This Year, Save Money On Dental Care With Easy Care Tips!

posted: January 14, 2019

We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year and many people are already stumbling over their good intentions on New Year’s Resolutions. This is common – very common.

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.

 

 

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Could Healthy Gums Lower Cancer Risk?

posted: October 06, 2018

Research has shown an indisputable correlation between the bacteria of gum disease and a number of serious health problems. This occurs because the infectious bacteria of gum disease can migrate to other parts of the body, triggering problems elsewhere in the body.

Oral bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, they have been found to trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth.

Periodontal disease bacteria are highly destructive. They destroy teeth, gums and bone structures that support tooth roots. This disease will only worsen without treatment. Symptoms include swollen and tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, persistent bad breath, and gums that darken in color.

Eventually, pus pockets form on gums and some teeth may loosen. To no surprise, advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Findings now reveal that advanced gum disease can cause the release of inflammatory components, enzymes and other factors that have been linked to the development of some cancers.

Highly concerning, the National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly half of adults in the U.S. have some level of the disease, even though it is one of the most preventable of all diseases. It is hoped that the recent revelations that link oral bacteria to serious health conditions may lead to heightened awareness to its prevalence. And, thus, more efforts to avoid or successfully treat it.

For many years, it was suspected that chronic infections and inflammation are associated with a higher risk of developing cancer. This prompted more research to focus on deeper studies into the relationship between bacterial and viral infections and carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis is the process that causes normal cells to mutate into cancerous cells.

For example, one study of over 48,000 American men between ages 40 – 75 showed that participants with a history of periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of cancer than those without gum disease. This was after adjustments were made for risk factors such as smoking and diet.

It was also found that, of those with a history of periodontal disease, their susceptibility to certain cancers came with a 30 percent or higher risk. The study showed that a history of periodontal disease increased the risk of lung cancer by 36 percent, kidney cancer by 49 percent, pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, and caused a 30 percent higher risk of blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

The study also showed that even non-smoking participants with periodontal disease still had a 35 percent higher risk of blood cancers as well as a 21 percent overall increased risk for cancer.

Chinese researchers also conducted a study of over 321,000 men and women, adjusting for those who were diabetic, drank alcohol and/or smoked. They found a much greater lung cancer risk in the participants who had periodontal disease with women who had gum disease having a higher risk of developing lung cancer than men.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, it is important that you have treatment promptly. In our office, we treat patients gently, respectfully and to the highest standards and make appropriate recommendations for the individualized needs of each patient.

Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation appointment. If dental fear is an issue, we can discuss comfort options, including oral and I.V. sedation. We can also discuss payment plans that helps to finance treatment into easy, monthly payments.

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Three Questions About Gum Disease You Should Be Asking.

posted: August 06, 2018

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.

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Smokers! We Are Here To Help You In A Lecture-Free Zone!

posted: June 18, 2018

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.

 

 

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Where Is Your Bad Breath Coming From?

posted: May 16, 2018

Growing up, I remember a particular relative I only saw at Christmas gatherings at my Grandmother’s home. I was probably eight or nine when I recall him bending down and greeting me just inches from my face. While I don’t remember his words, I do remember his knock-you-over bad breath.

For years, every time his name was mentioned, I remembered the jolt of breath odor. I should have remembered his words and his smile, first and foremost, but his breath seemed to take a front-&-center place in my memory bank whenever his name came up.

None of us want to be remembered for our breath odor! While it is often associated with spicy foods, breath that is less-than-pleasant actually has a number of sources.

PERIODONTAL (Gum) DISEASE: A common symptom of gum disease is frequent bad breath. As the disease worsens, it goes from frequent to persistent. This is because oral bacteria produce a sulphuric odor that causes bad breath. As they reproduce, more and more of these bacteria exist, subsisting on the soft tissues in the mouth. The gums become so compromised from this over-accumulation that they bleed easily (often while brushing). Other symptoms include tender or swollen gums, gums that release their tight grip around teeth, and gums that turn red. Keep in mind, however, that gum disease begins silently. Beware: You may even have it without noticing symptoms in initial stages.

GERD OR ACID REFLUX: In addition to causing heartburn and a sore throat, acid reflux can cause bad breath. This occurs when acid travels up the throat and reaches your mouth. When these digestive acids mix with saliva, it produces bad breath that is uniquely associated with acid reflux. An excellent explanation of how it occurs (and ways to curtail it) can be found at: http://digestivehealthguide.com/acid-reflux-bad-breath/

DENTURES & PARTIALS: The gum-colored base that holds replacement teeth in dentures and partials is of a porous material. These pores actually provide oral bacteria with little homes where they breed and thrive. As mentioned prior, oral bacteria that accumulate in the mouth produce a surphur-ish odor (likened to a garlicky scent). Although soaking these appliances nightly in a denture cleanser rids most of these bacteria on a daily basis, many people also sleep in their dentures or partials. How bad is this bacteria? One study showed that pneumonia risk doubled in the elderly who slept in their dentures. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)

INSUFFICIENT ORAL HYGIENE: For many people who brush twice daily, the process may not be nearly as effective as they may think. It is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, using a soft to medium toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. (This applies when using either manual and electronic toothbrushes). Divide the mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each. Finish up by brushing the tongue to remove millions of oral bacteria embedded there. If you’re not flossing prior to brushing, however, you can be missing an important part of the process. Food particles caught between teeth cannot always be dislodged by the bristles of a toothbrush. Left behind, they rot in your mouth, creating a welcome food source that boosts oral bacteria growth.

DRY MOUTH: When the mouth is dry, it means that saliva flow is unable to rinse oral bacteria from the mouth efficiently. This leads to bacterial growth. Dry mouth is a side effect of many prescription and OTC medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and sedatives. Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol are also drying to oral tissues. Be aware of the moisture level in your mouth. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, chew sugarless gum to promote saliva flow, and consider using a rinse to replenish oral moisture (available over-the-counter at most drug stores).

While other causes of bad breath may be your problem, these are the most frequent culprits. However, regardless of the cause, having a healthy mouth can give you more confidence in close settings with others, and help you avoid the dreaded reputation of “the one who has bad breath.” Begin by scheduling a cleaning/exam to address your problems head on, or ask for a free consultation to discuss your concerns. I’ll make recommendations to help pinpoint the source of your problem and ways to help resolve it.

If you have dental fears or anxiety associated with dental care, please know that we hold consultations in a private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. You’ll never be asked to sit in a treatment chair until you are ready. I’ll also be happy to discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), if needed.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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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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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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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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Good Oral Health Especially Important For Diabetics

posted: September 26, 2017

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. That’s 9.3 percent of the population and is an increase from a 2010 estimate of 26 million.  This does not include the one in four who have diabetes yet don’t know it.

The CDC states, “Diabetes is a serious disease that can be managed through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and oral medications to lower blood sugar levels.  Another important part of diabetes management is reducing other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.”

Based on health data from 2012, the National Diabetes Statistics Report was released in 2014 revealing that non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults. The age of those being newly diagnosed is also a particular concern. In the 2012 data, 208,000 people under the age of 20 were diagnosed with diabetes (both types). (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/)

Sadly, the rate of those struggling with diabetes is expected to triple in the coming decade. A National Institutes of Health report states diabetes is “a growing public health concern and a common chronic metabolic disease worldwide.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared diabetes to be at a pandemic level.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that compromises the body’s ability to properly secrete or manage insulin. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Diabetes is a leading cause of death because of the vascular complications attributed to it.

The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 (insulin dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent). According to the American Diabetes Association, the majority of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes with symptoms typically emerging after the age of 45.

Signs of gum disease

Early symptoms of diabetes include bad breath and bleeding gums although the general public rarely associates one with the other. For scientific researchers, however, the emergence of diabetes through oral problems makes perfect sense.

Periodontal (gum) disease is said to be the sixth greatest complication of diabetes. Like diabetes, periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition.

Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body.  Research has shown that gum disease is linked to other inflammatory diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and coronary artery disease.

With gum disease and diabetes, research has also shown that one tends to trigger the other. Gum disease has been found to occur more frequently – and with greater severity – in diabetics with poor glycemic control. On the flip side, properly managing glucose levels has shown to be helpful in preventing or treating periodontal disease.

Over 47% of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. Symptoms include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, and tender and swollen gums. As gum disease progresses, the gums darken in color, pus pockets form and teeth loosen and may eventually require removal. Due to its widespread prevalence, gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Because diabetics have a particular vulnerability to internal inflammation, they are urged to be especially committed to good oral health. This begins by knowing the signs of gum disease, maintaining a thorough at-home oral hygiene regimen and having dental check-ups every 3-4 months.

Whether you are diabetic or not, you are urged to react to signs of gum disease promptly by having a thorough examination. Early symptoms are often ignored or deemed ‘normal,’ allowing gum disease to worsen and require more-extensive treatment. Remember – by the time obvious symptoms begin, the infectious bacteria are running rampant.

Call 843-871-6351 if you have questions or to arrange a no-charge, no obligation Consultation.

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Suspected Link Between Gum Disease & Pancreatic Cancer

posted: August 08, 2017

For decades, research has shown links between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious diseases and conditions in the body. The list includes heart disease, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, preterm babies, impotency and erectile dysfunction.

Based on findings of previous studies, a long-term study has revealed the bacteria of gum disease as a contributing factor to developing pancreatic cancer, which will be diagnosed in over 50 000 people this year. Because pancreatic cancer typically goes undiagnosed until advanced stages, fewer than 10% of those diagnosed will be living 5 years later.

One study, however, determined that people with 2 types of periodontal disease–causing oral bacteria have a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in June 2016 (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2526607), oral bacteria may provide an early marker for pancreatic cancer.

In the study, the DNA in saliva from over 360 adults who eventually developed pancreatic cancer was compared to samples of DNA in saliva to a similar number of adults who remained healthy.

In both groups, adjustments were made for age, gender, race, and body mass as well as for alcohol consumption, smoking and having diabetes. Participants who developed pancreatic cancer within two years of providing DNA samples were omitted to ensure no pre-existing factors could distort statistical outcomes.

Coupled with findings from previous studies, researchers were able to pinpoint two specific types of periodontal disease pathogens. Researchers noted that one pathogen type was more prevalent in the saliva of subjects who developed pancreatic cancer, showing a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The second pathogen type was shown to increase the risk by 50 percent.

This study is yet another reason to acknowledge that your oral health is an integral part of your overall health. When your teeth and gums are healthy, you can prevent gum disease, cavities, and according to research, the penetration of potent oral bacteria into the bloodstream.

Signs of periodontal disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, frequent bad breath, gums that deepen in color from a healthy pink to red, and gum recession as gums pull away from teeth, exposing darker and sensitive tooth roots. Eventually, teeth will loosen and may require removal.

More than 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. However, achieving and maintaining good oral health is quite simple. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, having 6-month dental check-ups and avoiding a dry mouth are easy ways to limit oral bacteria.

Obviously, periodontal disease bacteria is potent. As more findings are revealed, I’ll share updates. In the meantime, be proactive when it comes to the symptoms of periodontal disease. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 843-871-6351 to arrange a no-charge consultation. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss ways to help you achieve a healthy, confident smile.

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Lower Your Costs In The Dental Office By Re-Looking At Home Care Routine

posted: August 01, 2017

Very few of us were born with a perfect set of teeth. Most people need cavities repaired during their lifetimes and some even lose teeth. Over the years, many people need crowns, tooth realignment, repairs to chips, fillings and even root canals. Yet, the investment into having a healthy, appealing smile is one that sparks generally the same response with most patients of being well-worth it.

For some, however, there can seem to be an ongoing need of dentistry. Of course, this can be costly and time-consuming. This is one of the reasons we structure your 6-month cleanings and exams to help you prevent problems in the first place or catch those that do occur at early stages.

If you feel there is a revolving door on your dentist’s office, take a few minutes to re-examine your daily home care regimen. You may be surprised at how easily you can PREVENT problems.

• Are you brushing properly?

First, look at your tooth brush. It should be a soft to medium bristle tooth brush that’s replaced every 4-6 months. If the bristles are flayed out, however, you’re using too much force to brush. Lighten up so the tips of the brush are swirling over the tops and sides of teeth. Look in a mirror as you brush to make sure you’re not swiping over teeth with the sides of the bristles from pressing down too hard.

Next, be sure you’re using a toothpaste with fluoride, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel. Be sure you brush for at least two minutes twice daily, preferably in the morning and again before bedtime. When you brush, make sure it has been at least 20 minutes since eating or drinking anything (other than water). The reason for this is to also protect tooth enamel. This is because an acid attack begins in the mouth every time you eat or drink. Although this acid is designed to break down foods for digestion, it is also very hard on tooth enamel, actually softening it for 20-30 minutes. If you brush too soon, the abrasive toothpaste and bristles of a tooth brush can wear down enamel. When the protective covering of tooth enamel is worn down, your teeth are more susceptible to decay and other problems.

• Are you flossing daily?

Flossing is difficult for some people. Some people have large hands, some have manual dexterity issues and others simply can’t get comfortable with the technique. Our hygienists are pros at helping people find a comfortable, effective way to floss. However, for those who prefer an alternative, water flossers are now available to make the process both easy and effective. Brushing cannot dislodge some particles that become trapped between teeth, which makes flossing necessary. When debris is left behind, it begins to rot. This adds to oral bacteria levels in the mouth, which is essentially the origin of nearly every oral health problem. Flossing is a beneficial step to brushing to make the best of your time at the sink.

• Are you keeping your mouth moist?

Half of all adults take at least one prescription drug daily and one in five say they take four or more. Hundreds of medications have side effects that causes oral dryness. Add to this the fact that oral dryness can also be caused by caffeine, alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, aging, mouth breathing (including snoring) and some illnesses. When saliva flow is depleted, oral bacteria are not being rinsed efficiently from the mouth. This allows them to accumulate. Ideally, sipping filtered water during the day will help to keep your mouth moist. However, some oral dryness needs the aid of a mouth rinse to replenish moisture. These are available over-the-counter for a reasonable cost. Just be sure to pick one that does not contain alcohol. Again, alcohol is a drying agent to oral tissues.

• What are you eating and when?

We’ve all known someone who sips from a can of cola during the day or goes through several cups of coffee in the morning with added cream and sugar. Many of us like a snack in the afternoon or may even indulge in a bowl of ice-cream while we watch television at night. As mentioned prior, each time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. When these acids are fueled by sugar, carbs and even more acid (from coffee, colas, citrus, etc.), the potential for damage increases. Although it’s not my place to alter your diet, just be mindful of what you’re eating and how often you consume. A good way to lessen the ill-effects of snacks or long periods of cola sipping is to rinse the mouth with water periodically after indulging.

• Are you proactive when it comes to your smile?

When something is wrong with your oral health, it’s not likely to repair itself on its own. For example, when a tooth is full of fillings and a crown is advised, it’s recommended to help preserve the natural tooth. Should the tooth fracture below the gum line, it will likely require removal. This sets in motion a long list of decisions – and expenses – that could have been avoided had a crown been placed to protect the tooth. While some expenses in dentistry may seem harmless to delay, many can easily become more complex issues – with greater costs. Look at periodic repairs like crowns, bite guards, etc. as necessary maintenance, just as you would for an automobile. After all, replacing brake pads isn’t cheap but not something wise to delay.

A healthy mouth, once established, is actually easy to maintain with proper at-home care and regular dental check-ups. Begin with an examination by calling 843-871-6351 and let’s create a smile you love!

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How Gum Disease Forms

posted: July 25, 2017

Like many diseases that form in our bodies, periodontal (gum) disease begins without obvious symptoms. However, unlike our response to something unusual like a lump or bump, the initial signs of gum disease are often ignored. Why?

An estimated 25% of men over the age of 39 have an annual prostrate exam and an estimated 50% of women ages 40 to 85 have an annual mammogram. Yet, the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that over 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease. I believe this is because our population is truly unaware of the signs, and subsequent risks, of periodontal disease.

A couple of generations ago, many people believed they had to use a stiff toothbrush and really scrub their teeth to get them clean. Many grew up believing that abrasive substances such as baking soda helped to do a good job. Today we know that this will wear down tooth enamel and wear away gum tissues that support teeth. Still today, some people assume that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is a sign they are doing a good job.

Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Losing a natural tooth is often the beginning to subsequent tooth loss. As a matter of fact, statistics show that when you lose a tooth, the next you’re most likely to lose is one adjacent.

Losing teeth creates a long list of decisions and expenses. Yet, tooth loss is just one problem associated with gum disease. Decades of research has shown that the bacteria of gum disease is associated with serious health problems in the body.

We now know that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, the bacteria has been shown to trigger inflammatory reactions associated with heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.

When you think about it, gum disease is one of the most preventable of all diseases. A thorough at-home routine of twice daily brushing, daily flossing, drinking plenty of water and limits on snacking and sweets are easy ways to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum.

Additionally, it is important to have regular dental check-ups and cleanings. These visits are vital to keeping a healthy smile by removing accumulated tartar and noting signs of gum disease at their earliest stages.

How gum disease develops should be familiar to everyone. Below is its path of development:

•  Accumulation Of Oral Bacteria: The mouth is a warm, moist environment that is open access to a tremendous amount of bacteria. Bacteria is on food, utensils and even our toothbrushes. Bacteria in our bodies is a fact of life and something we are structured to manage. However, at certain levels, the problem exceeds the limits that can be effectively handled. Too much bacteria in the mouth is how gum disease begins.

•  Formation of Plaque: Without regular and thorough brushing, flossing and saliva flow, oral bacteria reproduce rapidly. Just over the course of a day, their accumulation forms a sticky film that coats teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque.

•  Development of Calculus: In about 48 hours, plaque can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. This hardened form of oral bacteria attaches to teeth and can no longer be brushed or flossed away. Tartar will continue to reproduce as oral bacteria subsist on tooth enamel and gum tissue.

•  Gingivitis: As the first stage of gum disease, gum tissues are now inflamed. The gums become tender, bleed easily when brushing and your breath will feel not-so-fresh. By taking proper measures at this point, you may be able to restore your gums to a healthy state. Halting gingivitis at this stage is important to avoid the further development of gum disease.

•  Periodontal (Gum) Disease: At this stage, gum tissues are inflamed and tender. The gums will turn red and some teeth may show darker root portions as gum tissues loosen their grip around teeth. You’ll have persistent bad breath. As gum disease worsens, pus pockets may form and some teeth will loosen.

Want a healthy mouth? Want to avoid problems in the first place? Want to give your overall health a leg up? Begin by looking at your daily oral care routine. If you’ve delayed your 6-month dental check-ups, schedule one as soon as possible. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

With proper care, you can easily enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease as mentioned above, call toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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Don’t Let Your Smile Go Up In Smoke

posted: July 13, 2017

If you smoke, you don’t need another lecture about its hazards. In our office, we pride ourselves on being a ‘lecture-free zone.’ However, we also pride ourselves on being good communicators to our patients. You see, we believe patients are better able to maintain good oral health when they know not only WHAT to do, but WHY each step is necessary.

If you are a smoker, here are some facts that you may not realize when it comes to your smile:

• Smokers have a greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent bad breath, higher levels of plaque, stained teeth, and slower healing following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery.

• Smoking is very drying to oral tissues. This provides an ideal environment for oral bacteria to reproduce and accumulate in the mouth. When the mouth can no longer combat the bacteria levels, the gum tissues become inflamed. This is the beginning of gum disease.

• In early stages, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, sore gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing. As it progresses, gum tissues turn red and pus pockets form. Eventually, the bacteria work their way down to attack supporting bone and tissues surrounding tooth roots. This can cause teeth to loosen which may lead to removal. Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

• Losing teeth leads to a number of problems relating to your overall health. While some people assume that losing natural teeth is a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, studies show that people who wear dentures die an average of ten years earlier than those who have their natural teeth. Denture wearers also take more medications, have more gastrointestinal problems and are less socially active.

• Smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years, on average. Smoking is attributed to almost one-third of all cancer diseases and deaths. Women who smoke are at risk for early menopause while men who smoke have a higher risk of impotency. Pregnant women who smoke have an increased risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

• Second hand smoke contains over 50 carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. Children of smoking parents commonly wake up with ‘smoker’s cough.’

If you’ve thought about kicking the habit, you’ll notice the positive effects almost immediately. In just 48 hours, damaged nerve endings will start to regenerate, restoring the sense of smell and taste. In 3 days, your lungs will begin to repair and you’ll notice breathing is easier and air intake is fuller. Within 2 weeks, blood circulation in your gums and teeth is similar to that of a non-smoker with your risk for heart attack now declining. In a month or so, your circulation will greatly improve, walking will be easier and your chronic cough will have cleared up.

Who needs a lecture when the facts are so clear? While adults can choose to smoke or not as they accept the risks, knowing these risks is important.

For those who want to kick the habit, there are excellent online sources, including: http://smokefree.gov/

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Moms-To-Be Will Want To Read This, Especially.

posted: July 10, 2017

Women who are pregnant, even early on, have a long list of precautions to follow to help in the healthy development of their unborn babies. These include dietary restrictions as well as avoiding alcohol, smoking and many medications.

New findings now add another precaution to the list. Studies show that it is important for pregnant women to maintain excellent oral health throughout their pregnancy — for their own health and that of their baby.

Pregnant women have elevated hormones, which increases their potential for periodontal (gum) disease. Because of this, many experience Pregnancy Gingivitis, causing swollen, red and sore gums that bleed while brushing. This also makes the gums more susceptible to inflammation and sensitive to the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease, leaving an estimated one-third of all pregnant females with gum disease.

Even worse, it is now known that the oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in compromised gum tissues. Studies show that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies.

When the infectious bacteria of gum disease reaches placental membranes, it can trigger inflammation that can lead to pre-eclampsia or early labor. For instance, the preterm birth rate for women without periodontal disease is approximately 11% compared to about 29% for moms-to-be with moderate or severe levels of gum disease. Gum disease also increases the risk for late-term miscarriage.

In one study, pregnant women who had higher levels of oral bacteria also had higher percentages of preterm births and babies born at low birth weight. Showing a direct connection between the oral health of the mom-to-be and her unborn baby, the same elevated antibody levels were noted in amniotic fluid and fetal cord blood samples of preterm or low birth weight babies.

Fortunately, studies show that successfully treating gum disease reduces the risk of preterm births, motivating a growing number of obstetricians to advise their pregnant patients to be evaluated for signs of periodontal disease. Typical signs include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, tender or swollen gums, and gums that turn red in color. Eventually, pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth and teeth will loosen and may require removal.

Take extra good care of your smile during pregnancy for the good of your own health as well as that of your baby. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease or Pregnancy Gingivitis, our non-surgical treatment is safe and effective for nearly all levels of gum disease.

Begin with a free consultation by calling 1-877-966-9009.

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Want To Avoid A Cavity? It’s Easy!

posted: May 30, 2017

Periodically, I have my car’s tires rotated and oil changed. I change the air filters in our HVAC vents every month. I fertilize our yard each year and apply a weed control. And, like most pet owners, I apply a monthly flea-&-tick preventative. You probably do the same.

Obviously, we do these tasks because we want to avoid future problems from occurring in the first place. By NOT tending to them, I know I could be looking at a lot of expenses and time, not to mention the desire to kick myself!

When a patient has a cavity, it’s typically because their oral hygiene routine at home was insufficient. Of course, some people are simply more susceptible to decay. These people have higher levels of a certain type of bacteria in their mouths which leaves them more prone to cavities and gum disease.

However, even those more susceptible to decay can still prevent its onset with simple measures and regular dental check-ups. Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes each time using a fluoridated toothpaste and soft bristle brush) and daily flossing are necessary. But, a few extra steps can make a world of difference.

Since the majority of the problems pertaining to the mouth originate with bacteria, decreasing their numbers is beneficial to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In addition to brushing and flossing, there are other ways to keep oral bacteria to manageable levels.

You may be shocked at the amount of bacteria that are embedded in the grooves of your tongue. There are BILLIONS of bacteria in the tongue, with the greatest concentration in the back of the tongue. Uprooting these little creatures can be done by brushing the tongue after brushing your teeth. Or, you can use a tongue scraper, sold in many drug stores. Scrape from the back to the front several times, rinsing after each pass.

Swishing or gargling with mouthwash can also help. Just be sure to read the label of your mouthwash to ensure it is alcohol-free. Alcohol is very drying to oral tissues, which leaves the mouth more vulnerable to bacteria reproduction.

Speaking of a dry mouth, it can also be the result of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, smoking, a number of medications, and mouth-breathing (including snoring). Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day (colas and tea don’t count!). If you feel your mouth is frequently dry, you can replenish oral moisture with a special rinse made for this purpose. Several good options are available over-the-counter.

Sugar is the ideal food for oral bacteria, so try to limit sweets. This also applies to carbohydrates, which convert into simple sugar in the mouth. If you indulge, just be sure to swish afterwards.

And, try to limit snacking. Every time you eat or drink, the mouth endures an acid onslaught for 20-30 minutes. This acid, which helps aid digestion, is powerful enough to soften tooth enamel. This is why we caution patients to delay brushing for a half an hour after eating.

Find flossing awkward? Then, don’t! Instead, purchase a water flosser. These are great for people who find flossing difficult, such as those with large fingers or limited manual dexterity. Water flossers are just as effective as string floss when used correctly.

Finally, don’t delay your six-month dental cleanings and exams even if nothing hurts! Just because you don’t FEEL any problems doesn’t mean that oral bacteria is not hard at work damaging teeth and gum tissues. Remember, most diseases begin silently. This is just as true for periodontal (gum) disease or the formation of a cavity.

By keeping oral bacteria to a minimum, you can prevent a cavity. When you prevent a cavity, you save time and money. Plus, your breath will be fresher and your dental cleanings will be more comfortable. When gums are healthy, dental cleanings are easier with less probing and scraping needed.

We want you to have a healthy mouth and a confident smile. If you’ve delayed dental check-ups, call (843) 871-6351 to arrange an appointment. You’ll be welcomed here with respect and warmth.

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