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Periodontal disease is a slow, progressive disease that can wreak havoc on our oral and systemic health. Many of the symptoms of periodontal disease sneak up on us and are often ignored. It is important not to ignore these signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss. Periodontal disease comes in many different forms including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases.  Each of these types of periodontal disease has its own distinct characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt treatment by a dentist to help halt subsequent bone and gum tissue loss. Risk of periodontal disease increases with age. For younger people, dental caries are a more important risk for tooth loss, while for older people, periodontal disease is the more important risk factor.

Risk Factors Of Periodontal Disease

-Age. Studies have shown that over 70% of all Americans aged 65 and older have some form of periodontal disease.

-Tobacco Use (including smoking). We are well aware of the health effects of smoking on our overall health. These diseases include various types of cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular (heart) disease. Research has also shown that tobacco use also increases a persons risk for periodontal disease.

-Family History (Genetics). Some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others. This is because of our genetic makeup.

-Stress. Studies have shown that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, this includes periodontal diseases.

-Prescription Drugs (Medications). Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dentist.

-Bruxism (Teeth Grinding). Bruxism can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

-Presence Of Systemic Disease. Many systemic diseases can interfere with the inflammatory process. These include cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

-Poor Diet/ Nutrition. A diet low in important, essential nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.

Periodontal Disease Signs And Symptoms

-Bleeding Upon Brushing, Flossing, Or Even Eating. This is one of the most common signs that periodontal disease is active. It is often overlooked as not a big deal. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. As the bacteria and toxins build up in the mouth, the body responds by activating the inflammatory process, rushing our cells to stop the attack. This will cause the gum tissues to become inflamed and red. It is important to also note that bleeding gums can also be the sign of something more sinister like leukemia and blood platelet disorders.

-Unexplained Pain Or Swelling. Periodontal infections present in this manner. When an oral infection occurs, it is essential that you get to a dentist as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. If the infection is left unchecked it will cause damage to the gum tissues and the bone supporting your teeth. It can also be carried to other parts of the body through the blood stream affecting your overall health.

-Persistent Halitosis (Bad Breath). Bad breath can occur from many things but peristent bad breath can mean progressive periodontal disease . As the gum tissues are destroyed, the areas where the oral bacteria can flourish will increase causing a foul odor in the mouth. There are other causes of chronic halitosis that should also be ruled out by your dentist prior to treatment.

-Change In Your Smile Or Loose Teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, your teeth will loosen and move out of position. This will effect the way your teeth fit together and even alter your smile.

-Teeth Become Longer In Appearance. As periodontal disease progresses it will lead to destruction of the bone and gum tissues. This will show up as gum recession. Once the gum tissues pull back they expose more of the tooth and root, making them appear longer than before.

-Pus Drainage. This goes along with the periodontal infection mentioned previously. An active periodontal infection will create pus which can ooze out from between the teeth and gums causing a bad taste and bad breath (malodor).

Periodontal Disease Prevention

Dental and Periodontal Examinations

Your dentist will complete a thorough examination with x-rays and periodontal charting. Notations about the visual condition of the gum tissue will also be recorded. In its earliest stages the gum tissue is usually red, puffy, and painless or slightly tender at this point. Plaque and tartar will more than likely be present to some degree. A periodontal probe will be used to measure around the teeth to see if your periodontal disease has progressed and to what degree. It is important to note that once bone loss has occurred you now have a more advanced form of periodontal disease.

Following the examination, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment for your periodontal disease. This will include a professional cleaning along with extra home care instructions. The goal in treatment is to reduce the inflammation and not allow progression of the disease. An antibacterial rinse (example, Listerine) may also be recommended for at home use. Your dentist may also recommend repair of misaligned or crooked teeth to aid you in your home care efforts. Your dentist may also recommend a more frequent schedule(every 4-6 months) to control your periodontal disease.

Following removal of plaque and tartar, bleeding and tenderness of the gums should begin to subside within 1-2 weeks after professional cleaning and careful dental hygiene. Warm salt water or antibacterial rinses can also reduce gum inflammation. Taking an over the counter anti inflammatory medication can also aid in pain and inflammation reduction.

Healthy gums should look pink and firm with no bleeding upon brushing, flossing, or eating. Good oral hygiene must be maintained for your whole life, or periodontal disease will come back and possibly advance past the gingivitis form into advanced periodontal disease (also called periodontitis).

Steps to prevent periodontal disease should include:

-Routine dental visits. Usually recommended every 3- 6 months for examination and professional cleaning.

-Maintain At Home Dental Care. Brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day.

-Rinsing with an antiseptic rinse as recommended by your dentist. Choose one with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval.

Consult your physician if the bleeding is severe or chronic, gums continue to bleed even after dental treatment, or you have other unexplained symptoms along with the bleeding from your gums. These could all be the sign of a more serious condition than periodontal disease and should be checked out as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Preventing periodontal disease is up to the patient. Luckily, it is preventable with diligence and effort. Maintaining good dental hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly will lead to a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Summer is just around the corner which means school is out and traveling for many families. It is easy to overlook dental hygiene when on the road and forget to pack the essentials to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Below you will find some essentials to pack to ensure you keep up your dental hygiene while having fun on the road.

Dental Hygiene Essentials To Pack

-New Toothbrush. Start fresh and bring a new toothbrush on your trip. Then simply throw it out at the end of the vacation.

-Toothbrush Holder. This is a simple and cheap way to maintain a sanitary environment for your toothbrush.

-Travel Sized Mouthwash and Toothpaste. Not only will these follow the newer TSA regulations for air travel, they will make it easier to pack as well.

-Sugar Free Gum (preferably one with Xylitol). Being on the road it is not always easy to brush after meals or snacks. Keeping gum with you will allow you to freshen your breath and keep your mouth as clean as possible.

-Pain Medication. This can include Motrin or Aleve. Nice to have in case of a dental emergency while on vacation.

-Wax. Another good item to have in case of a dental emergency. If you accidentally chip a tooth, the wax can be used to cover the jagged edge of the tooth.

-Floss. Do not forget to floss at least once per day.

-Package of Colgate Wisps. This handy dental hygiene tool acts as toothbrush as well as a toothpick. These can help remove foreign objects lodged between your teeth.

-Plastic sandwich or freezer bag. Ever open your suitcase to find a tube of toothpaste or mouthwas exploded all over your clothes? It’s not a pleasant surprise. This can be prevented by putting your dental hygiene products in a sealed plastic bag.

-Electric Toothbrush/Charger. If you use an electric toothbrush make sure to pack the entire kit including the charger so you do not run out of juice while traveling.

-Waterpik Flosser Travel Size. The waterpik is an excellent adjunct to any dental hygiene program. If this is a product you use at home, then you would not want to leave without it.

Dental Hygiene Tips While Traveling

-Do not forget to brush after every meal. If you are unable to brush immediately, rinse with water after every meal.

-Limit snacking.

-Carry sugar free gum with xylitol to chew if you are unable to brush.

-Always brush and floss before bed.

Dental Hygiene Conclusion

Maintaining dental hygiene on the road can be quite challenging. Carrying your routine on the road is essential to stave off any dental issues down the road.

Porcelain veneers are sometimes perceived as something out of Hollywood. There is a good reason for this as many actors and actresses have abnormally perfect white teeth. Cosmetic dentistry is an art and smiles can be recreated or they can be perfect. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Some like having small gaps between their teeth or a tooth slightly out of alignment. Porcelain veneers work very well when cosmetic changes need to be made without the need for more invasive dental procedures.

Are Porcelain Veneers Right For Your Smile?

-Desire For A New, Beautiful Smile. Generally when someone openly wants a change in appearance, especially one requiring a significant financial investment, they are usually more receptive to maintaining it properly. If the porcelain veneers are not cared for they can and will develop tooth decay as well as break down. Routine dental examinations, professional cleanings, and excellent dental hygiene are an integral part of keeping your new smile looking its best.

-Healthy Teeth And Gums. If extensive tooth decay, fractured teeth, or periodontal disease are present, you will not be considered a good candidate for porcelain veneers. Good oral health is required for porcelain veneers. The mouth needs to be  in a healthy, stable state to allow porcelain veneers to be considered an option. You will need a full dental examination to assess your dental health. If your mouth is not free of the above conditions, it is best to avoid porcelain veneers due to an increased chance of failure.

-Teeth Alignment. Severely misaligned teeth are not good candidates as this will cause issues with preparation of teeth for porcelain veneers. A good cosmetic dentist will try to be quite conservative when removing natural tooth structure. If the teeth are too far out of alignment it means more tooth structure will need to be removed to accomodate the spacing. Removing too much tooth structure can lead to tooth sensitivity and even nerve exposure (requiring possible root canal therapy). For teeth that are severely misaligned, invisalign, 6 month smile orthodontics, or traditional orthodontics may be needed to bring them into proper alignment.

-Sufficient Tooth Enamel Present. Tooth enamel is needed for the porcelain veneers to bond to your teeth. If the tooth  is severely worn down or damaged, porcelain veneers will not bond well and may not be a good option for you. In this case a full crown may be a better option.

-Tooth Color. In general, porcelain veneers look best when they are thin and translucent. If you have severely stained teeth (developmental dentin staining, tetracycline staining, root canal therapy staining), it is usually best to undergo teeth whitening prior to veneers. Blockout of underlying staining is possible, but the end result will not look as natural.

-Gum Tissue Alignment. Proper gum tissue contours are necessary to give a natural look. If the gum heights are out of proportion, they will need to be recontoured with a gingivectomy procedure prior to veneer placement.

- Oral Habits: Nail BitingTeeth Clenching/Grinding (Bruxism). Severe teeth clenchers or teeth grinders are not good candidates for porcelain veneers. Veneers are not able to handle the powerful stresses put forth by grinding and clenching. If a patient only grinds their teeth at night then it is possible to still complete porcelain veneers but only with the use of a night guard at night. Other oral habits such as, biting nails, chewing on pens, opening packages with your teeth, etc. will also cause damage to veneers and may cause them to fail.

 Porcelain Veneers Conclusion

Porcelain veneers can give the ability to transform an ordinary smile to an extraordinary one. The information above should give everyone some information on what to expect if they are considering making changes to their smile. A natural looking new smile is just a dentist visit away!

A good oral hygiene regimen often includes tooth brushing multiple times a day along with flossing but did you know there is more you could be doing? While brushing and flossing are very effective adding tongue brushing to your regimen can kick your dental hygiene into high gear. Neglecting to brush your tongue at least once per day can leave behind a lot of harmful bacteria that can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even bad breath. Our tongues provide a perfect environment for bacteria to live and grow. It has a rough surface allowing the bacteria to hide and prosper. This bacteria if left alone will spread throughout your mouth even if you constantly brush.

Will Tongue Cleaning Improve Our Breath?

Tongue brushing will be an effective way to maintain clean, fresh breath. Gum, mints, and mouthwashes only mask or hide our bad breath for a short period of time. The key to eliminating bad breath (halitosis) is to eliminate the oral bacteria causing it.

The correct steps for tongue cleaning include:

-Choosing The Right Tool For The Job. You have three choices for cleaning your tongue.

1. Tongue Scraper. A tongue scraper is the traditional method for properly cleaning the tongue. Tongue scrapers can be made from plastic or metal. Simple to use, place the edge of the tool on the back of your tongue, and gently pull the scraper forward gently removing bacteria and food debris.

2. Standard Toothbrush. The disadvantage of using a regular toothbrush on the tongue is that the bristles are designed to clean the smooth surfaces of your teeth. Your tongue is a rough surface with many tiny crevices, and regular toothbrush bristles may not do a thorough cleaning job. Recent research studies have shown that a standard toothbrush reduced bad breath by 45 % while a tongue scraper reduced it by almost 75 % The study measured levels of volatile sulfur compounds in the mouth).

3. Tongue Brush with bristles designed to clean out the crevices of the tongue.

Using Your Tongue Cleaner

Tongue cleaning can be done before or after brushing. It is important to be gentle as our tongues can be quite sensitive. Steps should include:

-Begin by cleaning the back of your tongue, and work your way forward.

-Scrape and clean the entire top and side surfaces of your tongue, not just the center.

-If you use a tongue brush, move it the same way you moved the tongue cleaner from the back of the tongue to the front of the tongue. You may have to use this method a few times in order to adequately clean your entire tongue.

-Rinse the tongue brush or tongue scraper off after each use it to remove bacteria and any food debris from the areas of the tongue you cleaned.

-Rinse your mouth after cleaning (preferably an antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine) your tongue.

Tongue Cleaning Conclusion

Maintaining good oral hygiene can have long lasting health effects. Adding tongue cleaning to this regimen will only improve your oral hygiene as well as freshen your breath. Speak to your dentist if you need any further tongue cleaning tips.