Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Did you know that dental implants—artificial, long-term replacements that look and feel like your natural teeth—are often the best option for replacing missing teeth? Most people who are missing a tooth would be a good candidate for dental implants, regardless of age. But there are some exceptions.

Here are some issues that you and your dentist may need to discuss:

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3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Nervous About Implant Surgery

Dental implants have gained a popular reputation for their life-like appearance and longevity. Much of the latter is attributable to the titanium post embedded in the jawbone. Because titanium has a natural affinity with bone, new cells will grow and adhere to the dental implant over time, making their connection strong and durable.

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Why are my gums receding and what can I do about it?

Receding gums can be scary, even uncomfortable. It is important to know that there are a number of factors that can cause your gums to recede.

The Why

Let’s start with what’s normal. In a healthy situation teeth erupt into the mouth with the roots fully centered in, and surrounded by jawbone. The gum tissues behave almost like an investing curtain covering the bone; they surround the necks of the teeth like the collar of a turtleneck sweater.

In addition to periodontal disease caused by dental (bacterial) plaque, the three most common factors that contribute to gum recession are: the position of your teeth, your genetics, and trauma.

Tooth Position. If instead of erupting in the center of the protective bony housing, a tooth erupts outside of it, this can result in exposure of the tooth root. Thin or non-existent bone results in thin or no gum tissue. This is an important consideration for orthodontic tooth movement . During orthodontic treatment, if tooth roots are moved outside the bony housing, gum recession is likely to follow. On the other hand, if they are moved further within the bone, gum tissues are likely to get thicker and more resistant to recession.

Genetics. Something else you can blame your parents for is your biotype, the genetically inherited characteristics that identify you. Some people are born with an inherently thicker type of gum tissue; on the other end of the spectrum, others have very thin tissues. As with the curtain analogy, a thicker gum tissue type tends to be more robust and resistant and a thinner type more prone to wear and tear — which manifests as gum recession.

There is another factor to consider: the zone of gum tissue referred to dentally as attached gingiva or gum tissue. This is a band of tissue that surrounds and is tightly attached to the necks of the teeth. It is supported by the underlying bone, which also maintains its height. This zone or band of attached gum tissue serves an important protective function; it is designed to resist abrasion. If the zone is too thin it will not only be easily compromised by trauma, but also by periodontal disease, both of which contribute to gum recession.

Trauma. Your oral health’s best friends can also be its worst enemies — your toothbrush and floss. More often than not, gum recession is caused or aggravated by brushing and flossing too aggressively. Overzealous use of either (in force and/or frequency) can traumatize, inflame and tear gum tissues resulting in recession. Excessive brushing can also cause wear to exposed root surfaces. The tooth roots, composed of dentin, are inherently softer and less abrasion-resistant than the enamel crowns of the teeth.

The What

A lot can be done to prevent and treat gum recession. Its causes are often not simple, but instead multifactorial — a combination of several factors. To figure out why your gums are receding see your dentist

Proper assessment and diagnosis requires a full medical and dental history, and clinical examination to determine why the problem is occurring and what needs to be done to minimize and treat your gum recession.

If your gum tissues bleed, hurt or are sensitive, you either have gum disease or you’re being too aggressive — see your dentist or periodontist if you experience either.

Avoiding trauma and maintaining health of your gums often involves simple secrets: be gentle, brush  twice a day using a soft multi-tufted toothbrush, and floss once daily; clean the gum line gently — it doesn’t take force to remove bacterial plaque.

If your gum tissues bleed, hurt or are sensitive, you either have gum disease or you’re being too aggressive — see your dentist or periodontist if you experience either.

If you have gum recession your dentist  may recommend more effective methods of oral hygiene, orthodontic tooth movement to reposition teeth within their bony housing, or minimally invasive surgical procedures to enhance the quality and quantity of your gum tissue. Don’t delay, there’s really no reason to grow long in the tooth!

 

 

Myths and Facts: The Pregnant Woman’s Guide to Dental Health

Should pregnant women visit the dentist? There’s a lot of misinformation out there about pregnancy and dental health, but we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to guide to navigating the myths and facts.

Myth: It’s none of the dentist’s business whether I’m pregnant.

Fact: It’s important for your dentist and hygienist to know that you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You may be at risk for certain dental conditions, and your pregnancy may limit the treatment options available. Always let your dental team know if you are or may be pregnant, how far along you are, and if your pregnancy is high-risk.

Myth: Being pregnant doesn’t affect your mouth.

Fact: Pregnant women are at greater risk for certain oral health conditions. These conditions include gum disease, also known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” and growths within the mouth, called “pregnancy tumors.” Both conditions are treatable, so make sure to visit your dentist.

Myth: Your oral health doesn’t affect your baby.

Fact: If you have moderate to severe gum disease, you may be at higher risk for delivering a pre-term, low-birth weight baby.

Myth: Pregnant women should avoid dental work.

Fact: Everyone — and especially pregnant women — should visit the dentist. If you’re pregnant, you face a higher risk for gum disease, so make sure to visit your dentist for regular cleanings, exams and any other treatment needed. Skimping on dental care could affect your pregnancy, as well as your dental health. Untreated gum disease may be linked to pre-term and low-weight birth.

What about anesthesia? Some studies have found a relationship between anesthesia in the first trimester and early miscarriage. If you need treatment requiring anesthesia, your dentist may recommending postponing the procedure until the second trimester.

Myth: Pregnancy leaches calcium from your teeth.

Fact: The fetus does not take calcium from its mother’s teeth. This myth likely originated because pregnant women face a higher risk of tooth decay. Pregnancy is a critical time to consume calcium –the essential nutrient provides helps your growing fetus develop properly and lowers your own risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) later in life.

Myth: Never get a dental x-ray while pregnant.

Fact: Dental x-rays are now considered safe during pregnancy by the American Dental Association. X-ray can be essential in detecting serious problems, such as hidden decay, bone loss and inflamed tooth pulp. No research has found a link between dental x-rays and birth defects, although research study did find an increase in low birth weight among women who had dental x-rays while pregnant. If you have any concerns, talk to your dentist, who can help evaluate your case and decide whether x-rays can be postponed.

Myth: Morning sickness is unpleasant but harmless.

Fact: Repeated vomiting can cause serious damage to your teeth. Exposure to stomach acid dissolves tooth enamel, weakening your teeth’s defense against decay. If you suffer from morning sickness, talk to your dentist about ways to reduce the harm, such as using a mouthguard or rinsing with baking soda.

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Habits That Wreck Your Teeth

Chewing on Ice

It’s natural and sugar free, so you might think ice is harmless. But munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. And if your mindless chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow. Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache. Next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.

Playing Sports With No Mouth Guard

Whether you play football, hockey, or any other contact sport, don’t get in the game without a mouth guard. This is a piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth. Without it, your teeth could get chipped or even knocked out when the action gets rough. Self-fitting mouth guards may be purchased at a store, or you can have one custom made by your dentist

Bedtime Bottles

It’s never too early to protect teeth. Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula, can put new teeth on a path to decay. The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight. It’s best to keep bottles out of the crib.

Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss. The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores. Also, with a tongue piercing there is a risk of accidentally piercing a large blood vessel, which can cause severe bleeding. Bottom line, discuss the health risks with your dentist first.

Cough Drops

Just because cough drops are sold in the medicine aisle doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Most are loaded with sugar. So after soothing your throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well. Whether the sugar comes from a cough drop or a hard candy, it reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth. Then bacteria in the plaque convert the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Hello, cavities.

Gummy Candy

All sugary treats promote tooth decay, but some candies are harder to bear. Gummies stick in the teeth, keeping the sugar and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours. If your day just isn’t the same without a gummy critter, pop a couple during a meal instead of as a separate snack. More saliva is produced during meals, which helps rinse away candy bits and acids.

Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits. This makes it hard to control. Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding while sleeping.

 

Soda

Candy isn’t the only culprit when it comes to added sugar. Sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. To add insult to injury, sodas also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks let you skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners.

Opening Stuff With Your Teeth

Opening bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth may be convenient, but this is one habit that makes dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Bottom line, your teeth should only be used for eating.

Sports Drinks

There’s no doubt a cold sports drink is refreshing after a good workout. But these drinks are usually high in sugar. Like soda or candy, sugary sports drinks create an acid attack on the enamel of your teeth. Drinking them frequently can lead to decay. A better way to stay hydrated at the gym is to chug sugar-free, calorie-free water.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but unfortunately most juices are also loaded with sugar. Some juices can have as much sugar per serving as soda. For example, there are only 10 more grams of sugar in orange soda than in orange juice. Fruits are naturally sweet, so look for juice that has no added sugar. You can also reduce the sugar content by diluting juice with some water.

Potato Chips

The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid. This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes — even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or you snack often. You might want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

Constant Snacking

Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer. Avoid snacking too frequently, and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch — for example, carrot sticks

Chewing on Pencils

Do you ever chew on your pencil when concentrating on work or studies? Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack. Sugarless gum is a better option when you feel the need to chew. It will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.

Drinking Coffee

Coffee’s dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about discoloration of your teeth.

Smoking

Cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, can stain teeth and cause them to fall out as a result of gum disease. Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue. If you were looking for one more reason to quit, think of your smile.

Drinking Red Wine

The acids in wine eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining. Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine’s red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty.

Drinking White Wine

You might think sticking to white wine would spare your teeth. But the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

Binge Eating

Binge eating often involves excessive amounts of sweets, which can lead to tooth decay. Binging and purging (bulimia nervosa) can do even more damage to dental health. The strong acids found in vomit can erode teeth, making them brittle and weak. These acids also cause bad breath. Bulimia can lead to a variety of serious health problems, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have been purging.

 

The Importance of Oral Health

Healthy Smile, Healthy You: The Importance of Oral Health

Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive – they can also tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be at risk for chronic disease.

New research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems.

Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring.

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How Does Dentist Know if You Have Oral Cancer?

Your dentist will look for signs of oral cancer during a regular exam. Oral cancer often starts as small sores or tiny white or red spots. A dentist is skilled at identifying these and other signs of cancer.

The Screening

The first step in detecting oral cancer is a painless exam. Your dentist can complete a screening in just a few minutes. Dentists will carefully inspect the following areas for sores, spots, and lumps:

  • Your face, neck, lips, and mouth
  • Your jaw and the side of your neck
  • Your tongue
  • The roof and floor of your mouth
  • The back of your throat

Testing for Cancer

Some sores and spots around the mouth are harmless; others are not. When dentists cannot tell what caused a spot or sore, they may perform a brush test. During a brush test, cells from the suspicious areas are removed with a brush and analyzed.

If precancerous cells are found, the lesion can be surgically removed. When found early, oral cancer can be more easily treated.

 

Malocclusion: When Teeth Don’t Align

Alignment is what keeps us from biting our cheeks and lips. Properly aligned teeth also let us chew and speak properly and allow for proper cleaning to prevent decay.

Another name for badly aligned teeth is malocclusion. This simply means that the teeth of the upper and lower jaws don’t connect properly with the teeth of the lower jaw. Different types of malocclusion include overbites, underbites, and uneven bites.

Malocclusion causes many problems. These include trouble biting or chewing, speech difficulties such as lisping, mouth breathing, jaw pain, unhealthy gums, and an unattractive appearance.

Who Gets Malocclusion?

Children may inherit a family trait of malocclusion because of the size and shape of their face, jaws, and teeth. Or they can develop it from using a bottle or pacifier too long, thumb sucking, losing baby teeth too early or late, or from an accident.

Sometimes both inherited and later problems are to blame. Signs your child might have a malocclusion include crowded, misplaced, or oversized teeth; or jaws that shift or make sounds.

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Could Tmd Trigger Migraine Headaches?

Q: Could TMJ cause migraines?

A: TMJ is shorthand for temporomandibular joint, the ball-and-socket joint that connects the jaw to the skull just in front of the ear. Some people use the term TMJ to describe pain that comes from this joint, although doctors and dentists are now more likely to use the abbreviation TMD (for temporomandibular disorder, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction).

TMD appears to be caused by a variety of different problems, including arthritis, trauma to the jaw, muscle spasms from jaw clenching or stress, poor alignment of the teeth, and nighttime grinding of the teeth (bruxism).

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