Anti-Inflammatory Diet Improves Periodontal Disease Symptoms

You’ve probably heard it before: Diet and exercise can make a dramatic improvement in nearly any condition that ails you. But a new study from the German Research Foundation published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology has found that a diet that is said to reduce inflammation can also improve the symptoms of periodontal disease.

Periodontal, or gum, disease is caused by inflammation of the gums. It happens when plaque and bacteria enter the gums and bloodstream, causing red, tender gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. Early-stage gum disease is called gingivitis – and it’s completely reversible with diligent oral health care. But often times it is not treated and can turn into full-blown periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect the gums – it can cause everything from gum tissue and tooth loss to bone loss. Recent studies have also linked it to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.

So, how common is periodontal disease? According to the Centers for Disease Control, a reported 47.2 percent of American adults suffer from some stage of periodontal disease, and as age increases, so too do the number of periodontal disease cases.

“It’s a very big problem we’re not talking enough about,” says Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist from Fort Collins, Colorado.

That’s because many people simply don’t realize how serious it is – or how deeply it affects the rest of the body.

But now, there may be a helpful solution on the way in the form of a diet.

“Researchers found that when they prescribed nothing more than a diet change to a group of 15 participants, there was a significant reduction in the severity of periodontitis symptoms,” says Lesko. “That same change was not present at all among the control group.”

So, what was the big change that caused such dramatic results?

“The diet was anti-inflammatory,” says Lesko.

That means it was specifically designed to include foods that reduce inflammation in the body. It was rich in foods like legumes, fruits, nuts and fish, and low in foods containing sugar, dairy and trans fats.

Upon consuming the special diet for eight weeks, researchers noticed a marked reduction in inflammation and bleeding in the study participants, who did nothing else to change their lifestyle during the study.

“They didn’t brush more or floss their teeth – they literally made no changes other than to adapt this anti-inflammatory diet, and that alone improved their periodontal disease symptoms across the board,” Lesko says.

So, should you use an anti-inflammatory diet to treat your own periodontal disease?

“Making positive changes to your diet can’t hurt,” says Lesko. “But we still want to see patients take better care of their teeth, and that means both brushing twice a day and flossing.”


Developmental Disabilities Complicate Oral Hygiene

Properly maintaining a child’s oral hygiene can be a challenge for any parent, but for a parent of a child with a developmental disability, this challenge can be even greater, especially when that child refuses to see a dentist. But now, a cry from parents of children with developmental disabilities is gaining steam, and it could effect change in the dental community.

“The first problem many parents face is even getting their developmentally disabled child to care for their teeth at home,” says Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist from Fort Collins, Colorado. “Getting a child to feel comfortable with a routine or to sit still long enough to brush and floss teeth is a tall order. And some may even need these steps performed for them if they are unwilling or unable.”

As big a problem as this is for younger children, it can become an even bigger problem as the child in question ages.

“At some point, the resistant child will become a teen and an adult, and will hopefully be responsible for managing their own hygiene, but this may not always be possible,” Lesko says.

When this happens, it opens a veritable Pandora’s Box of other dental issues.

“Those teeth they won’t brush develop cavities. They develop periodontitis. It goes from being a maintenance issue to something in dire need of treatment, but that becomes even harder than just getting them to brush their teeth,” says Lesko.

Worse yet, many families cannot afford to provide the kind of dental care needed for their developmentally disabled child, no matter their age.

“Often, sedation dentistry is the best option for treating these cases, but many dental insurance plans won’t cover the sedation portion of the procedure,” says Lesko. “So parents are forced to pay for that out of pocket.”

Even with reduced rates and payment plans, many parents still can’t swing the added expense.

“It can be too high of a cost for an annual or bi-annual cleaning,” says Lesko, “so many parents just skip the dental visits altogether.”

So, what’s a parent – or a patient – to do in this situation?

“All we can do right now is lobby the insurance industry for better coverage for these types of situations,” says Lesko. “Or speak to your family dentist about your options. Preventative care – even expensive preventative care – still saves money in the long run over fixing a problem that has gotten out of hand.”


Tooth Stem Cells Could Someday Save Lives

Parents who think they missed the boat by not banking their baby’s cord blood may soon have another chance to save precious stem cells that may benefit their children in the future. A new report from the United States National Center for Biotechnology Information has found that baby teeth can be saved and stored for use in a wide range of medical treatments, from fighting cancer to re-growing bones, treating diabetes and repairing eyesight.

“It’s still a new technology and it’s not available to consumers yet, but it’s coming,” says Fort Collins, Colorado, dentist Dr. Allison Lesko. “And when it does, it will be a game changer.”

The study found that teeth up to 10 years old could be used to harvest stem cells, which can be used to replicate any cell in the human body.

“So just because the stem cells are harvested from a tooth doesn’t mean they have to be used to replace a tooth,” says Lesko. “They will be able to replicate bones, tissue and organs from all around the human body.”

Currently, stem cells can be harvested from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow and even body fat, but because baby teeth contain bone marrow, they too are a source of stem cells.

“Bone marrow can be painful and difficult to extract, especially from a child,” says Lesko. “Extracting it from teeth will be a painless way to get the same benefits.”

As for the time-sensitive nature of extracting stem cells from cord blood, that complication isn’t as big of an issue with tooth marrow.

“The best part of doing it this way is that you don’t need to bank the teeth by a specific time,” says Lesko. “The stem cells can be harvested and banked as they fall out, naturally as your child grows – but only up to about age 10.”

But don’t just throw the teeth under the pillow and wait for the tooth fairy to take them.

“This type of banking will require some advanced planning,” says Lesko. “Most likely you will need to have a preservation kit on hand to keep the tooth from drying out before the stem cells can be extracted.”


Navigating Allergies at the Dentist

For parents of children with food allergies, navigating life can be a major challenge. Having to read labels and package inserts for products most of us take for granted can be stressful, frustrating and downright scary. Still, many parents must go out of their way to educate themselves about what ingredients are in these products and how they affect their child – something that is made even more difficult when you add in everyday stressors like work and family. Even the most vigilant parents can miss things. That’s what happened when one family missed the dairy-based ingredient added to their severely milk-allergic daughter’s prescription toothpaste, an omission any parent could relate to.

The family, from California, received a prescription for a special fluoride toothpaste for their daughter. Unfortunately, their 11-year-old had a severe milk allergy, a condition the family was well versed in. They considered the problem well managed, but in a move that would later prove fatal, they did not check the ingredients on the new toothpaste. Unfortunately, their young daughter had an immediate reaction at first use and died at the hospital later that night.

“It’s a devastating loss but one we don’t encounter often,” says Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist from Fort Collins, Colorado, who did not treat the family.

Lesko says that while the accident is a rare occurrence, there are safeguards parents can take to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“First, let your dentist know what allergies your child has, either on your medical intake forms or as a verbal reminder at any treatment,” says Lesko.

Another sound practice that the young girl’s family got right?

“Stay prepared,” says Lesko. “The parents in this case had an epi-pen and inhaler on hand for emergencies. They did the right thing by administering these medications to try and save their daughter.”

Keep these emergency products in close proximity to a child with life-threatening allergies at all times, and make sure the products have not expired between uses.

“Familiarize yourself with rescue product expiration dates and make sure to replace them before they expire,” says Lesko. “Add it to your calendar or set a reminder on your smartwatch or phone.”

Last, do what the child’s family had grown accustomed to doing over years of managing their daughter’s allergy.

“Learn the names of ingredients to rule out possible contamination,” says Lesko. “In the case of this young woman, her toothpaste contained Recaldent, a milk-based protein.”

Both Lesko and the victim’s family encourage parents to ask questions of any practitioner who is prescribing a medication.

“You never know what could be in a product – and you should never be afraid to ask. Even if your practitioner doesn’t know, we can find out for you,” says Lesko.


Stop Grinding Those Teeth in a Flash

Bruxism. It’s so common that an estimated 30 to 40 million Americans do it – and many don’t even realize they’re doing it or what it is. Simply put, bruxism is teeth grinding – where you clamp your teeth together tightly, often while you sleep or in stressful situations. It may seem harmless, but grinding your teeth can cause serious damage to your teeth. There are many reasons people grind their teeth, but the good news is there are solutions to help you stop, too. Here are just a few.

Bite Guards

The easiest and most obvious solution to grinding your teeth is a custom bite guard, made specifically for you at your dentist’s office. A custom bite guard is made with both precision and comfort in mind, unlike those over-the-counter boil-and-bite guards you get at the pharmacy. This is to ensure both accuracy in protecting your teeth as well as comfort, so you actually wear the guard. After all, what good is a bite guard if it’s too cumbersome to bother with?

De-Stressing

Sure, eliminating stress from your life is way easier said than done, but little things here and there can make a big impact in helping to reduce teeth grinding. Stuck in traffic? Don’t grit your teeth, turn up the radio and sing. In fact, according to an article in Time magazine, singing itself reduces stress, but it also keeps your mouth open and moving, lessening the opportunity to grind those teeth.

Chew on This

Gum is another great way to keep your jaw moving and not clenched. Be sure to choose sugarless gum, and don’t chew when you’re about to go to sleep – falling asleep with gum in your mouth is a choking hazard!

Diffuse the Situation

Surround yourself with something soothing. Try diffusing essential oils to relax you in your office or at home. For an added effect, dim your lights and put on relaxing music. Take deep breaths, breathing in slowly with your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You’ll relax, and you’ll keep your mouth open and your teeth apart.

If you have any questions about bruxism or would like to learn more about custom bite guards, please contact Dr. Lesko’s office at 970-812-0355.


7 Effective Teeth-Whitening Tips

You may think that having sparkling white teeth is only restricted to celebs, but you can achieve it too by using several effective teeth-whitening techniques. We’ve scoured the web for things that really work, and here are our most effective tips to help you get that beautiful smile you deserve.

1. Get an In-office Treatment

You’re probably not surprised this comes in as No. 1. Professional teeth whitening is the fastest and safest way to get the results you’re looking for.

 2. At-home Kits and Strips

Some over-the-counter bleaching products such as whitening strips can also be effective since the ingredients in these products are similar to those used in professional teeth-whitening procedures, albeit at lower concentrations. At-home treatments take more time to show results and in the long run may cost you more money since it takes several weeks of using these kit’ to see results. And the results you do get most likely won’t be even close to the results you would see with a professional treatment.

3. Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening pastes don’t work like strong bleaching products, but they can help with those stains that are very close to the teeth’s surface. Watch out for tooth sensitivity, though, and be sure to talk to Dr. Lesko about which whitening toothpastes are best for you.

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common causes of yellowing for many people, and it poses a risk to your teeth-whitening goals. Once tobacco penetrates the enamel, it becomes impossible to remove the stain by just brushing alone.

5. Eat Right

Food and drinks such as coffee, red wines and red juice can easily discolor your teeth, so you have to try your best to avoid them.

Foods like celery, apple, carrots and other crunchy products will stimulate saliva production, thereby reducing the amount of debris on your teeth. You’ll also want to rinse out your mouth with a glass of water after every meal.

6. Floss Once, Brush Twice

Flossing rids your mouth of the bacteria accumulation between the teeth; once a day is all you need. Brushing, on the other hand, removes stains and plaque from the teeth’s surface and should be done twice a day.

7. Visit Your Dentist

Dental cleanings and examinations can also be of great advantage. Your dentist will use professional tools that will effectively remove many of the stains you already have on your teeth and help prevent a buildup of plaque that could lead to future discoloration.

To find out more about teeth whitening or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 970-812-0355.


Some People Actually LOVE Going to the Dentist

Contrary to the immense fear and dread constantly portrayed in the media about the general public’s feelings toward dental visits, many people don’t mind going to the dentist, and some even say they genuinely enjoy it! Why, you may ask? Let’s get down to the details and find out what makes some Americans love dentists and all they stand for.

The American Dental Association actually surveyed people and got some pretty solid, direct quotes as to why they love the dentist.

One respondent said, “I have a great smile and great teeth. Well, let me clarify. That’s what I’m told when I go to the dentist, and that’s also why I like going. I get a lot of compliments.”

Who doesn’t enjoy compliments?! If you take great care of your teeth, a dental visit can help you feel like that hard work and commitment is paying off!

Another survey respondent said, “I like the goodie bags because they have the GOOD floss. It doesn’t get stuck between my teeth like the cheap stuff.”

We all love freebies!! Remember how cool getting those goodie bags from the dentist was as kids? Well, adults still enjoy the reward they get after a successful checkup. It’s even better when something in the bag turns out to be one of your favorites.

Another respondent, Brita, agrees:” I LOVE the goodie bags. I save every travel-size tube of toothpaste … for travel. Dentist bags are my preferred swag bags.”

“I love having the evidence of my sweet tooth totally scraped and scrubbed off, and then I get to leave with the freshest, cleanest feeling in the world,” said one patient surveyed. “What could be better?”

It IS a wonderful feeling when you rub your tongue over the fronts of your teeth after a dental exam and cleaning. It’s also nice knowing your teeth are incredibly clean and healthy. Some types of plaque can’t be removed without professional tools, making your regularly scheduled dental exams and cleanings incredibly important.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in the last six months, it’s definitely time for your next checkup and professional cleaning. Call us today at 970-812-0355 to set up an appointment.


Put Down the Plaque Scraper!

When you go to the dentist, you get to see firsthand all the tools it takes to remove built-up plaque, food particles and bacteria between teeth; clean the surface of your teeth; and even polish and protect them from future decay or disease. It makes sense that after your dental checkup you want to adopt as many of these techniques as possible at home to help keep teeth healthy and clean in between your six-month checkups and cleanings. While we love the enthusiasm many of our patients have for self-care, there are some things best left to the professionals!

A plaque scraper, also known as a dental scaler in the dental industry, is a metal tool with sharp edges used to remove plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Many stores have begun selling them to the general public without realizing that it could actually cause harm to the teeth when not used by a trained dental professional such as a dental hygienist or dentist. These dental professionals spend years in school learning techniques and safe ways to remove plaque without harming healthy gum tissue.

When someone without training uses a dental scaler or plaque scraper, it’s incredibly easy to damage the gums and even cause gum recession. This happens when the gum begins to pull away and sensitive parts of the root of the tooth are exposed. Many people have also damaged their cheeks, tongue and mouth tissue using a plaque scraper or dental scaler without proper training and technique.

We absolutely want you to take great care of your teeth between dental checkups and professional cleanings. But leave the plaque scraping to us! If it has been more than six months since your last professional cleaning or you are simply concerned about tartar or plaque buildup, please call us today and we would be happy to talk to you about how we can help. Give us a call at 970-812-0355.


May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

It’s May again, which means, among other things, spring flowers, longer days and warmer weather are on their way. It also means it is once again the Skin Cancer Foundation’s annual Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Each May, the Skin Cancer Foundation works to draw awareness to this very serious and very preventable disease that affects not just the outside of the skin, but can also turn into oral cancer. Before you head into the sun this spring and summer, remember these skin cancer prevention tips and stay vigilant about your health.

Watch the Clock

The sun’s harmful UV rays are at their most dangerous between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Be aware of the time when going outside, and try to avoid direct sunlight between these hours.

Protect Your Skin

If you must go outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., be sure to wear your sun-protective gear: long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats that cover the ears and nose, sunglasses, and of course a sunblock with a minimum of SPF 15 covering all visible skin, including the lips. If you will be working or playing outdoors for an extended period of time, opt for at least SPF 30.

Follow the Recipe

Not sure how much sunblock you should be using? Your entire body should be covered in 2 tablespoons of sunblock. For best results, apply 30 minutes before stepping outdoors into the sun. Be sure to reapply your sunblock every two hours or as directed on the bottle.

Monitor the Situation

Perform monthly self-checks on the skin of your entire body. Keep an eye out for any changes in skin texture or color, moles, or any other growths that appear on the skin. Don’t forget to check the backs of hands, tops of feet and on the face – including on the lips. Recruit a spouse or partner to help you check the back, neck, and tops and back of the ears.

Leave It to the Professionals

Be sure to visit a dermatologist or physician once a year for an annual skin check, and your dentist for an annual oral cancer check. You may not realize it, but skin cancer on the outside of the mouth can spread inside the mouth and become oral cancer!

Ready to make an appointment for a checkup with Dr. Lesko? Call 970-812-0355 today.


What Does that Dental Professional Do?

When it comes to oral health professionals, there are a lot of different types of specialists out there. For the average patient, it can be confusing to figure out what type of oral care professional they actually need. For those who are confused about what these dental specialists do, here’s a closer look into the world of oral health professionals!

Orthodontist

An orthodontist is probably the most easily recognized type of dental professional besides a dentist. Orthodontists are dentists who receive additional training to learn how to straighten the teeth and correct the bite using orthodontic devices, such as braces, expanders and retainers. Many dentists offer orthodontic services, but most orthodontists do not offer dental cleanings and exams.

Endodontist

An endodontist is a dental professional most people really don’t want to have to see. The endodontist specializes in what is considered one of the scariest dental procedures: the root canal. Thankfully, a root canal sounds a lot scarier than it really is; in fact, it’s not scary at all, especially at the hands of a skilled dentist or endodontist. Endodontists are truly experts in root canals, receiving years of additional training just on that one procedure.

Periodontist

A periodontist specializes in the care and treatment of the gums. If you are diagnosed by your dentist with periodontal disease or another gum infection, you may be referred to a periodontist for further treatment. A periodontist may also treat gum recession and perform gum-grafting surgical procedures.

Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist specializes in treating dental and facial problems that result from missing teeth. Prosthodontists receive an additional three years of dental training beyond dental school. Prosthodontists specialize in dental implants, dentures, crowns, bridges and any other prosthetic teeth that help restore the shape of the face and the function of the teeth and mouth.

Maxillofacial Surgeon

A maxillofacial surgeon works with the soft tissues of the face and jaw, including the gums, lips, cheeks and other surrounding muscle and tissue. Maxillofacial surgeons can perform a variety of dental surgeries, including tooth extraction and cleft palate procedures. Here’s an interesting fact: Maxillofacial surgeons are the only medical professionals who can provide every possible level of sedation besides actual anesthesiologists!

Dentists

Dentists provide cleanings, dental exams and even minor surgical procedures. Hopefully your dentist is the only dental professional you will ever need, but if you’re concerned about any dental issues, your dentist is a great first stop to have it checked out. If your dentist can’t cover it, she will refer you to a qualified specialist who can.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko for a cleaning or for any other concerns you may have, please call 970-812-0355.