Can a Sedation Dentist Open the Door to Better General Health?

Do you have anxiety or fear about dental treatment? You are not alone – studies suggest that about 3 out of 4 Americans experience some degree of dental anxiety. The worst part, however, is that 5-10% of Americans go without needed dental treatment because of it! Hopefully, though, the more prevalent use of sedation dentistry will increasingly help those people get the dental treatment they need.
In the last two decades, a growing body of evidence that links oral health to overall personal health has materialized. For example, the linkage between poor cardiovascular health and periodontal disease has been established in several studies. That the linkage exists is rarely disputed, and some studies suggest that periodontal disease is a causative factor. While the final verdict on that is not yet out, why take chances? Astute dentists who observe periodontal disease are quick to inquire about a family history of heart disease. Similarly, many cardiologists will examine patients’ mouths to look for telltale gum disease as a means of visually assessing risk.
One theory about the periodontal/cardiovascular connection is related to the DNA and RNA of bacteria associated with the arterial plaque that causes many cardiovascular problems. Studies showed that many patients with severe periodontal disease had oral bacteria in their arterial plaque. There are theories that suggest that that the oral bacteria are being released into the bloodstream where they cause inflammation to arteries, and potentially cause a thickening of the arteries. Others believe that the bacteria might set off some reaction that causes plaque to form in the arteries.
More Reasons to Look for a Sedation Dentist
Beyond the cardiovascular health linkage, other interesting medical findings suggest other general health reasons for finding a sedation dentist to help you overcome your dental anxiety or phobia:
– Pregnancy – Observations and studies suggest a strong tie between gum disease and premature delivery/low birth weight.
– Diabetes – That diabetes can adversely affect oral health has been known for many decades, but recent studies suggest that severe gum disease (untreated) can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels.
– Respiratory Health – In hospitals and nursing homes, especially, there is growing evidence that severe gum disease can result in inhalation of bacteria and resultant bacterial pneumonia. Studies are also underway to explore gum disease as causing flares of disease in people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Sedation Dentistry – Safety
In the interest of helping more patients to get treatment for dental issues, more and more state dental regulatory boards are stepping up to the plate to help the general public become more confident in the use and safety of sedation dentistry. Many states, such as North Carolina, have put regulations into effect that call for the dental board to certify that the sedation dentist has participated in approved, recent training on administering sedation as well as sufficient experience. There is more at stake when you neglect getting needed dental care than your dental health. If you have dental anxiety that is keeping you from getting the necessary treatment, look for a qualified sedation dentist who can work with you to overcome those fears.

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