Recent reports have shown increasing links between gum disease and other, more serious problems such as heart disease and stroke. Research has shown that individuals with gum disease are more than twice as likely to have heart disease or artery disease.
There are a few different reasons why this may exist. The most commonly held belief is that bacteria from your mouth grow in higher numbers when you have periodontal disease. As these bacteria numbers increase, the bacteria enter the blood stream. This bacteria then ‘attaches’ itself to major vessels and arteries, causing build-up. This build-up is commonly referred to as plaque on the coronary arteries. This plaque eventually will become so large that blockages will occur, resulting in heart disease, vessel damage and / or stroke.
Another possibility is that any type of inflammation (including the inflammation associated with gum disease) causes overall inflammation. Prolonged inflammation in the body is known to also cause plaque build-up in the arteries.
Infections from the mouth can also ‘travel’ and cause other major problems. One recent study has shown that an increased incidence of strokes was noted in individuals who had a severe oral infection in the last 90 days. It is also known that bacteria from the mouth can travel to heart valves, causing endocarditis. Certain patients may need to be treated with antibiotics prior to dental work because of this.
Maintaining good overall health also means good oral health. Regular trips to the dentist for routine examinations and preventative dental care are part of routine oral health, and should be done at least twice a year.
Many people who have heard about the benefits of sedation dentistry are reluctant to make an appointment because they believe that it will be too expensive.
It is a common misconception about sedation dentistry that it costs more than ordinary dentistry. The reality is that sedation dentistry can save you money in the long run.
One way that sedation dentistry can save you money is that because sedation dentistry patients are so much more relaxed, your dentist can often complete your dental work in just one visit. Had you gone to an ordinary dentist, it may have taken two, three, or more visits to complete the same work. With sedation dentistry, you only pay for one visit but with ordinary dentistry you might have to pay for several visits.
In addition, with sedation dentistry the patient only has to miss work or other important activities and arrange for child care once rather than two, three or more times. The patient who visits the sedation dentist only has to make one trip to and from the dentist for the work to be done, and only has to recover one time.
Finally, sedation dentistry can save you money because some people who are too anxious to go to an ordinary dentist find that they have no problem visiting a sedation dental practice. For these people, sedation dentistry saves money because they get ongoing dental care to keep their teeth healthy that they otherwise would not get. Without low anxiety sedation dentistry, these patients would eventually be facing very expensive dental repair work because their dental health had been neglected.
Severe anxiety, phobia, severe gagging, life threatening allergies and the inability to use local anesthetics are among the myriad of reasons that over 100,000 Georgians are unable to receive the dental care they need in a dentists’ office. For these people, dentistry ranges from almost torture to a life threatening experience – yet many want and need care.
In 1999, to little fanfare, the state senate of Georgia passed a law to help these people. Since their only alternative is to have their dental work done while they are truly and fully asleep, “Senate Bill 66” mandates Medical Insurance to pay the additional costs of general anesthesia and hospital costs for these people. Once the often prohibitive costs of being fully asleep in the hospital are handled, a lot more of these people can afford the dental care they really need.
Dr. David Kurtzman, a Marietta, Georgia, dentist who has been treating these cases for over twenty (20) years says, “No one really talks about this law – certainly not the insurance companies!” He had worked for years trying to get these costs paid. Even when he got to speak with people within the insurance companies he called, nobody ever mentioned it. Not until a chance call to the Insurance Commissioners’ office in Atlanta lead Kurtzman to the obscure bill did his office start getting more and more coverage for their patients.
The law states that medical insurance must pay hospital and anesthesia fees for any person for whom a successful result cannot be expected using local anesthesia (Novocaine, etc.) “Because of physical, intellectual or other compromising medical condition” of the insured patient. Anyone who really needs it can now expect coverage for sedation dentistry.
“We are seeing people who have lived with pain and infection for literally years!” says Kurtzman. Care under general anesthesia in the hospital operating room gives thousands of these people hope for a healthy, painless and beautiful smile.
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