Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category
Monday, December 13th, 2010
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
Morning breath is a great motivator to get us to brush in the morning – bacteria has built up during the night on our teeth, gums, and tongue…and if you are a mouth breather, then the bad breath is worse. One tip is to actually time how long you are brushing. Dental studies have shown that the average person needs to brush for at least one minute. A useful tool to use is an hourglass or timer. This will ensure that you have spent adequate time with your morning and evening oral hygiene. And of course, using the correct technique that your Laser Periodontist or dental professional has shown you will also help maintain your oral health. This daily oral care needs to go beyond the morning brush. Thankfully, there are some handy tools that make working oral care into your daily routines a little bit easier – here are a few you should consider keeping in your desk, bag or car for easy access after meals or anytime your mouth could use a “pick me up”:
- A travel bottle of mouthwash (try to stick with natural mouth rinses without alcohol)
- Stim-u-dents (little toothpicks)
- Floss holders and pocket flossers (disposible)
- Travel toothbrush/paste
- Travel proxy brushes
- Sugarless chewing gum
These are just a few things to consider to enhance your daily oral hygiene regimen. There are many other tricks a person can use. We have listed the most common handy tools. Do you have any other tricks you use on a daily basis for your oral care? Feel free to send us an e- mail and let us know. We will share tricks on our next follow up article.
Monday, December 6th, 2010
The holidays are upon us! And we all consume more food and drinks at this time of year. Here are a few feasting facts you can use for holiday mealtimes, to help keep your oral and overall health in check while you celebrate:
- Sweets contain sugar, which can cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath if left on the teeth, tongue, or gums. Alcohol can cause bad breath and dry mouth. If used in excess, it too can cause decreased immune responses. This can directly affect the gums and teeth and the rest of your body, as well.
- Spicy foods can cause bad breath. However, some spicy foods contain important nutrients and vitamins. Just remember to brush well after eating spicy dishes.
- Holiday vegetarian dishes can be healthier choices, and can provide a boost to your immune system. This can also be a plus for the health of your gums.
- Holidays can be stressful. We know that stress plays a considerable role in the risk of gum disease. Overeating and excessive drinking is also common at this time of year. Combining all of the above can adversely affect the gums and teeth.
Also keep in mind that keeping up with your oral hygiene routine is important particularly during this time of year when we all eat and drink too much. Daily brushing and flossing can keep your gums, teeth, and oral tissues healthy. It is also advisable to brush your tongue twice a day to keep the bacteria to a minimum and keeping your breath healthy.
Be mindful of everything you are eating and drinking during the holidays and how it may affect your teeth, gums, breath, and your health overall.
What are your favorite holiday drinks and foods?
Saturday, November 27th, 2010
For many people the thought of going to the dentist is anxiety provoking. Here are six tips that can help squelch your fear of the dentist:
- Meet the dentist or periodontist first for a consultation, to discuss your needs and the way the treatment will be performed. This way you can feel comfortable, confident, and reassured that you will be in good hands. If not possible, move on to another professional.
- You can request to speak to other patients of the practice to see what their experiences have been. Be sure to call more than one patient to verify consistency. Our practice’s new periodontal patients have this opportunity available to them at their first visit and all the information is kept confidential.
- Ask the dentist or periodontist if you could have anti-anxiety medication prior to your visit. You might have to be driven or escorted to the office if given oral medications. You could also ask about having nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for the visit as well. In this case, you can drive yourself.
- Practice breathing and relaxation techniques while at the dentist or periodontist’s office.
- Bring an mp3 player, or have music playing to relax you while having the dental work. This really helps.
- Once you have done your research on the dentist or periodontist you have chosen, trust your decision. Try not to consult a million other people because ultimately you might develop even more anxiety.
Do you have anxiety about getting oral exams? How do you cope?
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
There could be several reasons why one might get cracks on either corner of one’s mouth. Often this is caused by excessive saliva (most commonly seen in patients with dentures), sagging facial muscles, or habits such as habitual licking of the lips.
Other possible causes might be:
- Fungal infection or Thrush. This can be caused by yeast or Candida Albicans. This condition can be treated with anti-fungal creams and ointments, some of which are available over the counter and some by prescription. Ask your pharmacist or doctor. Additionally, to correctly diagnose this condition, your doctor might have to do a smear of the area and see under a microscope what organisms are present.
- Viral / Herpes Simplex. This is usually unilateral (on one side) and is recurrent. But don’t be fooled, it can also be on both sides. The area should be checked and a smear taken to see if viral particles are present. Many options including antiviral creams or oral anti-viral medications that can be given to treat this condition and prevent recurrence.
- If the lesions remain crusted, this could also be indicative of a bacterial infection such as staphylococcus aureus, which can be treated with antibiotic creams. We don’t want this type of bacteria to spread around the body. These lesions can also be spread between partners, sharing towels and the spread of bodily fluids.
The bottom line: Have the area around the corners of the mouth checked to see if this is a fungal, viral or bacterial infection. After a precise diagnosis is obtained, then the correct treatment can instituted rather than trying to guess randomly how to cure the cracks on the sides of the mouth.
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Is chewing gum bad for you? It’s a question I hear frequently and just one example of the many myths that abound regarding oral health.
Let’s review some of the more common myths — starting with that chewing gum question:
- Chewing gum is bad for you. Although it can be (if it contains sugar, which can cause tooth decay), the movement of the upper and lower jaws during chewing is actually good exercise for the muscles of mastication. And chewing gum actually works to cleanse the mouth and stimulate salivary flow. Stick to sugar free chewing gum without artificial ingredients, if possible.
- A cleaning once a year is enough. In my experience as a periodontist, most of my patients over the last 26 years needed to have their teeth cleaned an average of 3-4 times a year. This is critically important to maintain good oral health.
- Dental X-ray exposure will cause damage and possibly cancer. In the last decade, with the introduction of digital X-rays, the risk to patients from exposure to dental X-rays is insignificant. Even the older technology (traditional X-rays with a higher exposure rate) has never been shown to have any associations to any harmful systemic diseases or illnesses. The American Dental Association has made recommendations on how often a full mouth series of X-rays should be taken. Routine X-rays are safe. However, if you are pregnant please let your dentist or periodontist know.
- Bleeding gums are normal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease, or potentially a more serious systemic disease. We also know that gum disease is caused by “bad bacteria” or infection in the mouth. Bacteria and infection can potentially spread to other parts of the body if not controlled with better oral hygiene and treatment by a dentist or periodontist.
- Dental insurance covers everything. For those who have dental insurance, you already know that it usually covers only a portion of the total costs of care. The exception might be HMO plans. However, each plan is different and has its own rules. Check with your employer about the type of plan you have, and be prepared for the actual restrictions and benefits of your dental insurance.
There are many more oral care myths out there. Is there anything you’ve heard that’s made you wonder if it’s really true?
Friday, November 5th, 2010
When most of us think of fluoride, we think of the fluoride that is present in our toothpaste or in our drinking water, although not all states fluoridate their water. In the communities around the US where the water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplementation is common.
There has been a debate raging in the dental community about the pros and cons of fluoride usage.
The pros include:
- Prevention of tooth and root decay
- Anti-bacterial action against some forms of gum disease, in conjunction with daily oral hygiene and visits to your dentist or periodontist
- Alleviating symptoms of tooth or exposed root sensitivity
- Controlling bad breath
- Easy application with toothpastes, gels, and rinses
The cons include:
- Possible concern with over dosage of fluoride (the combination of water, drops, pastes, rinses, pills, etc.)
- Some professionals believe that fluoride can be toxic (This has not been proven.)
- Concern about the levels of fluoride in community drinking water
- Possible systemic effects not yet seen in the population
In our own 26-year-old periodontal practice, we will often suggest the use of non-dietary sources of fluoride, including gels, rinses, and pastes. This has been a recommended part of all our patients’ daily oral hygiene regimens.
Does your daily oral care routine include fluoride in any form? What do you think about the current fluoride debate?
Did you know that if you look in the mirror and really examine and look closely at your teeth, cheek, gums, and lips you can tell a lot about your oral health?
Below are some common clues and what they might mean:
- Bleeding or red swollen gums is a classic sign of gum disease or possibly a manifestation of a systemic illness.
- Receding gums is another sign of gum disease and/or perhaps a result of incorrect or destructive brushing habits
- Yellow teeth can be caused by staining, poor oral hygiene, smoking, or ingestion of certain medications
- Dark marks on teeth can possibly be an indicator of dental decay, staining (eg. coffee and tea), embedded food particles, or smoking remnants.
- White spots on the tongue, cheek, lips, gums can be a sign of pathology (abnormal tissue) which could be caused by a virus, bacteria, irritation or other possible sources that need to be evaluated promptly by a dental professional.
- Swollen lips, gums can be a sign of an active infection, allergy or other systemic problem.
- Crooked teeth, can be a sign of malocclusion (bad bite), which if left uncorrected, can lead to possible periodontal (gum) trauma.
- Dry mouth can be a side effect of medications, dehydration, or possibly a systemic disease.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that while what we see in the mirror can give us some clues, it doesn’t tell us the whole story. I recommend that people always follow up their self- exams with a visit to their Dentist or Periodontist.
What about you — anything concerning you when you see your teeth in the mirror?