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Friday, November 17, 2017

Periodontal disease: what it is and how to avoid it

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth.
There is a very slight gap (called a sulcus) between the tooth and the gum.
Periodontal diseases attack this gap and cause a breakdown in the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues.
When the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket and, as the disease gets more severe, the pocket usually gets deeper.
The two major stages of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, which is a more serious, destructive form of periodontal disease.
There are several factors that have been shown to increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
– Systemic diseases such as diabetes
– Some types of medication
– Crooked teeth
– Bridges that no longer fit properly
– Fillings that have become defective
– Smoking
– Pregnancy
And there are a number of warning signs that can suggest a possible problem:
– Gums that bleed easily
– Red, swollen, tender gums
– Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
– Persistent bad breath or taste
– Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
– Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
– Any change in the fit of partial dentures
However, its also possible to have periodontal disease with no warning signs.
Its therefore important to have regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations.
If you have developed periodontal disease, the treatment will depend on how far it has progressed.
You can take steps to prevent periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.
Good dental hygiene practices such as brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth, eating a healthy diet and having regular visits to the dentist will make a huge difference.

Friday, November 10, 2017

How cancer treatment affects oral health

When someone is undergoing cancer treatment, its important that they involve their dentist in their program of care.
They should schedule a dental exam and cleaning before the treatment actually begins and then repeat it periodically during the course of treatment.
Its important that they tell the dentist that they are being treated for cancer and that they also discuss any dental procedures, such as extractions or insertion of dental implants, with the oncologist before starting the cancer treatment.
Its therefore a good idea to ensure that the dentist and oncologist have each others details to enable them to discuss any issues to help the patient.
And the dentist and physician should be informed about any issues such as bleeding of the gums, pain, or unusual feeling in the teeth or gums, or any dental infections.
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene during cancer treatment is vital to reduce the risk of infection and to help aid the treatment process.

Friday, November 3, 2017

How cosmetic dentistry can change your smile – and your life

Modern cosmetic dentistry has created many opportunities that did not exist before for people to improve their appearance and change the way they feel about themselves.
Although cosmetic dentistry really did not exist a few yaears ago, it now attracts interest from a wide range of people.
There are few people who don’t want to improve their appearance by making their teeth straighter and whiter so that they look better when they smile.
New technology and procedures have created many more opportunities for dentists to help patients look better.
One of the most important opportunities for doing this is porcelain veneers.
These are custom-made wafers that the dentist places over the front of the teeth to repair damage and make them look better.
They can overcome many cosmetic dental problems such as whitening stained or discolored teeth, closing gaps between teeth or correcting a crooked smile without the need for braces.
They can also cover up chips and imperfections so that the smile looks much better.
Another important cosmetic trend is the increased use of white fillings.
White fillings now are more lifelike than ever and they last longer than previously.
They have become the material of choice for many dentists as they blend in with teeth and look better.
If you feel your smile is less than perfect, talk to your dentist about how it could be better.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Maintaining proper nutrition as an older adult

Maintaining proper nutrition is important for everyone, young or old but many older adults find it difficult to eat a balanced diet.
They may avoid meats, raw vegetables and fresh fruits because they have trouble chewing or swallowing.
These problems can be caused by painful teeth, ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth or changes in facial muscles.
Others find their sense of taste has changed, sometimes due to a disease or certain medications.
As a result, older adults often have diets lacking in calcium, protein and other nutrients essential to dental and overall health.
A balanced diet has to be based on the five food groups:
– Milk and dairy products
– Breads and cereals
– Meats and dried beans
– Fruits
– Vegetables
Sometimes a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement will help but its best to use supplements only after discussion with your physician.
If your teeth are stopping you from eating the food you enjoy or that you need for good health your dentist will be able to help you find a solution.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How mouth protectors can save your teeth

If you take part in sports that carry a significant risk of injury, you should wear a mouth protector.
Accidents can happen during any physical activity and, if you participate in sports such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and volleyball, you might be grateful for the extra protection one day.
Something as simple as a misdirected elbow in a game, or a spill off a bicycle, can leave you with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.
Mouth protectors usually cover the upper teeth and they can cushion the effect of a blow to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth.
In addition, if you wear dental appliances such as braces on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe. The three main types of mouth protectors are:
Stock: These are inexpensive and come ready to wear. But they often dont fit very well and they can be bulky making breathing and talking difficult.
Boil and bite: These can also be bought at many sport stores and may fit better than stock mouth protectors. You first soften them in water, then insert them and allow them to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
Custom-fitted: Protectors that are specially made for you by your dentist are more expensive but are likely to fit better than one you buy off the shelf.
Choosing to wear the right mouth protector can help you avoid serious long-term damage to your teeth and mouth.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Why cavities arent just for kids

Tooth decay or cavities result from destruction of the tooth enamel and can lead to a range of problems from toothache to bad breath.
Cavities occur when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, sugared drinks, cakes or candy are frequently left on the teeth.
Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay.
Many people associate cavities with children but the changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem, too.
Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque.
Tooth roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue than enamel. They are susceptible to decay and are more sensitive to touch and to hot and cold. The majority of people over age 50 have tooth-root decay.
Decay around the edges of fillings is also common to older adults. As many of them did not benefit from fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were younger, they often have a number of dental fillings.
Over the years, these fillings may weaken, fracture and leak around the edges.
Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.
You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:
– Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
– Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner
– Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking
Its also worth asking your dentist about supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about dental sealants, a plastic protective coating which is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from decay.
In addition, its important to visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The facts about oral cancer

Oral cancer is not as well known as other types of cancer but it can represent a life-threatening risk if not identified early.
– It strikes an estimated 35,000 Americans each year
– More than 7,500 people (5,200 men and 2,307 women) die of these cancers each year
– More than 25% of Americans who get oral cancer will die of the disease
– On average, only half of those diagnosed with the disease will survive more than five years
– African-Americans are especially vulnerable; the incidence rate is 1/3 higher than whites and the mortality rate is almost twice as high
Although the use of tobacco and alcohol are risk factors in developing oral cancer, approximately 25% of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors.
There has been a nearly five-fold increase in incidence in oral cancer patients under age 40, many with no known risk factors.
The incidence of oral cancer in women has increased significantly, largely due to an increase in women smoking. In 1950 the male to female ratio was 6:1; by 2002, it was 2:1.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid tobacco and alcohol use.
Unusual red or white spots can form in and around the mouth. These are often harmless but they can be cancerous or pre-cancerous.
Identifying and removing these early enough is a major factor in reducing the incidence of cancer.
So knowing the risk factors and seeing your dentist for regular examinations can help prevent this deadly disease.