It is estimated that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions and a whopping 80 percent fail by February. (https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail)
Although losing ten pounds or training to run a marathon may not be achieved by the end of the year, we’d like to suggest a “replacement resolution” that is easy to keep, takes mere minutes a day, and can save you much in time and money.
What, you ask, could this be?
The simple steps you take to maintain good oral health can pay off greatly by helping you avoid cavities and in the prevention of gum disease. As an added bonus, you’ll have a brighter smile, fresher breath, and even enhance your overall health.
How could good oral health improve your overall health?
The bacteria in our mouths can accumulate to the point where they can cause inflammation in gum tissues. This can cause the gums to become swollen, tender, red, and bleed easily when brushing.
If not treated promptly, this early-stage of gum disease (known as gingivitis) can progress to periodontal disease. In addition to attacking gum tissues and the bone that support teeth, this disease can weaken gum tissues and allow entry of infectious bacteria into the bloodstream.
Once bloodborne, the bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has shown it can increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm births, impotency, and some cancers. That’s pretty scary stuff – far scarier than a cavity.
By being committed to a good oral hygiene regimen at home and having dental cleanings and exams every 6 months, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even protect your overall health. And, it’s easy; perhaps as easy as making small adjustments to your existing routine.
Let’s look at your daily brushing habits. First, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day. And, it’s not just your brushing but in HOW you brush.
For example, you should use a soft or medium bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. Additionally, each brushing should last at least two minutes, even if using an electronic toothbrush.
But, it’s not just in the time you spend at the sink, but the technique you use. For example, you should brush all sides of all teeth, including the tops and backs. You should also brush near the gum line to dislodge oral bacteria that has gathered at the base of teeth.
Flossing your teeth is also important. This action dislodges food particles caught between teeth, which if left to rot, can provide fuel for more bacterial growth. Our hygienists can help you with the proper way to floss your teeth – comfortably! Ask at your next visit.
If flossing seems too difficult, consider using a water flosser. These have proven to be just as effective as manual flossing. Ask us about which brands are easy and affordable. (Hint: Most of them are!)
Many people do not realize what a hotbed of bacteria exist in the tongue, but it can house over 25,000 types of bacteria with over 700 species identified in its oral microbiome. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585543/) This is why we recommend either brushing your tongue at the end of brushing teeth or using a tongue scraper.
A tongue scraper is often a flexible strip that you slide over the surface of the tongue, from back to front. Rinsing of the scraper is done after each pass. These are easy to use and take just seconds but the action can uproot millions of micro-organisms.
The goal is to minimize oral bacteria. You can help this further by keeping the mouth moist. Although saliva is designed to rinse bacteria and food particles from the mouth, it can only do so much. With today’s frequent snacking habits and our sugary, carb-laden diets, saliva flow is up against the odds.
You can aid saliva flow by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Colas, tea and coffee don’t count. They actually make things worse! Because these beverages contain caffeine, they can be drying to oral tissues, which depletes saliva.
Be sure to minimize sugar intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, and caffeine. At the very least, swish with water several times afterwards. Sipping colas or sucking on candy or mints containing sugar can place you at high risk for developing cavities and gum disease.
Your 6-month oral hygiene check-ups are structured so you are given a ‘clean slate’ of sorts twice a year. During this time, our hygienists remove plaque (a film of bacteria) and calculus (a hardened form of plaque) from teeth. They can also point out areas at risk to help you avoid further damage with instructions for effective at-home care.
Delaying or avoiding these twice-a-year dental visits can heighten your potential for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. This is unfortunate, especially since it takes mere minutes each day to avoid and is so inexpensive to do.
So, if you want a resolution you can easily keep and reap the rewards almost immediately. make it to have good oral health for 2019 and for the rest of your life! Our Summerville dental office can help! Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a no-charge consultation to begin.
Sometimes, things can occur without being obvious for quite some time. For example, seeing a tire that has abnormally worn down on one side is an indication that it has been out of alignment for an extended amount of time. Or, losing a button means that the threads gave way a while back and gradually became looser and looser.
As a dentist, I occasionally examine a new patient and see signs of worn teeth. Sometimes, the individual has fractures or chips on teeth as well. These are typically indications of clenching or grinding teeth, which often occurs during sleep. It’s rather common, however, that the patient has no idea this has been taking place.
Like a tire that’s just slightly out of alignment, minor disparities aren’t always noticeable. Eventually, however, the wear and tear does become obvious. Although it may take years for the signs to clearly emerge, like anything, the sooner you resolve the problem, the better.
Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxing in the dental profession. This action often takes place while the individual is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. However, upon awakening, the person may notice jaw joint pain, headaches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, or dizziness.
What causes this?
The most common cause is bite misalignment. When the upper teeth do not meet harmoniously with the lower teeth, it can transfer stress or strain to the jaw joints.
These joints, which lie just in front of the ears, are the joints that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Known as the temporo-mandibular joints (or ‘TMJ’), these joints are in nearly-constant motion. Every time you speak, eat, laugh, yawn, and even swallow, these joints move. If they do not move fluidly and in unity, they can become inflamed.
Like many parts of our bodies, the jaw joints strive for self-repair. The skin heals itself, the immune system fights infection, and broken bones reconnect. When an imbalance in the joints effects efficiency and comfort, they seek to find a more comfortable position when they have the least interference — during sleep.
During sleep, the jaws attempt to shift and ‘force’ themselves to find a place of harmony. This prompts the action of clenching teeth together or grinding them back and forth.
Although the alignment of teeth may seem unrelated to the balanced movement of the jaw joints, the results of disharmony can be pretty severe – and costly. Broken, fractured or chipped teeth can require crowns or even replacement of teeth. Worn teeth typically need crowning or repair of cavities that has occurred when the protective enamel of teeth has been worn down.
For our patients who need these repairs, they have the advanced technology of our CEREC 3D computerized process. This creates crowns and other ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, implant teeth) in a single visit, saving the patient time and often reducing numbing requirements by half.
Once we verify that your bite is truly out of alignment (and the cause of bruxing), correcting it may be as simple as reshaping selected teeth. Some crowns may be needed and an oral appliance may also be advised. These appliances are custom-made to comfortably fit the unique contours of each mouth and do not interfere with sleep.
When bite misalignment is more severe, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. Although some adults cringe at the need to wear braces, ‘invisible’ options are available that can make treatment more comfortable and seem less awkward than the wires and brackets of traditional orthodontics.
Like a worn tire, the problems of misalignment will only worsen without repair. Let’s restore your bite to a harmonious position so you can avoid the discomfort, costs, and treatment time associated with TMJ disorders. Begin with a free consultation by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.
Through decades of research and findings from countless studies, there is no doubt that your oral health plays an integral part of your overall health. Not only does oral bacteria overload lead to tender, bleeding gums, it causes cavities, bad breath and some serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Studies have shown that oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, it can cause inflammatory reactions that have been associated with a long list of diseases and health conditions. These include stroke, heart disease, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
Still, with all these findings, it’s perplexing that nearly half of American adults have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. I believe the problem lies in the fact that gum disease can begin – and even exist to a certain extent – without obvious symptoms.
To help our readers be in a better position to avoid (or respond promptly to) gum disease, I hope the following Q&A will help in your appreciation of good oral health:
What is gum disease? Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. It forms from accumulated oral bacteria. Like any infection (which is bacteria that is straining the capability of the immune system), it causes redness, tenderness, and swelling. Because it is hidden inside the mouth, gum disease is easier to ignore than if the same were to occur on a skinned knee. Early-stage gum disease causes the gums to bleed when brushing, tender gums, and frequent bad breath. As it progresses, gums swell and turn red. The gums loosen their grip around the base of teeth. Eventually, persistent bad breath occurs and may be accompanied by pus pockets that form on gum tissues. As the bacteria eats away at the structures that support tooth roots, the need for tooth removal can occur.
Why should I worry about gum disease? As if the discomfort, bad breath, and rotten teeth weren’t enough, many people are unaware that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. When a tooth is lost, it creates a domino effect that can lead to more tooth loss. Replacing teeth can be expensive. For some tooth replacement options, it typically causes bone resorption. This is when the jaw bones that once supported natural tooth roots begin to shrink in mass. A thinning jaw bone is what causes a denture or partial to slip or rub uncomfortably on tender gum tissues. (Dental implants, fortunately, mimic the presence of tooth roots. This halts the process of resorption.) Additionally, as mentioned prior, gum disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream and contribute to a number of serious, even deadly, health problems.
How do I prevent gum disease? Although I’d like to say that twice-daily brushing and daily flossing is sufficient, that’s only part of the equation. It is necessary to keep the mouth moist. Aging and the side effect of many medications can be very drying to the mouth. This mean that oral bacteria are not being washed away efficiently. Also, American diets are full of sugar. Sugar is especially challenging in the mouth, triggering acids that can damage almost immediately. Too, just over 52 percent of the adult population visit the dentist every six months. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), over 20 percent (in 2014) stated they only saw a dentist every “few years.” (https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/patients) Your dental check-ups are structured to remove built up oral bacteria that has hardened on teeth (known as tartar, or calculus). Seeing your dentist every six months helps you to prevent, or greatly minimize, the risks associated with gum disease.
As a dentist in Summerville, I’ve been pleased to offer a “dental home” where our patients know we will treat them thoroughly, respectfully, and with gentle hands. We keep our fees affordable so all individuals can enjoy the benefits and confidence of a healthy smile.
If you suspect you have gum disease or have not had a dental cleaning in over six months, call 843-871-6351 to schedule an appointment. If preferred, ask to begin with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss your unique needs and how we can assist you in achieving the smile you desire.Read More
Let’s say you’re nearing the time when an ’empty nest’ in on the horizon. In anticipation of having extra space, you may have some ideas as to how free space could be reconfigured. A workout room? A media room? An office for a new in-home business?
Although designers and contractors could come in with a sketch pad and pencil, wouldn’t you be more assured with a visual proposal that gave a firsthand view of where, what, and how?
Today’s technology is designed to eliminate guesswork and provide the means to achieve goals without unexpected glitches.
This is true for dentistry as well. Advanced computerized technology has given dentists the tools to diagnose, treatment plan, and perform procedures with precision based on each individual’s needs and goals.
Dental offices can vary significantly when it comes to advanced technology. Not only does this equipment require a monetary commitment, most require intense training of the dentist and staff members in order to utilize each piece properly. While some of these advancements can seem rather intimidating, I’ve found that they can be of such benefit to our patients that the learning process becomes exciting.
Case in point – when I first invested in CEREC 3D technology, I took a couple of courses but avoided using it for months. When I decided to truly master it, I became so enthralled at the results that I pursued every advanced course I could take. Now, I am a proud Mentor for CEREC 3D, providing training assistance to other dentists who make this positive leap into the future of dentistry.
While my goal has always been to provide options that enhance patient comfort, save them time, and create optimal outcomes, it has also been important to select technology that is ‘green.’ At Smiles By Andrews, we have incorporated features that are environmentally-friendly, which minimize the use of chemicals, save water, and reduce waste.
We are proud of the environment we offer to our patients. Experience the benefits of these features yourself! We are always happy to welcome new patients to our office and even offer a free consult for those who wish to ‘check us out’ before committing to an appointment. Just call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule.
While we are pleased to offer this technology, what our patients notice most is the respectful, friendly, compassionate environment we provide. Regardless of your need, we are committed to exceptional care with an emphasis on comfort.
I hope to meet you soon!Read More
I have a friend who struggled for years to quit smoking. He tried every kind of patch, gum, and hypnosis available to try to kick the habit. He eventually did, but I remember him telling me that the lectures and chastising he received from (mostly) well-meaning friends, family and strangers had very little impact on his decision to quit.
Cigarettes are manufactured to be addictive. In a 2006 ruling from a lawsuit filed by the federal government, it was found that cigarette makers deliberately misled the public about the dangers of smoking. (https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/content/what_we_do/industry_watch/doj/FinalOpinion.pdf)
The ruling cited that the tobacco companies intentionally designed their products to be addictive, even while knowing their use led to harmful, and even deadly, effects.
For most smokers, they’re aware of the health risks associated with smoking. However, many are unaware of the risks that smoking poses to their oral health. Yes, gum disease and tooth loss are more prevalent in people who smoke.
The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns that:
• Smokers have double the risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers.
• The more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher their risk for developing gum disease.
• The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
The CDC also warns that smoking can make treatment for gum disease less effective. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html)
With these challenges in mind, we want to help smokers be aware of their unique needs while providing an environment that supports their ability to prevent the development of periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent tooth loss.
In our office, we see each individual as, well… just that – an individual. Every mouth is different. And, the lifestyle and habits of each patient is different as well. Some of our patients eat too much sugar, which is a challenge in the prevention of cavities and gum disease. Others are infrequent brushers, leaving their mouths more prone to bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Some are arthritic and have difficulty managing thorough at-home oral care.
For every patient, we strive to help them work around these particular issues so their smile is always healthy and bright. Being committed to good oral health means you can avoid the time and costs associated with treatment for cavities, gum disease, and even tooth replacement.
If you smoke, here are some at-home tips to help you keep your smile in good shape:
• Cigarette (and cigar) smoke is very drying to the tissues in the mouth. This provides an environment for the accumulation of oral bacteria that attack tooth enamel and gum tissues. The goal is to keep your mouth moist throughout the day. Drink lots of plain water (or add cucumber slices or fresh mint as smile-friendly additives). Swish water around your mouth after each cigarette. This will moisten the oral tissues and remove some of the oral bacteria from the mouth. You may also want to begin using a mouthwash that is specifically-designed to replenish oral moisture. These are available over-the-counter in most stores’ pharmacy section.
• Brush thoroughly twice a day. Spend two minutes each time you brush (even if you use an electronic toothbrush). Be careful to reach all sides of every tooth, especially back teeth. Use a soft to medium toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. This will help toughen up tooth enamel. Consider finishing up by brushing the tongue with your toothbrush. There are ka-zillions of bacteria embedded in the tongue and this will help management bacteria levels. Swish and spit several times after.
• Flossing is another area that we try to avoid lecturing. However, this action gives you a ‘leg up’ when it comes to managing bacteria in the mouth. If you find the process uncomfortable, our hygienists can show you easy techniques so you’re doing an effective job in a minimal amount of time (less than 2 minutes). If preferred, use a ‘water flosser.’ Our patients (whether they smoke or not) really like these. They are affordable and easy to use. Too, studies have shown that they can be just as effective as manual flossing. (Read one article on the studies in Dental Economics: https://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-101/issue-30/features/water-flosser-can-address-futility-of-floss.html)
• Your regular dental check-ups (cleanings and exams) are designed to remove the buildup of oral bacteria (that forms plaque, which can harden into tartar). If you smoke, your gums are more susceptible to the hazards of cigarettes. For some patients, we arrange their dental cleanings to occur every 4 months rather than every six. This additional visit helps many of these patients avoid problems in the first place.
We want to support you in finding the best way to have fresh breath, healthy gums, and teeth that create a fabulous smile! If you are behind on regular dental visits, you may want to begin with a no-charge consultation. During this time, we can discuss ways we can help you have a confident smile.
If dental fears have prevented you from having regular dental care, we can also discuss ways to help you achieve the smile you desire through oral or I.V. sedation. You’ll also find that our entire team is committed to providing a comfortable experience with a gentle touch, at every visit!
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule or learn more.
Every time I go to have my oil changed or tires rotated, I know the time and money required is to prevent problems or extend the life of my investment as much as possible. It makes handing over my credit card a little easier since I’m willingly taking steps to avoid larger expenses that could have been prevented.
This is why your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are so important. By removing built-up tartar, you can avoid the time and expense for cavity repair and gum disease treatment. However, these visits can help you avoid much greater expenses, some you may not realize.
For example, during these appointments, we check your bite alignment. Why is this important?
Every tooth in your mouth is designed to interact with neighboring teeth. For instance, an upper front tooth is bordered by teeth on each side as well as one below it. The teeth on each side help to keep adjacent teeth in their proper positions. The one below it – the one it ‘meets’ – helps to keep it at a proper length. Without the tooth below, the upper tooth would elongate. Without the teeth on each side, the tooth would turn or tilt.
It doesn’t take much to create a domino effect when it comes to the balanced alignment of how the upper teeth meet lower teeth. When just one tooth moves out of position, the others can bear the brunt of misalignment or malocclusion.
While a tooth that has become crooked may seem to create like a minimal flaw in your smile’s appearance, the problem can go much deeper than esthetics. For example, bite misalignment can lead to teeth that break, chip, or crack. It is also what leads to TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.
TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches; migraines, ear ringing; dizziness; night-time clenching and grinding; jaw popping, and sore facial and neck muscles. Because some of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated to bite alignment, many people spend years seeking relief, going from doctor to doctor, trying different medications, and undergoing procedures – all coming up short of actually resolving the true source of the problem.
Another check we perform during your dental hygiene visits is to look at the condition of your gums.
Periodontal (gum) disease can begin without obvious symptoms, symptoms that YOU may not notice. However, we are trained to catch early warning signs such as gums that are pulling away from their tight seal around teeth. Gums that bleed easily during ‘probing’ are also signs we note.
Yet, when it comes to your gum tissues, which cover the entire oral cavity, there ae additional problems that we can address during your oral hygiene visit. One, in particular, is to examine any lumps or bumps that can indicate oral cancer.
During your exam, you may notice us feeling around inside your mouth. We look under your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. What we’re looking for are unusual areas that can be early signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers due to its dreadful survival rate. If caught early, treatment requirements may be minimal. During this exam, we check for discolored spots, lumps, and growths that may indicate the need for a biopsy.
Other problems that your gum tissues can reveal are oral fungal infections, such as thrush. This can be an uncomfortable condition that is contagious. Even pregnant females can pass this on to their unborn babies. We can also note the emergence of things like canker sores and recommend ways to minimize their discomfort and duration.
If signs of a cavity exist, we can address the problem before it becomes a bigger problem! Filling a small cavity is a much simpler procedure than having to crown a tooth that has a large cavity. And, it is less of an expense.
We can also help in the prevention of tooth loss by checking teeth that are showing signs of break down. When a tooth is cracked, fractured, or overloaded with fillings, the potential for losing the tooth increases.
Tooth removal is necessary when a tooth breaks off below the gum line. To save the tooth, we can advise an inlay or a crown (cap) to help prevent the need to remove it (resulting in time and expense to replace it).
One of the most effective ways we can support patients during their cleanings and exams is to provide easy-to-follow recommendations and instructions for their at-home care. For example, if we note that a patient is being less-than-thorough with certain back teeth, our hygienists can discuss holding the toothbrush at a different angle. Or, the hygienist may advise using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if ‘dry mouth‘ seems to be a challenge.
So you see, these 6-month check-ups are important ways to have a healthy mouth and enjoy a bright smile between visits! They can help you save time and money by helping you avoid problems, or minimize those that do occur.Read More
For many reasons, dental implants have become the preferred tooth replacement option among today’s adults. They are the closest thing to natural teeth, even mimicking the stimulation needed to the jaw bone to halt the process of bone loss (known as resorption).
Yet, some people forgo this ‘preferred’ method for replacing teeth, most often due to cost. And, to make matters worse, some dental insurances do not provide coverage for dental implants, deeming them as ‘elective.’
Is it elective to be able to bite and chew foods that comprise a healthy diet? Is it elective to feel confident on the job or in social settings? Is it elective to have a smile that is as close to ‘worry-free’ as a smile can be?
Although we are doubtful that insurance companies will adjust their stance anytime soon, we would like to state that dental implants are not the costly treatment they are often perceived to be. In fact, when you look at the overall treatment expense and compare them to other tooth replacement options, you’ll see that dental implants are the wisest investment you can make. Here’s why:
One of the greatest benefits of dental implants is their longevity. Once dental implants are placed and the final teeth attached, your investment (with proper maintenance) should last your lifetime. Their longevity can be credited, primarily, to their construction.
Dental implants are made from the strongest metal known to man – titanium. This material, developed by NASA, was found to be highly compatible with living bone. This means that the body won’t reject it. Even better, the bone where titanium is placed will actually grow around it. This secures the implant in your jaw bone, giving it the same, dependable foundation as natural teeth once had.
Another marker of dental implant value is the ‘one-&-done’ factor. Teeth that are attached to implants do not experience cavities, will never need a root canal, and won’t create problems for neighboring teeth.
Dental implants may seem to be a more costly than crown-&-bridge combinations. However, unlike crown & bridge, dental implants do not reply on neighboring teeth to support replacement teeth. Dental implants use the same, sturdy foundation — the jaw bone — that natural teeth have.
And, because the crown-&-bridges process requires the crowning of neighboring teeth on each side, future costs can include root canals, crown repair, bridge replacement, etc.
As mentioned prior, the process of bone loss due to missing tooth roots can create a number of problems. Resorption impacts the health of existing teeth and weakens the strength of the jaw bone.
As bone loss continues, it can lead to changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. These include deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls that form when facial muscles detach from the shrinking jaw bone, a pointed chin, and a mouth that appears collapsed into the face.
Dental implants halt this process of bone loss.
When you also factor in the quality of your result, including how long dental implants last and how well they’ll hold up over time, they are a true bargain. The cost, over the long term, provides your hard-earned dollars with the best outcome for long-term savings. Plus, the ability to eat the foods you love and laugh without worry is priceless.
If you are considering dental implants or any tooth replacement option, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a no cost, no obligation consultation. During this time, I’ll explain options best for you and answer your questions so you can determine how you wish to proceed.Read More
For years, I never knew what my ophthalmologist was looking for when he shot that puff of air into each eye. I finally asked. Now, knowing it is a test for glaucoma makes it a little easier to tolerate.
As a dentist, I felt the same thing may apply to those 6-month dental checkups. During this time, your hygienist takes a small ‘probe’ and runs it along 3 positions at the base of each tooth and on both sides. During probing, you may hear her record numbers three-at-a-time, such as 3-3-2, 2-3-2, 1-2-2, 2-3-3, etc.
What do these numbers mean?
What you may not know is how these probes have measurements near the blunted tip. A dental probe is actually a gauge that shows the depth between your tooth and the gum tissues that surround it. Depth? Allow me to explain.
Of course, your teeth are more than the white, enamel-coated portions you see in the mirror. Each tooth is wrapped tightly with gum tissues at its base. Gum tissues help to seal bacteria from penetrating the structures below.
As you know, each tooth has roots that we can’t see. The root portion is what is anchored into the upper or lower jaw, giving the tooth a firm foundation and the stability necessary for biting and chewing.
The portion of your teeth that is beneath the gums is not coated by protective enamel as the portion of the teeth we see. The root areas are very sensitive. This is why darker, tooth root areas appear when the gums recede. This is the reason you may experience a jolt of pain when drinking hot or cold when these sensitive areas are exposed.
Not only are these parts of the tooth highly sensitive, they are more susceptible to the penetration of oral bacteria. When bacteria accumulation eats away at healthy gum tissues, it can weaken the gums and interfere with their ability to keep the tight seal around teeth.
The numbers your Hygienist is calling out during the probing part of your cleaning indicate how far down the gum tissue has loosened from the tooth (the depth). The higher the number, the farther down the probe can go. So, like a golf score, a lower number is better.
Hearing 1 or 2 is good. That means the probe is unable to go down into the gums or can penetrate only slightly. A 3 means there is room for improvement. Perhaps you were not as thorough when brushing at certain angles around back teeth. Or, you weren’t flossing often enough to remove food particles caught between teeth. When oral bacteria builds, the gums react by becoming inflamed.
This inflammation is what causes the gums to feel tender. If you dread a cleaning because it is uncomfortable, it’s likely because your gums are sensitive due to inflammation. They may also appear more red in color versus a healthy pink and be swollen in some areas. This is the same reaction you’d have from a cut on the skin that is becoming infected – it becomes red and swollen.
Naturally, hearing a 4 or a 5 from the hygienist is not good. These numbers indicate trouble. The higher numbers indicate a depth that is due to bacterial overload that has created inflammation.
Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, research has found that the potent bacteria of gum disease is linked to a number of serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues. It has been shown to cause inflammatory triggers that contribute to diseases and conditions that range from cancer to stroke. (https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-living/gum-disease-and-health)
When you take good care of your oral health at home and have regular dental checkups, you’re doing more than protecting your pearly whites. You are keeping your gums healthy, which in turn help to support good overall health.
At your next hygiene visit, ask your hygienist how to have all 1’s and 2’s. She’ll develop an individualized program that works well for you. Thorough, twice-daily brushing and daily flossing can help you avoid expensive repairs for cavities and gum disease as well as mean a more comfortable dental cleaning.
If you are behind on regular dental checkups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. We’ll be happy to help you get back up to speed!Read More
Dental fear is fairly common – perhaps more common than you realize. It is estimated that 75% of American adults have some level of fear associated with dental visits. Approximately 5 – 10% of these can be categorized as dental phobics. These are who are so fearful they seek dental care only when an emergency need forces them into a dental office or an emergency room.
It’s not unusual for adults with dental fear to avoid regular dental care. Unfortunately, these delays often force fearful patients into treatment for problems that could have been avoided. More-involved treatment can require lengthy time in a dental chair, the very place that fearful patients want to avoid.
When more involved treatment is needed, it tends to reinforce these fears rather than remind of the benefits of regular care that could have prevented these problems from occurring in the first place.
Regular dental check-ups are structured to help patients avoid problems altogether. For the problems that do occur, regular dental checkups help us to catch these problems early so they can be resolved with minimal treatment. Allowing us to help you address your dental fear can save you much in treatment time and expense (not to mention restore your smile to a healthy, confident look and feel!).
We take pride in the many patients we’ve helped to overcome their dental fears here, for good! Many of these patients began their care with the help of Oral Sedation, which creates a fully-relaxed state. This also eliminates most or all memory of treatment afterward.
I am also Certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) for those who desire a deeper level of sedation. Throughout any treatment that includes sedation, you will be monitored by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.
In addition to a gentle touch, we also feature advanced technology for many procedures. These enhance comfort and reduce treatment time, many decreasing treatment time and numbing requirements by 50 percent. Our patients know us for the comfort level they receive. However, fearful patients also appreciate that we schedule treatment at a pace that is comfortable based on individual preferences.
Don’t wait until an emergency need occurs. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free Consultation. We’ll discuss your and options to enhance comfort throughout your visit. Before an emergency need arises, let’s design a customized plan to create a healthy, beautiful smile!Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.
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: https://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.
You’d expect problems to eventually emerge when forcing something to fit when it simply does not. For example, cramming your foot into a too-small sized shoe will eventually lead to problems with the toes and joints in the foot. You’d expect that – right?
This is also true for teeth that are crowded and crooked, which can lead ‘bite’ problems. Bite problems occur when the upper teeth do not rest properly on the lower teeth. The ‘misalignment’ of just one tooth, such as a tooth that is too long or short, can create disharmony in the fit of upper to lower teeth.
Although, visually, a patient may think their fit is an aligned one, the misalignment can lead to a number of problems. Bite problems can result in teeth meeting each other improperly. This can cause teeth to become chipped, fractured or broken. When a tooth breaks below the gum line, it will likely require removal.
A misaligned bite can also lead to strain on the jaw joints, commonly referred to as TMJ. These joints, located in front of the ears, hinge the lower jaw to the skull. When these joints are stressed, the jaws may move during sleep in an attempt to find a relaxed position. This attempt to self-adjust can cause the jaws to shift, often triggering a grinding or clenching motion.
In addition to putting teeth at risk from grinding and clenching, TMJ disorder can lead to:
Worn teeth from grinding causes the tops of teeth to flatten out. This creates a straight line without the contours of natural teeth. Worn teeth from grinding also compromise the health of teeth in other ways. As teeth grind back and forth, tooth enamel is worn down, leaving them susceptible to decay and sensitivity.
While your 6-month checkups include an evaluation of your bite and detecting signs of abnormal wear, worn teeth are not always present when TMJ problems exist. Many people with TMJ disorder experience symptoms (such as frequent headaches or jaw joint tenderness) before their teeth show signs of wear.
If you suspect your TMJ is the source of the symptoms mentioned above, the problem will only worsen without correcting your bite alignment. We begin by using diagnostic measures to pinpoint if TMJ disorder is truly the source of your symptoms. If so, we will develop a treatment plan to restore proper bite alignment and alleviate stress from the jaw joints.
In some cases, we can correct minor problems through the reshaping of selected teeth. However, if more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be advised. In our office, we can provide one-visit crowns if this should be part of your treatment plan. (For more information on CEREC 3D crowns, visit: https://www.smilesbyandrews.com/comfort-advanced-features/). Severe misalignment may need orthodontic realignment to adequately restore the proper fit of upper and lower teeth.
Resolving bite problems early can help you avoid more extensive treatment time and expense. Begin with a free, no-cost consultation by calling 843-871-6351. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for your individual needs. If desired, our Financial Coordinator can review payment plans are interest-free with no down payment required.Read More