Posts for: August, 2013
During pregnancy, a mother has many health concerns for both her baby and herself. Though it may not seem as important, dental health and development should be on that list of concerns, for both you and your baby. In fact, your baby's tooth development is already well underway just a few weeks after conception. Pregnancy can also present challenges to your own dental health that definitely deserves your attention and care.
Taking care of your own dietary needs and dental health is also the best thing you can do for your baby. The baby growing within you needs calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and other minerals for the healthy development of teeth and bones. That can only come from you eating a balanced diet rich in these nutrients.
During pregnancy, you are also more susceptible to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other gum diseases because of the normal increase in the level of the hormone progesterone. In fact, some studies seem to indicate that severe gum disease might even raise the risk for premature birth and a low birth weight. It's important then to practice good dental hygiene during your pregnancy: brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an American Dental Association (ADA) approved fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and using an ADA approved mouth rinse that deters the buildup of plaque and the occurrence of gingivitis. Our office is also happy to provide you instruction on proper brushing and flossing technique to help you gain the most benefit from your daily hygiene.
By paying close attention to your own dental health and diet, you are actually doing the very best you can to provide your baby a solid foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
If you would like more information on protecting your and your baby's oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Expectant Mothers: Dental facts you need to know.”
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the supporting structures around the teeth, including the gums and bone, as well as the ligaments that join these structures to the tooth roots. From the Latin peri (“around”) and the Greek odont (“tooth”), periodontics serves one purpose: to keep these supporting structures healthy.
This specialty is critical when it comes to periodontal disease. The term actually refers to a category of inflammatory diseases that affect the periodontal tissues. The inflammation arises from the body's response to bacterial plaque that has collected at the gum line because of poor oral hygiene. It begins as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), but if left untreated can develop into periodontitis, which results in bone loss. If left to continue, eventual tooth loss occurs.
Proper oral hygiene and regular cleanings are your best defense against developing periodontal disease in the first place. Once the disease gains a foothold in the area below the gum line, routine brushing and flossing will not be enough. To defeat the disease will require more aggressive treatment.
This usually begins in our office with oral hygiene instruction, scaling and root planing or debridement to rid the root surfaces of plaque and calcified deposits, also referred to as tartar or calculus. This may be followed up with a surgical procedure to remove any remaining pockets that were too deep to resolve with conservative treatment.
Another option we may add to your oral hygiene routine is the use of an anti-microbial mouthrinse, usually containing a 0.12% solution of chlorhexidine. We may also prescribe the use of a topically-applied antibiotic such as tetracycline to stop the infection and promote tissue healing.
Once the disease is arrested, it's important that you continue good oral hygiene practices. Vigilance and prevention are critical to keeping these all important structures around your teeth healthy and functioning.
If you would like more information on the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”
We humans have been cleaning our teeth for millennia. While the tools and substances have changed (we don't use twigs or pumice anymore), the reasons haven't: we want a nice, fresh smile and a clean-feeling mouth.
Objectively, though, oral hygiene has one primary purpose — to remove dental plaque, the whitish film of bacteria that grows on unclean tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Removing this decay-causing film can drastically reduce your risk of dental disease.
Effective oral hygiene depends on two primary tasks: brushing and flossing. You should perform these tasks at least once (flossing) or twice (brushing) in a 24-hour period. Brushing involves a simple technique. You hold your toothbrush (a well-designed, multi-tufted brush) in your fingertips with the same pressure as you would a pen or pencil. You then gently scrub all of the tooth surfaces starting at the gum line, holding the brush at a 45-degree. “Gently” is the key word here: it's possible to damage your tooth and gum surfaces by brushing too vigorously.
While brushing seems easier for people to fit into their daily routine, flossing seems to be harder. It's just as important, though, because over half of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth, in areas where brushing can miss. Like brushing, flossing isn't difficult to do. Holding a strip of floss taut by your fingers between both hands, and gently slipping the floss between your teeth you form a “C” shape around each tooth surface as you apply pressure onto the one surface you are cleaning. Gently move the floss up and down for three or four strokes or until you hear a squeaky clean sound (that's when you know the surface is clean). Then you go to the other tooth surface by lifting the floss above the gum line so that you don't damage the gum tissue in between the teeth.
You should also schedule regular checkups and cleanings with our office to supplement your daily routine. Professional cleanings remove any hidden plaque that brushing and flossing may have missed. A checkup also gives us a chance to evaluate how well your hygiene program is progressing. Our partnership in proper oral hygiene can make all the difference in you avoiding tooth decay and other dental diseases.
If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”
Youth sports can be a positive life experience for your child or teenager. But there's also a risk of injury in many sporting activities, including to the teeth and mouth. An injury to the mouth, especially for a child or young adolescent whose teeth are still developing, can have a significant negative impact on their oral health.
When it comes to teeth or mouth injuries, the best preventive measure is for your child to wear an athletic mouthguard, especially for contact sports like football, hockey or soccer. But be warned: not all mouthguards are alike — and neither is their level of protection.
Mouthguards can be classified into three types. The first is known as “stock,” which is the least expensive and offers the least level of protection. They usually are available only in limited sizes (small, medium, large, etc.) and cannot be custom-fitted for the individual. This significantly lowers their protective ability, and thus we do not recommend these to our patients.
The next type is referred to as “boil and bite.” These mouthguards are made of a material called thermoplastic, which becomes pliable when heated. When first purchased, the guard is placed in boiling water until soft; the individual can then place them in the mouth and bite down or press the guard into the teeth until it hardens and forms to their palates. Although this type offers a better fit and more protection than stock mouthguards, it isn't the highest level of protection available.
That distinction goes to the last type — a custom mouthguard made by a dentist. Although the most expensive of the three, it offers the best fit and the highest level of protection. A well-made custom mouthguard is tear-resistant, fits comfortably, is easy to clean and doesn't restrict speaking and breathing. We recommend this guard as your best alternative for protecting your child athlete from tooth and mouth damage.
If you would like more information on the use of athletic mouthguards for young athletes, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Mouthguards.”