7/19/2017 9:34:00 AM |
What It Is
Periodontal disease, known as gum disease or periodontitis, is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. In the United States, it is estimated that half of Americans aged 30 or older have advanced gum disease. While highly prevalent, this dental condition is preventable with a good oral health regimen.
Periodontal disease symptoms become apparent as bacteria and debris accumulate around teeth and below the gum line and hardens into tartar. If not removed by a professional, tartar and bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums and weakening of teeth.
There are variables that can increase your risk of periodontitis that range from genetic predisposition and underlying health conditions, to certain lifestyle habits. Diet, taking certain medications, decreased immunity, and hormonal changes can also increase your chances of developing gum disease.
Periodontitis begins with the onset of gingivitis. In this early stage, bacteria builds up, irritating the surrounding gums. As bacteria accumulate and plaque builds and hardens into tartar, there is a weakening of bone and connective tissue that keeps teeth in their sockets. As bacteria spreads, pockets that trap further bacteria begin to form around teeth and under soft tissue. In patients with advanced periodontal disease, teeth become loose and fall out.
One of the most difficult aspects of spotting periodontal disease without help from a dentist is that the condition can progress slowly in patients and may not always produce obvious signs. Patients may notice:
- Gum tenderness
- Gum recession
- Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth or a change in teeth alignment
Diagnosis of gum disease typically involves visiting a dentist for a visual examination of your oral condition, as well as charting pocket depths and using X-Rays to check bone loss in areas with deeper periodontal pockets.
Early diagnosis gives patients the greatest chance of reversing damage with nonsurgical treatments. These procedures include root scaling and planing, which removes tartar and bacteria from surfaces of teeth and beneath the gums and smooths root surfaces,. Antibiotics that are either taken orally or topically as a rinse, can also be used to reduce bacteria and inflammation.
For patients with advanced periodontitis, dental surgery may be the most effective option to reduce pocket size and restore the healthy appearance and supportive structure of soft tissue.
Periodontal disease is preventable by practicing consistent and good oral hygiene. As a rule of thumb, you should be taking between 3-5 minutes twice day to care for your teeth and gums by flossing first to loosen any food particles and bacteria, and brushing to clean all surfaces of teeth. You should also visit your dentist twice a year for thorough teeth cleanings. Patients displaying early signs of gum disease may require more frequent dental visits throughout the year.
If are exhibiting signs and symptoms of gum disease, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you can receive treatment, the more likely you will be able to reverse any damage caused by periodontal disease.
4/17/2017 9:29:00 AM |
Often, a family trip to the dentist will feature the use of an x-ray camera. The dental hygienists will cover you or your children with a heavy apron and make you chomp on some bitewings, while the camera moves and clicks around you. Of course, the images produced by the x-rays have a purpose: cavities, jawbone degradation, and other oral health issues are made easily visible, allowing the dentist to address these issues directly. However, x-rays are a form of radiation, and some people are concerned with that exposing someone to dental x-rays will cause cancer. These concerns are especially strong for parents taking their children to the dentist.
X-rays are a type of ionizing radiation, and ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, upon passing through the body, strip electrons from the atoms this energy passes. The resulting protons, known as free radicals, then can damage the cells of the body. While these cells return to normal most of the time, on rare occasions the cells will heal with some abnormalities. These abnormal cells, consequently, can grow into cancer. From this alone, people believe that dental x-rays will cause cancer.
However, you’re always exposed to ionizing radiation. On average, your body is exposed to 3.1 millisieverts (mSv) of natural radiation alone per year. At .005 mSv, the radiation you receive from the aforementioned dental x-ray is less than 1.6% of your daily background radiation exposure. You are exposed to the same level of radiation just from sunlight each day. Additionally, each x-ray is an individual dose rather than constant exposure, which is another factor in the cancer risks of radiation exposure. X-rays only increase the odds of dying of cancer by 1 in 2,000; compare this to the natural 1 in 5 chance you have of dying of cancer.
Moreover, there are precautions in place for younger patients to help minimize their exposure. Technically, children do have a higher risk of developing cancer from radiation than adults, so dentists make up for it with stricter safety measures. Lead aprons are almost ubiquitous, but many doctors will also reduce the amount of radiation emitted by the camera when taking x-ray images of pediatric patients. The same precautions can be given to pregnant women, as fetuses are assumed to be just as vulnerable as children. Your children could be receiving special considerations regarding radiation exposure risks already.
Ultimately, the benefits of detecting an oral health issue as early as possible far outweighs the negligible cancer risk. Not only are healthy teeth and gums alone something worth keeping, but many recent studies have shown connections between oral health and overall bodily health as well. Being able to detect and address these issues is paramount to your health and your children’s health. So, the next time your dentist readies the bitewings and camera, don’t be afraid. The benefits are high, the risk is low, and the dentist is likely being extra careful with your children anyways.
1/19/2017 9:28:00 AM |
The American Dentistry Association seal of approval is awarded to consumer oral hygiene products that meet ADA-defined standards. The seal is intended to help consumers make informed choices about the products they use.
Products that are ADA-approved have undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy, to ensure that any claims made about them are factually correct. Companies that submit products for assessment have to submit ingredient lists and data from laboratory studies and clinical trials that support the product claims, and show that the product is being made using good manufacturing practices. Each product is assessed by around 100 consultants, from a variety of scientific disciplines relevant to oral health and hygiene. Once a product has been approved, the packaging is required to display the ADA seal.
So is it okay to use products that are not ADA-approved? If a product hasn't been approved, that doesn't automatically mean it's unsafe or ineffective—but using ADA-approved products takes the guesswork out of choosing and using effective products. For example, if an ADA-approved toothpaste claims to be effective at preventing tooth decay, the presence of the seal means you can be sure it's a valid claim. Many Crest, Aim, Listerine and Tom products are ADA approved, just to name a few.
11/30/2016 11:36:00 AM |
When you hear jingles in the stores and see decorations on your neighbor’s house, you know that the holiday season has arrived. Among other traditions, you can also expect food to play a big part during the holiday, whether it’s snacks for a party or a family dinner. Unfortunately, a lot of traditional holiday foods can be harmful to your teeth, from sticky candy canes to alcoholic eggnog. Thankfully, there are also lots of seasonal dishes and treats that can keep your smile as healthy as ever.
You probably already have a sizable list of foods you know to be bad for your teeth: soda, coffee, and candy. However, what about the crackers you set out as hors d’oeuvres? Even without extra-sweet ingredients added in, bread and related snacks are full of carbohydrates – that is, sugar – and their crumbly, dissolvable nature means that these bacteria-feeding carbs get stuck to your teeth. Alcohol, not counting the sugar it is often made of or mixed with, will dry out your mouth; dry mouths are the perfect environment for bacteria. Even the cough drops you take for colds and the flu not only have sugar in them, but also expose you to that sugar over a long period of time. Cough syrup, despite having similar amounts of sugar in it, is quickly swallowed and doesn’t expose the teeth to that sugar too long. Simply put, too many holiday edibles encourage the decay of your teeth.
Not to worry! Lots of holiday foods diminish, if not reverse, the damage other foods can do. Two common party snacks, for example, are meat and cheese. The calcium and proteins provided by meat and cheese can actually strengthen your teeth and gums. Nuts, like meat, also provide your mouth with a burst of protein and saliva production that help defend your teeth from bacterial build-up. Instead of sweetened cranberry sauce in your dishes, try using fresh cranberries; they can interrupt the bonding process of the decadent bacteria. Though dried fruit is a bad idea, crunchy fruit and raw vegetables can help scrub plaque off of your teeth.
The holidays and their traditions are fast approaching. If you eat too much of the wrong kinds of traditional foods, or you find yourself chewing on that food for a long period of time, your teeth can suffer. However, holiday tradition have also given us a lot of food to protect and strengthen our teeth as well. So, when planning out the next holiday party or dinner, keep these foods in mind. They may just save your smile.
11/30/2016 11:26:00 AM |
We're excited to announce the official launch of our David A. Watson, DDS blog.
We'll be posting helpful dental tips, news from the dental industry, news from our practice, and more about the latest in dentistry.
We built our practice on the notion that we're there for our patients when they need us and we want our online presence to be a reflection of that principle. We hope this blog provides an extra level of service to our current and future patients.
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Here's to your best oral health ever!