Posts for: July, 2013

By Dentistry For Children & Adults
July 29, 2013
Category: Oral Health
FiveFactsaboutGumDisease

The ailment we commonly called gum disease is actually series of related diseases, all of which involve the tissues that surround the teeth. It's sometimes thought of as a “silent” malady, because its symptoms — bad breath, soreness, or bleeding of the gums — may be masked by other conditions. Or, they may simply be disregarded.

But don't ignore these symptoms! Left untreated, periodontitis can have serious health consequences. Here are five things you should know about this disease.

Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease.

That means it's a disease related to a natural response of the body's immune system (inflammation), and it develops over time (chronic). Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, may be the first step in the disease's progression. Left untreated, it can be followed by destruction of the periodontal ligament (which helps hold the tooth in place), loss of the supporting bone, and ultimately tooth loss. But it doesn't stop there.

The effects of gum disease aren't confined to the mouth.

In fact, recent research has suggested a connection between periodontal disease and chronic diseases in the whole body. There is evidence that severe periodontal disease is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (like heart attack and stroke), pregnancy complications, and other conditions. It is also believed to have an adverse effect on blood-sugar control in diabetics.

Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in dental plaque.

Oral bacteria tend to build up in a colony of living organisms called a biofilm. Of the many types of bacteria that live in the mouth, only a relatively few are harmful. When oral biofilms are not regularly disturbed by brushing and flossing, the disease-causing types tend to predominate. Once it gains a foothold, treating gum disease can become more difficult.

Prevention is the best defense.

Good personal oral hygiene, carried out on a daily basis, is probably the best defense against many forms of periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing is effective in disrupting the growth of dental plaques. Lifestyle changes — like quitting smoking and reducing stress — are also associated with lessening your chance of developing the disease. Genetics also seems to play a part, so those with a family history of periodontitis should pay special attention to preventive measures.

Prompt, effective treatment is critical.

Bleeding of the gums is never a normal occurrence. But sometimes this (and other symptoms of gum disease) may be overlooked. During routine dental checkups, we can detect the early signs of periodontal disease. We can then recommend an appropriate treatment, from routine scaling and root planing (a cleaning of the teeth) to other therapies. So, besides brushing and flossing regularly, don't neglect regular examinations — they're the best way to stop this disease before it becomes more serious.

If you have concerns about gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease” and “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.”


By Dentistry For Children & Adults
July 19, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
LooseDentures-NoMore

The image of Grandma and Grandpa taking out their dentures every night and placing them in a glass of water by the bed is still a reality for a lot of people.

If you have dentures, you probably know that the conditions in your mouth will or have changed over time, necessitating adjustments. This is because full dentures exert continuous pressure on the gum tissues and underlying bone of your jaw resulting in a slow shrinkage. The gum tissues, and the bone beneath, atrophy or melt away. The result — over time the dentures lose their original tight fit and become loose. This can cause discomfort and embarrassment as the dentures slip and slide around.

Reline (refit) your current dentures. If your dentures are in good condition and are functional, applying a new inner lining to the dentures will restore their former fit. Because the rate of bone loss differs from person to person, some denture wearers may need more frequent relines than others. A temporary reline involves adding a layer of moldable plastic material under the denture while you are in the dentist's chair. The material will harden and fill in spaces where the gums have shrunk away from the denture. For a more permanent relining, the dentures must be sent to a dental lab, which will replace the temporary material with permanent denture material. This can usually be done in one day.

A new set of dentures. If your dentures are worn or you cannot speak, eat, bite or chew properly with them, a new set of dentures may be the answer. The condition of your jaw is another factor. If examination shows that a reline will not achieve the fit and stability you need, then remaking the dentures is another option.

Dental Implants — State-of-the-art tooth replacement systems. Dentures used to be the only solution to the problem of missing teeth, but with today's technology it's amazing what dentists can do. Implants do not only replace teeth but also stabilize the gradual bone loss that takes place when teeth are missing. Choose dental implants to replace at least two of your missing teeth to anchor your dentures and make them more stable.

Have all your missing teeth replaced with dental implants. Dental implants are generally the best option for long-term denture wearers who have endured jawbone loss and can no longer tolerate dentures alone. Bridgework (or dentures) are attached to the implants, stabilizing them and the underlying bone. The new teeth also provide support to the face, lips and cheeks giving a more youthful appearance.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about dentures and other tooth restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Dentures.”


By Dentistry For Children & Adults
July 08, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
FiveFactsAboutOralHealthDuringCancerTreatment

According to a recent study from the National Cancer Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, the incidence of cancer is dropping and the survival rate is increasing. In general, the outlook for patients undergoing treatment for the disease is getting better and better. Unfortunately, it's possible that some essential lifesaving treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, can adversely affect your oral health. If you (or a loved one) need cancer treatment, however, there are some things you should know that can help minimize the possible complications and side effects.

  1. Chemotherapy and radiation are effective cancer treatments, but they may cause oral health problems. These therapies work by attacking cancer cells, but they can also damage healthy cells, including those in the salivary glands and the lining of the mouth. Common symptoms may include a dry mouth or uncomfortable mouth sores. Cancer patients may also be at higher risk for dental disease, especially tooth decay.
  2. Prevention is the best way to minimize these problems. It's important to have a complete dental evaluation before cancer treatment begins. Side effects often result when the mouth isn't healthy prior to the start of therapy — so if there's time for necessary dental treatment beforehand, it can be beneficial in the long run.
  3. Taking good care of the mouth is crucial at this time. During cancer treatment, proper brushing is more important than ever. A fluoride gel or antibacterial rinse may be prescribed to help prevent tooth decay. Prescription medications are sometimes recommended to alleviate dry mouth, but drinking plenty of water, chewing xylitol-containing gum, or using a soothing rinse of salt, water and baking soda can help too.
  4. A team approach is essential for the best care. This includes coordination between dentists and oncologists (cancer specialists), and sharing information about prescription and non-prescription drugs, medical histories and treatment plans.
  5. It's vital to understand and follow medical recommendations. This means not only getting the necessary treatments and taking prescribed medications, but also learning to recognize the warning signs of potential problems. With the support of our office, your oncologist, and caring family and friends, we can make cancer treatment as comfortable as possible and help obtain the best outcome.

If you would like more information about cancer treatment and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”