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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Afraid Of The Dentist? We Can Help.

posted: January 01, 2019

Over the years, our Summerville dental office has developed a reputation for successfully helping adults who struggle with dental fears.

We understand that, for many fearful patients, it takes a great deal of effort to just come in for a consultation. Once here, however, they see that our office is structured to attend to their unique needs.

Our goal is to give all patients an environment where they can achieve a healthy, confident smile. For those who have avoided dentistry, we feel this enables many to have much-needed treatment BEFORE they are ‘forced’ into a dental office because of severe pain.

When regular dental care is avoided, it increases the risk for losing natural teeth and/or developing gum disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease that is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Gum disease is also associated with serious health problems. The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth. It has been linked to higher risks for heart disease, stroke, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Some patients prefer to begin their care with the addition of Oral Sedation. This is in pill form and allows the patient to be fully relaxed throughout their care, even “dozing” in and out.

For those who prefer a deeper level of sedative, I am certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep). Both forms of sedation erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards and have a practical recovery time.

Rest assured – patients who are sedated are closely monitored throughout treatment with advanced safety equipment and specially-trained staff members.

No matter what your fear level, you CAN experience gentle dentistry where you’ll feel relaxed before, during and after your visit. And, like many of our once-fearful patients, you can enjoy a healthy, confident smile without having a white-knuckled experience!

Dental fear affects over 70 percent of Americans, but it can be overcome. We have hundreds of formerly fearful patients who now have confident, healthy smiles. They know that dentistry can be performed without discomfort and enable them to achieve excellent oral health. You, too, can achieve this regardless of your level of fear.

We’ll begin with a friendly conversation in our private consultation room. This room is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, you can share your concerns and learn about options that can help you move at a pace that’s right for you. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a convenient time for this no-cost consultation.

In the right hands, you can have the healthy, confident smile you desire!

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Grinding Or Clenching Teeth Can Lead To Costly Repairs, And More.

posted: September 18, 2018

Sometimes, things can occur without being obvious for quite some time. For example, seeing a tire that has abnormally worn down on one side is an indication that it has been out of alignment for an extended amount of time. Or, losing a button means that the threads gave way a while back and gradually became looser and looser.

As a dentist, I occasionally examine a new patient and see signs of worn teeth. Sometimes, the individual has fractures or chips on teeth as well. These are typically indications of clenching or grinding teeth, which often occurs during sleep. It’s rather common, however, that the patient has no idea this has been taking place.

Worn teeth from grinding

Like a tire that’s just slightly out of alignment, minor disparities aren’t always noticeable. Eventually, however, the wear and tear does become obvious. Although it may take years for the signs to clearly emerge, like anything, the sooner you resolve the problem, the better.

Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxing in the dental profession. This action often takes place while the individual is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. However, upon awakening, the person may notice jaw joint pain, headaches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, or dizziness.

What causes this?

The most common cause is bite misalignment. When the upper teeth do not meet harmoniously with the lower teeth, it can transfer stress or strain to the jaw joints.

These joints, which lie just in front of the ears, are the joints that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Known as the temporo-mandibular joints (or ‘TMJ’), these joints are in nearly-constant motion. Every time you speak, eat, laugh, yawn, and even swallow, these joints move. If they do not move fluidly and in unity, they can become inflamed.

Like many parts of our bodies, the jaw joints strive for self-repair. The skin heals itself, the immune system fights infection, and broken bones reconnect. When an imbalance in the joints effects efficiency and comfort, they seek to find a more comfortable position when they have the least interference — during sleep.

During sleep, the jaws attempt to shift and ‘force’ themselves to find a place of harmony. This prompts the action of clenching teeth together or grinding them back and forth.

Although the alignment of teeth may seem unrelated to the balanced movement of the jaw joints, the results of disharmony can be pretty severe – and costly. Broken, fractured or chipped teeth can require crowns or even replacement of teeth. Worn teeth typically need crowning or repair of cavities that has occurred when the protective enamel of teeth has been worn down.

cerec machine

Single visit crowns, bridges and dental implant restorations

For our patients who need these repairs, they have the advanced technology of our CEREC 3D computerized process. This creates crowns and other ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, implant teeth) in a single visit, saving the patient time and often reducing numbing requirements by half.

Once we verify that your bite is truly out of alignment (and the cause of bruxing), correcting it may be as simple as reshaping selected teeth. Some crowns may be needed and an oral appliance may also be advised. These appliances are custom-made to comfortably fit the unique contours of each mouth and do not interfere with sleep.

When bite misalignment is more severe, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. Although some adults cringe at the need to wear braces, ‘invisible’ options are available that can make treatment more comfortable and seem less awkward than the wires and brackets of traditional orthodontics.

Like a worn tire, the problems of misalignment will only worsen without repair. Let’s restore your bite to a harmonious position so you can avoid the discomfort, costs, and treatment time associated with TMJ disorders. Begin with a free consultation by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.

 

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How To Spend Less On Dentistry

posted: May 31, 2018

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.

If you’re behind on your regular dental cleanings and exams, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. New patients are always welcome. And, remember – patient comfort is a high priority at every visit!

You may wish to begin with a free consultation. During this time, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment plans, some with no down payment required and interest-free.

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Do You See Dental Care As A ‘Pain?’

posted: May 24, 2018

When I go to the eye doctor for my annual eye exam, it’s usually one of my least favorite items to check off my healthcare to-do list. Having my pupils dilated, that puff of air shot at my eye ball, and sitting still while a bright light blares into each eye is no fun. However, I see my vision as not only a vital part of living a full and active life. As a dentist, having good vision is vital.

Having an annual eye exam is an appointment most people want ‘over and done with’ quickly. But, like many medical screenings and checkups, we know it’s wise to take the time. Dental checkups, although not something most people look forward to, are also important to your health and well-being. Plus, these twice-a-year dental visits are structured to help you avoid or minimize time and expenses for treatment that can occur without regular care.

Fortunately, these visits typically require only an hour or so of your time. In our office, we try to minimize wait time and use advanced skills and technology to create more efficiency while optimizing comfort. This certainly makes dental visits more appealing for all patients. Yet, for people who do struggle with dental fear, these visits require far more of them than just setting aside the time needed for each visit.

I have decades of experience helping patients who have anxiety or fear (and even dental phobia) to be able to relax through dental treatment. Some have been able to overcome their fears altogether. While I don’t claim to convert them into dental appointment ‘fans,’ I will say that a large percentage go from a sense of dread and ‘white knuckled’ tension to walking in with a smile and leaving with a smile, having completed their appointment without dealing with the grip of fear.

In our nation, periodontal (gum) disease effects over 47 percent of adults – a staggering statistic when you consider how easy it is to prevent. Gum disease occurs from the over-accumulation of oral bacteria that cause inflammation. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, oral health is not the only thing compromised because of gum disease.

These potent bacterial organisms can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. Research has shown they can cause reactions that have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. As more research is conducted, new findings keep connecting oral bacteria to more and more health problems, some that are deadly.

With that said, our nation sadly has far more people who are nervous or afraid of dental visits than not. It is estimated that over 70 percent of adult have some level of dental anxiety or fear. Because this fear prevents some people from being able to receive regular dental care (often delaying treatment until pain forces them), it’s to no surprise that so many suffer with gum disease. As mentioned prior, it’s nearly half of our adult population.

Although we offer both oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), all patients (in our office) enjoy the benefits of a number of comfort options. In addition to a gentle touch, we’ve invested in a wide variety of advanced technology that reduces treatment time and enhances comfort. (Even our drills are designed to eliminate that dreadful, high-pitched whine, with a gentle humming sound instead).

We also pace each patient’s care to match individual needs. Some people are happy to move through treatment in one or two appointments while others wish to proceed in small steps. We are also careful to communicate what is being done in their mouths, and why. This is reassuring to patients, especially those with fear issues. They may ‘perceive’ pain when there is unknown action taking place that they can’t see.

We encourage anyone who has dental fear or anxiety issues to begin with a private conversation at no charge. This consultation is just a chat. I take the time to learn the unique concerns of each individual and make recommendations based upon those concerns. From there, we can determine the most comfortable way to proceed. Or, they may choose to do nothing for the time being. The choice is in the hands of the patient. We are not here to nudge someone into treatment, but rather to support them when they are ready.

If you would like to schedule a private, no cost consultation, call 843-871-6351. From the very first conversation on the telephone, I’m certain you’ll understand why so many once-fearful people have chosen us to help them achieve healthy, confident smiles.

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The Numbers Your Hygienist Is Calling Out During Your Checkups

posted: March 20, 2018

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!

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No Need To Fear Dentistry. Here, Dental Care Is Gentle, Comfortable.

posted: March 12, 2018

Dental fear is fairly common – perhaps more common than you realize. It is estimated that 75% of American adults have some level of fear associated with dental visits. Approximately 5 – 10% of these can be categorized as dental phobics. These are who are so fearful they seek dental care only when an emergency need forces them into a dental office or an emergency room.

It’s not unusual for adults with dental fear to avoid regular dental care. Unfortunately, these delays often force fearful patients into treatment for problems that could have been avoided. More-involved treatment can require lengthy time in a dental chair, the very place that fearful patients want to avoid.

When more involved treatment is needed, it tends to reinforce these fears rather than remind of the benefits of regular care that could have prevented these problems from occurring in the first place.

Regular dental check-ups are structured to help patients avoid problems altogether. For the problems that do occur, regular dental checkups help us to catch these problems early so they can be resolved with minimal treatment. Allowing us to help you address your dental fear can save you much in treatment time and expense (not to mention restore your smile to a healthy, confident look and feel!).

We take pride in the many patients we’ve helped to overcome their dental fears here, for good! Many of these patients began their care with the help of Oral Sedation, which creates a fully-relaxed state. This also eliminates most or all memory of treatment afterward.

I am also Certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) for those who desire a deeper level of sedation. Throughout any treatment that includes sedation, you will be monitored by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

In addition to a gentle touch, we also feature advanced technology for many procedures. These enhance comfort and reduce treatment time, many decreasing treatment time and numbing requirements by 50 percent. Our patients know us for the comfort level they receive. However, fearful patients also appreciate that we schedule treatment at a pace that is comfortable based on individual preferences.

Don’t wait until an emergency need occurs. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free Consultation. We’ll discuss your and options to enhance comfort throughout your visit. Before an emergency need arises, let’s design a customized plan to create a healthy, beautiful smile!

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Being Afraid Of Dental Visits Fairly Common

posted: March 08, 2018

Most of us know someone who enjoys roller coaster rides or scary movies. Quite frankly, I’m not one of them and not afraid to admit it!

Yet, I know that a scary thought to many people is a visit to the dentist. Those who experience fear or anxiety associated with dental visits are plentiful — nearly 75 percent of the adult population by some estimates. And, an estimated 5-10 percent of those can be categorized as ‘dental phobics.’ These people have such intense fears of dentistry that they avoid care until something becomes so painful that they have no choice.

Unfortunately, what prevents fearful patients from having regular dental care is a past, traumatic experience in a dental office, more often than not. When a dentist continues to work on a patient who is not fully numb or indicating discomfort, the damage inflicted can be lifelong.

What the individual is left with is a looming fear of dental care. And, the health of your mouth has been found to be even more vital to overall health than ever.

Recent research has shown that the bacteria of gum disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This systemic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction and impotency.

As a dentist who is experienced in caring for fearful patients, I understand that past traumas are difficult to set aside. I know these fears are common and try to reassure these patients that they have nothing to be ashamed of, not in our office anyway.

My entire team is focused on providing gentle care to all patients at every visit. Our desire is to provide a positive experience from the time an individual walks through our front door through the time they check out.

Here, each person is treated with respect, compassion and to the highest standards possible. We’ve also incorporated advanced dental technology and techniques to enhance every aspect of treatment, regardless of the procedure.

For example, we use a ‘silent’ drill. Rather than a high-pitched whine, these make a gentle whir sound. Another example is our CEREC 3D technology. This creates crowns and implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth) in one visit. This eliminates the need for the patient to have to return for a separate placement visit and have an additional numbing.

For new patients with dental fears, I often offer oral or I.V. sedation. For many, sedation helps them to relax through their initial visits so, in many cases, they come to relax on their own. Many, after only one or two visits, state they no longer need a sedative.

Oral sedation is a pill that is taken prior to one’s visit. By the time the patient arrives to our office, he or she is in a relaxed state. We seat them immediately in a comfortable treatment chair and administer numbing medications while they are in this relaxed state.

I.V. sedation, for which I am certified, is an ‘in-the-vein’ drip of anesthetic. This creates a deeper ‘sleep state’ for patients with a greater amnesiac effect. However, oral sedation also erases most (if not all) memory of the procedure. It also has a faster recovery time.

Both are safe and patients are monitored throughout treatment with trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

As a dentist with a track record of helping hundreds of fearful patients achieve healthy, confident smiles, I know sedation options are but a piece of the puzzle to feeling good about dentistry. When it comes to a patient who has no fear of being in pain and enjoys achieving the look and feel of a healthy, beautiful smile, that comes from a relationship of trust.

This is where once-fearful patients find a solution. In knowing they are in the hands of people who care about their comfort, will never rush them, and respect their unique needs and concerns, our patients are able to enjoy smiles they are proud to share!

If fear has kept you from achieving the healthy, appealing smile you have only ‘hoped for,’ call to request a no-charge consultation appointment. This visit occurs in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of our office. During this time, I’ll learn about your concerns, make recommendations, and answer your questions.

We are here for you. We know your smile is important to you. Call 843-871-8351 to schedule.

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Slow Down For Effective Brushing & Flossing

posted: February 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aging Process Doesn’t Cause Tooth Loss

posted: December 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted: December 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dental Fear Adds To Time & Costs Required For Eventual Treatment

posted: November 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Comfort Is Always A Priority

posted: September 14, 2017

A dental visit isn’t on the top of most lists when it comes to ‘favorite things to do.’ Dentistry, for some, conjures up thoughts of being uncomfortable, surrounded by sounds of a drill or visions of sharp instruments. Some patients anticipate discomfort so much they actually feel pain without being touched.

I understand that it can make one feel vulnerable to lay back on a narrow treatment chair. Plus, the mouth is a sensitive area and, since the patient can’t see what’s taking place, this gives an anxious patient an even higher feeling of vulnerability. Even for 6-month dental cleanings.

In one study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health, over 100 adults undergoing dental cleanings were assessed on a scale to gauge dental anxiety. In the conclusions was “They were anxious because they expected pain, women being more anxious than men.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21959662)

While women had slightly more anxiety, the levels of anxiety were not significantly different between gender nor age groups.

As a dentist who has dedicated a career to helping patients feel relaxed and comfortable during dental visits, I know that a dental visit can be a pleasant experience. My team and I are proud that the majority of our patients would readily agree.

Yet, we also understand how some can’t help but be anxious when it comes to dental procedures. For people who have dental fear, often as a result of a traumatic dental experience in the past, we strive to build a relationship of trust, which is the foundation of any good dental visit, in my opinion.

While we incorporate many features to make a patient’s visit more comfortable, start to finish, the basis of a good dental visit comes from the patient KNOWING that they are in hands that are gentle and care about them. This is why we carefully select new technology and use new techniques that enhance patient comfort.

For example, our drills are unique in that they don’t make the high-pitched whine that have some patients white-knuckled in the treatment chair. Our drills make a gentle whirr that is much more relaxing. Yet, these devices do a superb job with precision and efficiency.

In addition to ergonomically-designed treatment chairs, headsets with music, and wall-mounted monitors, patients can opt to have sedation added to treatment. This includes oral sedation, which is in pill form and provides a relaxed state throughout treatment. I am also certified to administer I.V. sedation, which is often referred to as ‘twilight sleep.’

I.V. sedation is especially helpful for patients who have high levels of fear associated with dental visits and also for ‘dental phobics.’ Dental phobics are those who typically avoid dental care until something becomes so painful they have no other alternative. Many experience rapid heartbeats or even break out in a sweat just walking into a dental office.

Both sedation options erase most, if not all, memory of the dental procedure. With both, trained staff and specific safety monitoring equipment are used throughout the procedure.

Today’s dentistry can provide people with confident smiles that are healthy and beautiful. Why let anxiety or fear prevent you from a smile that can be an advantage to appearance, self-confidence and self-esteem? Arrange a free consultation to discuss your smile. We’ll meet in our private consultation room and sit in comfortable arm chairs as I answer your questions and explain your options for a smile that will complement your appearance and overall health.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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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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