Posts for: August, 2012
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease (from the roots for “around” and “tooth”) starts with redness and inflammation, progresses to infection, and can lead to progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to your teeth, ultimately causing loss of teeth. Here are some ways to assess your risk for gum disease.
Your risk for developing periodontal disease is higher if:
- You are over 40.
Studies have shown that periodontal disease and tooth loss correlate with aging. The longer plaque (a film of bacteria that collects on your teeth and gums) is allowed to stay in contact with your gums, the more you are at risk for periodontal disease. This means that brushing and flossing to remove plaque is important throughout your lifetime. To make sure you are removing plaque effectively, come into our office for an evaluation of your brushing and flossing techniques.
- You have a family history of gum disease.
If gum disease seems to “run in your family,” you may be genetically predisposed to having this disease. Your vulnerability or resistance to gum disease is influenced by genetics. The problem with this assessment is that if your parents were never treated for gum disease or lacked proper instruction in preventative strategies and care, their susceptibility to the disease is difficult to accurately quantify.
- You smoke or chew tobacco.
Here's more bad news for smokers. If you smoke or chew tobacco you are at much greater risk for the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers' teeth tend to have more plaque and tartar while also having them form more quickly.
- You are a woman.
Hormonal fluctuations during a woman's lifetime tend to make her more susceptible to gum disease than men, even if she takes good care of her teeth.
- You have ongoing health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, high stress, or diabetes.
Research has shown a connection between these conditions and periodontal disease. The bacteria can pass into the blood stream and move to other parts of the body. Gum disease has also been connected with premature birth and low birth weight in babies.
- Your gums bleed when you brush or floss.
Healthy gums do not bleed. If yours do, you may already have the beginnings of gum disease.
- You are getting “long in the tooth.”
If your teeth appear longer, you may have advancing gum disease. This means that infection has caused your gum tissue to recede away from your teeth.
- Your teeth have been getting loose.
Advancing gum disease results in greater bone loss that is needed to support and hold your teeth in place. Loose teeth are a sign that you have a serious problem with periodontal disease.
Even with indications of serious periodontal disease, it can still be stopped. Make an appointment with us today to assess your risks. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Assessing Risk for Gum Disease.”
The beloved title of “mother” unfortunately does not come with a manual. If it did, it would certainly contain a section in which mothers-to-be could learn about the impact that pregnancy has on both their general and oral health. For example, did you know that during pregnancy the normally elevated levels of female hormone progesterone can cause inflammation in blood vessels within the gum tissues making the gums bleed? It typically occurs in response to less than adequate daily oral hygiene; however, it is just one important fact that all pregnant women should know.
There are numerous studies that have revealed that oral health during pregnancy can have a significant impact on the child growing inside you, and in particular, it has a direct relationship on your baby's developing and future oral health.
Periodontal (gum) disease can also be a factor in your baby's birth weight. In fact, there are a variety of studies supporting a positive link between pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies in the presence of severe periodontal disease in pregnant women. And there is also a correlation between the severity of periodontal disease and the possibility of an increased rate of pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy. This is another reason why it is important to see a dentist for an evaluation of your oral and dental health as soon as you know you are pregnant.
Please note that the goal of sharing these facts is not to scare you, but rather inform you so that you can be an educated mother-to-be. After all, you should be as healthy as possible for the most important job in the world and this includes both your oral and general health. Learn more about your body and discover the many relationships between mother and child as you read the Dear Doctor article, “Pregnancy And Oral Health.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions, contact us today.
Thinking or knowing you have an impacted wisdom tooth can be alarming news for some people. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for this feeling is due to the mythology surrounding wisdom teeth...and especially impacted wisdom teeth. While an impacted wisdom tooth can cause intense pain, some people are quite shocked to learn that they even have impacted wisdom teeth, as it is causing no pain at all.
By definition, an impacted wisdom tooth is a third (and last) molar that gets jammed against an adjacent tooth or other important structures such as gum, bone nerves, blood vessels. And having an impacted wisdom tooth does have its consequences — even if you are unaware you have one. The most common issue is gum (periodontal) disease. This is the main reason why it is so important to have a problematic wisdom tooth removed early when you are young and before periodontal disease has started. If left untreated, you risk damaging and/or losing the impacted tooth and adjacent teeth.
The key to managing wisdom teeth is to monitor them closely through thorough routine examinations and x-rays between the ages of 17 and 25, the time when wisdom teeth typically appear. This is so vital because it allows us to predict the way your wisdom teeth will erupt (become visible) or come into proper position with useful biting function. We can use these visits and x-rays to monitor development so that we are best equipped to determine if or when wisdom teeth need to be treated or removed.
It is also important to contact us as soon as you think you may have an impacted wisdom tooth that is causing pain, swelling or even infection. We can put your mind at rest with the facts of what needs to be done after we've completed our exam.
If you feel that you or a family member has an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions. Or you can learn more now about the symptoms and treatment options of impacted wisdom teeth by continuing to read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”
Quiz: What Is Smile Design?
All cultures worldwide recognize a smile as positive nonverbal communication. Yet many people are insecure about the way their smile looks. Modern cosmetic dentistry can completely change your smile through a comprehensive technique called Smile Design.
Take the following quiz to find out how much you know about your smile and smile design.
- What is the basic reason we consider straight, healthy teeth to be attractive?
- An article in a beauty magazine.
- An instinctive understanding of health and survival.
- Our first grade teacher said so.
- A talk show on television.
- What must we take into account in designing an attractive, balanced smile?
- The shape of your face.
- Your skin color and complexion.
- The form of your lips.
- All of the above.
- As your dentist, we consider each of the following in evaluating your current smile except:
- Your marital status.
- The health of your bone and gum tissues.
- How your jaw joints function.
- The stability of your bite.
- What do we use to evaluate your smile?
- X-rays and photographs.
- Models of your teeth and gums.
- Photographs and computer graphics.
- All of the above.
- Bonding is one method that may be used to test or enhance your smile. It is used as:
- A way of making friends with your dentist.
- A way of training secret agents.
- A method of repairing chipped, broken or decayed teeth and testing changes before they are made permanent.
- None of the above.
- b. What we consider an attractive smile is rooted in instinctive understanding of health and survival. We value straight, white, healthy teeth — only a few centuries ago, a person with few or no teeth was likely to starve.
- d. All of these factors must be taken into consideration in order to design a smile that is in balance with your face.
- a. While satisfaction with your life partner may make you smile, our priority in smile design is to make sure that the basic structures of your teeth are healthy and function properly.
- d. All of the above are used in evaluating your current condition to design a new smile.
- c. In bonding, a composite resin tooth colored material is shaped and physically bonded to a tooth or teeth that are chipped, broken, or decayed to restore both aesthetics and function.
After careful analysis and planning, a variety of techniques can be used to redesign an attractive and healthy new smile, so you can feel confident about smiling and sharing it with the world. To learn more about Smile Design, read “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Or contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
“Impacted wisdom teeth.” The term alone sounds ominous. What are wisdom teeth, why do they become impacted, what is the best way to treat them? These are questions people often ask.
What are “wisdom teeth” anyway?
Your third molars, located in the very back of your jaws, are your wisdom teeth. Most people have four of them.
Why is their name associated with wisdom?
They usually begin to come in when a person is 17 to 25 years old, a time when he or she can be said to begin to reach an age of wisdom.
Doesn't everyone get wisdom teeth?
While some people have more than four, others have fewer, and some have no wisdom teeth at all. Some people have wisdom teeth that can be seen in x-rays but do not erupt (grow up through their gums) and become visible.
What does “impacted” mean?
In normal usage, the term “impact” means “influence or effect.” In dental vocabulary, it means that a tooth is affecting another tooth or a nearby structure such as gums, nerves or blood vessels. Often an impacted wisdom tooth grows sideways into an adjacent tooth instead of growing upwards to come through the gums normally. This may be caused by a lack of room in your jaw for your third molars.
What kinds of problems can impacted wisdom teeth cause?
A wisdom tooth can impact the gum tissues surrounding nearby molars, leading to infection called “periodontal disease” (from the root words for “around” and “tooth.”) They can also cause root resorption in adjacent teeth, a process by which the tooth’s roots are slowly dissolved and eaten away.
What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?
Sometimes impacted teeth are asymptomatic — you feel nothing, even though damage is being done to gums and teeth surrounding the wisdom teeth. That's why it's a good idea to have regular checkups even if you are feeling no pain. Other times, impacted teeth can lead to acute inflammation and infection in surrounding gum tissues that is very painful.
Should I proactively have my wisdom teeth removed if they are not giving me any trouble?
Not necessarily but your wisdom teeth need to be evaluated. Generally speaking, however, it's better to remove wisdom teeth early, before they begin to cause dental problems. By the time a wisdom tooth starts to hurt, its neighboring teeth may already be in big trouble. In addition, younger people's wisdom teeth have undeveloped roots that make them easier to remove with fewer complications.