), today's technology makes the procedure a simple and pain- free visit to the endodontist.

If you are scheduled for a root canal, here's what you can expect:

"First, digital radiographs will be taken of the tooth and surrounding area," explains MAE member and endodontist Dr. Michael Lindemann. "Then your endodontist will review the radiograph with you, as well as your medical and dental history, the diagnosis, and the treatment that is needed."

To begin the procedure, the endodontist will numb the tooth, and then make a small opening in the biting surface of the tooth to access the tissue inside. Once all of the anatomy is located, the tissue and bacteria are removed, and the space within the tooth is appropriately shaped. A permanent root filling material is then placed inside to seal the root system, Lindemann said.

"This prevents bacteria from entering the body through the tooth," he explained.

A "temporary" is placed in the opening on the biting surface of the tooth, which will later be permanently restored by the family dentist with a crown or other restoration.

"This will not only protect the tooth when chewing, but will keep bacteria in the mouth from entering the root canal system," he said. "Typically, the endodontist will request that you return for a radiograph of the tooth every six months for one or two years to be sure the treatment has taken affect."

Most endodontists complete root canal therapy in one visit, Lindemann said.

A second visit may be required under certain circumstances. The endodontist will work with your family dentist to ensure that complete and effective treatment is obtained.

For more information, or to locate an endodontist near you, visit .

SOURCE Michigan Association of Endodontists
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