Smoking’s Disastrous Impact on your Oral Health

Smoking’s Disastrous Impact on your Oral Health

You probably know by now that smoking is often disastrous for your health. The average life expectancy for smokers is 14 years shorter than the average life expectancy for a non-smoker, to give one frightening statistic. What you may not know about, however, are the serious afflictions that smoking an cause in your mouth.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is more likely and more harmful for smokers. Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells and reduces the blood flow in the gums and supporting tissues of the tooth, thus making them more likely to become inflamed. It makes you more susceptible to infections and, through impairing blood flow to the gums and alveolar bone, slows the healing process.

Yellow Teeth

This one needs little explanation. The nicotine and tar in tobacco can make your teeth yellow in a very short period of time and after a long period of regular tobacco use, you may even find your teeth to have turned brown.

Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Dental plaque is formed by bacteria attaching themselves to the tooth’s surface. Smoking can change the type of bacteria in plaque, introducing harmful bacteria to the tooth. Smoking causes an increase in plaque and tartar, which eventually leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

Bad Breath

If you’ve ever been near a heavy smoker when they are speaking then you probably know this one already. The smell of smoke in the mouth lingers to become a musty smell, reminiscent of vomit, which is worsened by the dry mouth that smoking causes.

Cancer

The most severe consequence on your teeth of habitual smoking is the increased likelihood of developing mouth cancer, which has an 83% survival rate when it is localized in the mouth, 62% when it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and only 38% when it has spread to distant parts of the body. This is why it is important for smokers to receive oral cancer screenings in our office with our Vizilite cancer detection technology.

The only effective approach to reduce your likelihood of developing these problems is to quit smoking and tobacco products altogether. Regardless of how long you have used tobacco products, quitting now can greatly reduce serious risks to your health.

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A Basic Guide to Dentures

A Basic Guide to Dentures

If you’re young, you may take the ease of activities such as eating and speaking for granted. However, if you lose your teeth in advanced age, theseactivities become significantly more difficult. When you lose all your teeth, facial muscles often sag, making you look much older.

Dentures may be the solution to these problems. They can fill out the appearance of your face and can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth. They may look better than your natural teeth!

Types of dentures:

  • Conventional. This full removable denture is made and placed in your mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed, which may take several months.
  • Immediate. This removable denture is inserted on the same day that the remaining teeth are removed. We will take measurements and make models of your jaw during a preliminary visit. You don’t have to be without teeth during the healing period, but may need to have the denture relined or remade after your jaw has healed.
  • download.jpgOverdenture. Sometimes some of your teeth can be saved to preserve your jawbone and provide stability and support for the denture. An overdenture fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth after they have been prepared by a dentist in the office. Implants can serve the same function, too.

New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. They may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. Minor irritation and soreness are not unusual, and saliva flow may increase. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, and after you come back into our office for a follow-up and adjustment, these problems should subside.

Like natural teeth, dentures should be brushed daily to remove food particles and plaque as well as to prevent staining. In addition, even with full dentures, you should brush your gums, tongue and roof of your mouth every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque.

Below are some tips for proper care of your dentures:

  • Rinse your dentures before brushing.
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures so they don’t get scratched.
  • When you’re not wearing your dentures, place them in water to keep them from warping.
  • You may need denture adhesive cream, powder, liquid, strips or pads to keep your dentures in place. We can recommend the best choice for you.

Why Thumb-Sucking May Suck for Your Child’s Oral Health

Why Thumb-Sucking May Suck for Your Child’s Oral Health

Thumb-sucking is a natural reflex for young children. Babies suck their thumbs, fingers or pacifiers for a sense of security and comfort as well as to learn about their bodies. This habit often extends into young childhood, especially to soothe anxiety or fall asleep. Children usually stop sucking between the ages of two and four, but some continue, and this is when problems may arise.

While intense thumb-sucking can cause problems with baby teeth, it is especially harmful once children’s permanent teeth begin to appear. These problems include improper growth of the mouth or alignment of teeth as well as abnormalities in the roof of the mouth. The likelihood of these issues materializing depends on the intensity of the thumb-sucking; a child that rests her thumb passively in her mouth is at less risk than one who vigorously sucks his thumb.

So if your child is struggling to kick the habit of thumb-sucking, try these techniques to address it:

  • Praise your child for not sucking and point out when they are sucking.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when they feel insecure or anxious. Try addressing the source of this anxiety and provide them with comfort if they need it.
  • For older children, discuss possible methods to encourage stopping.
  • Let us talk to your child at their next checkup to explain to them the harms of thumb-sucking and why it is vital that they stop.
  • If all else fails, remind the child of their bad habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on their hand while they sleep at night. We may also prescribe a bitter medication to apply to the thumb to discourage sucking.

For too many children, thumb-sucking persists into much older ages than it should. With these tips, you can greatly reduce the chance of your child suffering from this bad habit.

 

 

The Dangers of Gum Disease

The Dangers of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. It is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth, and many studies have associated severe gum disease with conditions such as diabetes or stroke.

Below are some of the warning signs of gum disease:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad 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

The likelihood of gum disease is increased by the following:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • smoking or chewing tobacco
  • genetics
  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes
  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

Gum disease proceeds in two stages, and the earlier you catch it, the better. The first stage is called gingivitis. Symptoms include redness, swelling or easy bleeding of the gums. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a cleaning at our office followed by daily flossing and brushing.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis affects 47% of Americans. It can lead to the loss of the tissue and bone that support the teeth and it increases in severity over time. If this happens, your teeth may begin to feel loose and move around in your mouth.

It is possible to have gum disease and little to no warning signs. That is why regular checkups and periodontal examinations are crucial. Treatment methods depend on how far the condition has progressed, and proper dental care is essential to help keep periodontal disease from spreading or recurring.

So What is a Root Canal, Anyway?

If you have a severely damaged, decaying tooth or a serious tooth infection (abscess), we may recommend a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of removing it.

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Abscesses usually result from a deep cavity, repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue, a cracked or fractured tooth, or injury to the tooth. If left untreated, this can result in an infection in the tissues around the root of the tooth, leading to swelling and pain. The infection can also spread to inside the tooth or to the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. If the bone that connects your tooth to your jaw gets infected, it can easily lead to the loss of your tooth.

If this sounds like your situation, a root canal may be the solution. A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to complete. We use local anesthesia to ensure the procedure is completely painless.

During the treatment, we create an opening in the top of the tooth. We then remove the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the areas in the root (the root canal). We clean inside the tooth and each root canal and may treat it with germ-killing medicine. Once cleaned, we fill the root canals with a rubber-like material to seal them against future infection and place a temporary filling on the tooth until we can place a permanent filling or crown at the earliest possible opportunity.

After treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive for a couple days. Usually an over-the-counter pain reliever will be sufficient to make you feel better. If the infection spread, we may prescribe antibiotics.

You will need a follow-up visit to remove the temporary filling or crown and replace with a permanent filling or crown. We also may place a metal or plastic post in the root canal to hold the crown in place if necessary. Once you’re on your way, with proper care, your restored tooth can last a lifetime!

What You Need to Know About Teeth Sensitivity

What You Need to Know About Teeth Sensitivity

Is tasting ice cream or sipping a hot coffee a painful experience for you? Does brushing or flossing hurt? If so, you probably have sensitive teeth.

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. Dentin is thinner than enamel and cementum and has microscopic tubules (hollow tubes or canals) that lead to the nerves and cells in the teeth and gums.

When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

So if you have sensitive teeth, what are your treatment options? Here’s a list:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. This is an in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel, reducing the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, we can replace that gum tissue to protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, we may recommend a root canal to eliminate the problem.

If you are not currently suffering from hypersensitivity, then way to go! Good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing at least twice a day) can prevent tooth sensitivity and the pain that comes along with it.

All About Baby Teeth!

All About Baby Teeth!

Baby teeth, while temporary, will be in your children’s mouths for a long time and impact the eruption of their permanent teeth, so it is important for both you and your children to keep them clean. Here are some pointers on what to expect and how to take care of them.

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Babies are born with their 20 primary teeth in their jaws, but they do not erupt until around the ages of 6 months to 1 year. By  years old, most children have all 20 baby teeth. Every child is different, but generally the front teeth at the bottom and top of the mouth come in first. When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing to them.

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They help him or her chew, speak and smile. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby loses a tooth too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded.

You should begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a soft cloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can appear, so until the age of three, you should brush your child’s teeth morning and night with a bit of fluoride toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. When your children are aged three to six, you should teach them to brush their teeth morning and night with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brushing your teeth alongside them is a fun bonding activity and an opportunity for you to be a great role model of proper oral hygiene.

You should schedule your child’s first dental appointment after the first tooth comes in, and no later than the first birthday. This is a simple checkup to make sure that the baby has no cavities or other tooth problems, and we can show you how to clean your child’s teeth properly and how to handle thumb sucking. Follow these instructions and you can start your children on the path to a lifetime of great oral health!