Friday, March 29, 2013

What Is Gum Disease and What Causes It

If your gums are swollen, tender or bleed easily when you brush your teeth you have gum disease.
Sadly you are not alone as over 80% of adults have some form of gum disease.

What I find alarming is that most people think it is normal for their gums to bleed when brushing, this is not true.

Bleeding gums are a sign you have inflammation of your gums or gingivitis.

Gingivitis is caused by bacteria and if left untreated can progress to serious gum diseases, bone destruction and tooth loss.

Gum disease not only affects your teeth and mouth but can affect your health, there are numerous studies linking gum problems to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung infections, fertility problems, arthritis, Alzheimer's and even cancer.

The good news is gum disease is easy to treat and prevent. Daily brushing and flossing plus regular professional cleans by your dentist or hygienist reduce your risk of developing gingivitis and if you already have gum issues your dentist can assist you to reverse the damage.

The condition of your gums, tongue and soft tissues tell a lot about the health of your mouth and body. Gum disease can indicate underlying medical conditions and your risk for related health problems.

How To Tell if You Have Gum Disease

Early stage gum disease is usually not painful, so you can have it without even realising.

The warning signs are: swollen, soft, red bleeding gums, blood on your toothbrush or in the sink when you spit out after cleaning your teeth.

Bleeding gums mean you have inflammation and inflammation is detrimental not only to your gums but to your health.

What Causes Gum Disease

In a nut shell - plaque. Plaque is the invisible, sticky bacterial film that grows on your teeth. Plaque is fed by sugars and starch from your food. The more carbohydrates you consume the more plaque you create and the more you increase your risk for gum disease and dental decay.

Thankfully proper tooth brushing removes plaque. However, if you don't brush for long enough or well enough the plaque stays on your teeth where it breeds and gets thicker and more aggressive bacteria start to multiply. Plaque irritates your gums and leads to inflammation and bingo you have gum disease.

Plaque that sits on your teeth for more than a day or two starts to harden under your gumline to form tartar, which we call calculus in the trade. Tartar is like having like dirt under your fingernails, you need more than a hand wash to get the dirt out and so it follows that you need more than a toothbrush to remove tartar.

To remove tartar you need a professional clean. Tartar acts as a breeding ground for more bacteria, like a dirty splinter under the skin it creates inflammation that cannot heal until the splinter is removed and the same applies to your gums, they will not improve until the tartar has been cleaned away by your dentist.

Other Factors that Cause Gum Disease

There are things other than plaque that can lead to gum disease such as medications, viral and fungal infections, underlying health problems, hormonal changes and poor nutrition. A dentist can help you identify these causes and assist you to seek the appropriate care.

What Can You Do About Gum Disease

First start by looking at your gums in the mirror. Healthy gums are firm and pale, with a dimpled texture like orange peel.

If your gums look puffy, swollen, red or purple see your dentist.

If you gums bleed easily when you brush see your dentist.

If your gums are sore or tender see your dentist.

The sooner you seek care the better your chances of reversing damage and preventing serious problems.

If you want to keep your teeth for life and care about your health then it pays to take your gum health seriously.

Regular and correct brushing and flossing are key, as is your diet, stress levels and overall level of wellbeing. To keep your gums and mouth in top condition regular professional dental cleans are a necessity. If you have any concerns about the health of your gums then speak to your dentist because we can help.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Root Canals Aren't As Painful As They Used To Be

When the dentist office comes to mind, most people cringe at the thought, especially when dealing with an infected tooth. If an infected tooth is not treated for a long enough period of time, it can cause a person to become severely ill.

Prior to the twentieth century, the likely hood of an infected tooth being saved was improbable: the dentist did not have the knowledge or training to save a tooth and would just yank it out rather than risk the chance of the patient becoming ill. Patients would become ill from infected teeth because when a tooth abscessed, a pus pocket would burst and the bacteria would enter into the blood stream. Of course, at that time, pulling a tooth was the preferred outcome from a root infection. In stark contrast to earlier dental thinking, modern dentistry attempts to save teeth rather than pull them. One of the many ways dentists save infected teeth is through root canal therapy.

A root canal is used to treat decaying or infected teeth. The procedures are used for teeth that are beyond repair because a cavity has reached down into the center of the tooth and infected the pulp chamber (the pulp chamber is the soft tissue where the tooth root lies). Once the gum and teeth are fully developed, a tooth's nerve no longer serves any purpose other than to send the signal for a hot or cold sensation to the brain. When the nerve becomes diseased it will try to repair itself. However, if it cannot repair itself, it dies off leaving a sensitive area where the tooth lies.

Once the dentist has identified that the pulp is infected, the pulp will need to be removed. When the tooth becomes infected the pulp begins to break down causing severe pain for the patient. One of the first steps to getting a root canal is numbing the tooth's nerve and the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. Although it may seem trivial, numbing the patient's tooth is vital to the success of the procedure. The reason the dentist numbs the patient's mouth is because it's a delicate procedure and if the patient reacts to any pain and moves his or her mouth, it could jeopardize the success of the procedure.

When performing the procedure, the dentist's job is to remove the infected pulp from the pulp chamber as well as the dead nerve. The dentist must be careful when removing the infected pulp due to the sensitivity in that area. A root canal requires more than one visit. After the infected tissue has been removed, he will inject antibacterial medicine inside the tooth and let it remain there for several days to prevent the tooth from becoming infected once again.

Once the dentist is aware that the tooth is clear of bacteria, he will then fill the root canal and pulp chamber with a rubber like substance. The dentist then seals the tooth permanently with antibacterial cement, preventing any further bacteria from entering into the tooth. That last step is for your dentist to place a porcelain crown on top of the tooth. The underlying tooth is then protected and the full function of the tooth is restored.

Although root canals have a bad reputation for being painful, new technology and up-to-date anesthetics guarantee the patients don't have to feel as much pain as they would imagine. These days, patients are at ease during the procedure - there is only a small amount of discomfort when it comes to root canals.

Root canals are always the ideal option when teeth have become infected or are badly decaying. If you want to know more, visit your local dentist. Alternatively, you could perform your own online research - there is an abundance of information on the internet regarding root canal procedures.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Is Dry Mouth More Than Just A Nuisance?

For those with chronic dry mouth (that feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth), they know it's more than a nuisance. The salivary glands are not working properly. Not only does it affect chewing, swallowing, enjoying certain foods, digestion and even speech, it also affects teeth.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) can cause cavities. Most people may experience dry mouth from time to time if they are nervous or under stress. However, dry mouth that is persistent is not normal, it is not part of aging and it is not good. The saliva in the mouth washes away food particles and acts as a neutralizer for the acids in the mouth that cause decay of tooth enamel. Without the necessary saliva, the propensity for teeth to get cavities is greater. Without saliva, the mouth is more prone to bacterial and fungal infections. Saliva also is important for re-mineralization of enamel and contains digestive enzymes.

Symptoms of xerostomia include a sticky, dry or burning feeling in the mouth. The throat may also feel dry and one has a feeling of being thirsty. Lips may crack and the tongue may feel dry and rough. Sometimes the person may have trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting or even speaking. There may be an infection in the mouth or mouth sores. And bad breath is prevalent.

Causes of xerostomia are most often from breathing through your mouth while sleeping or side effects of some medication. Other possibilities for these salivary glands not working properly are from diseases such as HIV/AIDS or diabetes, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or nerve damage. Smoking, chewing tobacco and consuming alcohol can also cause dry mouth.

There are a variety of treatments for xerostomia depending on the cause. If one sleeps on their back there are devices to help keep the mouth closed. They include a chin strap and an oral vestibular shield that prevents the mouth from opening. However, consciously flipping on the stomach or side may be all that is needed. A nightshirt with a tennis ball in a sock pinned on the back can even help.

If a person is on one of the 400 medications that can have dry mouth as a side effect, they should see a physician for possibly changing or adjusting the dosage of the meds. Some examples of commonly prescribed drugs that can cause dry mouth are those for high blood pressure, depression, allergies, acne, diarrhea, obesity and asthma.

A person with dry mouth can also improve their saliva flow by frequently sipping on water, sucking on sugar-free candy containing xylitol, using a room humidifier - especially in the bedroom, and purchasing over-the-counter artificial saliva products. A dentist can prescribe an oral rinse that often helps. In some cases, there are medications that are used to get salivary glands working properly again.

Since tooth decay is exacerbated with dry mouth, it is imperative to keep the teeth clean. Home dental cleaning at least twice a day is necessary. Avoiding sugar or high carbohydrates helps. Professional cleanings every three months are recommended. So, dry mouth is more than just a nuisance. It can be a pain in the tooth.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Looks Forward To Visiting The Dentist - Regency Dental

Hannah talks about how she loves Regency Dental, and how she has been going there her whole life. She actually looks forward to going to the dentist. See more at

Sunday, March 17, 2013

If Not a Job, Cosmetic Dentistry Will Definitely Give You a Better Smile

You must have seen advertisements saying something like 'good looks can get you your dream job' and 'looks are the most important thing'. Well, to tell you the truth and you probably know it; looks cannot give you a job, unless it's your job to look good, like models. Good looks are just a plus point which can help you gain confidence. It is a known fact that a well groomed exterior houses a self confident interior, because if you are not worrying about how you are looking, you can concentrate better on the task at hand. Our teeth play an important part in leaving a good impression upon people. You can judge a person's lifestyle and hygiene habits just by looking at his/her teeth. That is why cosmetic dentistry has gained so much importance in recent years because people are becoming more aware of the importance of good looking teeth.

People experience problems such as broken or chipped teeth, stained tooth surface, yellowing of teeth, cavities, missing teeth, uneven teeth and gums. While some of these dental shortcomings might be natural, many of these are a result of our lifestyle habits like excessive drinking, smoking and lack of oral hygiene. Cosmetic dentistry, by using a number of procedures, can fix all these defects and give you a complete smile. The number of dentists specialising in this type of dentistry has also increased considerably lately, so has the quality of procedures. New ways of improving precision and convenience in each dental work are being developed.

The most used and consequently the most popular cosmetic solution is teeth whitening which is meant for those who desire shiny white teeth, without making structural alterations to the teeth. You can whiten your teeth at home too using over the counter products but dentists provide more long lasting and effective solutions. Another method to get rid of stains on the surface of teeth is by fixing porcelain veneers, which are thin shells, of a material which perfectly matches the colour and texture of tooth enamel.

The purpose of these enhancements is to make one's teeth look as natural and healthy as possible. Depending upon the condition of your teeth, your dentist may advice you to go for a single or multiple cosmetic changes. Giving an even shape to your teeth and your gums, replacing lost or broken teeth with exact replicas of natural teeth, closing odd gaps between teeth and fixing everything that makes your smile look odd, cosmetic dentists can give a complete makeover to your smile. Whether you opt for cosmetic dentistry or not, always keep a smile on your face, because there is nothing better than a smiling face which is brimming with self confidence and assurance.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why You Should Always Floss

If you ask an American if they regularly brush their teeth, odds are they will say "yes." Americans spend $2 billion a year on toothbrushes and toothpaste (among other dental supplies), with 94% saying they brush nightly and 84% saying they brush first thing in the morning. However, if you asked all Americans if they are doing everything in their power to maintain healthy dental hygiene; your results wouldn't be as strong.

Less than half of Americans say that they floss daily. Even worse, 10% admit to NEVER flossing. When around 70% of Americans can count on having some type of periodontal disease, flossing has never been so essential. This brief outline is intended to show why dentists claim that flossing is such an important part of oral health. This article provides a few easy practices to improve your flossing when you do.

Why Floss?

Every time you eat, breath, or pretty much open your mouth, you're exposing your teeth to bacteria and microorganisms that get caught in between teeth. This is unavoidable, what will matter is how you take care of it. Without brushing and flossing, the bacteria build up and forms mini bacterial colonies (gross, right?), the yellowish coating substance called plaque.

Besides the fact that plaque is literally caked layers of bacteria, plaque is quite bad for oral health. Plaque is unsightly and will add a yellow stain to your teeth, as opposed to the clean white of fresh enamel. As if that isn't enough, plaque gets in between teeth and slowly eats away at soft gum tissue causing periodontal disease and further gum damage that will result in root canals and even more extreme methods of decay fighting from your dentist. Flossing is the best line of defense to scrape away plaque as it builds between teeth and to protect gums by removing bacteria at the base of teeth (their most vulnerable point).


It's been said that flossing is even more important than brushing; but, why then would people avoid it? Most people avoid flossing because of pain and bleeding. While the bleeding may be inescapable for the first few instances, this is simply no excuse to avoid flossing. The damage that is being done by refusing to floss is far more detrimental, and if flossing is done correctly it is a completely painless experience.

Simply buy a bundle of dental floss from any grocery store. If you're worried about the floss hurting your teeth, try to find a brand that is infused with satin, according to dentists. You'll barely feel it and you'll get the job done just as well. Get about 18 inches worth of filament, and wind it around your fingers so that you can pinch the twine with index finger and thumb. Gently slide the twine in between your teeth, and hold the floss against the tooth in question. Slide the filament back and forth, following the contours of the tooth and covering its entire length. Do this for every tooth, particularly the back molars. It does not matter if you floss or brush first, only that it gets done.

Flossing will strengthen your smile and make your teeth strong and clean. Cut down on unsightly plaque and take the first step in periodontal disease defense by beginning a daily flossing regimen, today.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Get a Winning Smile With Cosmetic Reconstructive Dentistry

Cosmetic reconstructive dentistry is a branch of dentistry that uses various procedures to improve the appearance and functionality of a person's teeth. Many people opt for this option to ensure they get a winning smile. People of all ages may have problems like teeth discoloration, chipping, missing, and misshapen teeth. As some of the most common procedures that dentists perform, cosmetic dentistry improves a person's dental formula, not only giving them a new smile but also improves other oral problems. Full mouth reconstruction is a great way to enhance a person's appearance.

Cosmetic services are readily available and your dentist is in a position to answer all your questions. The condition of your teeth and the desired results will determine which procedure you will require. Questions about maintenance, expected results, and expectation through the course of treatment are some of the questions that you should ask your dentist.

Teeth whitening or bleaching is the most common and popular procedure in dentistry. Most people want to whiten their teeth to make stains disappear; some just want to make their teeth appear whiter. Discoloration on teeth occurs on the enamel due to a variety of factors. Some of the most common factors include the consumption of coffee, tea, medicine, and cigarettes. Age and genealogy can also be causes of discoloration. Application of bleach can either be done through general dentistry by your dentist in their office, or in the comfort of your own home. Many patients prefer bleaching from home since it is more convenient. When done professionally, the dentist usually creates a custom mouthpiece to make sure that the right amount of whitening solution is used and to ensure that teeth are well exposed. If you are doing it from home the procedure takes two to four weeks depending on the shade required. The dentist visits also call for one or more visit.

Another procedure is the installation of veneers. These are thin, plastic or porcelain strips placed over the teeth to either shape or color the teeth. The common oral problems that can be corrected by this procedure include chipped or uneven surfaces, crooked, unevenly spaced, or oddly shaped teeth.
Little or no anesthesia is used. This procedure is a cheaper option for crowns. The dentist can perform a full mouth reconstruction using veneers. The dentist first takes the impression of your teeth and then creates a buff to compensate for the thickness of this material. Porcelain veneer requires you to visit your cosmetic dentist more than once and they are longer lasting.

To ensure that the dentist you use is skilled in cosmetic dentistry there are standards that you can look for. Ask for before and after pictures to see the progress of other patients. References provided should also be a great way of ensuring care is taken by the dentist in their work. The dentist should also provide proof for continuing education to ensure that they are up to date with the latest techniques.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Seniors: Regular Dental Exams Could Save Your Life

A Public Service Announcement from Delta Dental of New Jersey on the importance of regular dental check-ups and how dentists can see the signs of 120 different diseases during examination.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gum Disease - There's More To It Than Brushing and Flossing

Your gum health tells a lot about your overall health, wellbeing and lifestyle and your risk for developing health problems so it is vital in dentistry that gum disease is assessed, talked about and treated by your dentist.

Gum disease or gingivitis starts with plaque - an invisible sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. These bacteria lead to inflammation which damages the gums making them red, swollen and prone to bleeding. Poor or inadequate brushing, diet and ill health all play a role in gum disease.
The Other Causes of Gum Disease

Poor Nutrition - a poor diet especially one deficient of nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin C, B vitamins and Vitamin D can aggravate or lead to problems with your gum health.
Calcium and Vitamin D keep your bones strong including the bones that hold your teeth in. Vitamin C keeps the gum tissue intact and is a powerful antioxidant that offsets the effects of free radicals that can damage and destroy gum tissues.

Smoking - smoking and chewing tobacco increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth, weakens your immune system and limits the amount of oxygen and blood supply to your gum tissues. These factors increase inflammation and make you more prone to infection. It also makes treating your gum disease more complicated and less effective.

Medications - many prescription drugs like antidepressants decrease saliva production leading to dry mouth. Saliva helps clean your teeth and slow down bacterial growth. Without good quality saliva and good saliva flow plaque and tartar build more easily. (You are also more prone to tooth decay too).

Other medications like anti-epileptics, calcium channel blockers and ones like steroids that suppress your immune system can lead to overgrowth of gum tissue which makes your gums more fragile and harder to keep clean.

Talk to your doctor if you feel your medication could be making your dental health worse.

Infections - viruses and yeast or fungal infections can affect your gums. When we have a cold or flu our gum health worsens due to our immune system having to work harder. Oral thrush causes white areas on your tongue and cheeks which can spread to your gums and weaken your gum health.

Chronic Disease - chronic poor health, autoimmune conditions, anaemia, vitamin deficiency, toxins and chronic inflammation all have a knock on affect to your gum health. For anyone with compromised health it is vital that your gum disease is well controlled so regular dental visits are a must.

Diabetes - whilst diabetes is a chronic disease I felt to give it a special mention as with diabetes or pre-diabetes elevated blood sugar levels damage your body including your mouth. Diabetes increases your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss and infections like oral thrush. Dry mouth and diabetes go hand in hand adding to your risk factors for gum disease. Untreated gum disease adds to any inflammation in the body making it harder to regulate your blood sugars and manage your diabetes which leads to a vicious circle. For anyone with diabetes or elevated blood sugar levels regular dental checks and professional cleans are a must.

Hormones - this one applies more to women than men. During pregnancy, menopause and a times during your cycle your gums are more at risk to damage from plaque bacteria.

Morning sickness in pregnancy is an added problem as the nausea and vomiting make you less likely to be able to brush your teeth properly. Pregnant ladies and those going through menopause should not avoid visits to the dentist as this is a time when your mouth actually needs more support not less.

Weakened Immunity - if you have a weak immune system for whatever reason you are more susceptible to infection, including gum infections, mouth ulcers and gum disease. Once again regular dental care is a must not only to look after your mouth but to support your immune system by reducing some of the stress and work load it is under.

Mouth Breathing - breathing though your mouth drys out your gum tissues and allows bacteria to breed more easily which makes your gums more prone to gum disease. Nose breathing is the way to go here. As I like to say, nose for breathing, mouth for eating and drinking.

Lack of Sleep - lack of quality sleep weakens your immune response and makes you more likely to have bleeding gums. Sleep is important for repair and regeneration of your body. When we sleep we produce melatonin which is actually a really powerful antioxidant.

Stress - stress like poor sleep weakens your immune response and makes you body acidic both are a major factor in poor gum health and poor wellbeing. Finding ways to manage or deal with your stress are key.

So as you can see there is more to great gum health than simply brushing and flossing your teeth. Gum disease is caused by various factors, many of which go undiagnosed or are not seen as directly linked to your oral health.

Dentistry offers a whole mouth, body and mind approach and may be just what you are looking for in the treatment of your gum health.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Sound of the Dentist Drill Can Trigger Dental Anxiety

Just the sound of the drill or certain smells or the sight of instruments can trigger dental anxiety and create stress.