Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

As our children head back to school, we have a list of items on our checklist to get done. Usually this list includes shopping for new school clothes and buying essential books but dental check ups are often overlooked. Recent research has shown many students falling behind educationally because of poor oral care. During the long summer vacation those regular routines of brushing and flossing often suffer. To help avoid issues popping up during the school year that could potentially lead to loss of classroom time it would be wise to consider a visit to the dentist prior to starting school.

Why Is A Regular Dental Cleaning And Examination Important?

Seeing your dentist regularly has many benefits to an adult as well as a child. What goes on at these visits?

-Review Of Medical History. Study after study has shown that there is a direct link between our oral health and our general health. Regularly updating your child’s medical history will keep you up to date to any changes that may be occuring in your child’s health. This allows the dental team to make the necessary adjustments to your child’s treatment. Some of these changes could include changes in medications, recent surgeries or injuries, or even changes in your child’s vitamin routine. What may seem trivial to you could have definite implications to your child’s dental treatment.

-Dental X-Rays. Not every routine dental visit will include dental x-rays. For most children, they are recommended to be taken once a year. Dental x-rays give the dentist and hygienist a clearer window into the your dental health. Tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tumors can be detected using x-rays.

-Periodontal Examination. This includes examining your glands, periodontal tissues, lips, and tongue to ensure everything looks and feels normal. Routinely, your hygienist will perform a periodontal screening which includes checking around each individual tooth for the presence of bone loss. While advanced periodontal disease is rare in children it can occur. More likely, gingivitis will occur which appears as red, puffy gum tissue that easily bleeds when brushing. This is especially important for teenagers as their hormone levels are changing making them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease. Also, gingivitis can show up in the form of bad breath. Which can be socially awkward for our teens.

-Teeth Scaling And Polish. This should include using both ultrasonic instruments as well as hand instruments. The ultrasonic instruments are used to debride and remove debris above the gum line. While hand instruments are used to attack areas below the gum line to ensure all the plaque and tartar are effectively removed. Stains can also be removed using these instruments. And finally, your hygienist will polish your teeth to make them smooth and shiny.

-Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride is an important mineral in the health of our teeth. It occurs naturally in many foods as well as water. During the course of our daily lives, our teeth are constantly losing and gaining fluoride through two processes: remineralization (adding fluoride) and demineralization (losing fluoride). When there is more demineralization than remineralization tooth decay occurs.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to attacks from acid, plaque bacteria, and sugars in the mouth. It also has the ability to reverse very early tooth  decay.  It is most definitely important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the time period during which the primary and permanent teeth develop and erupt into the mouth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.

-Dental Examination. During this examination your dentist will discuss with the hygienist anything that they may have found during their examination. This is important because the dentist can then pay particular attention to certain areas to ensure the proper treatment plan is developed. Following the examination, your dentist will discuss with you if any treatment is needed.

-Patient Education. An educated patient makes the best choices for his/her dental care and this includes children. Therefore this part is just as important as any other part. Your dentist or hygienist might use visual aids, like a disclosing solution, to show areas that you may need work to on at home. Demonstrations of proper flossing and brushing technique may also be shown at this time.

Benefits Of Back To School Dental Visits

-Increased Health. Your child will benefit from receiving the best possible dental care in a timely manner before problems get out of hand.

-Increased Self Confidence. A healthy smile will increase ones self confidence allowing them to perform better socially and at school.

-Increased Educationally Opportunities. By staying on top of their dental health, your children will not be forced to miss classroom time to tend to their dental issues.

-Better Focus. Knowing that your dental health is on track will relieve you and your children of any worry as the year progresses.

Conclusion

As you can see above there are many benefits to having your child see your dentist regularly. Best of all you are setting them on a path to maintaining their dental health and their smiles for a lifetime.

Maintaining good dental health is a challenge for all of us but it can be especially challenging for women. Women’s bodies have major changes that occur throughout life including monthly cycles and pregnancy. These changes are due to changes in hormones. As you may know, hormones can be responsible for dramatic shifts in our bodies chemistry.

Recent studies have shown an increased risk for periodontal disease in women due to hormonal changes. Fluctuations in female hormones seem to be the main risk factor. For women, this means it effects them over the course of their entire lives. Female sex hormone changes occur at puberty, menstruation, during pregnancy, and throughout menopause. The study found that as female sex hormones fluctuate throughout a woman’s life they can change conditions in the mouth that allow bacteria to grow and enter the bloodstream. This development can and usually does intensify certain health issues like bone loss in the body and especially the mouth.

Female Changes Through Life

Below you will find a list of some of the major hormonal events that a female must deal with that can affect her dental health as well as her overall health.

-Menstrual Cycle. Is the regular natural changes that occurs in the uterus and ovaries that make pregnancy possible. The menstrual cycle is required for the production of eggs, and for the preparation of the uterus for a possible pregnancy. About 80% of women report having some symptoms during the one to two weeks prior to menstruation. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes. These changes can also include increased inflammation of gum tissues and sensitivity to your gums. Maintaining dental hygiene is even more important during the menstrual cycle changes to keep symptoms to a minimum.

There may also be an increase in the development of canker sores and blisters at this time. It is probably a good idea to watch these sores and ensure they go away in a  timely manner. If the sores become inflamed or linger for longer than 5-7 days it is best to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Pregnancy. Another major period of change within a woman’s body. During pregnancy, hormones like estrogen, progesterone, as well as others, rise and fall on a weekly basis. Because of this, dental problems can be intensified and made more serious. Problems that were once unrecognizable before pregnancy may become unbearable during it.

When you’re pregnant, you become very aware of how important it is to take extra special care of your body. You should also know that pregnancy is a time to take extra special care of your teeth and gums. That’s because hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can increase your chances of developing tooth decay, pregnancy gingivitisand advancement of periodontal disease .Studies have shown that women with existing periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have preterm births and low birth weight babies.

Preventive dental cleanings and regular dental exams during pregnancy are not only completely safe, but are highly recommended by both dentists and physicians alike. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes to a  woman’s body. This increase in hormones causes the gums to bleed easily, become inflamed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gingival tissue.

Researchers believe that periodontal disease may lead to premature birth by the spread of oral bacteria to the placenta or amniotic fluid. Systemic inflammation caused by periodontitis may also lead to preterm labor and membrane rupture. The probable culprit is a chemical called prostaglandin, released into the bloodstream during inflammation, which can induce labor. Prostaglandin is released in very high levels in severe cases of periodontal disease.

Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor oral hygiene and gum disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists.

If you are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to see your dentist prior to trying to concieve to ensure your oral health is fine. You should have a complete dental exam at this time along with a dental cleaning and complete treatment on any other issues you might have to ward off complications during pregnancy.

-Menopause. Menopause may also contribute to some oral ailments such as the following:

1. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). As a woman’s estrogen levels decrease it can lead to a drier mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping our mouth clean and hydrated. Without sufficient amounts of saliva our teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal infections. Dry mouth can also come from many medications (prescriptions or over the counter) that are commonly prescribed as we get older.

2. Menopausal Gingivostomatitis. This can occur to a very small percentage of women but can be very damaging. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red are hallmarks of this condition. Estrogen supplements are usually able to help to relieve these symptoms.

3. Bone Density Changes. The decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density. Loss of bone in the jaw area can lead to tooth loss. Gum recession can also be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone. Receding gums also expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay by exposing more areas of the tooth to the acids in the mouth. Gingival grafting may be necessary to cover the receding areas.

4. Change In Taste. This is especially true for salty, peppery or sour.

5. Burning Mouth Syndrome. This can affect the tongue, gum tissues, lips, and possibly the tissues inside the cheeks of the mouth. The burning mouth sensation generally occurs from changes in taste and the sensory nerves in the mouth. It can also be caused as a result of dry mouth, poor nutrition, and even allergic reactions to food or drug. If you note any of these symptoms contact your dentist immediately for help in relieving the discomfort.

6. Eating Disorders. Nutritional changes can occur from a woman’s change in her own body self image. These changes can lead to poor nutrition and improper eating habits. These changes can make our teeth more susceptible to teeth damage.

-Birth Control Pills. Another factor that may also contribute is the use of oral contraceptives or birth control pills. These pills trick the body into thinking it is pregnant through the use of hormones so that ovulation does not occur each month. Because the body believes that it is pregnant, the same problems that women experience during pregnancy may occur if the woman is taking birth control. Utilizing this medication makes it even more necessary for you to take good care of your oral hygiene and to pay close attention to any sensitivity, swelling, or discomfort in the mouth.

Female Dental Health Conclusion

As noted above, it is important for women to see their dentist regularly for examinations and dental cleanings as well as to maintain diligent dental care at home. Make sure to follow proper brushing and flossing habits, as well as using a strengthening fluoride rinse, and your teeth and gums should feel comfortable and healthy!

As we age, we need to monitor our bodies far differently than when we were younger. This includes our dental hygiene. Prescription medications can have a big effect on dental health. They can lead to dry mouth which can lead to increased tooth decay. Below you will find some great dental hygiene tips to navigate through the senior years.

Common Dental Issues For Seniors

Certain dental health problems are more common in seniors, they include the following:

1) Tooth Decay. Cavities are caused by plaque bacteria which breakdown the enamel and cause holes in the teeth. Soft diet, dry mouth, limited dexterity, a large number of crowns and fillings to clean around, and high sugars or acids in your diet will increase your chances of decay.

2) Periodontal Disease. Seniors are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. This occurs when plaque builds up beneath your gum line causing inflammation of the tissues and eventually bone loss if allowed to progress. Certain medications cause the gums to swell and bleed and make it more difficult to remove plaque. This may cause gum recession and periodontal disease.

3) Root Cavities. The roots of the teeth can also decay. Once gums recede, the unprotected root surface is very easy for the plaque bacteria to attack. With no enamel to protect it, the cavity can progress rapidly to the nerve of the tooth.

4) Tooth Sensitivity. As we get older, our gums may recede, exposing root surfaces. The roots have nerve endings close to the surface which can become increasingly sensitive to hot, cold, brushing, and sweets. If you experience sensitivity, try a sensitivity toothpaste (like Colgate Sensitive Pro-Health) . If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5) Dry mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common condition in the senior population and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders (like radiation therapy for cancer). If this condition is left untreated, it can cause damage to your teeth. Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced salivary flow. Plaque tends to build up when the mouth is dry, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend multiple methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as treatments or medications to help prevent the development of cavities. Two products I recommend are Biotene and Listerine Zero.

6) Denture Issues. Many older people wear dentures. If they are not properly cared for, they can cause dental health problems, especially fungal infections such as yeast. A sign of a yeast infection is bright red irritated tissue, itchiness, burning, or a white creamy build up on oral tissues or denture. Just because you have dentures does not mean you do not need a dental examination. You should have an annual check of your denture fit, oral tissues, and oral cancer screening. As well as a jaw x-ray every five years to detect growth or changes in the bone.

Senior Dental Hygiene Tips

-Maintain Regular Brushing. The recommended time to brush is at least 2 minutes. For many of us, we never reach the 2 minute mark at any of our tooth brushing sessions. If you feel like you are having trouble keeping to 2 minute deadline think about the use of a timer or an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes of use.

-Use A Plaque Disclosing Solution. This solution allows the patient to see visually if they left any plaque behind and work on areas they are missing. It is a great tool and easy to visualize the areas you need improvement on.

-Maintain Regular Dental Visits. This goes for the old and the young. Maintaining regular dental visits can catch small problems before they become bigger issues. This will save you time and money and possibly pain down the road.

-Add A Mouthwash Rinse To Your Dental Hygiene Protocol. It is a good idea to use an oral rinse that does not contain alcohol. As we get older, our teeth can become sensitive, alcohol rinses can be uncomfortable to use for those with sensitive teeth.

-Floss Daily. Flossing your teeth can help prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Flossing should be done at least once a day. We also recommend the use of floss mate. A variety of companies (Butler GUM floss mate or REACH access flosser), make these products and are easily found at the local drug store. These products work well in patients with minimal or reduced dexterity.

-Quite Smoking.  In addition to increasing your risk of many systemic diseases, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. There are a variety of methods available to quit to make it as painless a possible.

Conclusion

There are many health challenges to deal with as we age, but maintaining good oral hygiene and monitoring to your dental health can keep your smile sparkling for many years to come.

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.