Q: My husband is dental phobic, although he won't admit it, and it's hard to get him to go even once a year. Any suggestions on how to motivate him? - Sandy M., Atlanta
A: Dental phobia is pretty common. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene, 50 percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have mild to severe dental anxiety. More than 20 percent of those folks don't go to a dentist regularly, and 9 percent to 15 percent of them dodge dental care completely. The result is that nearly half of adults 30 and older show signs of gum disease. Severe gum disease affects about 9 percent of adults.
Serious health repercussions of gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and periodontitis (persistent inflammation that's caused by formation of bacterial plaque) are outlined below. Share them with your husband. Perhaps that will provide some incentive. And check out www.dentalfearcentral.org; search for "How to find a dentist for phobics."
- Cognitive decline: A 32-year study of men found that for every tooth lost from decay or periodontal disease, cognition declines measurably. Another found that periodontal disease is associated with greater accumulation of amyloid in the brain - a characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. There's evidence that bacteria found in periodontal disease show up in Alzheimer's damaged brains.
- Erectile dysfunction: A review of various studies published in the American Journal of Men's Health found that men with periodontal disease often have chronic inflammation as well as diabetes, heart disease and/or are smokers, and that can lead to ED.
– Diabetes: Gum disease increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, makes it harder to control once diagnosed, and increases the risk of diabetes complications affecting the kidney and eyes.
Increased risk of some cancers: One 10-year study found a correlation between advanced gum disease and death from lung, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer. A new study indicates it also increases the risk of contracting esophageal and gastric cancers.
Q: Should I get the flu vaccine this year if the COVID vaccine is coming out around the same time? I am 68 and in good health. - Gini G., Moline, Illinois
A: There's a lot of confusion around the COVID-19 vaccine, and we're afraid that people will put off of getting the flu vaccine, thinking they won't need it if the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. Although COVID-19 and flu may seem to have similar symptoms, they are very different infections. To understand the differences between the two, go to www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm.
Bottom line, please get your flu shot. Hospitals cannot tolerate a COVID-19 spike and a flu spike at the same time. The risk of a serious reaction to the flu shot compared with its known benefits is less than one in a million. There are some new twists to the flu vaccine this year that you want to know about:
- There are two new vaccines: A quadrivalent high-dose vaccine for folks 65 and older. And another one for those 65 plus: a quadrivalent adjuvanted vaccine that delivers the dose with a slightly stronger kick.
- Other options this year include standard dose flu shots; shots made with virus grown in cell culture, with no eggs involved; a recombinant vaccine; and a nasal spray with a live (but it can't infect you) attenuated influenza vaccine. The nasal spray should not be used by children younger than 2, adults 50 and older, anyone with a chronic disease or pregnant women. Other restrictions apply: Check at www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/nasalspray.htm. To figure out which form is best for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Timing: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July and August are too early to get the flu shot, especially for older people. Get your vaccination in September or October, but if you miss that window, you can and should get your shot in January or even later.
Where to get a flu shot: Visit www.vaccinefinder.org and www.vaccines.gov/get-vaccinated/where.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.