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Periodontal disease is a progressive disorder that if left untreated will worsen over time. Many people simply ignore the warning signs or just do not know them. Educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease is a good first step to taking control of the disease and it’s progression.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a serious and chronic infection of the gum tissue that can result in the staged breakdown of the tissue and the deterioration of bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. This infection process begins when bacteria and plaque form a sticky bio film on your teeth. Biofilm causes a chronic inflammation of the gum tissue.  Periodontal disease will continue to progress if the biofilm is not reduced or removed.   Maintaining proper dental care and hygiene are the most important steps in prevention and halting of the disease. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Studies show that somewhere between 75% and 95% of all adults are suffering some stage of periodontal disease.

The stages of periodontal disease include:

-Gingivitis ( inflammation of the gum tissues). This is the initial stage of periodontal disease. This is easily reversible and is the mildest form of periodontal disease. Symptoms include red, swollen (or puffy) and inflamed gums due to plaque-bacteria build-up. The gums may also bleed easily during brushing or eating of hard foods. During this early stage of periodontal disease, the process can be reversed with at home dental hygiene and professional cleanings to remove the biofilm, and tartar. Most of the people with this early form of periodontal disease, do not even know a dental problem exists. This is a crucial period for the patient, as the condition can be reversed (since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place have not yet been affected) at this point if it is recognized and properly treated. Gingivitis is commonly seen during puberty, pregnancy, times of high stress, and menopause, as hormones can make you more prone to inflammation. As for the rest of the population, poor hygiene is generally the most common cause, followed by medication and certain medical conditions.

-Periodontitis. As the disease state progresses, it is now becoming harder to treat and manage. The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis only infects the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth while the periodontal disease process also invades the bone that provides support and stability for the teeth. The bacteria eventually invades past the initial the gum line area and destruction begins to the point that gums may begin to separate or pull away from the teeth (taking away support and connective fibers with it). What results are called periodontal pockets. These pockets allow for bacteria to invade below the gum line.  They eventually become loaded with toxic plaque and bacteria that moves and works its way deeper. It begins to erode the bone and connective fibers below the gum line. A patient’s bite will be affected (as the teeth shift or loosen) by the lost support which then affects chewing and other functions.

-Advanced Periodontitis. As the periodontal disease process advances further, the fibers and bone that provide support for the teeth are destroyed. At least half of the bone support (if not more) will have broken down at this late stage of periodontal disease. It does not grow back naturally. Teeth may begin to loosen. Deep root cleanings and surgical intervention are typical at this stage. This may include cleaning with a periodontal microscope, (Perioscope), grafting of tissue, bone, placement of growth factors, (Emdogain), periodontal antibiotic regimen (Periostat), placement of antibiotics directly into pockets, (Arestin), open flap surgery, and, possibly tooth removal.

Periodontal Disease Warning Signs

-Puffy, Swollen Gum Tissue. This is a hallmark sign of gingivitis and periodontal disease in general. Your body’s natural response is to fight off this infection caused by excessive untreated debris. It does this by bringing healing components to the area through the blood vessels. The gums will remain this way until the irritant is removed namely the plaque and bacteria building up on your teeth and below the gum line.

-Bleeding Gums. Once the tissues are puffy and receiving extra blood flow to fight off the disease process. This leads to inflamed gum tissue that will bleed easily upon brushing or even eating.

-Presence Of Periodontal Pockets. As the disease process progresses and the bacteria and plaque build up the gum tissue will begin to separate from the teeth creating ever larger pockets where bone will be lost. These pockets become very difficult to clean on your own and necessitate further professional help.

-Infection And Pus. Once there has been significant advancement of pockets, bleeding ends, and infection begins. Pressing on the gums, flossing or probing by the hygienist tends to release pus into the mouth.

-Long Looking Teeth. As we lose bone support, the gum tissue falls back and exposes the root of the tooth. This gives the appearance of longer teeth.

-Persistent Bad Breath. While this can be a sign of other more serious medical conditions it is a hallmark of periodontal disease progression. Much of the odor has to do with the infection process, and tartar.

-Loose Or Drifting Teeth. Once periodontal disease has advanced, the support tissues are diminished. The further the advancement, the looser the teeth become.

Periodontal Disease Conclusion

Periodontal disease is a progressive disease. There are many signs and stages to help you to be aware of  it’s progression. The disease process involved in periodontal disease can be quite aggressive making it harder and harder to control and treat. It is best to stay ahead of that process by being diligent with at home dental hygiene and maintaining a regular schedule of professional cleanings.

Let’s be honest, most people do not floss regularly even though they know they should. Flossing is an integral part of any dental hygiene program. Brushing alone is not able to remove the bacteria and food debris that builds up between and around our teeth. Proper flossing can help prevent not only tooth decay but also tooth loss as well. So, what are the rules of flossing for you to follow? Below you will find the basics to floss porperly…

6 Rules To Great Flossing

-Floss Everyday. Most prefer flossing at bedtime but it can really be done at any point in the day. Flossing can and should be performed more than once a day. The main goal of flossing is to remove the plaque and food debris from between and around your teeth.

-Everyone With Teeth Or Dental Implants Should Floss. This includes kids, adults, and seniors. The general rule for flossing is if you want to keep your teeth or implants, you should floss. Flossing is often overlooked especially for children and those who do not have many teeth. It is never too early or late to start with good habits. Proper flossing will lead you toward a lifetime of good oral health.

-Follow Proper Flossing Technique. Often times people floss with no idea of what they are doing…just going through the motions. The proper technique for flossing covers all aspects of your teeth going up and down between teeth as well as around them. The goal of flossing is to reach areas of the mouth that brushing alone is unable to.

-Be Aware Of Bleeding GumsBleeding gums can happen on occasion when flossing. It can occur from improper flossing technique or ,more than likely, it is occuring because of the presence of early  periodontal disease. For many, it can be inflamed gums due to gingivitis, which is reversible. Medications and illness can also cause bleeding gums.  If your gums continue bleeding after 2 weeks of proper flossing  and brushing, see your dentist immediately for a complete dental examination and dental cleaning. Your dentist and hygienist will get you back on track to good oral health.

-Keep Up The Routine. Flossing should be done daily but the time of day may vary. The important thing is to stay steady and follow the course over time.

-Use The Proper Tools. All dental floss or dental hygiene products are not made equal. There are a myriad of options available and you need to find what works best for your needs. For some it might be the standard dental floss while for others a floss holder may be necessary to get the job done. Keep trying different products until you find the one that will make you do an effective job on a regular basis.

Flossing Conclusion

Flossing is an important part of dental hygiene. There are alternatives, but nothing works quite as efficiently as flossing. Poor dental hygiene will eventually lead to periodontal disease and or tooth decay. Your dentist and hygienist can help you with your technique and let you know if you are doing it properly. Use your time wisely, make your hygiene habits efficient and effective. You will be pleasantly surprised at the improvements in your health!

 

Why do teeth change color? Our teeth can stain and darken over time for many reasons. In many instances, yellowing of the teeth comes with age,  staining of the enamel,  and the accumulation of plaque on the teeth due to poor dental hygiene. Whatever the cause, most people prefer whiter teeth as they as a sign of health and youth.

What Causes Yellowing Of Teeth?

Yellowing of teeth is due to many factors. It is different for each individual. For some, it might start with one or two teeth while, for others, it might be more pronounced. The entire tooth may not discolor in the traditional sense, either. Some teeth may exhibit spotting, pitting, or streaks of white or yellow.

Luckily, the initial yellowing of teeth does not generally cause pain or discomfort. What it can cause is a person being self conscious and trying to hide their smile. There are certain factors involved with the changes in tooth color.

-Staining. Also referred to as yellowing. The enamel of the teeth yellow or darken due to staining from coffee, red wine, soda, tobacco, and other foods and drink.

- Thin and discolored enamel.  Sometimes, thin enamel is genetic, or discolored because of issues during tooth development. Over exposure to high amounts of minerals in water or tetracycline use during tooth development as a child can cause gray or mottled looking teeth. Fevers during tooth development can also cause malformed enamel. For others with stronger enamel, wear can happen over time,  from trauma and use. This wear can be caused by aggressive brushing, physical trauma such as grinding and clenching, high exposure to acids from foods or health issues. As the enamel thins out over time, the dentin on the inside of the tooth will begin to show through. This thinner enamel will also allow more uptake of stain deeper into the teeth. The yellow color will be more prominent due to the thin enamel layer on the outside.

-Age. As we get older yellowing of teeth is quite normal. From wear and use our enamel layer will become thinner thus allowing more of the underlying tooth structure to show thru.

How To Treat Yellowing Teeth?

-Teeth WhiteningTeeth whitening products and treatments are able to whiten our teeth by removing stains and discolorations. Across the globe, teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure. It works best when teeth are stained from foods, beverages, and smoking. The results for malformed enamel can vary in effectiveness, and sometimes look worse.

There are two main types of teeth whitening: in office treatment and at home treatment. In office whitening involves application of whitening products to the teeth while in the dental office. Results up to several shades lighter are achieved the same day. The process is fast, and easy. At home procedures involve application of whitening products to the teeth by the patient daily, for approximately 1 week to 1 month. The at home process is slower to achieve results, generally less expensive, and usually easy. Both cosmetic dentistry whitening procedures are very effective, and can help you to achieve the whiter smile you have been dreaming of. Any type of whitening can cause sensitivity, which is usually short term.

-Porcelain VeneersPorcelain veneers are a great option for teeth that will not whiten the way you would like.  Mottled enamel, and tetracycline stained teeth do not evenly whiten, some of us have see through or translucent which do not whiten well either. Porcelain veneers give the cosmetic dentist the ability to change the color of teeth, keeping them natural looking and have low incidence of staining when taken care of properly.  Porcelain veneers are custom made ultra thin porcelain restorations that are bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth. Modern porcelain veneers offer a natural looking, beautiful smile. Porcelain veneers generally last between 8 to 12 years, but if cared for properly can last for much longer . The lifespan of porcelain veneers (and any dental restoration) depends upon your oral hygiene maintenance, the forces on the teeth(hard use, grinding), tooth decay, and maintaining regular dental visits.

-Porcelain CrownsPorcelain crowns give the cosmetic dentist the ability to restore a tooth to its natural look without the use of metal. This allows the dental laboratory to fabricate a tooth that reflects light just like our own natural teeth.  Porcelain crowns can be used on teeth that either already have crowns or need more extensive work. Teeth with large, deep, silver fillings, root canals, or extensive tooth decay generally have deep staining which needs to be covered with a crown to restore strength and beauty.

-Dental BondingDental bonding is the process in which tooth colored dental materials are bonded to a tooth. This might be one of the easiest cosmetic dentistry procedures to change our look. Using dental bonding we can change color, shape, size, and close any spaces that might be present. Dental bonding is generally completed in the dentist office in as little as an hour. This is especially useful when treating damaged, thin, or malformed enamel.

Conclusion

Yellowing teeth does not have to be an issue. Protect your smile by limiting acidic and highly staining foods. See your dentist to help you stop grinding and clenching habits. See your hygienist to have your cleaned teeth regularly. Maintain good oral hygiene, without being overly aggressive. If you already have deep staining or damaged enamel, see your dentist to see which options will work best for you.You can achieve the bright white smile you desire with a little help from your dentist!

Dental Hygiene is one of those things in life that takes just a small amount of time to give great benefits to our teeth and overall health. Luckily for us, there are some great dental products out there today that can aid us  in achieving the goal of good dental hygiene. It all starts with brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once per day. Consistency is the key to maintaining good dental hygiene.

Best Dental Products

1) Automatic Toothbrush. An automatic toothbrush is able to reach places that most manual toothbrushes are unable to. Another advantage of an automatic toothbrush is that they help prevent wear that aggressive manual brushing causes. Most automatic toothbrushes have a timer on them. This ensures that you are brushing for the proper amount of time. An automatic toothbrush is especially helpful for patients with limited dexterity either from age or disease. There are two types of automatic toothbrushes:

-UltraSonic Toothbrushes. These toothbrushes can generate between 30,000 and 40,000 brush strokes per minute. By comparison, manual toothbrushing can only generate 300 brush strokes per minute. The bristles also rotate in the recommended back and forth motion needed to clean teeth and gums properly. Another plus of these sonic toothbrushes is that they have a patented cleaning action that actually directs fluid between teeth and below the gum line to gently remove plaque and food debris.

-Electric toothbrushes. These toothbrushes can generate between 3,000 and 7,500 brush strokes per minute. Generally these brushes work by rotating in a circular motion. Some even have a dual action with pulsating motion added in as well to facilitate plaque and food debris removal.

Although individual designs differ, the bristles in the brush head are typically either set in a circular format that rotates (the entire head rotates in unison) or individual tufts of bristles within the brush head spin independently. Some electric toothbrushes have both a rotating as well as a pulsating motion to help remove plaque and reduce gingivitis.

2) Water Irrigators with Periogen. the most common being the waterpik ultra. Most people do need these to aid in dental hygiene (especially those with bridgework, implants, and braces). The irrigation helps to stimulate blood flow to heal gum tissue, remove hard to reach food particles, and get up to 6mm into a periodontal pocket. Recently a new product has come to market called Periogen. Periogen is a unique product in that it is an oral rinse that removes tartar buildup between professional cleanings. The waterpik aids in getting the periogen oral rinse below the gum line and in between teeth.

3) Disclosing Solution. This is generally used for kids but can apply to adults having trouble keeping their teeth clean. The disclosing solution is used as a rinse and it will color the plaque and food debris on your teeth making what you normally miss during brushing very visible. You are able to then remove  any residue of color remaining and know what you need to do next time. Its a great visual tool to really make a difference in your oral health.

4) Flossers. While there are many new flosses that do a great job (such as reach total care), many patients do not floss regularly. Luckily, a product has been developed called a flosser( such as reach access flosser). Makes cleaning between teeth as easy as can be.  These are also helpful for those with limited dexterity as well as children.

5) Tongue Scrapers (also called tongue cleaner). This will allow you to remove food debris, fungi, dead cells and bacteria that builds up on the tongue. The benefit of this will be better breath. Decaying bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds on the rear of the tongue.  These molecules account for about 85% of all cases of halitosis (bad breath). Scraping your tongue every night at bedtime can alleviate your bad breath.

Dental Hygiene Conclusion

There you have the top picks to aid in your dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is something that must be done consistently every day to have its greatest benefits. As always see your dentist for regular dental examinations as well as professional cleanings to keep your mouth healthy. Having a clean mouth will lead to a healthier you!