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.
When people smile our way, there is just something about white, bright teeth that draw us in. And, whitening is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve the appearance of a smile.
What can whitening your teeth do for you?
Studies have shown that it can make you appear more attractive to the opposite sex. For example, according to an article in the Huffington Post, a study conducted at Loyola University found that teeth whitening greatly increased the potential to be asked out for a second date. The study also showed a 59 percent increase in dates perceiving their new acquaintance with white smiles as being outgoing and more social.
Whitening your teeth is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to perk up your appearance and enhance how others see you. Whitening teeth can even help you look younger.
As we age, teeth tend to yellow or brown. Whitening teeth can take years off your appearance. White teeth also project an image of a good commitment to oral hygiene since they appear to be cleaner and brighter.
A bright smile can boost self-confidence as well. When you feel good about the appearance of your smile, it can prompt you to smile more often. Research shows that smiling boosts the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals. This is true even when ‘faking’ a smile.
Another bonus of whiter teeth is how they can camouflage flaws in a smile. Crowded, crooked teeth seem less prominent when teeth are a lighter shade.
While drug store types may seem like they’re good buys, our Nite White system by Zoom provides results that are far more dramatic with better longevity. This holiday season, you can have a bright, white smile that stands out beautifully – and, at a very affordable rate.
Now through December, we are offering Nite White take home kits at a special rate of only $150. This includes trays and 6 tubes of gel. If you’ve already whitened your teeth and just need a touch up kit, just $50 will provide you with 3 tubes of gel to get your smile back to a dazzling level.
Let your smile sparkle for the holidays – and beyond! – with a whitening system that is safe, affordable and offers dramatic results. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to discuss whitening options and other ways to enjoy the advantages of a fabulous smile!Read More
The definition of “Seniors” has changed rather drastically over the past several decades. No longer deemed the inactive, rocking chair adult, today’s seniors are active — in sports, socially involved, and still learning and participating. And, their numbers are a force to be reckoned with.
According to the U.S. Census, “baby boomers” (Americans born 1956 – 1964), are the fastest growing age group in the U.S. Currently, 14.5 percent of the nation’s population are ages 65 and over. By the year 2029, the over-65 population is estimated to be 20 percent. (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2017/cb17-100.html)
It is also estimated that one out of every four 65-year-olds will live past the age of 90, and one out of 10 will live beyond the age of 95. (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html)
One contributing factor to this trend has to do with their determination to stay active and involved. This is one of the reasons why dental implants are so appealing when an individual is faced with tooth loss.
Whereas aging adults were once associated with dentures soaking in a glass by the bathroom sink, today’s senior prefers the stability and confidence of dental implants.
But, how old is too old for dental implants?
It is a common misconception that an individual is beyond the age for dental implants. As long as one’s periodontal (gum) health is good, there is actually no age limit on having a successful outcome when it comes to dental implants.
For seniors who may have experienced loss of multiple teeth, dental implants offer a successful solution for all adults. Too, they not only replace missing teeth, they resolve the many frustrations commonly associated with removable teeth such as dentures and partials.
Quite frankly, any age can expect a successful outcome when the implants are properly selected, placed and maintained. The failure rate is actually very low, with dental implants enjoying one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates – up to 98 percent.
However, like anything that is not a natural part of the body, there are issues that can complicate implant success, including:
While there are risks, the many advantages of dental implants far outnumber any downside. Dental implants add to everyday pleasures, including the enhanced ability to taste, bite and chew a diet of healthy, delicious foods. The stability of dental implants also restores confidence in social settings, allowing you to speak and laugh without worry.
Dental implants also halt the process of bone loss, helping the jaw bones retain a full, healthy shape. This prevents changes in facial appearance that can be aging far beyond one’s actual years.
The best way to fully understand the risks involved is through a no-charge consultation. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule. During this time, we can discuss the implant type that may be best for your needs as well as treatment time and costs. If comfort is a concern for you, we can also discuss sedation options, including oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep).Read More
The health and appearance of your smile depends on a daily commitment of thorough at-home care. It also depends on regular involvement with your general dentist.
These visits are designed to remove plaque and tartar buildup that has accumulated between visits and catch problems at early stages. The appointments are spaced at 6-month intervals to keep you in a better position to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Not many people look forward to a dental cleaning or exam, although we actually have some who tell us they DO look forward to their oral hygiene visits. They enjoy seeing long-time staff members whom they’ve grown close to. Primarily, though, they like the clean feeling and bright smile they get from these twice-a-year visits.
I understand people who don’t look forward to dental check ups, however. I feel the same way about my ophthalmologist. I know I need an annual eye exam and like the doctor and staff very much. But, the process isn’t something I deem pleasant, even though I appreciate its importance.
One of the reasons many of our patients are such long-time patients is because they trust us. They know we will never over-treat or under-treat, recommend treatment according to their specific needs, respect their preferences, and make their comfort a high priority at every visit.
Comfort is a big deal when it comes to dentistry. There are many individuals who avoid dental care altogether because they have such intense dread or fear associated with these visits. Dental fear or anxiety is said to affect over 70 percent of the American adult population.
To lessen the worries of anxiety or fear of being in pain, we have taken a number of measures. We pride ourselves on having a relationship of trust with our patients — they trust us to keep them comfortable and minimize the potential for discomfort. Yet, we know that comes with time. New patients simply don’t walk in and perceive that; they need to experience it to just know it’s part of our commitment to care.
Below are just a few of the ways my team and I optimize your comfort in our Summerville dental office:
For adults who have fear, anxiety, or even dental phobia, we have been able to help the majority to achieve a healthy, appealing smile while being relaxed and comfortable. Here, we know you can learn to dread less and smile more!
Consider starting with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we will discuss your concerns, make recommendations for your specific needs and goals, and give you a firsthand look at the exceptional Summerville SC environment we offer for your very best smile.
To schedule, call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.Read More
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
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
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.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
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
I saw a bumper sticker a while back that said, “Growing old is not for sissies!” How true! But it got me thinking about the aging process and how many adults over age 65 are missing teeth. For denture wearers, they could have their own bumper sticker: “Wearing dentures is no piece of cake!”
As a dentist, I see how people struggle with dentures. While some individuals are fine with their current denture, most would love to turn back the hands of time and take measures to prevent tooth loss in the first place.
Contrary to popular belief, losing teeth in ‘old age’ is not a normal part of the aging process. Older adults tend to lose teeth for several reasons. Having a dry mouth contributes to gum disease, which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. And, gum disease that has been present for years can finally emerge with a vengeance as one grows older.
A study shared by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research states that seniors over the age of 65 have fewer than 19 remaining teeth. Over 27 percent in this age group have no remaining natural teeth at all. (https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/ToothLoss/ToothLossSeniors65andOlder.htm)
When an individual has all their upper and/or lower teeth removed, most opt to have a denture custom-made to restore their ability to speak and eat. For most new denture wearers, it takes time to get used to the feel of an appliance in their mouth. Eventually, however, eating and speaking again with a new denture is more comfortable – for the time being.
What occurs when tooth roots are removed is a process referred to as resorption. This is a ‘melting away’ of jaw bone mass in areas where natural tooth roots were once supported. Without the presence of tooth roots to nurture the jaw bone, the bone simply decreases in width and depth.
The denture that was made when your teeth were first removed was designed to conform to the unique contours of your ‘gum ridge.’ This is the raised arch where tooth roots were once held. The ridge is actually a protrusion of your upper or lower jaw bone that is covered with gum tissue.
As the bone shrinks, this ridge flattens. This means that a denture formed to wrap the contours of your gum ridge won’t have the same shaped surface to hold it a few years later. This is typically when people start to rely on denture pastes and adhesives more often than before.
Biting and chewing with a denture that moves can be uncomfortable, rubbing sore spots on tender gum tissues. Small seeds or food particles, such as nut pieces, can become trapped under the denture and pierce tender gums. As the denture moves unpredictably when eating, it can also cause embarrassing moments.
Eating out with friends or attending social gatherings where food is a centerpiece can create anxiety for denture wearers. Fearing a slip or having dentures ‘click’ while speaking is so worrisome that some people begin to decline invitations. Because studies have shown that social interaction is a healthy part of the aging process, becoming less social because of a loose denture can lead to a decline in overall health.
One study conducted by the Population Research Center at University of Texas (Austin) found that “older adults who maintain high levels of social activity or ramp up their social life as they age might be protected from increases in physical and cognitive issues over time.” (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines).
Eventually, eating with a loose denture becomes so difficult that many people switch to soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. Unfortunately, these foods also lack much in the way of nutrition and fiber that fresh fruits, vegetables and meats provide.
When dentures continue to slip and be undependable, relines can be done as a temporary fix. This process re-contours the denture to the current height of the gum ridge. However, because the gum ridge will continue to flatten, the same process as before — more denture adhesive, difficulty chewing, etc. — will simply repeat itself.
One reason so many denture and partial wearers are choosing Dental Implants has to do with the frustrations brought on by resorption. Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw, putting a halt to the process of bone loss. Because implants are held by the jaw bone, they provide the same, secure foundation for biting and chewing as your natural teeth once had.
Another bonus of Dental Implants is their longevity. With proper selection, placement and care, they are designed to last a lifetime. And their success rate is exceptional, higher than any other implant-in-bone type, including knees and hip joints.
There are many types of dental implants, each designed to accommodate various needs, including severe bone loss. Some systems, such as the ‘All-On-4,’ are affordable and hold non-removable teeth. Easy monthly payment plans are also available, most are interest-free with no down payment.
Struggling with a denture that moves or causes embarrassment? Begin with a no-charge consultation. Call 843-871-6351.
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
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.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More