Do You Know Your Numbers?

Time for a little math!  On this journey and quest for health there are numbers that are important to know.  They help you to assess your risk for future disease.  It’s time to be an educated consumer, take charge of your health care and own your results.  Rather than react to disease and treat after it has taken over, let’s be proactive and stay healthy.  Knowing these numbers can make the difference in leading a long, healthy lifestyle.

                                                                  Know These Numbers!

Cavity Risk Assessment:
Do you know how likely you are to have a new cavity in the next 12 months? (If you have a current cavity, there’s a 63 to 88% chance you’ll have a new cavity in that time period!  Yikes!)  It’s time to take the Caries Risk Assessment (CRA), which will determine likelihood of getting tooth decay. Click on the link above, print it out and take it to your next appointment.  As part of this screening tool, there’s a way to measure the amount of tooth decay bacteria called the cavity screen test.   This tool measures the decay bacterial load.  The scale on this tool ranges from 0 to 9,999.  You want to get your “numbers” down below 1,500 on this meter, and your risk level to “low” on the CRA.   Take the risk assessment test and see where you score.  Be honest and then take action.  Tooth decay is totally preventable!
To learn more about tooth decay prevention, read my previous blog post- Tooth Decay is Not Okay.

Gum Disease Risk Assessment:

Know your gum pocket numbers

Do you know what your risk is for having a gum infection? Visit the Perio.org website and take the Previser risk assessment test.  Another thing you need at the dental office- your periodontal charting.  That’s where the dental hygienist measures six points around each tooth. (You might know it as “the one where the dental hygienist pokes a pointy thing under my gums.”) This test should be done yearly so there are no surprises tucked under the gumline (i.e. pockets of bone loss, blood or pus).  They take a tool called a probe which is a mini dental ruler and tuck it gently under your gum line.  The goal is to have  all numbers in the one to three millimeter range and no bleeding or pus points.

Then, learn even more- ask to have a Perio ID test done to see what levels of gum disease bacteria you have. It’s an easy test- you swish saline solution in your mouth for one minute and then spit it back in the tube. It gets mailed to the company and they send your dentist the results in about two weeks.  Learn what levels of gum disease bacteria you have so you can be proactive.  Eighty percent of the population in the United States has some level of gum disease! Yes, I know, your gums don’t hurt, so why treat something that does not hurt?   Because if your gums are infected your arteries are infected, and can lead to heart attacks or strokes!   There is a link between the infection in the mouth, whether it’s gum disease or tooth decay, and infection in the body.

There are also genetic tests to see how susceptible to gum infections you are- when the new, updated tests are on the market, I’ll discuss them in more detail and devote an entire blog post to that, so stay tuned.  The bottom line to know for now on why that’s important: if you have some of these genes you have a heightened response to inflammation, both in the mouth and in your arteries.  It’s good to know ahead of time. Think about your parents and then think especially of your children!  If you want more information now, send me a message and I can discuss this privately.

If your mouth’s not healthy, your body’s not healthy. Know your oral numbers.

Next, some body numbers:

Blood Pressure:
Yes, in our office we measure blood pressure.  We are committed to Total Body Dentistry.  What is blood pressure?  Heart.org said it best:
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:

117 slash 76 mm Hg

Read as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury”

Systolic

The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).

Diastolic

The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Ideally,  blood pressure in adults over 20 years old  should be less that 120/80.   One in three adults has high blood pressure!  (That’s way too high a number for me, since this is all about numbers today.)   We screen for high blood pressure because we care about you!  It’s the most important risk factor for heart disease. High blood pressure increases the stress on your arteries.  Just so you know I take this very seriously, my blood pressure is 115/76 and I exercise four days a week.

Neck Circumference:
Women- 16 inches + 
Men-  17 inches +
Why measure this?  It is part of the screening tool for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  We can look for clinical signs when you’re in the dental chair.  Your neck size is one important factor in helping us screen for this life threatening problem.

Friedman Score I through IV 

Friedman Tongue Position Score
Place your tongue in a neutral position on the floor of the mouth and then open wide. Can you see your  uvula, tonsils, and back of your throat?  This is position I.  In position II  you can see the uvula but not the throat or tonsils. Positions I and II are considered acceptable.  Position III allows seeing the soft palate but not the uvula.  Position IV  allows visualization of only the hard palate.  The tonsils size is also graded.  Friedman tongue position can help predict sleep apnea severity.  It’s an easy screening tool for Obstructive Sleep Apnea!

Waist Circumference:
Women- 35 inches +
Men- 40 inches +
Why measure this?  Because a large belly means Insulin Resistance.  That’s the root cause of 70% of heart attacks, strokes, and type II diabetes.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I until recently when I read Beat the Heart Attack Gene by Amy Doneen and Bradley Bale.  In insulin resistance there are often no symptoms so the excess weight around the stomach area can be a sign of  this chronic inflammation and a predictor of problems to come.

I encourage you to read the Bale/Doneen book.  Currently, the book on my nightstand is  The 30 Day Heart Tune-Up by Steven Masley, MD.

How did your numbers stack up?  There are plenty more numbers to monitor but these are easy to start following.  With the cost of health care skyrocketing, prevention in the key to a long, healthy smiling life!

Keep on Smiling,
Barbara

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