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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.

Your toothbrush is an essential part of maintaining any oral hygiene regimen.Walking down any oral health aisle in a drug  will show you dozens of different toothbrushes and other oral health aids. How do you choose the right toothbrush for you? Also, once you do make that toothbrush selection, do you know how to care for it properly?

Choosing The Right Toothbrush

The best toothbrush for you is one that fits in your hands properly, reaches all areas, is soft, and easy to use. Toothbrushes come in different shapes, softness, and sizes for a reason, we all have different size hands and mouths. You want a handle that is able to allow you to hold it firmly. You also want a properly sized toothbrush head with soft bristles that is able to fit easily into all areas of the mouth. It is critical to be able to reach everywhere to maintain good oral hygiene.

Electric Vs Manual

There is always a question of electric vs manual  toothbrushes. While, the electric toothbrush cleans more effectively, it is not for everyone. Whether it be cost, storage, charging, vibration sensitivity or personal preferences, the electric toothbrush may not be your number 1 choice. Use what works best for you, just brush with proper technique, and thoroughly.  Electric toothbrushes are especially important for those with orthodontic braces, older population, and those who just need a little extra help to keep their teeth clean. It is important to use a light touch when using an electric toothbrush, and to let it do the brushing, not you.  The oscillating heads can be harsher on your teeth and gums than a manual toothbrush when you scrub with it instead of placing it on one tooth at a time.

How Often Should You Change Your Brush?

Keeping a toothbrush too long will lead to an ineffective toothbrush. As a toothbrush gets used, it begins to fray and collect dangerous bacteria. The recommended rate of change is every 3-4 months for both manual toothbrushes and electric brush heads. A good tip is, if you develop a bad cold or the flu in between that time, you should change toothbrushes after the illness is over. This is to avoid reintroducing that bacteria back into your system. Might even consider using a disposable toothbrush while sick.

Cleaning And Storing Your Toothbrush

Proper toothbrush use should include rinsing thoroughly after each use to remove any excess toothpaste as well as any debris that may be left on it. A good tip will be to soak your toothbrush in an antiseptic rinse to eliminate any bacteria they may be harbored on your brush. Do not leave your toothbrush near the toilet area as the bacteria from the toilet can easily travel to your brush  upon flushing. If you keep it in the cabinet, dry it off before putting it away. There are also ultra violet tooth sanitizers that you can use.

Toothbrushes should be stored so that they are able to air dry. This usually means storing them upright either in the medicine cabinet or near the sink. Bacteria generally need a moist environment to grow and prosper. Another good tip is to never share your toothbrush with anyone, as it can lead to transmission of disease and bacteria.

Toothbrush Conclusion

A clean, effective toothbrush is necessary to keep up your oral hygiene on a regular basis. Brushing should be done at least two times per day for a minimum of 2 minutes each time. Keep track of how often you change your brush, and keep the holder clean and disinfected as well. As always visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations, professional cleanings, and new toothbrushes!

 

Flossing is an important part of your dental hygiene program and should be done on a daily basis. Without flossing, you are leaving your teeth and gums vulnerable to destruction by tooth decay and periodontal disease. Walking down the drug store aisles you will see choice after choice of different types of dental floss by different companies. How do you choose the right dental floss for you?

Different Types Of Dental Floss

Generally there are two types of dental floss on the market today. These include the following:

-Multifilament floss (like nylon floss or silk floss). This is the traditional, most common form of dental floss most of us are used to. Nylon floss is also the cheapest and usually found in generic brand name floss. This type of floss can be made wider and fluffier to accommodate wider spaces, and have additives such as fluoride incorporated. This type of floss will tend to break and shred during use.

-Monofilament floss (aka single filament). This type of dental floss is usually made of a type of rubber, plastic, or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This floss uses newer technology, and since it isn’t a fabric like nylon, it doesn’t rip or tear. Due to its strength, many people prefer this type as they find it easier to pull between teeth without breakage. The plastic/rubber type tend to glide easier between teeth so many companies call this type of floss Glide.

Dental Floss Options

Now that we know the two basic types of dental floss available, what options can come with either of them?

-Flavor. This can be important to many because it makes the chore of flossing a little easier if it tastes ok. Dental floss can come in flavors ranging from bubblegum to mint to even bacon (yes! bacon flavored dental floss is available!).

-Thickness. Dental floss can come in various size thickness. This is important because our teeth are unique to us and are not one size fits all. Everyone has different size teeth as well as different size spacing between our teeth or under and around crown and bridge work. The best thickness dental floss for you is the one that is able to slide easily between teeth without shredding or getting stuck, and wide enough to remove food particles. Snapping or slicing dental floss between teeth is a good way to cause injury to the gum tissues.

-Waxed or Unwaxed. At one time this was the only option. This option is only available for nylon dental floss. The monofilament floss does not need wax it slides just fine on its own. The wax is simply there to help the floss squeeze between teeth easier. It is a personal preference as to use waxed or unwaxed. There is no clinical difference between the two.

-Dental Tape. This type of dental floss is basically a wide, flat ribbon of nylon. Many people find dental tape easier to get between their teeth than traditional floss due to it being thinner. Dental tape and dental floss are generally in the same family, despite having different names.

-Dental yarn. This floss is soft, wide, and fluffy. It is great for wide spaces and in areas of periodontal disease. Some woven yarn flosses even have fluoride particles embedded so that you can leave strengthening fluoride between the teeth where you need it most.

-Threader Floss. This floss has a hard end which can be easily used to thread under braces and bridgework. It is easier to use than a plastic floss threader, and saves time.

Best Dental Floss On The Market

Presently, Reach has a newer dental floss called Total Care. It is wide like a tape, but elastic and stretchy to accommodate almost any space. It also next to impossible to break while flossing.

Dental Floss Conclusion

Flossing is an essential step in maintaining good oral hygiene. There are so many choices today, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Talk to your hygienist about your personal needs, he/she should then be able to suggest the best type of floss for your oral condition.The key takeaway is to use what works best for you and use it regularly to have a happy smile for a lifetime.

Brushing at bedtime is one of those things that most of us just do, never questioning why. It starts as our teeth develop and our parents brush for us and hopefully we continue it throughout life. Do you know why it is recommended to brush before bedtime?

Top Bedtime Dental Hygiene Benefits

1. Remove Buildup of Bacteria In The Mouth. Our mouths are bombarded throughout the course of the day with a variety of environments. It could range from an acidic, hot cup of coffee in the morning to that pen you chewed on while sitting in a meeting at work. These daily activities introduce harmful elements to our teeth. That pen, for example, has been handled by many people and placed on desks throughout the day picking up bacteria and germs. So it is a good idea to brush your teeth and use an antibacterial rinse to rid your mouth of some of these harmful germs, acids, and plaque bacteria building up inside your mouth.

2. Avoid Plaque Buildup Overnight. Plaque is a yellowish film that builds up on our teeth usually along the gumline and between teeth. As the plaque bacteria eats the left over food particles on your teeth, a white film of plaque colonizes and builds up in your mouth. Plaque is acidic, and given time, will exert its damage onto the teeth and gums. So by brushing multiple times per day, and especially just before bed, we are cutting down on the risk of damage to our teeth and gums from this harmful plaque.

3. Sleeptime Causes A Dry Mouth. It is normal that as we sleep our mouths produce less saliva. Hence, why we tend to be thirsty first thing in the morning. A dry mouth is the perfect breeding ground for plaque bacteria. This can lead to increased tooth decay and even the development of periodontal disease. Our mouths need saliva to not only help break down food as we eat but also to bathe the mouth to dislodge food and bacteria from between our teeth and gums. Brushing before bed will again get your mouth ready for that dry environment to come, by removing a good portion of the bacteria and plaque that could cause damage.

4. Preventing Periodontal Disease. As mentioned above, removing plaque and bacteria form the mouth will significantly reduce bacterial damage to your teeth and gums. The same plaque that can cause tooth decay can also be prevalent in periodontal disease. Once periodontal disease progresses, it is very difficult to treat and control. It can lead to teeth shifting, receding gum tissue, and even tooth loss.

5.  Awaken In The Morning Feeling Fresh. We have all had those nights where we either fell asleep on the couch or simply forgot to brush, the next morning we wake up with a terrible taste in our mouths. Think about all the foods and drinks you ingested the day before. That means they were allowed to stay in your mouth for a full 24 hours allowing the bacteria in your mouth to feed unchecked for a full day. Take the time before bed to brush properly, rinse with a fluoride rinse such as purple listerine, and you will feel more refreshed in the morning and have better “morning breath” that your partner and family will appreciate.

Conclusion

Brushing and maintaining dental hygiene should not feel like a chore. If you we get into the habit of brushing, flossing, and rinsing it becomes second nature. A good dental hygiene regimen should not take 30 minutes to complete. In as little as 5-7 minutes 2-3 times per day you can ensure you are doing your best to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible so you get to keep your teeth for a lifetime.