Thursday, January 31, 2008

Successful Smiles Podcast: Pregnancy and Oral Health

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #7

This is the second episode in a series that explores the connection between your oral health and sexual health.

In this episode, I discuss the connection between oral health and pregnancy.

Did you know that infections are thought to account for between 30 and 50 percent of all premature deliveries -- including gum infections such as gingivitis and periodontal disease?

And, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to deliver their babies prematurely or deliver babies that are too small.

In this podcast you'll learn why:

  • It's important to have a dental exam before you get pregant and during the first trimester.

  • You should consider being tested for HPV and throat cancer.

  • Eating healthy foods is good for your baby -- and for your smile.

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Women Turn to the Internet for Health Information

In a press release dated January 22, 2008, comScore released results from a recent study which shows that:

. . . second only to consulting physicians, women turn most often to the Internet for health information. Eighty-five percent of women using the Internet have researched women’s health issues online while two out of three (63 percent) have used the Internet specifically to learn about birth control options.

I have seen this in my own practice. Women routinely search for dental information online -- everything from crowns to veneers -- and then call the office. It's one reason I continually add educational content, such as podcasts and newsletters, to my site -- as well as maintaining this blog.

As the comScore release points out, women are proactive consumers -- and it behooves healthcare providers to provide the information they're seeking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Successful Smiles Podcast: Teens, Sex, and Oral Health

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #6

This episode of Successful Smiles is the first in a series that explores the connection between your oral health and physical health.

In this episode, I discuss oral health, sex, and teenagers. According to the American Dental Association, oral cancer strikes over 34,000 Americans annually, with over 25% dying of the disease, which claims more lives than melanoma and cervical cancer. The death rate for this cancer is relatively high due to the fact that the disease is not detected early enough.

Additionally, research has indicated a link between the human papilloma virus (HPV) and oral cancer. Researchers at John Hopkins compared patients who had oral cancer with those who did not. The study revealed that those patients who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer and those with more than five increased their risk by 250% -- and even more worrisome, increased their risk for the HPV-16 strain of virus by 750%. Over 70% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV Types 16 and 18.

The podcast covers the following:

  • The increase in STDs and how this increase is affecting young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

  • How to protect yourself from STDs.

  • The link between oral sex, HPV, and oral cancer.

  • Why you should get tested for throat cancer if you're sexually active and have one or more partners.

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New ADA Oral Longevity Brochure and DVD Available

The American Dental Association (ADA) started their OralLongevity initiative last September. The initiative is "designed to increase awareness about the need to enhance and preserve the oral health of older Americans."

For many older Americans, dental health becomes neglected as seniors lose their ability to drive or walk without help. Many end up in nursing homes or as shut-ins. However, dental care is just as imporant when you're 88 as it is when you're 38.

To address these issues, the ADA recently made available a brochure and DVD geared for dental professionals, seniors, and their care givers. According to the ADA Website, "the OralLongevity brochure and DVD includes searchable chapters on a variety of oral health topics, such as aging dentition, daily mouth care, nutrition, dry mouth and more."

Download the brochure and the DVD.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Relationship Between Oral and Physical Health

Scientific American published a special edition of their magazine. Titled, "Oral and Whole Body Health," the publication features articles on the relationship between one's oral and physical health.

To put it more simply, what happens in your mouth can and does affect the rest of your body.

To quote from one of the articles, "Researchers are discovering that out-of-control inflammation [gum disease] may prove to be the engine that drives an ever-growing list of greatly feared, chronic illnesses from clogged arteries and heart attacks to arthritis and cancer" -- and even low birth weight babies!

This topic is something I've become passionate about in recent years. Unfortunately, the fields of medicine and dentistry have always maintained their own "side of the fence," but as a dentist, it's always been a "duh" idea to me that your oral health affects your physical health.

I'll be posting more about this topic in the coming months. It's a hot topic and one everyone should know more about.