Posts for tag: common symptoms

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
December 22, 2014
Category: Oral Health
BleedingGumsMeanSomethingisWrong

If you see blood when you brush or floss your teeth, it generally indicates a problem with your oral health. You may think you are brushing too hard, but this is not usually why gums bleed. The usual culprit is dental plaque.

Plaque is the sticky, whitish film of bacteria that forms on your teeth every day. If you brush regularly, you probably remove most of it — but some may remain behind and accumulate where your teeth meet your gums, particularly between your teeth. As the bacteria build up, along with by-products of their metabolism (the chemical reactions that maintain their lives), they cause inflammation, called gingivitis, in the adjacent gums.

Bleeding gums are an early symptom of gingivitis. Continuing contact with plaque at the gum line can cause your gum tissue to separate from nearby teeth, creating pockets in which the inflammation becomes even worse. The process leads to periodontal disease (“peri” – meaning around, “odont” – tooth). The increasing infection can eat away the bone that anchors the teeth, leading to possible tooth loss. Periodontal disease is not an uncommon problem. About 90% of the population has bleeding gums at some time or another, and approximately 10% go on to develop periodontal disease.

When you lose bone around your teeth, the gums separate from the tooth and “pockets” form between your teeth and gums. The inflammation and infection may continue within the pockets even if your gums have stopped bleeding when you brush. That's why it is important to have regular dental exams — to check up on and stop periodontal disease before it has a chance to cause serious damage.

There may also be other reasons for bleeding gums that have to do with your general state of health. Women who have elevated levels of hormones caused by birth control pills or pregnancy may experience an increased response to plaque that makes their gums bleed more easily. Increased bleeding in your gums can also be caused by some diseases or as a side effect of some medications.

The most important way to prevent bleeding gums is to learn proper brushing and flossing techniques so that you effectively remove plaque from your teeth on a daily basis. If you are not sure you are using the right techniques, make an appointment and have us demonstrate at your next dental visit.

With all the best intentions, some plaque may remain. Plaque that is allowed to stay on your teeth hardens into a substance called tartar or calculus. This must be removed periodically with a professional cleaning by me or by our hygienist.

With not too much effort, you can ensure that your teeth are clean and plaque free, and your healthy gums no longer bleed.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.”

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
December 19, 2014
Category: Oral Health
TheresaBattleGoingOn-AndItsInYourMouth

Your teeth are under constant attack from bacteria that normally live in your mouth. When these bacteria thrive, they create acid that begins to dissolve the minerals in your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth). In your defense, your saliva protects against these bacteria and adds minerals back to your enamel. Let's take a look at this ongoing battle, and what you can do to sway it in a positive direction.

The outer covering of your teeth, the enamel, is made mainly of the minerals calcium and phosphate. The enamel protects the interior layer of your teeth, the dentin, which is similar in composition to bone. Although it is the hardest substance in your body, the enamel is still vulnerable to attack.

Your mouth is normally full of saliva, which washes over your teeth and maintains a balance between acids and bases. The terms “acids” and “bases” refer to a scientific measurement, the pH scale. Your mouth's pH is usually in the middle of the scale — neither acidic nor basic, but neutral. This is important in controlling the bacteria in your mouth.

You may be surprised to know how many bacteria live in everyone's mouth. More bacteria live in a single mouth than the number of people who have ever lived on earth. Some of these bacteria can cause tooth decay. Let's call them “bad bacteria.”

When the bad bacteria attach themselves to dental plaque — a film that builds up on your teeth every day — they begin to consume sugars that are in your mouth from foods that you have eaten. As the bacteria break down these sugars and turn them into energy, acid is produced as a by-product. This turns the saliva from neutral to acidic.

At a certain level of acidity, minerals in your enamel start to dissolve. This is called “de-mineralization.” It means that more calcium and phosphate are leaving the tooth's surface than are entering it. Early de-mineralization of the enamel shows up as white spots on a tooth.

Fortunately, healthy saliva can return calcium and phosphate to the enamel, or re-mineralize it. De-mineralization and opposing re-mineralization are constantly battling in your mouth. However, if too much enamel is de-mineralized, bacterial acid can go on to attack the next layer of your teeth, the dentin. As this process continues, you develop a dental cavity.

How can you protect your teeth? The first level of defense is regular removal of plaque, so that the bad bacteria do not get a foothold. In an office visit we may also recommend products such as sealants, antibacterial agents, topical fluoride, calcium and phosphate supplements, pH neutralizers, special toothpaste and rinses, which may help your particular situation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay — The World's Oldest & Widespread Disease.”

LearningAbouttheRelationshipBetweenYourPregnancyHormonesAndGumDisease

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.

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 15, 2013
Category: Oral Health
LittleKnownFactsAboutBadBreath

More than 2,000 years ago, an ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine, devised a mouth rinse of herbs and wine to sweeten bad breath. This problem has been around a long time, and it is still a major problem for many people. According to some studies it is one of the three main reasons people seek dental treatment.

Here are some facts you may not know about bad breath:

  • Bad breath is sometimes called halitosis, which comes from the Latin halitus (exhalation) and the Greek osis (a condition or disease-causing process).
  • Chronic bad breath is usually caused by certain types of oral bacteria. These particular bacteria are present in about 25% of the population.
  • Bad breath has spawned a major industry in the United States. Americans spend nearly three billion dollars a year on gum, mints, and mouth rinses to sweeten their breath. About 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products.
  • Diseases in the oral cavity such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease can often cause bad breath. If either of these diseases are your cause for bad breath, treatment would be necessary to eliminate this problem.
  • The tongue is the most common location for bad breath. Bacteria are relatively sheltered on the back of the tongue, where they live on remnants of food, dead skin cells and post-nasal drip. These bacteria can generate volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are also found in decaying animal or vegetable matter. VSCs are known by an unpleasant rotten egg smell.
  • Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth (xerostomia). This condition affects millions of people and can result from smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking, and it is sometimes a side effect of medications. Another cause may be mouth breathing.
  • Halitosis can also originate in other parts of the mouth besides the tongue. These include inter-dental (between teeth) and sub-gingival (under the gums) areas.
  • When people are starving (and sometimes when they are dieting to lose weight), their bodies begin burning their fats causing their breath to develop the smell of ketones — which smell like acetone, similar to nail polish remover. If people are not eating or drinking the coating on their tongue increases as well, making VSCs more prominent.

At our office, we want to fight bad breath or halitosis by making sure our patients understand how to clean their teeth, gums, the back of the tongue, and dentures.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
December 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
WhatCanADeepCleaningDoForGumDisease

Gum or periodontal disease is a condition in which “biofilms” or dental bacterial plaque sticks to teeth around the gum line in the absence of good oral hygiene. If left untreated, it causes inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues of the teeth that can result in “pocketing,” gum recession and bone loss that eventually leads to loose teeth, followed by no teeth! And for about 10 to 15% of those having gingivitis or stage 1 periodontal disease, it can get worse by progressing into chronic periodontal disease. However, the good news is that a conservative and simple treatment called root planing combined with good daily oral hygiene may return your gum tissues to health, and even eliminate the need for gum surgery.

Most of the time, root planing is performed with local anesthesia (numbing shots) in the areas requiring treatment. Anesthesia is an important part because you should always feel relaxed and comfortable during treatment. Because inflamed gum tissues may be quite sensitive, these numbing shots enable us to accomplish our goals and thoroughly remove the problematic material from your teeth's roots.

Root planing or deep cleaning is a routine dental procedure usually done in conjunction with scaling, the removal of the more superficial deposits on the tooth surfaces. Root planing involves physically planing (scraping) the root surfaces of the teeth to remove calculus, bacteria and toxins that are ingrained into their surfaces so that the attached gum tissues can heal. It is carried out with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic electronic instruments or a combination of both for your comfort and best results.

You can learn more about this procedure by reading, “Root Planing.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions, contact us today.