Dental Blog

Recognizing and Treating Gingivitis

When we think about oral health, one of the major parts of our mouth that can cause problems is the gum. If gums become red and often bleed, it may be an indication of gum disease. There are two different types of gum disease. One is called gingivitis and the other, periodontitis. Periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis, and it is a serious condition. Without proper treatment, gingivitis (and subsequent periodontitis) could potentially lead to tooth loss and damage to the jawbone.

Trying to determine if this is what’s causing your mouth issues? Some of the symptoms associated with gingivitis include: bleeding gums, bad breath, swelling, frequent mouth sores, tender or painful gums, or loose teeth. It’s important to note that there are other causes of gingivitis not limited to poor oral hygiene. Ill-fitting braces or dentures, improperly aligned teeth, tobacco use, pregnancy, and even certain medications can cause gingivitis.

So if you have some of the symptoms, where do you go from there? After going to see your dentist and confirming that you indeed have this issue, the dentist will clean your teeth in order to attack the bacteria and reduce inflammation. And how to prevent yourself from ending up in the dentist’s chair like this? Thoroughly brush and floss every day. Eat a healthy diet, watch your sugars, and schedule regular dental cleanings!

Saliva: The True Mouth Guard

Saliva is a big deal, especially when it comes to oral health. Saliva serves as a neutralizer in your mouth, it quiets enamel-eroding acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. It is your best line of defense against acids, sugars, and bacteria that aim to wear away your enamel.

What you might not have known about saliva is that there are two types of saliva. The first type of saliva is stimulated saliva, it appears in your mouth when you smell French fries or when you bite into a cheeseburger. It makes up 70-90 percent of the two to three pints of saliva that we each generate daily. It looks like water and helps to break down starches and balance the pH in your mouth.

The brother of stimulated saliva is unstimulated saliva. It is the saliva that is always in your mouth, keeping it from drying out and wrapping itself protectively around the surfaces of teeth. It is also necessary for our mouths and while it may be less glamorous that the saliva that arrives when our favorite dinner is headed our way, it is just as needed.

Saliva is vital to keeping teeth and gums happy and healthy. Lack of saliva could result in tooth decay and loss of taste. Talk to your dentist about a treatment plan if you experience dry mouth.

Watch Out For Fluoride

Fluoride is a must if you want healthy, strong, cavity-free teeth. Fluoride hardens enamel, which helps prevent your teeth from decaying. But fluoride, which can often be found in your town’s drinking supply, may suddenly be harder to find.

Many towns nationwide have decided to stop fluoridating the water to save money. Some towns have opted out of adding fluoride because they produce enough naturally, but in many towns and cities this is not the case. Many Americans cannot afford dental care, and need the help of fluoride to keep their teeth healthy. If your town has announced that the water will no longer have added fluoride, then you need to know other sources where you can get fluoride.

Check for fluoride in your toothpaste, your mouthwash, and in bottled water to keep your teeth strong. Also, talk to your dentist about ways that you can add fluoride to your daily routine. It is important to tell your dentist about the lack of fluoride in your town’s water so that they can alter your treatment plan accordingly.

A Whistling Sound Could Be a Bad Sign

Whether you are getting a root canal, a cosmetic procedure, or a cap, there are risks associated with every dental treatment. For dentists, any procedure that deals with the contour or position of the front teeth could affect the sounds a patient makes, in other terms; changes to the front teeth could alter how a patient speaks.

If teeth are not the correct distance apart then a whistling sound can occur when a patient says a word with an “s” in it. This is called a sibilant sound and it is made when air is forced through the teeth’s biting edges. This speech impediment is most common in people with dentures, but people who have had alterations to their front teeth are also at risk.

A whistling sound can happen after braces come off, when dentures go in, or when veneers are placed. If veneers are too long or too thick then they can cause a whistling sound that can really bother patients. It can be difficult to fix this speech impediment.

One way to fix the issue is to try thinning and polishing the teeth’s biting edges or by adding bonding. The issue is that the inside of the teeth are where linguistics lie, so the issue must be addressed there as well.

Make sure to address this potential side effect with your dentist before you have any work completed on your front teeth. Ask multiple people after your procedure if they can hear a change in the way that you talk, if they can then go back to your dentist and ask for them to retreat your teeth.

Don't chew on this: The hazards of ice are crystal clear

Ever have a bad habit that you just can't break? Chewing on ice may be a habit that can break your teeth. Before you start crunching on the last bits of cubes left in your glass or reaching for ice chips to busy your mouth, there are a few things you should know:

1. Teeth need enamel When you chew on ice, the enamel on your teeth wears down and the dentin becomes exposed. This puts your teeth at risk for decay and damage, not to mention uncomfortable sensitivity.

2. Icy hot cycles Changing the environment in your mouth from a cold to hot temperature can cause fillings to expand, shortening their lifespan. This means an additional visit to the dentist, additional cost, and discomfort beforehand.

3. Puncture-free zone, please Pieces of ice can have sharp edges, which can easily puncture soft gum tissue. Your gums are exposed to enough abrasion, without having to dodge sharp, icy-cold bits!

4. Toothache, headache, brain freeze! Chomping on ice involves severe movements with your jaw, which can easily lead to a headache, or a toothache if the soft tissue within your teeth becomes irritated. And the flash exposure to cold can definitely initiate the onset of a brain freeze.

Ice is not meant to be snack food, regardless of what weight-loss proponents may recommend. Chew on this information before mindlessly biting down on the next piece of ice.

How to avoid 4 common oral health problems and keep on smiling!

Your smile is your best chance at making a great first impression. It’s the first thing people see, and it can be the key to opening a conversation, making a new friend, or even brightening someone’s day. So, if oral health issues are keeping your smile hidden, it’s time to do something about it! Here are some ways to address 4 of the more common oral health problems to get you smiling again:

1. Let’s begin with one of the most-dreaded: bad breath! Bad breath, also called halitosis, can keep people from feeling confident in social situations and engaging in friendly conversation. In the vast majority of cases (over 60%), bad breath is caused by improper dental hygiene. If you’re having this problem, you can start by doing whatever you can to keep your teeth clear of bacteria and food particles—that means brushing and flossing thoroughly, especially after meals. Changing your diet to limit junk food can also help. After eating, try non-alcoholic mouthwashes or ADA-approved, sugar-free gum to combat bad breath and help clear lingering food particles stuck in your teeth. If you do these things and find you still suffer from chronic bad breath, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist to see if there’s something else contributing to the problem.

2. Tooth decay is the enemy of a bright smile, as it can leave you with discolored or even missing teeth. Tooth decay is most often caused by a bacterial buildup and can be prevented by proper brushing and flossing regimens (2-3 times a day) and regular trips to the dentist for cleanings. Also, avoiding acidic foods such as juices, pickles, soda, and sports drinks will help to decrease erosion and decay. If you or your dentist notice the onset of tooth decay, getting it treated as early as possible will help preserve your smile.

3. Receding gum lines can cause serious discomfort, causing the gums to become red, swollen and bloody. Plus, if allowed to progress to gingivitis, receding gums can eventually lead to tooth loss. Inflamed gums and missing teeth are not exactly going make you feel like smiling! Try an ultra-soft toothbrush and go gentle on your gums. Wearing a nighttime mouth guard to keep yourself from grinding your teeth and causing pain can also help with gum recession. As always, your dentist can assist you in addressing your receding gums and provide you with advice and treatment options.

4. Mouth sores, or canker sores, can cause extreme pain on the inside of your mouth on your cheek, tongue, or inside of your lip. That’s more than enough to keep you from smiling. These type of sores—not to be confused with cold sores, which are bacterial—are caused by a variety of factors, some simple (stress, food allergies, hormones), some less so (vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune issues), They generally recede on their own after several days, but in the meantime, you can manage the discomfort by avoiding spicy and acidic foods, rinsing your mouth with salt water, or using over-the-counter pain medicines. If they are frequently recurring, however, they may be a symptom of a larger issue and you should seek advice from a health care professional.

It’s our job to keep you smiling…so, if you have concerns about any of these issues, please let us know so you can work together to keep your smile radiant for years to come.

Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Dentures In

Having dentures can be challenging, especially at first. Many patients have issues adjusting to the size, shape, and orientation of dentures. It may take awhile for patients to become accustomed to having dentures as well as the cleaning and care routine for dentures. Whether you are new to dentures or a seasoned pro, you must know this important fact about them.

Falling asleep with your dentures in puts the elderly at a greatly increased risk for pneumonia. Whether you are a denture-wearer yourself or a caretaker for your elderly mother or grandmother, then you must be aware of the risks. Dental professionals usually recommend that people take out their dentures when they go to bed and use that time to clean them. But, in one study, they found that denture wearers who left their dentures in overnight doubled their risk of getting pneumonia.

The science behind this is that the bacteria and microorganisms that grow on your dentures while you sleep can cause inflammation in your mouth and other parts of your body. While dentures can help restore a lost smile and give back the function to eat and maintain a normal lifestyle, they come with risks too. Speak to your dentist about the best practices of cleaning and taking of your dentures for optimal oral and overall health.

Could Fillings Become a Thing of the Past?

Could fillings be a thing of the past? Scientists in London have developed a pain-free filling that doesn’t require drilling or injections.

Normally, a dentist would remove the decay by drilling and then the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin. The new treatment technique, developed by King’s College London requires no drilling. Instead, the new treatment called, Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), aims instead to accelerate the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals.

EAER is a two-step process that first prepares the damaged enamel and then uses a very small electric current to push minerals into the repair site. It is still in the early stages and may be available within three years.

This new treatment is gentler on patients and teeth. It may be more cost-effective as well, because patients will not need to repair their teeth over and over again as fillings fail. While this treatment is a thing of the future, it is an important thing to look forward to as modern dental health grows.

Dental Care for Cleft Lip and Palate Patients

Patients who have cleft lip or palate face dental issues regarding the number, shape, size, and position of their teeth. Often times children with a cleft require more dental work to help correct teeth that may have come in malformed or malpositioned. Teeth do not come in normally and require the work of multiple specialists to correct the problem.

An orthodontist will likely be brought in as well as an oral surgeon, maxillofacial prosthodontist, and a general dentist. This unique team will work together to create teeth that look and function normally for the patient.

Many patients with cleft have issues eating and speaking. A maxillofacial prosthodontist uses artificial teeth and dental appliances to help with the speaking and eating functionality of teeth. Many procedures and trips to the dentist and doctor go into repairing a cleft. Dental extractions are often needed as well as braces to help align the teeth. It can seem daunting to patients and to their loved ones but all the work helps to create a functional and normal appearance.

Cleft lip and palate patients should also follow a regular oral health routine that includes flossing, brushing, and fluoride use along with regular visits to a dentist. Doing this helps them ward off potential gum disease or gum infections.

What You’re Doing Wrong with Your Child’s Oral Health

It’s no secret that kids don’t always have the best oral health routines, which results in multiple cavities by the time they get into the dentist’s office. Some causes include: eating too much sugar, not brushing thoroughly enough, not flossing, and skipping brushings.

But have no fear, here is a list of classic mistakes parents make when it comes to oral health, and tips on how you can avoid them.

1. Letting kids brush alone It might be easier to send them to the bathroom and tell them to brush their teeth before bed, but could be a huge mistake. When kids are brushing their teeth, especially if they are new to the habit, they need supervision. If kids are younger than 8, they lack the motor skills needed to brush effectively.

Tip: Make brushing part of your family routine. Try to have everyone brush together before story time for example. This is a great way to watch your kids brush, while getting some family time with them before bed. It also helps that they will see you brushing at the same time, so that they can pick up tips from you.

2. Not taking regular trips to the dentist Kids need to attend regular dentist visits just like adults do. The trick to starting your child off on the right foot when it comes to oral health is to schedule the first dentist appointment early. If you don’t start bringing your child to the dentist until they are 2 or 3 years old, then you are making a big mistake. Waiting a long time for the first visit lets issues in the mouth run rampant.

Tip: The first trip to the dentist should happen six months after the eruption of their first tooth. This is ideal timing because it allows for early detection of any oral health problems. If you wait until they are 2 years old to bring them to the dentist then they are likely to have decay and cavities. If their first trip is filled with pain and bad news, then a cycle will begin, one of fear and loathing for the dentist. Avoid this by making your first appointment early.

3. Not using fluoride The American Dental Association recommends fluoride and studies show that it is the best way to prevent cavities, so make sure you use it! Toothpastes with fluoride in them are the norm for most households. If you drink a lot of bottled water, you might be missing out on fluoride.

Tip: Talk to your dentist about how much fluoride your child needs to keep them cavity free and which toothpastes are right for them.

The best thing you can do as a parent is to instill good oral health values in your children and ask your dentist about any dental questions or issues that you might have.