Research Clarifies That Oral Health Is Connected To Whole Health

posted: February 20, 2018

Dentistry is an exciting field. I love that I can replace missing teeth in our patients with the durability and stability of Dental Implants. I am always pleased to watch a patient get that first look at their new smile after a cosmetic dentistry. Yet, I am thrilled that research is now proving the links between our oral health and our overall health.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Consider that the majority of the bacteria that enters the body comes in through the mouth. When gum disease weakens oral tissues, the potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

Years ago, researchers found that many serious diseases were the result of systemic inflammation. This occurs when the body’s immune system goes haywire and turns on itself. This chronic inflammation has been blamed for heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, erectile dysfunction (ED) and a series of other problems.

What the researchers began to note was how oral bacteria could contribute to inflammatory triggers. For example, an article published in 2010 by the Journal of Oral Microbiology, they point out that “individuals with periodontitis (advanced gum disease) are reported to have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, stroke, myocardial infarction, and atherosclerosis” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084572/)

The surge of research surrounding the link between periodontal disease and serious health problems has reached as far as showing connections with Alzheimer’s disease, preterm babies, some cancers (including lung, oral and pancreatic cancers), and contributing to elevated PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) levels.

Now, researchers are fast-tracking studies surrounding microbes. These have been found to be mixes of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although it sounds like an icky cesspool, these microbes are much like the bacteria in our guts.

For those of us who take a daily probiotic capsule, we do this so the good-guy bacteria in our digestive system can keep the bad-guy bacteria in check. It’s a similar issue with microbes. Researchers have determined that microbiome send signals to certain parts of the body. These signals can help with the efficiency of certain functions, but like bad-guy bacteria in the gut, they can also misfire. It is in the misfire that has become the focus of many studys. What causes them to misbehave?

Getting back to the bacteria in your mouth, we’ve acknowledged that it is plentiful and can enter the bloodstream. When certain strains of periodontal disease bacteria settle in at certain points, a chain reaction begins, none of it good. One study found that the makeup of the bacteria found in advanced gum disease was almost identical to tissues taken from arthritic joints. And, findings also showed that the successful treatment of gum disease could create significant reductions in arthritis symptoms. (https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/gum-disease/ra-and-gum-disease.php)

When it comes to the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are looking diligently for potential sources. In one study, a team at Chung Shan Medical University used data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database to examine whether patients age 50 or older with chronic periodontitis had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Although no overall link was determined between periodontitis and Alzheimer‘s, they found that “people who had the chronic gum inflammation for 10 or more years were 70 percent more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-alzheimers-gum-disease/long-term-gum-disease-linked-to-alzheimers-disease-idUSKCN1AX2F0)

Certainly, we want fresh breath and bright smiles, which are good reasons to brush and floss. However, these findings are pretty telling that a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body, and vice versa.

If you’re behind on regular dental checkups and cleanings, let’s get you seen sooner than later. You may be doing a lot more than avoiding cavities! Call 843-871-6351 to schedule, or ask to begin with a free, no obligation consultation. During this time, I can discuss a program that may be appropriate for your needs as well as comfort options and easy payment plans.

 

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Slow Down For Effective Brushing & Flossing

posted: February 15, 2018

We live in a hurry-up society. We all seem to have more to do than there are hours in a day. However, the time we devote to some things can save us much in time and money later on.

I’ll use flu season as an example, since it’s running rampant right now. Imagine you’ve been to the grocery store. You grabbed a shopping cart but bypassed the sani-wipe stand because someone was there and you were in a hurry. You checked out at the self-check, then unloaded the cart and returned it to the store. Again, someone was at the sani-wipes so you headed to your car rather than wait.

Once home, you put the groceries away. Now, also running behind on meals, you grabbed an apple to munch while you prepared dinner. Yet, halfway through the apple, you realized you hadn’t washed your hands or the apple. So, when flu symptoms began, you may not have put two and two together, but from the cart handle, the touch screen at checkout, the grocery items and an unwashed apple, you’ve handled zillions of germs.

Hindsight being 20-20, the devotion of a minute here and a minute there could have meant avoiding getting sick in the first place. The same process can also help you avoid the time and costs to repair a cavity or treat gum disease.

Most people brush their teeth twice a day. Yet, like anything, it’s not always that it’s done, it’s that it’s done properly. Getting a dab of toothpaste on a wet toothbrush and running it across teeth in a rushed manner doesn’t do much good.

For truly effective brushing, use a medium to soft bristle toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Pretend your mouth is divided into four parts (quadrants): the upper right side, the lower right side, the upper left side and the lower left side.

Using a swirling motion, move the toothbrush across all sides and the tops of teeth. Don’t press down so the bristles splay out. You want to keep a gentle touch so the tips of the bristles sweep across the surfaces of the teeth. Spend 30 seconds on each quadrant. Finish up by brushing the toothbrush over the tongue. This dislodges millions of oral bacteria embedded in the tiny bumps on the tongue. Rinse thoroughly by swishing several times.

About 30 percent of Americans say they floss daily with about 37 percent being less-frequent flossers. Thirty-two percent say they never floss. (https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-02/how-many-americans-floss-their-teeth)

If you’re not flossing, think of the food particles that are rotting in your mouth because they’re caught between teeth. As they rot, realize these are creating bacteria, which are living, breathing and breeding organisms. And, because they’re alive, they eat, and what eats, produces waste. In your mouth! This is a pretty good reason to floss!

However, like brushing, flossing should be performed properly to be truly effective. Remember to avoid popping the floss between teeth. You want to avoid cutting into tender gum tissues. This tends to happen when you’re trying to hurry through the process. So, like brushing, slow down and take the time to do it correctly.

If flossing is awkward, ask our hygienist to help you with a comfortable technique. Or, if you have large hands or problems with manual dexterity, consider using a water flosser. These are affordable and can be just as effective as manual flossing.

If washing your hands can prevent you from catching the flu, that’d be well worth the time – right? If spending 5 minutes a day at the sink can save you time and money at the dentist, that’s definitely worth the time. Plus, you’ll enjoy fresh breath and a sparkling smile!

Show your smile some love by slowing down as you care for it at home. If you are behind on your dental check-ups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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Need A Crown (Cap)? CEREC Makes It Fast, Simple, Affordable!

posted: February 08, 2018

Remember when your sister (or you!) used to roll her hair and sit under a hair dryer on Saturday afternoons? The process often required hours for washing, rolling and drying to get ready for ‘date night.’

Of course, today’s females have it much easier. Blow dryers, heated rollers and flat irons have made the process much more efficient and with excellent results.

Times have certainly changed. Today’s technology has simplified the process for many things. We no longer have to stand by a stove, waiting for water to boil when a microwave oven can ‘zap’ it to a boil in a couple of minutes.

Dentistry has also simplified some once-laboring procedures to what is now much more time efficient, more comfortable, and affordable. The 3D computerized technology of CEREC is a highly-advanced method for creating custom-made crowns (caps) in a single visit.

Let’s revisit the ‘old’ method for crowning a tooth. First, the tooth had to be reshaped so the ‘cap’ could fit over it. Then, a mold of the tooth was made so a dental lab could create a ‘final’ crown according to the dentist’s instructions of shape, size and shade.

Because it would take several weeks for the dental lab to make the crown and have it back to the dental office, a ‘temporary’ was placed. This gave the patient a fake tooth that would protect the remaining tooth structure while enabling some ability to eat.

The reason drug stores sell a dental paste that is specially made to replace temporaries is because they can come off fairly easily during this wait time. The adhesive that is used to attach a temporary to a tooth is designed for easily detachment. This lighter adhesive prevents damage to the remaining tooth structure when the temporary is removed.

However, as many individuals find, it doesn’t take much chewing to dislodge a temporary. And, as Murphy’s Law would have it, these instances seem to occur on a weekend more often than not.

But let’s say your temporary holds until the dental lab has the final crown delivered to the dentist’s office. You must return for a second appointment for the placement process and go through another numbing. The final crown is placed, proper shade matching is verified, and your bite is checked.

Although rare, the dental lab may have gotten the shade wrong or failed to follow the dentist’s instructions for crown height, for example. Guess what? Back to the temporary as the process begins again. Another crown, another appointment, another numbing, etc.

CEREC 3D has eliminated much of this process by providing in-office technology the dentist can oversee. In just one visit, your tooth is prepared, a custom crown is created, and securely placed. No wearing a temporary. No second appointment. No second numbing. You walk out with a beautiful, durable crown that has the look, feel and function of a natural tooth!

As a CEREC Mentor, I help other dentists learn the proper utilization of the technology. The latest advancements also enable me to create bridges, partials and dental implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth). All of this saves the patient greatly in the time spent in a dental chair — something that is especially appealing for those with busy schedules or who feel anxious at dental visits.

Crowns are needed when a tooth is holding too much ‘filling’ material or has cracks or fractures. Crowning teeth helps to protect the remaining tooth structure and tooth roots that are invaluable to maintaining a healthy jaw bone. Keeping your natural teeth also helps protect the life of neighboring natural teeth.

If a crown has been recommended for you, consider the ease and quick process of CEREC technology. Call 843-871-6351 to learn more or ask for a free consultation appointment.

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Many Ways To Improve The Appearance Of A Smile

posted: January 30, 2018

I remember a patient sharing with me the reason she decided to have a smile makeover. “A friend showed me a photo she’d recently taken and I thought ‘What a horrible picture,’ until I realized I’d been saying that about EVERY photo I’d seen of me for the past ten years.”

My sentiments exactly! We all want to think of ourselves as looking a certain way (which is usually younger and thinner!). As we age, that image we have of ourselves may age, too, but usually not at the same pace as our actual years!

When we find that our smile isn’t as bright or as wide as it used to be, could it be because it hasn’t aged very well?

The aging process tends to dull or darken the shade of teeth. Too, smiles with a few slightly crooked teeth in younger years tend to worsen with age, tilting more and bunching up. Teeth may also chip or become worn from night-time clenching or grinding.

None of these things help create a smile that is aging gracefully. They are flaws that cause many people to ‘hold back’ on smiling fully.

With a new year, consider a new YOU by achieving a more youthful, flattering smile. Modern dentistry offers exceptional techniques, materials and technology to create results that are beautiful, natural-looking, durable and long-lasting.

In our office, we utilize advanced technology that enables many procedures to be completed in just one or two visits. We even use a ‘silent’ drill that makes a gentle whir rather than the high-pitched whine people anticipate (and always dread hearing) in dental procedures.

Here, your comfort is always a priority. We offer a number of comfort options, including Oral and I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) in addition to a gentle touch. Your safety is monitored by trained staff members throughout treatment and all sterilization meets or exceeds standards set forth by OSHA.

Yet, what sets us most apart are the results. Our patients are wowed by the fabulous results that a smile makeover has on their appearance, self-confidence, and feeling of outgoing-ness. Patients who have had smile enhancements tell me they smile more often, smile wider and feel more positive about their overall appearance. It’s not unusual for a patient who has completed smile enhancement to lose weight, update their hairstyle or become more involved socially.

For most smile makeovers, we use porcelain veneers and/or porcelain crowns. Porcelain is highly durable and resists stains better than any other material used in dentistry. It has a natural opalescence, even reflecting light as a real tooth. And, porcelain lasts a long time. It’s ‘staying power’ is excellent.

For those who are missing natural teeth, we can place porcelain crowns on implants or create porcelain bridges that are supported by porcelain crowns. We can also discuss whitening natural teeth prior to placing porcelain crowns or veneers to ensure you receive the preferred degree of whiteness that blends all teeth together attractively.

If you’d like to feel great about smiling, let’s discuss your smile during a no-charge consultation appointment. Call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 to schedule.

 

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Affordable Dental Implants

posted: January 23, 2018

A new vehicle is a major investment. It is a purchase that you must be able to rely on for years. However, the choice of a vehicle is not only to get us from place to place, it is to provide a positive experience each time we’re behind the wheel.smiling dental implant patient

Car and truck dealers know that purchasing a vehicle, even a used one, requires a sizeable investment. Thus, they offer financing options with monthly payments stretched over a period of time. This means that, for most, they can afford to make the payments while enjoying the pleasure of the vehicle.

When a patient considers the many advantages of dental implants, typically, the only hesitation to proceed with treatment lies in the cost. Because many insurance companies deem dental implants as an elective procedure, getting coverage is not always available.

I suppose they look at dental implants in a similar fashion as Lasik, which corrects common eye problems such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. While the surgery can restore many to 20-20 vision, insurance companies see this as elective, although they often provide benefits for eye glasses. Why? Well, the reason is pretty clear — $$$.

Yet, a large percentage of people who wear eye glasses don’t like wearing them. They can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and frustrating. The lenses are easily smudged with the simplest touch and, for things like being in the shower or for many sports, they are either useless or in the way.

This is why over 600,000 people opt for Lasik each year, knowing the expense will largely be out-of-pocket. They choose to make the investment because the advantages of NOT wearing glasses is worth it.

This is also why so many adults choose dental implants over other tooth replacement options. They advantages are endless, including:

• Dental implants are positioned in the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots. This provides a secure, dependable foundation for replacement teeth.
• Dental implants restore the ability to bite and chew foods comfortably.
• Dental implants do not move when eating, eliminating worries over embarrassing slips.
• Dental implants restore stimulation to the bone where they are held. This halts bone loss that can cause changes in facial appearance and ‘slippery’ dentures.
• Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, making them a ‘one and done’ investment.
• Dental implants will never decay, require a root canal or break.
• Dental implants enhance confidence in social settings, enabling you to enjoy smiling and laughing with others.
• Dental implants come in many shapes and sizes, each designed to accommodate specific needs.
• Dental implants are safe and one of the most successful of all implant-in-bone procedures.
• Dental implants can provide teeth that you brush in your mouth and a smile you’ll never ‘take out.’

Implant systems vary, with most being able to hold more than one tooth. For example, one implant can support a bridge of several teeth while several strategically-placed implants can support a full arch of teeth. Because the fees for implant treatment are largely based on the number of implants placed, this means that the costs for treatment may be less than you realize.

Having many years of experience in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants, I can determine which implant system may work best for you. We offer several easy payment options that break treatment fees into affordable monthly amounts, most requiring no down payment and interest-free.

In our office, I also provide both oral and I.V. sedation (‘twilight sleep’) for optimal comfort and relaxation during your procedure. With every visit, my staff and I make comfort a high priority. We take great pride in helping once fearful patients to overcome their fears through a relationship of trust, knowing their needs are respected.

To fully consider dental implants for your individual needs and goals, schedule a no-charge consultation. This is a private conversation in a room removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and explain the process of the implant systems best for you.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule your consultation appointment. I look forward to meeting you!

 

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Make Dental Check-ups Part Of Overall Health Screenings

posted: January 15, 2018

For people who have health insurance, the first of the year resets a new year of benefits. In addition to annual physicals, many plans cover annual or periodic screenings, such as skin cancer exams or pap smears.

As you fill your calendar with these appointments, you may want to read up on some recent research that shows how your oral health relates to a number of serious health problems, including some cancers.

Research has shown that periodontitis (advanced stage of periodontal disease) causes the release of inflammatory components, enzymes and growth factors that have been associated with cancer development.

One particular study of over 48,000 American males between the ages of 40 and 75 showed that those who had a history of periodontal disease had a 14% higher risk of cancer than those without the disease. This was after taking into account risk factors such as smoking and diet.

For example, findings of one study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that post-menopausal women with a history of periodontal disease had a 30% or higher risk of some cancers.

The study showed that a history of periodontal (gum) disease increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, lung cancer by 36 percent, a 49 percent higher risk of kidney cancer, and a 30 percent higher risk of blood cancers (including leukemia and lymphoma).

In the study, even non-smokers with gum disease had a 35 percent higher risk of blood cancers as well as a 21 percent increased risk for cancer overall. (See Women’s Health Initiative: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/science/womens-health-initiative-whi)

Another study conducted in China revealed that people who have gum disease have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. The study included over 321,000 adults, also citing that findings showed that this risk is even greater for people who drink, smoke, or have diabetes. The research also found that women with gum disease were more likely to develop lung cancer than men with periodontal disease.

The correlation seems to originate with how certain oral bacteria are involved in the development of cancerous cells in the lungs. Another study showed that the successful treatment of periodontal disease could significantly lower the risk of lung cancer. (http://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/1056-periodontal-disease-increases-lung-cancer-risks?highlight=WyJjYW5jZXIiLCJjYW5jZXInIiwiY2FuY2VyJ3MiLCJ3b21lbiIsIndvbWVuJ3MiLCJjYW5jZXIgd29tZW4iXQ==)

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of cancer death in men and women, outnumbering deaths due to colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

An article in Oncology Nurse Advisor (http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/headlines/periodontal-disease-prostate-cancer-inflammation-lower-risk/article/412935/) shared the results of a study on men with high PSA levels who also had periodontitis (advanced gum disease). After treatment for their gum disease, nearly all showed significant improvement of their PSA levels.

For decades, research has continuously revealed links between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious health problems. By entering the bloodstream through weakened tissues in the mouth, the infectious bacteria of gum disease can trigger problems elsewhere in the body by activating systemic inflammation associated with a number of harmful reactions.

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease, capable of destroying teeth, gums and the bone structures that support tooth roots. Gum disease will not go away without treatment with early treatment, being the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Know the symptoms associated with gum disease, including swollen and tender gums that bleed when brushing, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, persistent bad breath, gums that turn red in color, pus pockets that form on gums and teeth that loosen.

Having symptoms of gum disease? Call 843-871-6351 for a free consultation. Here, you’ll find patients are treated respectfully and with a gentle touch for all procedures. We have a reputation for providing skilled, ethical care, making appropriate treatment recommendations based upon the unique needs of each patient.

Make your oral health a priority this year and every year. Your smile and you overall health depend on it!

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Gagging Shouldn’t Prevent You From Dental Care.

posted: January 09, 2018

Let’s say you wisely brush your tongue after tooth brushing. Good for you! This dislodges millions of oral bacteria from the tongue, helping to keep the bacteria in your mouth to a manageable level for the day. If you regularly brush your tongue, however, you’re aware of the fine line between what is comfortable and what creates a gagging sensation.

Gagging is actually a protective reflex that occurs to prevent foreign bodies from entering the trachea. While gagging is a common response, over thirty percent of otherwise healthy adults have an abnormal gag reflex.

If you have a more severe gag reflex than normal, you may have difficulty when a dental impression is taken, for example. For adults with an active gag reflex, just the thought of certain dental procedures creates such dread that they avoid dental procedures that may trigger the response.

We encourage new patients with a severe gag reflex to discuss this prior to any treatment. We will explain ways that can help minimize the response and make procedures more comfortable. If you are one who has avoided regular dental care or necessary procedures due to the dread of gagging, we’ve also provided some tips below to help reduce the severity of your gagging reflex.

• Drooling may be helpful.
Saliva in your mouth is a good thing! It’s healthy. Think of drool as nothing more than saliva that gets past the lips. Remember, you are in the care of dental professionals. Drool is not something that bothers us! If drooling helps you relax and eases the urge to gag, drool away! Although you may feel embarrassed about drooling, we’ll help keep you comfy with suction and dabbing with tissues as needed.

• Transfer your breathing to your nose.
Breathing through your nose can do two things: (1) It can take your mind off your potential to gag by shifting your focus elsewhere. Count your breaths for added distraction. (2) Nose breathing can aid in your ability to relax. Concentrate on taking nice, deep breaths in and out. Relax your jaw muscles and imagine the stress of the day melting away with each breath.

• Occupy your mind elsewhere.
Ask for headphones so you can listen to your favorite tunes and sing along in your head. Think about a grocery list and imagine yourself shopping for these items. Count from 100 backwards. Go through the year and try to recall the birthdays and special dates in each month. The goal is to take your focus away from what’s going on in your mouth.

• Ask about sedation options.
While we hope to create such a relaxing experience that eliminates your need for sedation, severe gaggers may prefer this added relaxation. Options include nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral sedation. Oral sedation is in pill form and has a quick recovery. We also offer I.V. sedation (known as twilight sleep), which provides a deeper level of sedation. This sedation level is typically not necessary for even severe daggers, but it is available if the patient chooses.

• Ask for a break.
We realize it’s common to feel ‘stuck’ in a position in a dental chair during some lengthy procedures. We want you to be comfortable and encourage you to ask for a break if you feel you are tensing up. We’ll sit you upright so you can move your head and neck muscles around. This will also shift saliva and anything in your mouth forward so you are not as anxious about what may cause you to gag.

Just remember, gagging is not a rare occurrence in a dental office. It is a fairly common problem for some patients and we are accustomed to helping those with this problem. If gagging has prevented you from having the dental care you want or need, let’s begin by discussing ways we can address this during a free consultation. From there, you can determine how you’d like to proceed.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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Loose Dentures? Learn Why The Fit Is No Longer Snug.

posted: January 03, 2018

I saw a bumper sticker a while back that said, “Growing old is not for sissies!” How true! But it got me thinking about the aging process and how many adults over age 65 are missing teeth. For denture wearers, they could have their own bumper sticker: “Wearing dentures is no piece of cake!”

As a dentist, I see how people struggle with dentures. While some individuals are fine with their current denture, most would love to turn back the hands of time and take measures to prevent tooth loss in the first place.

Contrary to popular belief, losing teeth in ‘old age’ is not a normal part of the aging process. Older adults tend to lose teeth for several reasons. Having a dry mouth contributes to gum disease, which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. And, gum disease that has been present for years can finally emerge with a vengeance as one grows older.

A study shared by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research states that seniors over the age of 65 have fewer than 19 remaining teeth. Over 27 percent in this age group have no remaining natural teeth at all. (https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/ToothLoss/ToothLossSeniors65andOlder.htm)

When an individual has all their upper and/or lower teeth removed, most opt to have a denture custom-made to restore their ability to speak and eat. For most new denture wearers, it takes time to get used to the feel of an appliance in their mouth. Eventually, however, eating and speaking again with a new denture is more comfortable – for the time being.

What occurs when tooth roots are removed is a process referred to as resorption. This is a ‘melting away’ of jaw bone mass in areas where natural tooth roots were once supported. Without the presence of tooth roots to nurture the jaw bone, the bone simply decreases in width and depth.

The denture that was made when your teeth were first removed was designed to conform to the unique contours of your ‘gum ridge.’ This is the raised arch where tooth roots were once held. The ridge is actually a protrusion of your upper or lower jaw bone that is covered with gum tissue.

As the bone shrinks, this ridge flattens. This means that a denture formed to wrap the contours of your gum ridge won’t have the same shaped surface to hold it a few years later. This is typically when people start to rely on denture pastes and adhesives more often than before.

Biting and chewing with a denture that moves can be uncomfortable, rubbing sore spots on tender gum tissues. Small seeds or food particles, such as nut pieces, can become trapped under the denture and pierce tender gums. As the denture moves unpredictably when eating, it can also cause embarrassing moments.

Eating out with friends or attending social gatherings where food is a centerpiece can create anxiety for denture wearers. Fearing a slip or having dentures ‘click’ while speaking is so worrisome that some people begin to decline invitations. Because studies have shown that social interaction is a healthy part of the aging process, becoming less social because of a loose denture can lead to a decline in overall health.

One study conducted by the Population Research Center at University of Texas (Austin) found that “older adults who maintain high levels of social activity or ramp up their social life as they age might be protected from increases in physical and cognitive issues over time.” (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines).

Eventually, eating with a loose denture becomes so difficult that many people switch to soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. Unfortunately, these foods also lack much in the way of nutrition and fiber that fresh fruits, vegetables and meats provide.

When dentures continue to slip and be undependable, relines can be done as a temporary fix. This process re-contours the denture to the current height of the gum ridge. However, because the gum ridge will continue to flatten, the same process as before — more denture adhesive, difficulty chewing, etc. — will simply repeat itself.

One reason so many denture and partial wearers are choosing Dental Implants has to do with the frustrations brought on by resorption. Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw, putting a halt to the process of bone loss. Because implants are held by the jaw bone, they provide the same, secure foundation for biting and chewing as your natural teeth once had.

Another bonus of Dental Implants is their longevity. With proper selection, placement and care, they are designed to last a lifetime. And their success rate is exceptional, higher than any other implant-in-bone type, including knees and hip joints.

There are many types of dental implants, each designed to accommodate various needs, including severe bone loss. Some systems, such as the ‘All-On-4,’ are affordable and hold non-removable teeth. Easy monthly payment plans are also available, most are interest-free with no down payment.

Struggling with a denture that moves or causes embarrassment? Begin with a no-charge consultation. Call 843-871-6351.

 

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Aging Process Doesn’t Cause Tooth Loss

posted: December 20, 2017

Occasionally, I have an elderly patient say something like, “I guess I’m at an age that’s leading to dentures.” Although some of our patients are denture wearers and comfortable as such, tooth loss is not a normal part of the aging process.

A five-year National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey shows that tooth loss is finally on the decline for older adults. However, the average number of remaining teeth for over 65 adults is less than 18. Over 27% in this age group have lost all of their natural teeth.

Losing natural teeth occurs for several reasons, most often from decay or gum disease. Both are the result of oral bacteria, which can be just as prevalent in a senior adult’s mouth as a young adult’s mouth.

Oral bacteria occurs from poor oral hygiene and failure to have regular dental visits, which remove the buildup that contribute to gum disease. Some home care hygiene routines can even include harmful actions such as rigorously scrubbing of teeth, using a stiff toothbrush or using abrasive substances to brush such as baking soda.

Too, many adults are unaware of the signs of gum disease, assuming “If it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong.” Symptoms such as seeing blood in the sink or having tender gums can be falsely perceived by some people as signs they are doing a good job.

Wearing dentures is no picnic. While dentures replace the presence of teeth, they do little to replace the function. Dentures balance on top of the gum ridge – the arch where natural tooth roots were once held. Yet, without tooth roots providing stimulation and nurturing the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink.

This process of bone loss is known as resorption. Once resorption begins, it continues on a more rapid pace with each year. The pressure on the jaw bones from wearing dentures actually speeds up this process. For denture wearers who sleep in their denture, the rate of bone loss occurs at a 24/7 rate.

Bone loss is what causes a once snug-fitting denture to move when eating. Eventually, even denture adhesives and pastes will do little to hold the denture in place. The denture may begin to slip when speaking or laughing.

Changes in facial appearance will also become more noticeable, such as deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls, and a chin that appears to be more pointed and grows closer to the nose (creating what’s known as a ‘granny look’).

Studies have shown that people who have their natural teeth live an average of ten years longer than denture wearers. This may be due to the inability to eat a healthy diet and stay socially involved.

Keeping your natural teeth for a lifetime is possible with simple steps, including:

Brushing and floss daily – Done properly, this is the best way to remove oral bacteria. Brush at least two minutes twice daily. Use a soft to medium bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste and brush in a swirling motion rather than scrubbing back and forth. Floss daily and brush your tongue (or use a tongue scraper) to remove bacteria embedded in the tongue’s grooves.

Have 6-month checkups – These appointments give your mouth a clean slate by removing accumulated tartar. Tartar (or calculus) is the cement-hard attachment on teeth that your Hygienist is scraping off during cleanings. This is actually a hardened mass of oral bacteria that eat away at gum tissues and tooth enamel.

Avoid dry mouth – A dry mouth nurtures the growth of oral bacteria. To curtail this, drink lots of water throughout the day. Limit caffeinated foods and beverages, which are drying to oral tissues (coffee, tea, colas and chocolate). If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse to replenish moisture. These are available over-the-counter in most drug stores. Also, chew sugarless gum, which promotes saliva flow.

• Limit carbs and sugar – Carbs and sugar produce a particularly potent acid in the mouth, which provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth. While all foods cause acid attacks in the mouth for 20-30 minutes, sugar and carbs rev up the growth of oral bacteria. This acid also softens tooth enamel, leaving teeth even more vulnerable.

If you have lost natural teeth and want to halt the process, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free, private consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss how you can achieve a lasting, healthy smile. If you’re struggling with dentures or partials, we can also discuss Dental Implants as a lifetime solution for replacing teeth.

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Wine May Be Good For Your Heart. Not So Much For Your Smile, Though.

posted: December 13, 2017

Tis the season. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, we seem to be indulging in rich foods and festive drinks at a busy pace. “It’s the holidays,” is the excuse, and I’m an admitted participant in these indulgences, even though I know how challenging this kind of eating and drinking can be to my oral health.

So, I’m the last person to be urging abstinence or instilling guilt over one more glass of Champagne or piece of pecan pie. However, I would like to walk you through the ways this way of eating and drinking can damage teeth and increase the risk for gum disease. Once you know the ‘how,’ you’ll be better able to curtail the ‘what.’

To begin, know that any time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. This is a normal part of the digestive process. Although these acids are helpful digestive aids, they are not so helpful to tooth enamel. As a matter of fact, this acid is so potent that it can soften tooth enamel for up to 30 minutes. This leaves teeth vulnerable to oral bacteria and damage to precious tooth enamel.

Yet, the problem with acid is greatly exacerbated when the food or drink is (1) sweet, (2) acidic or (3) carbonated. With digestive acids already at a potent level, acidic foods and beverages, including wine, flood your mouth to form a double dose of risks.

I’m not just picking on wine, here. Other acidic beverages include colas, coffee, tomato juice and citrus juices. The problem that makes sipping wine such a challenge is how it is consumed.

Unlike drinking orange juice as you have your bacon and eggs or having a cola with your burger, a glass or two of wine is often sipped over the course of an evening. This slow pace of consumption means that the acid attack begins as soon as the first sip occurs, and lasts until 30 minutes after the last sip occurs.

Of course, the same is true for eating. Let’s say you’re at a holiday party and the fare is a buffet of appetizers and desserts (a typical display). Although we know it’s healthier to gravitate towards the veggies and dip, it’s hard to bypass the meatballs swimming in sweet & sour sauce or the homemade fudge. These sugary goodies do your smile no favor, either.

In an article published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the damage of sugar to oral health is explained as: “A dynamic relation exists between sugars and oral health. Diet affects the integrity of the teeth; quantity, pH, and composition of the saliva; and plaque pH. Sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates, after being hydrolyzed by salivary amylase, provide substrate for the actions of oral bacteria, which in turn lower plaque and salivary pH. The resultant action is the beginning of tooth demineralization. Consumed sugars are naturally occurring or are added. Many factors in addition to sugars affect the caries process, including the form of food or fluid, the duration of exposure, nutrient composition, sequence of eating, salivary flow, presence of buffers, and oral hygiene.” (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/4/881S.full)

Simply stated, sugar not only increases the potential for oral bacteria damage, it changes the pH in your mouth. This leaves teeth and gum tissues more susceptible to the harmful effects of sugar.

And, remember – carbohydrates are simply sugar in another form, breaking down as sugar in the mouth. Just because you opt for a pig-in-blanket over a piece of peppermint bark, you’re not avoiding sugar but consuming it (via the ‘blanket’) in a different form. Dip it in honey-mustard (both sugary and acidic) and you may as well go for the peppermint bark after all.

Okay, enough warnings. Let’s discuss how to lessen the damage to your smile and prevent the time and expense for tending to dental needs such as cavities and gum disease.

Since you now know that eating and drinking trigger acid attacks, try to pace your eating to occur in a shorter time span rather than a bite here and a bite there. Grab a plate and load up on the goodies you want, but consume them and then stop. The goal is to allow the acids in your mouth to subside, so the sooner you cease eating, the faster that will occur.

As for drinking, whether it’s wine or cola or a cocktail, pace your drinking to occur with the plate of food you eat and then switch to water. However, if you wish to continue the evening with a drink, alter each with a glass of water and allow a gulp here or there to wash over teeth before swallowing. This will dilute the acids in your mouth. Better yet, slip away to the bathroom between drinks and rinse your mouth with water, swishing well before spitting.

One more thing… you may be interested in reading up on an article in Decanter magazine, which describes ‘Prosecco Mouth.’ Sparking wines and Champagne mix sweet, acidic and carbonation — a triple whammy to the well-being of your smile. (http://www.decanter.com/learn/advice/prosecco-teeth-how-to-combat-375405/)

We believe that knowledge is power and, by understanding what is occurring in your mouth as you consume, you can hopefully avoid problems altogether with simple, easy measures. How hard is it to rinse your mouth in the bathroom, after all? You’d surely do as much if you thought a bit of spinach were caught between your front teeth.

Be careful with brushing your teeth too soon, however. Because of the softened state that acid creates for tooth enamel, you can actually wear down tooth enamel with the abrasiveness of toothpaste combined with the scrubbing of toothbrush bristles. Wait at least 30 minutes after you’ve taken your last sip or last bite before brushing. This will give the acid levels in your mouth time to wane.

Enjoy the holidays. Share your smile often and laugh much. My team and I wish you and yours all the joys that this season brings!

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Light Up The Room For The Holidays With Teeth Whitening!

posted: December 05, 2017

Holiday parties, business gatherings that provide social opportunities, family meals, gift giving and even bumping into friends while Christmas shopping…  all times for happy smiles. The holidays, more than any other time of the year, seem to be filled with smiles and laughter.

Do you feel good about the appearance of your smile?

If not, one of the fastest ways to improve a smile’s appearance is to whiten your teeth. Tooth whitening is also one of the most affordable ways to perk up a smile.

A confident smile tends to be shared often!

A bright smile heightens confidence when smiling. When you feel confident about how your smile looks, it makes you want to smile more often. According to research, the act of smiling creates a boost in manufacturing the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, known as endorphins.

In addition to a more attractive smile, white teeth project the appearance of healthy teeth. When teeth are shiny and bright, people perceive them as clean and well-tended.

Whiter teeth can also create a younger look. The aging process can cause teeth to become more brown or gray. Whitening can trim years off one’s appearance.

Plus, a brighter smile can give you a face lift of sorts! When teeth are whiter, the eyes focus more on the smile. When you smile, facial muscles pull wrinkles and sags upward and smooth out fine lines.

A particular advantage of whiter teeth is how a bright smile can help to camouflage flaws. For example, crooked teeth are less prominent when they are a lighter shade.

For many reasons, whitening teeth can certainly make a significant difference in how you feel when you smile. While drug store whitening kits may seem to be practical options, our Nite White take home whitening system is safe, affordable and effective. The results are far more dramatic with far better longevity. Plus, these make terrific gifts for that special smile you love!

Call 843-871-6351 to learn more about tooth whitening. Make your smile sparkle and shine this holiday and beyond!

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Worried About Being Up Close During The Holidays Because Of Bad Breath?

posted: November 20, 2017

Nobody wants to be the person at a gathering who walks away, leaving others behind with a memory of ‘there goes the one who had bad breath.’ Bad breath can have a lasting impression, one that nobody wants. As holiday parties and family gatherings approach, there are steps you can take to ensure you are not remembered in this negative manner.

Bad breath is the accumulation of oral bacteria, which are living, eating and breeding organisms. Because anything that eats also produces waste, this is what they deposit in your mouth. Imagine these wriggling creatures using your mouth as their breeding ground and toilet — a motivating reason to brush often if there ever was one!

Although occasional bad breath is something we all deal with — after a morning of coffee or a tuna sandwich lunch, perhaps — persistent bad breath is a warning sign. Having bad breath on a frequent basis is a symptom of gum disease. Other symptoms you may also notice are sore and swollen gums, gums that bleed when brushing, and gums that deepen in color.

If gum disease is not the reason for your breath odor, there are ways to keep your mouth fresh throughout the day. These include:
• Dry mouth is the leading cause of occasional bad breath. The reason your mouth is stale and sticky when you wake up is because your gum tissues have gone for hours without oral bacteria being ‘rinsed’ out of the mouth. After a mouth has been closed all night, the tissues dry out and bacteria accumulate. As they multiply, they form a smelly, sticky film known as plaque.
• Another cause of dry mouth is the consumption of beverages that have a drying affect on oral tissues, such as alcohol or coffee.
• Sugary drinks give oral bacteria their favorite ‘food,’ helping them to reproduce more rapidly in your mouth.
• Some medications have side effects that lower saliva flow, which is your mouth’s natural cleanser. You may notice a drier mouth when you take an antihistamine, for example. Many medications for depression and some for urinary incontinence can have a drying effect.
• For those who tend to breath through their mouths, the regular flow of oxygen decreases the amount of saliva in the mouth.
• Poor oral hygiene is an obvious reason for bad breath. When oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth and are not removed through regular brushing and flossing, they continually reproduce. As your mouth fills with bacteria, plaque forms. As plaque multiplies, it becomes a hard substance known as calculus. This eats away at tooth enamel and gum tissues. In other words, bacteria are causing ‘mouth rot.’
• Diseases and illnesses that can cause dry mouth are pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, diabetes and acid reflux. Liver or kidney problems can also contribute to dry mouth.
• The worst cause of dry mouth is smoking. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are the worst culprits in causing a dry mouth.

If gum disease is not the source of your bad breath, simple measures to enjoy a fresh mouth are:
 – Brush regularly, at least two minutes per time. Use a tongue scraper daily to remove embedded bacteria, especially towards the back of the tongue. If you don’t have a tongue scraper, use your toothbrush after tooth brushing.
 – Either floss daily or purchase an electronic flosser.
 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are dying to oral tissues, purchase an oral rinse specifically designed to restore oral moisture.

Of course, it’s important to begin with a clean, healthy mouth. If you suspect gum disease or are behind on regular dental check-ups and cleanings, call 843-871-6351. Or, if preferred, begin with a private, no-charge consultation.

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Dental Fear Adds To Time & Costs Required For Eventual Treatment

posted: November 14, 2017

In addition to our web site, including regular blog posts, we take the time to communicate with our patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth. Because research has shown links between the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease and a number of serious health conditions, having good oral health has come to light as a necessary part of enjoying good, overall health.

Oral bacteria has been associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency, erectile dysfuntion (ED) and some cancers. As research continues, the list grows longer. With this connection, you’d think people would be clamoring to get into dental offices and make good oral health one of their highest priorities. Yet, only 64% of adults ages 18-64 saw a dentist in the past year. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/dental.htm)

Why is it that so many people shy away from dental visits? While cost may be the blame for a certain percentage, my experience as a dentist who provides both oral and I.V. sedation tells me it often has to do with another issue – dental fear.

It is estimated that over seventy percent of American adults have some level of dental fear or anxiety. Of that number, about eight to twelve percent can be categorized as dental phobics. These are adults who have such intense fear of dental visits that they avoid dentistry until intense pain forces them into an office for treatment.

According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, authors of the book “Behavioral Dentistry” found that nearly half of American adults suffer with moderate levels of dental fear and 5 to 10 percent admit to avoiding dental care altogether as a result. (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/03/dental-fears.aspx)

As a nation with advanced health facilities and health care providers, our adults have an enormously high level of gum disease.

A study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010 estimates that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.

How will we ever be able to address the prevalence of gum disease in the U.S. (and prevent the health conditions associated with it), unless we can get people to feel comfortable at the dentist?

Unlike that of a generation ago, dentistry today is far more sensitive to the comfort levels of patients. Yet, it is the dentist who must be committed to the comfort of his or her patients to a greater extent than merely a provider of comfort options. For example, I feel that pacing a fearful patient’s care in increments that are ‘do-able’ for the individual is equally as important as the sedation options available.

While I’ve offered oral sedation for many years, I became certified in I.V. sedation nearly a decade ago because of the unique needs of a certain number of new patients who had more intense levels of fear. Knowing that ‘twilight sleep’ was available was a more reassuring measure for proceeding into treatment since many were familiar with it through colonoscopies or other outpatient procedures.

Not only do we take patient comfort very seriously, we also take their safety seriously. All patients are closely monitored throughout treatment by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

I believe if we can assure fearful patients that their comfort needs can be met, we’d have a nation with healthier gums. By reducing the level of adults with gum disease, we would also be enhancing the overall health and well being of our American population.

If you have dental anxiety, fear or phobia, please know that you CAN have a dental experience that is comfortable. Begin with a no-charge consultation appointment to discuss your needs. You can meet our staff and share your concerns in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the practice.

For individuals who have fear so intense they are unable to come in for a consult, ask for a phone consultation. I’ll be happy to discuss the options we use and answer your questions. If desired, we can put you in touch with other patients who, like you, once struggled with dental fear and now have healthy, confident smiles!

Call 843-871-6351 to learn more or wish to arrange a consultation.

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Why Dental Implants?

posted: November 07, 2017

When an individual is missing natural teeth or facing the removal of a tooth (or teeth), I take time to help the patient understand his or her options for replacement as well as why replacement is needed (even when missing a back tooth that is not visible in a smile).

Like the legs of a table or wheels on a car, each tooth plays a role in proper alignment. When a tooth is missing, the tooth above (or below) will grow longer since it does not have an opposing force to help keep it in place. By the same token, the teeth on either side of the open area will begin to tilt out of their positions.

This misalignment leads to a number of problems, including chipped, cracked, broken and fractured teeth. Improperly aligned teeth also contribute to a misaligned bite that places stress or strain on the jaw joints, which is commonly referred to as TMJ disorder.

The TMJ (temporo-mandibular joints) hinge the lower jaw to the skull. When properly functioning, the joints rotate harmoniously every time the mouth opens, while chewing or speaking and even during swallowing.

Misaligned teeth transfer stress and strain to the the jaw joints. This can lead to night-time clenching and grinding, worn teeth, frequent headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing and sore jaw joints.

Obviously, there is a domino effect when lost teeth are not replaced. At the same time, people who wear dentures or partial dentures may encounter an entirely different set of challenges.

When teeth are missing, the jaw bone that once supported their roots begins to shrink. This process is known as resorption. When the bone resorbs, it declines in height and mass. This reduced mass of bone creates a vulnerable foundation for remaining natural teeth. Statistics show that the next tooth you’re most likely to lose is one adjacent to a missing tooth.

Unbeknownst to many people, wearing dentures or partials actually contributes to the rate of bone loss. The pressure these appliances place on the bone speeds up the process of resorption. For those who sleep in their dentures, bone loss occurs at an even faster rate.

When the bone declines in mass, the denture or partial will eventually begin to slip or rub uncomfortable spots on tender gum tissues. This is because the appliance is custom-designed to the unique contours of an individual’s gum ridge. As the gum ridge flattens due to resorption, the fit becomes less and less secure. Over time, even denture pastes and adhesives will do little to hold the appliance in place.

We recommend dental implants for a number of reasons. The main advantage is how dental implants restore natural biting and chewing ability without requiring the support of neighboring teeth (as with some partials and crown-&-bridge combinations).

Additionally, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. They will not experience decay, require root canals or cause damage to neighboring teeth. And, because they recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, bone loss is halted.

When it comes to dental implants, the only obstacle for some people is cost. Although the fees associated with implants are all ‘up front,’ the problems experienced with dentures and partials that require future expense will not creep up and need continual upkeep.

Dental implants are one of the most successful implant-in-bone procedures, with a nearly 97 percent success rate. When you place your treatment in the hands of an experienced dentist who is trained in all types of implants, you optimize your potential for a successful outcome. He or she can choose the type that is truly best for your individual needs.

In our office, we combine experience, skills and comfort. We offer oral and I.V. sedation and use advanced technology to maximize comfort and precision placement. Here, safety and comfort are priorities with our entire team and our track record is exceptional.

To discuss your individual needs, call 843-871-6351. We will be happy to make recommendations and discuss easy payment plans that require no down payment and are interest-free.

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Crowns In One Appointment Save Time, Enhance Comfort.

posted: October 30, 2017

Tis the season – already. Once November arrives, there seems to be a mad scramble to be ready for the holidays. Stores are already full of holiday decor, gift baskets and Christmas wrapping paper.

Early preparations help us to save time, being able to avoid crowded stores and last-minute panic as the holidays draw near. For those who are considering having dental treatment completed before the holiday dash, we can help by offering CEREC 3D single-visit crowns and implant restorations (replacement teeth that are attached to the implanted posts).

CEREC is a computerized process that takes precision measurements, creates a custom-designed crown, and actually manufactures it in one appointment. The process is comfortable and the results are beautiful.

cerec machine

Single visit crowns, bridges and dental implant restorations

First, we use a handpiece to take images of various angles of the prepared tooth to be crowned. This information is loaded into CEREC’s computer and I enter specifics for shade, etc.

Then, while the patient is still numb, a ceramic block is placed in CEREC’s milling unit. In an efficient process, the block is formed into the customized crown’s shape — all while the patient relaxes comfortably. In minutes, the final restoration is ready for placement.

What does this mean? The greatest advantage most people find is the savings in time. Rather than have an appointment to have the tooth prepared and a temporary placed AND return for a second appointment to place a crown created by a dental lab (often 2-4 weeks later), CEREC requires just one appointment for BOTH.

Not only does this eliminate the need for a second appointment, the patient avoids the need for a second numbing injection. No more waiting hours to overcome lip numbness a second time around!

The CEREC 3D process is quick, easy and provides a durable, beautiful result. Patients like that shade matching is precise and CEREC restorations provide excellent longevity.

Additionally, since wearing a temporary crown is not necessary, the worry of eating cautiously for fear it could dislodge (which often occurs at the worst of times!) is a non-issue. With CEREC, no temporaries are needed!

Today’s dental technology is designed to provide patients with exceptional results while maximizing patient comfort. We have found the CEREC process accomplishes both – with hundreds of patients quickly becoming fans of this advanced technology.

One of the reasons I agreed to serve as a CEREC Mentor to other dentists is because of the advantages to our patients. With every piece of technology we select, it is always with this goal — what is best for our patients when it comes to optimal outcomes and a comfortable experience.

CEREC 3D techology is just one of our many advanced features. To learn more about the state-of-the-art technology available in our office, please visit: http://www.smilesbyandrews.com/comfort-advanced-features/

Ready to tend to dental needs in half the time? You are invited to begin with a no-charge consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss options recommended for your needs and answer your questions. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

 

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