Dental health key for good overall health

HANCOCK – Taking care of your teeth is also a smart move for the rest of your body.

There’s a direct correlation between the bacteria causing gum disease and cardiovascular disease and diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, said James Sarazin, a family dentist in Hancock.

“In adults with poor periodontal health, they’re going to aggravate their general health,” he said.

If a patient’s bite is misaligned, it can lead to jaw and muscle strain, migraines, or a greater chance of sleep apnea. In some cases, Sarazin may refer patients to orthodontists or other specialists.

When patients first come in, Sarazin will do a set of X-rays and do an exam. In addition to looking for standard things such as tooth decay or gum disease, he’s also looking for more serious problems such as oral cancer or oral pathology.

“We start out with an open plate, we get a lot of information from the history of the patient, we assimilate all that to get a treatment plan,” he said. “And everybody’s different. I see people that haven’t been in for 10-15 years, I see people who had been in to college age and let it go, so there’s catch-up time in there. We see all ages as well.”

Sarazin also uses the first visit to coordinate a cleaning, which is tweaked for each patients. Some may need only a routine cleaning, while others with tartar buildup below the gum line may need multiple cleanings.

Preventative care can help avert greater problems later on. Sarazin said for every $1 spent in preventative care, it saves $8 to $50 in procedures later on. And even responding to a concern can result in a better situation than waiting.

“If something doesn’t feel right, you should see your dentist immediately,” he said.

At the first visit, Sarazin gives his patients some standard tips on maintaining hygiene. Among those:

brush and floss every day: Make sure the toothpaste has fluoride, which bonds with the enamel and strengthens the teeth. For best results, use a motorized brush such as Oral-B or Sonicare.

“Those are more expensive, but they work.” Sarazin said. “We see great results.”

come in for visits every six months: This should include getting bitewing X-rays at least annually, which allows to check for recurrent decay. Young children should get X-rays every six months, as decay in baby teeth can progress faster. Children should also get sealant coatings on their permanent molars when they come in. Adults should also have intermittent probing, which measures the health of the tissue around the teeth.

“We probe all our adult patients to make sure that there’s none of these pockets going on, and if so, we address them,” he said.

watch diet: Sarazin recommends water, especially for young children; even juices can have sweeteners that can accelerate decay. An average soft drink has 11 teaspoons of sugar, he said. The diet should also have enough key vitamins, especially A and C.

no smoking: Alcohol should also be limited.

For more information, contact Sarazin at 482-8601 or go to his office at 528 Quincy St.