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Gums Don’t Discriminate
Gum disease might seem like something only adults suffer from but it affects people of all ages. So, while teens may feel – and often appear to be – indestructible, their gums tell a different tale.
TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds already have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Even more sobering, other studies show that teenage girls may be at higher risk of gum disease due to their hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) – also known as “deep cleaning” – to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
After SRP treatment, prevent gingivitis from returning by: brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once daily, getting dental cleanings twice a year AND eating healthy foods. The last one might be the biggest challenge since eating tooth-and-gum-friendly foods trip most teens up; sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are all heavily marketed to and largely consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easier for your teen to choose healthy options for their teeth and body by ensuring the refrigerator is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.
If your teen suffers from gingivitis, or you’re concerned about his or her oral healthcare habits, give us a call for an appointment. We’re definitely here for you and serve as an essential barrier against gum disease.
We're Here to Pump You Up
Can working out improve your dental health? According to one study at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, the findings were conclusive: Yes!
The researchers took the same factors that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease into account when analyzing data from 12,110 participants. They found that those who exercised regularly, had healthy eating habits and maintained their weight were 40 percent less likely to develop periodontal disease than their counterparts.
The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, even shows that those who met two of the three criteria lowered their risk by 29 percent, while participants with just one healthy virtue had a 16 percent less chance of developing gum disease.
Overall, only seven percent of those who met all three of the criteria had some form of gum disease. The participants who had a poor diet, limited physical activity and were considered overweight totaled 18 percent, suggesting that obesity can more than double the risk of periodontal disease.
Scientists aren't exactly sure why these factors may decrease your chances of developing gum disease. It’s already known that healthy eating helps build up the immune system. However, scientists now theorize that eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, may also help remove dental plaque from teeth. It's also believed that obesity promotes gum inflammation, while physical activity may decrease it.
While a healthy lifestyle may help improve your dental health, it's not a substitute for maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist twice a year are essential.
Give us a call today to make your next appointment. Your teeth and gums will thank us.
Puberty Causes Swollen Gums
Puberty is a fact of life where a child's body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. It is during this time that hair sprouts up in unusual places, voices drop, girls start menstruating and smiles can become plagued with swollen gums that are more sensitive to dental plaque and at greater risk for dental problems.
Puberty is fueled by hormonal signals to the brain and the release of those compounds is essential to the maturation process. However, while those hormones are imbalanced, growing girls and boys are more prone to oral issues including infections, gingivitis and mouth sores. Fortunately a good dental hygiene regimen complete with daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist will act as a form of preventative dentistry and minimize any oral health risks associated with the natural evolution of life.
Birth Control Pills Trigger Pregnancy Gingivitis
Being with child can be an exciting transition, but as any mother will tell you, pregnancy is no walk in the park. In order for a women to carry a child to full term, hormonal levels will change in order to help a fetus grow and develop, but those fluctuations can also put her a greater risk for dental problems such as gingivitis, pregnancy tumors and periodontal disease. Women on birth control pills have the same oral health risks as their child carrying counterparts.
Oral contraceptives use various hormones to mimic pregnancy, suppress ovulation and will thicken a woman's cervical mucus in order to block a sperm merging with an egg. Once a body is tricked into copying the indicators of pregnancy, the risks of dental problems including gum inflammation, oral infections, tooth loss will increase and pregnancy gingivitis can occur to women on the pill.
In addition to increased odds of developing pregnancy gingivitis, being on the pill can also make it difficult for women to recover from tooth extractions. Studies have indicated that women on birth control pills, that undergo tooth extractions while on the medication are two times more likely to have to endure dry socket at the tooth extraction site.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to combating the smile killing effects associated with birth control pills.
Why So Sensitive? 5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt
Do your teeth hurt when you drink or eat something hot or cold? Most people think this is normal, but that’s not always the case. When your teeth hurt, they’re trying to tell you something: See your dentist.
More often than not, tooth sensitivity is a sign of a dental problem like tooth decay or gum disease. But there are other reasons why your teeth may be hurting:
• You might have a cracked or broken tooth
• One of your fillings could be broken or rotten
• You might be grinding your teeth while you sleep
• You could be brushing your teeth too hard
• There may be plaque buildup on your tooth roots
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring sensitive teeth or trying to self-treat. If your sensitivity lasts longer than a couple of days or keeps recurring over a couple of weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse it can get and the more expensive treatment will be. A quick exam can reveal exactly what’s going on and get you back to living pain-free.
Sippy Cup: Friend Or Foe?
The sippy cup is a spill proof, lid-covered drinking cup designed to help parents teach their toddlers how to drink without spilling. Children can toss it, drop it and turn it upside down, but they can't spill its contents. That's thanks to a valve in the top that releases liquid only when a child puts his lips around the tip and sucks. Day after day countless parents reach for that sippy cup their toddlers love so well, proud that the bottle is a thing of the past, and thrilled that their car seats and living room carpets will be spared! These parents though, should think twice before resorting to extended use of the sippy cup.
Many parents operate under the mistaken impression that the sippy cup is better than allowing the child to sleep with a bottle. The damage done by the bedtime bottle is fueled by the fact that no saliva flows during sleep to clear liquids from the mouth or dilute them. Liquids bathe the teeth all night. The sippy cup filled with sweetened liquids can cause the same damaging effects. The child's teeth are immersed in the liquid during drinking and many parents allow unlimited access to the sippy cup.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age and be encouraged to drink from a cup. Parents are cautioned however that the repetitive consumption of liquids that contain fermentable carbohydrates (milk, juice, soft drinks etc.) from a bottle or sippy cup should be avoided.
• Be very selective about the liquids that you give your child from the sippy cup. Avoid milk, juice, and soft drinks. Try water or sugar free beverages instead.
• Use the sippy cup only as a transition to a regular cup or adult drinking glass with no lid.
• Consider cup design carefully. A pop-up straw reduces the amount of time the liquid is in contact with the teeth.
• Some speech pathologists have expressed concern about over use of the sippy cup and liken its use to a thumb-sucking habit, the effects of which are well documented.
Hot Beverages Contribute to Tooth Staining
Estimates suggest that annually Americans consume 45 million pounds of caffeine and hot coffee and teas are the most popular sources for the legal psychoactive stimulant drug. Both beverages are associated with having dental health perks as black coffee has been found to lower acid levels on teeth, reducing the odds of cavity development and green tea has been found to be powerful in reducing gum inflammation and subsequently gum disease. Despite the perks of the beverages, when consumed at their steamiest stage, the unflattering side effect may be tooth staining.
Science has shown that heat will cause molecules and atoms to vibrate faster, increase space between atoms and cause expansion. Tooth enamel is one such substance that will expand under heat and during that stage, the tannins in coffee and tea can lodge into the void and as the teeth cool down again, tooth staining can be the result.
Proper oral hygiene can help teeth stay clean and lower the level of dental plaque, and brushing with a whitening toothpaste may help alleviate some of the discoloration. Patients may also choose to get professional teeth whitening from a dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry.
Embarrassed It Has Been So Long?
If you’re nervous about having to sit through a lecture on the importance of dental health, you can stop worrying. We’re not here to cause you anxiety or point fingers. Trust us, we of all people know that dental health is affected by a number of factors that could be environmental, hereditary or habitual. Our goal is to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
This might surprise you, but there’s almost nothing that can surprise us when it comes to teeth. If you think your teeth are bad, we’ve probably seen worse. A large part of our training and professional work involves being exposed to just about every dental problem you can imagine. Without that kind of experience, how could we properly evaluate your teeth and treat them? We couldn’t.
One of the most important things you can do is to be up front with us. If you have dental anxiety, don’t silently suffer in the chair – tell us! The same goes for anything specific that might scare you – whether it’s needles or anesthesia or just sitting in the chair. And please tell us what we can do to make your visit more comfortable. Many people find that a blanket and pillow makes their visits much more relaxing. Others like us to explain what we’re doing before we do it. And some people find that taking frequent breaks is helpful.
Let’s talk about what you need before you talk yourself out of scheduling another visit. We’ll do whatever we can to ensure that you have a positive experience getting the dental care you need.
Swelling: A Sign to See Your Dentist
If you notice swelling in your mouth or jaw, call us right away for an appointment. Oral swelling is almost always caused by an infection of a tooth or the gums. If an infected tooth is the culprit, it usually means there’s a deep cavity allowing bacteria to infect the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. Without treatment, the infection will spread to the tissues and eventually form an abscess. Abscesses also spread – to the jawbone and cheek. And the longer an abscess is left untreated, the more the swelling will spread. A gum infection can also cause swelling when plaque and debris get trapped under the gum line. This almost always occurs in people with pre-existing gum disease. In either case, swelling is not something to take lightly; it requires immediate professional attention.
Swelling caused by an infected tooth will be treated with either root canal therapy, to remove the infected nerves, or with an extraction. In most cases, it’s preferable to save the tooth with root canal therapy rather than remove it. For gum infections, we can clean under the gum line to treat the infection.
Before your dental visit, try rinsing with warm salt water (8 oz. of water with 1 tsp. of salt) every two hours to bring some of the swelling down. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or a topical ointment like Orajel® to help with the pain.
The Dental Woes of Women
Women come in all different shapes and sizes and regardless of their form oral hygiene is vital to the success of the female of the species. Thanks to the XX genetic markers, women have their own unique biological issues, health worries and conditions. This is true for every body part, including all the features that compose their smiles.
Once facial muscles are flexed, a smile is born. While it may simply look like teeth and gums, underneath a grin is an intricate network of tooth enamel, pulp chamber, dentin and many other dental anatomy components. Those parts backed by the gender specific biology puts women at a higher risk for a multitude of dental problems than their XY counterparts.
TMJ Sufferers are 90% Female
Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, AKA TMJ (National Institutes of Health). Of those suffering with symptoms ranging from headache, facial pain, jaw popping, clicking or locking, unnecessary dental wear and tear, malocclusion and teeth grinding 90 percent of them are women.
While TMJ can be caused by facial trauma or accidents, the condition is most closely linked to women in their childbearing years. TMJ syndrome can cause discomfort in jaw joints, facial muscles, facial nerves and surrounding tissues and there are several reasons why women are more prone to developing the condition. Arthritis, hormone fluctuations, joint structure and a dietary deficiency of magnesium are all conditions more common in women and those factors are believed to negatively influence women TMJ sufferers.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Both men and women can experience the fiery sensation caused by burning mouth syndrome, however the condition is more common in menopausal women. 'The change of life' typically affects women between the ages 40-50 and it marks when the ovaries permanently shut down making conception an impossibility. When the monthly sequence of reproductive hormones comes to an end, women can experience side effects including hot flashes, weight gain, mood fluctuation and burning mouth syndrome.
While a burning sensation may be part of the condition, it is not the only symptom. The feeling may also be coupled with dry mouth, soreness, tingling or a metallic taste. Those conditions can trigger off other problems such as sleep difficulties and depression. In menopausal women the hormonal changes are thought to reduce the flow of otherwise healthy saliva production and dry mouth is thought to be the trigger for burning mouth syndrome.
Courtesy of dental neglect, both men and women can develop gingivitis regardless of their stage of life. However, statistics have indicated that approximately 50 percent of all pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis. The condition is marked by inflamed gums, potentially coupled with tenderness and bleeding. If left untreated by a professional dentist, the condition could develop into full-blown a periodontal disease infection. If the impurity from the infection manages to enter the bloodstream, the body will automatically produce antibodies and chemicals to fight of the condition. While the battle may help a smile, it can also cause premature labor, low birth rate and even miscarriages.
Girls, sisters, mothers and friends should all be warned about the specific risks associated with being a woman and become properly educated on how good oral hygiene can combat the problems. Practicing a good oral hygiene regime of brushing twice a day, daily flossing and regular dental exams and cleanings twice a year can help minimize the danger.
Deciduous teeth are baby teeth. We're born with two full sets of teeth and this first set is also called primary, milk or lacteal dentition. These teeth begin to erupt anytime after 6 months of age, which is commonly referred to as "teething." Teeth normally erupt in pairs and the first that normally come in are the lower central incisors. By the time your child is 2, he or she should have a full set of deciduous teeth.
Why Two Sets?
As an infant, our mouths are too small for a full set of permanent teeth, so we require deciduous teeth until our jaw is able to sustain the permanent set. Baby teeth are essential in the alignment, spacing and occlusion of primary teeth. They prepare the adult jaw for their permanent fellows.
As the adult teeth (seccedaneous teeth) form, special cells called odontoclasts absorb the roots of the baby teeth, so that when your adult teeth start to emerge from your gums the deciduous teeth have no roots, making them loose and able to easily fall out.
Caring for Deciduous Teeth
A gross misconception about baby teeth is that since they will eventually be replaced by primary teeth, there's no reason to take care of them. But cavities are a very real cause for concern -- even for deciduous teeth. Children who suffer from dental cavities in their baby teeth are more prone to cavities in their permanent teeth. And every dentist will agree that oral hygiene habits begin in childhood. So it is essential that you take excellent dental care of your little ones' baby teeth, as they won't be able to do so themselves for the first handful of years.
Good oral hygiene begins at teething. Simply rubbing your infant's gums with a wet washcloth will begin to develop habits that he or she will require for life. Once the first teeth erupt, begin brushing them twice a day. Once more teeth fill in, you can begin flossing, too. And be sure to set up your child's first dental visit when the first tooth appears or by age 1.
Deciduous Tooth Dental Cavities
Sometimes your toddler will get a dental cavity in one of the baby teeth. In that case, your regular pediatric dentist will take X-rays and fill any dental cavity so that tooth decay does not go unchecked and the primary tooth can emerge in the best condition possible.
Like all teeth, deciduous teeth must be cared for properly so that you have a healthy mouth and healthy body. It's up to parents to ensure that their child develops healthy deciduous teeth and good oral hygiene. If you need help maintaining your child's oral health, give us a call; we're glad to help.
Keep Waking Up With Headaches?
If the first thing you feel in the morning is a headache or pain behind your eyes or pain in your neck and shoulders, come in for a visit. What you’re experiencing could be the result of problems in your mouth. These are common symptoms of a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which basically means that your jaws don’t align properly. This misalignment stresses the jaw joints, putting pressure on nerves and muscles – which can result in morning headaches, migraines or facial and neck pain.
Not everyone with TMJ disorder shows symptoms. And not everyone has headaches or pain; TMJ disorder can also lead to broken teeth or fillings, loose teeth and toothaches. What is certain is that if you do display any of these symptoms, they won’t get better without professional help.
Many people find that resting the jaw helps ease the pain. You can do this by eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and hard candies. We can also show you jaw exercises to stretch the jaw joints and relieve stress. For most people, the most effective treatment is a custom dental splint that fits over your upper and lower teeth. This reduces the damage done from repeated clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding.
If these conservative methods don’t work, you still have other options. The temporomandibular joints can be flushed out, or an injection of cortisone can help relieve inflammation and pain. Worse-case scenario, you might need surgery. Come in for a visit and we’ll help you find the right solution.
What is Cementum?
Cementum is a hard layer of tissue that helps the periodontal ligament attach firmly to a tooth. Made of cementoblasts, cementum slowly forms over a lifetime..
Cementum is a hard, calcified layer of tissue that covers the root of the tooth. On its outer side, cementum is attached to the periodontal ligament; on its inner side, the dentin. Along with the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingiva, cementum helps a tooth stay in its place. In fact, if it weren't for cementum, the periodontal ligament wouldn't be able to attach firmly to a tooth.
Slowly formed throughout life, cementum is created when the root of the tooth excretes cementoblasts. Though cementoblasts are somewhat of a mystery, it is known that cementum is yellow in color and softer than dentin. Its chemical makeup is similar to that of bone -- but unlike bone, cementum is avascular (not supported by blood vessels).
Types of Cementum
There are three types of cementum: acellular cementum, cellular cementum and afibrillar cementum. Acellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the root and has little to no cellular components. Cellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the apex and is permeable. Afibrillar cementum sometimes extends onto the enamel of the tooth.
If you have periodontal disease, your acellular cementum, cellular cementum or afibrillar cementum may also be diseased. A gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing can be performed to remove the diseased cementum, as well as dental tartar and diseased dentin.
If it has been awhile since your last dental visit, make an appointment today.
Dental Anxiety and Fears
The movie "As Good As It Gets" showed how an anxiety disorder could affect your interpersonal relationships. Dental anxiety has a similar effect: Skipping regular dental visits leave your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay; and when cavities form, bad breath follows. As a result, your self-confidence is compromised, which can limit your social interactions.
It's one thing when anxiety affects your relationships but something else altogether when it begins to impact your physical well-being. The health consequences of dental anxiety are very real and can be quite serious. In fact, if you put off dental visits, your teeth and gums can become chronically infected. This can:
• Affect your ability to chew and digest properly
• Affect your speech patterns
• Lead to heart disease
Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
• Many patients find that these methods help combat dental anxiety:
• Sedation dentistry, including oral sedation, IV sedation and nitrous oxide
• Yoga techniques for breathing and relaxation
• Listening to your iPod® during a visit
• Therapy/hypnotherapy sessions
Remember, dental anxiety is not too great to overcome, but communicating with your dentist is important.