The ‘Dreaded’ Root Canal – Far More Comfortable Today Than Its Reputation.

At Riverside Dental Arts, we tend to recoil when we hear the illustrative slant, “…as bad as a root canal,” since we know, using modern techniques, a root canal is far from its terrible reputation.

Of course, having any dental treatment that involves drilling into a tooth is something we all wish to avoid. However, when necessary, today’s root canals can save a natural tooth while being far more comfortable than the cringe-worthy procedure it has been labeled to be.

In most cases, the procedure for a root canal is similar to that performed for filling a tooth (cavity repair). Like a filling or a crown (cap), a root canal can help to save a tooth from tooth loss. The difference is a filling or crown repairs and protects the tooth structure above the gum line, whereas a root canal repairs and protects it in its root system — below the gums.

When is a root canal needed?

To understand the need for a root canal, let’s look at the tooth itself. Consider that each natural tooth is held by the jaw bone by a root or roots. These roots are like ‘legs’ that have a center portion with a narrow tunnel inside. These tunnels are what contains the nerves, blood vessels and other soft tissues of the tooth.

The contents of these tunnels are actually known as a tooth’s pulp chamber. The pulp helps nourish and hydrate the tooth, providing it with resiliency and strength. The pulp is also what involves natural teeth with other parts of the body.

For example, the pulp extends from the roots and into the jaw, which is fed by its blood vessels. This is one reason why the jaw bone shrinks in the absence of natural tooth roots.

The pulp also holds nerves that carry signals to the brain. For example, when you drink hot coffee or eat ice-cream, the pulp is what signals the tooth it has come in contact with these substances.

For several reasons, however, the pulp can become infected. This can be the result of a crack or fracture, cavity, or injury to the tooth. Symptoms typically include pain and swelling in the area.

A root canal is designed to save the tooth by removing the dead nerve tissue and infection that is occurring inside its root. Without resolving this infection, the tooth will most likely require removal.

Dr. Kenneth Black

In our office, Dr. Black performs most root canals. He brings a particular level of skills to the procedure to create optimal comfort and efficiency. He begins by administering

numbing medications with a gentle hand.

He begins by using a small drill to make an opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp chamber. Using special tools, Dr. Black removes the infected nerve and cleans the canal inside the tooth.

He then dries and fills the chamber with a special material. To further protect the tooth, a crown is normally placed. Without the crown, reinfection is a possibility.

Why is saving a natural tooth so important?

Each tooth has a role and, as mentioned prior, it does not stand alone. A tooth interacts with other parts of your body while providing support to neighboring teeth. Saving a tooth helps to prevent future problems from occurring to other teeth and keeps the jaw bone that supports it at a healthy mass.

While a root canal is designed to avoid tooth removal, like any medical or dental procedure, there are no guarantees that it will be successful in all cases. While our success rate is excellent, rare circumstances can require tooth removal after all. For instance, a tooth root may have a crack in it, making it impossible to seal the canal and prevent reinfection. 

The good news is, if you find you need a root canal, you can rest assured that the procedure will be performed with optimal comfort and efficiency. As with all procedures at Riverside Dental Arts, we will use gentle, skilled, and compassionate hands.

New patients are always welcome. If you or someone you know is in need of regular dental care or has a specific need, please call 910-254-4555 to learn more. We also offer a free consultation to answer your questions and discuss how we may be the right dental office for you.

Posted in cavities, Crowns, Dental Care in Wilmington, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, root canals, Sore, tooth ache, Tooth Loss, Tooth Repair, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on The ‘Dreaded’ Root Canal – Far More Comfortable Today Than Its Reputation.

Dental Implants – A Lifetime Value!

Like most, I grew up being taught the value of a hard-earned dollar, learning early that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” This is what prompts us to carefully weigh the long-term value of the purchases we make. Getting the most from our dollars begins with opting for what will give us the best outcome long-term.

As a dentist, providing our patients with the best value in smile options has always been my goal. This includes tooth replacement options. Over the years, I’ve seen how tooth loss is actually a debilitating problem for many people.

Think about it… losing teeth can lead to problems while eating. This is the result of bone shrinkage (known as ‘resorption’) that occurs when tooth roots are no longer present in the bone.

When dentures or partials are first made, they are shaped to ‘wrap’ existing contours in the mouth. However, bone loss flattens the foundation, changing the snug hold of dentures and partials. This can lead to uncomfortable rubbing on tender gum tissues, causing many people to chew food less or resort to softer foods with less fiber.

Feeling debilitated due to tooth loss doesn’t end with a compromised diet. Tooth loss can also create psychological problems for some people. One way this was brought to light was presented at a 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research, held in conjunction with an annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research.

During the meeting, a research study was presented on findings that depression and anxiety are associated with tooth loss. In the study, researchers used data gathered in 2010 through The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. This survey encompassed responses from over 451,000, of which more than 76,000 had experienced tooth loss.

Of those who were missing teeth, almost 17 percent reported depression and over 13 percent reported anxiety. Study participants were all over 19 years of age and there was an even representation of males and females. The sample also had a balance of ethnic groups, with approximately 68 percent whites, 13 percent blacks, 12 percent Hispanics, and 6 percent other.

Comparatively of all those surveyed, depression and anxiety were significantly different in tooth loss participants versus those without the condition. (Learn more about this survey at: International & American Associations for Dental Research. “Tooth loss linked to depression, anxiety.” ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320111903.htm

Because of the advantages to both physical and psychological well-being, many people are opting for dental implants over dentures and partials. Being so ‘ideal’ as far as a tooth replacement option, why don’t all individuals choose dental implants?

Because the fees for dental implants are all ‘up front,’ many people perceive them as a more expensive option. Although implants may seem, initially, more costly than dentures or partials, they are actually a far better investment for a number of reasons.

1). After a dental implant is placed and the final teeth attached, your investment is intended to last your lifetime. And, dental implants have one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates — up to 98 percent by some estimates.

2). Because Dental implants are constructed from a material that biologically bonds with living bone (known as titanium), they are not rejected by the body. This means that once the implant is placed in the jaw bone, it can be depended on to serve as a stable tooth root replacement.

3). The teeth attached to implants do not experience cavities, need root canals, or cause problems for neighboring teeth. Although having all treatment costs upfront can make dental implants appear as a larger investment, dental implants are actually a savings when considering the future expenses to maintain other tooth replacement options.

4). Because dental implants are held in your bone, they recreate stimulation needed to help the jaw bones sustain mass. This halts the process of bone loss and its associated problems.

5). Without the process of bone loss, you are also able to avoid associated changes in facial appearance. These include deep wrinkles around the mouth, the formation of jowls, a pointed chin, and a mouth that appears to sink inward.

6). Since dental implants have the same, sturdy foundation that natural teeth enjoy, implants do not reply on neighboring teeth to support replacement teeth (as with crown-&-bridge combinations).

7). With dental implants, having the same foundation of natural teeth – the jaw bone – they are able to restore dependable biting and chewing. You can eat all the foods you love again and enjoy a healthy, satisfying diet.

Considering dental implants? Begin with a no-charge consultation by calling 910-254-4555. During this time, I’ll explain options that may be best for your needs and goals. If desired, our Financial Coordinator will also meet with you to discuss ways you can make easy monthly payments for implant treatment, often without a down payment and no interest charged.

 

Posted in Cavity repair, Cosmetic Dentures, Crown & Bridge, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Implants, Financial Plans, Full Dentures, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Oral Health & Wellness, Partials, Payment Plans, root canals, Tooth Loss, Tooth Repair, Tooth Replacement, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Dental Implants – A Lifetime Value!

Statistics Show Men Not As Diligent When It Comes To Their Smile

Having good oral health has taken on new light over the past few decades, thanks to an enormous amount of research. In addition to avoiding cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease, a healthy mouth is now understood to be a necessary component of having good overall health.

Numerous research has shown that the infectious bacteria of gum disease can cause inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body. This is because the bacteria of periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Gum disease has been linked to diseases or medical conditions such as some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.

That in itself should motivate people to be highly-committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home combined with twice-a-year dental checkups and cleanings. Yet, when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, men, especially, are falling short.

Research findings published by the Journal of Periodontology showed that women are nearly twice as likely to see their dentist for dental check-ups than men and are more likely to follow through on recommended treatment. Women in the study were also shown to have better gum health with less dental plaque, calculus, and bleeding. (www.perio.org/consumer/gender-differences)

When it comes to flossing, neither gender was shown to be a winner. Over half of adults in the U.S. (of both sexes) need to get into the habit when it comes to flossing each day. Of those surveyed, only 49 percent reported that they were daily flossers. Even more alarming, 1 out of 3 of those surveyed deemed it normal to see blood in the sink when brushing teeth and were unaware of this being a sign of periodontal disease.

Although the benefits of a healthy smile are often unknown or deemed low-priority, Americans seem to be more tuned-in when it comes to the appearance of a smile, which is a fairly high-ranking factor in how we deem the attractiveness in an individual. A national survey reported by the American Dental Association (ADA) revealed that a smile outranks eyes, hair and body as the most attractive physical feature. (www.dentistryiq.com/articles/de/2009/02/survey-finds-smile-is-most-attractive-physical-feature.html)

However, the survey also showed the differences between men and women when it comes to the care of their teeth and gums. The survey estimates that 86 percent of females brush their teeth twice or more a day while only 66 percent of males do so.

Guys! You can do better! Your oral health is an important part of having good overall health, and that applies to both sexes. It is important to have dental check-ups every six months as well as being committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home.

Your at-home care routine should include brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes per time. Use a soft to medium tooth brush and avoid scrubbing in a back-&-forth motion. (This can cause damage to tooth enamel and wear away gum tissues.) Hint: if your tooth brush bristles splay out after a month or so, you’re pressing down too hard.

It is also important to floss daily. This removes food particles caught between teeth that a tooth brush can’t dislodge. If flossing is too awkward, purchase a water flosser. These are affordable and are proven to be equally as effective as flossing manually. For people with large hands or manual dexterity issues, they are also easy to use.

The tips above will help you avoid oral problems, such as gum disease and cavities. This means you’ll also be able to avoid or minimize costs for treatment and time in a dental chair. However, the advantages to your overall health – as research has shown – are priceless.

Could you be better at maintaining your oral health? Let’s create a clean slate by helping you achieve a healthy mouth. Call 910-254-4555 to begin with a no-charge consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss ways to create a healthy smile that supports good overall health.

Posted in Arthritis, Beautiful Smiles, Bleeding Gums, cavities, Cavity repair, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Diabetes, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, Heart Disease, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Tooth Loss, Tooth Repair, Tooth Replacement, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Statistics Show Men Not As Diligent When It Comes To Their Smile

Having A Dry Mouth Creates Extra Challenges For Your Oral Health

Do you feel your breath is not-so-fresh sometimes? For many of us, it occurs when our mouths are dry. However, having a dry mouth can cause problems far worse than bad breath.

In every mouth, there is a certain amount of bacteria. That’s normal. When we brush our teeth thoroughly twice a day, we help to keep bacterial levels under control so they don’t over-accumulate and cause problems.

But, when oral bacteria reproduce beyond what is manageable, a clear warning sign is the unpleasant odor of bad breath.

Bad breath can occur from certain foods (like garlicky shrimp) or those anchovies you love as a pizza topping. Occasional bad breath is not the issue here. It is persistent bad breath that is a warning sign there is a deeper problem.

A dry mouth allows oral bacteria to hang out in the mouth, where they reproduce. As they amass, this can lead to inflamed gums and, eventually, gum disease. Gum disease symptoms include frequent bad breath and tender gums that bleed when brushing. It is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Xerostomia, commonly known as ‘dry mouth,’ is a frequent state of oral dryness. Saliva, the mouth’s natural rinsing agent, helps to continually move oral bacteria out of the mouth. This keeps bacteria levels under control.

When saliva flow is depleted, however, bacteria remain in the mouth longer. The longer they remain in the mouth, the faster they multiply. As oral bacteria reproduce and accumulate, they initially form a sticky film known as plaque.

When plaque is not thoroughly removed each day through brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into a mass of bacteria, called tartar (or calculus). This is a cement-hard form of bacteria that can no longer be brushed away. For sustenance, this colony of bacteria eats into tooth enamel and attacks gum tissues.

Occasional dry mouth can occur from consuming alcoholic beverages, coffee and as a side effect of some medications. Sugary drinks that contain caffeine (such as tea and colas), give the mouth a one-two punch of oral bacteria growth. Sugar provides an ideal food for bacteria reproduction. When sugar is combined with the drying effects of caffeine, oral bacteria have a heyday!

Some medications, including antihistamines and some prescriptions for depression and incontinence, can contribute to dry mouth. Certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux, sinus infections, and diabetes can also cause dry mouth. Having a sinus infection or mouth breathing (including snoring) cause oral dryness as well. And, smoking is a major cause of dryness in the mouth.

What is the best way to deal with a dry mouth?

We begin by performing a thorough oral examination on patients who have a persistent dry mouth to determine its source. Once the reason has been found, we recommend measures that can often resolve the problem quickly and simply. These include:

– Brush at least two minutes, twice daily. Use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue with your toothbrush after brushing teeth.
 – Floss daily. If this is difficult or awkward, consider purchasing an electronic flosser.
 – Drink lots of water throughout the day. (Colas and sports drinks do not count!) If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse that replenishes saliva (available over-the-counter).

Having fresh, confident breath begins with a clean, healthy mouth. If you have symptoms of gum disease or have oral dryness on a regular basis, call 910-254-4555 to schedule an examination.

Posted in Bad Breath, Bleeding Gums, cavities, Cavity repair, Dental Care in Wilmington, dry mouth, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Sore, tooth ache, Tooth Loss, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Having A Dry Mouth Creates Extra Challenges For Your Oral Health

Why We Are Known For Exceptional Patient Comfort

We begin each new patient appointment with a private conversation in our Consultation room. This enables me to learn more about each individual – how he or she feels about their smile and their perception when it comes to dentistry.

An important element in these conversations is learning their past experiences in dental offices. Did they have good experiences? Were they regularly involved with their dental caregivers or did they just go sporadically? Do they dread dental visits, or even fear going?

To us, it’s important to know how each person feels about dental care before they are even seated in a treatment chair. Knowing they have dental anxiety, for example, allows our entire team to tailor our touch, pace, and communication to the individual, hopefully easing anxiety and feelings of worry.

What I’ve found, over the years, is the most beneficial part of patient care is in building a relationship of trust. No amount of sedative or ‘laughing gas’ is going to help a patient overcome dental fears or anxiety. These only mask the root source. The best solution, we have found, is the patient’s understanding that their comfort is as important to us as it is to them.

Having dental fear or anxiety is pretty common. While we have many patients who state they truly “enjoy” their dental visits, we know this doesn’t apply to all. Some patients arrive a tad antsy but leave smiling. A few come trying to camouflage some nervousness but, fortunately, are always relaxed at check-out.

Our goal, with every patient, is to have you smiling from the time you arrive to the time you leave, knowing our entire team is totally committed to providing optimal comfort throughout each visit, whether for a 6-month cleaning or dental implant placement.

So, how do we achieve this? If you have dental fears or anxiety, here are some things to remember that may help you to be more relaxed at upcoming visits:

• Good Relationships With Patients: PLEASE, never keep your fears or concerns under wrap. Your worries matter to us! Tell us about your feelings – where they originated and what you feel. If you had a traumatic dental experience in the past, share that. If certain smells or sounds trigger anxiety, tell us. If you have a bad gagging reflex that embarrasses you, tell us. We want to know these things so we can adjust your care accordingly.  You may also be surprised to learn that your feelings are more common than you realize. For every need, there is, indeed, a solution. We want to work towards that for you.

• Well-paced appointment times: When a nervous patient has a lengthy wait in the reception area, it simply adds to their level of anxiety once they are seated in a treatment chair. We understand this. While emergency needs can sometimes cause a delay in our ability to ‘run on time,’ for the most part we are able to see patients within ten minutes of their arrival. This is because we carefully pre-schedule patients according to the specific time needed for each treatment and based on what that patient will require without interruption.

• Good communication with patients: Fear of the unknown is an issue in many things. To us, it makes sense that patients lying on their backs on a narrow surface while unable to see what is taking place in their mouths may cause uneasiness. For this reason, we talk to the patient during care to keep each informed to the extent that is comfortable for them. In addition to keeping patients informed on what is being done, we explain its necessity to their care. During this, we also find patients relax as the fear of the unknown is removed.

• Relationships of trust: While many patients are very relaxed, we know this has evolved from a sense of trust that has developed once they know our goal is to their comfort throughout their care. We NEVER want to hurt a patient and will always do everything to avoid doing so. Once patients realize they needn’t worry about perceived pain, they relax.

• An environment of respect: When meeting new patients, some worry that they’ll be lectured because they haven’t seen a dentist in quite a while. Or, if they smoke, they worry that this will spark a lecture with each visit. We don’t see our role as lecturers, but rather as true ‘care givers’ who will keep you informed while supporting you in your quest for good oral health. Each patient is respected here and given exceptional, compassionate care at every visit.

When we see our patients, we see much more than their smiles. We see people who have busy lives, concerns, feelings, and goals. We see individuals who have become so close to us that they are like family members. We care about them. And, we want them to feel ‘cared for.’

If you, or someone you know, has had an unfortunate dental experience in the past, please urge them to schedule a free, no obligation consultation appointment. We’ll sit in our private consultation room and get to know one another. I will ask questions and answer questions. From there, the decision to proceed – or not – is in your hands. But, we know that the right dental team can convert once-fearful dental patients into people with healthy, confident smiles!

Call 910-254-4555. Or, visit our web site for a brief video to hear actual patients discuss their relationships with Riverside Dental Arts: www.riversidedentalarts.com/testimonials.php

 

Posted in Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Emergency, Dental Fear, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Dental Implants, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Oral Health & Wellness, Sedation Dentistry, Smoking Cessation, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Why We Are Known For Exceptional Patient Comfort

Adults Who Have Crooked, Crowded Teeth Have An Alternative To Braces

We all want a beautiful smile that is one of our best features, right? But, did you know that having straight teeth can also be an advantage to your oral health?

Naturally, teeth that are aligned properly make it possible to do a better job when brushing and flossing. When a toothbrush and floss can reach those tight angles where oral bacteria to tend accumulate, you are less susceptible to cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.

However, another advantage of teeth that are properly aligned may surprise you. Teeth that are positioned correctly work together harmoniously when chewing, speaking and even yawning. When the bite is misaligned, this clash can radiate to the TMJ (temporo-mandibular joints), or jaw joints, causing stress and strain.

The jaw joints lie just in front of the ears and hinge the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull.  Issues that relate to TMJ problems (known as ‘TMJ disorder’) can include frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, ear ringing, facial pain, jaw popping, difficulty opening the mouth fully, and sore shoulder and neck muscles.

Some people are unaware of having TMJ disorder since many of its symptoms are seemingly unrelated to the bite or jaw joints. Some spend years going from specialist to specialist, having test after test run, only to find minimal, if any, relief.

This is why is it so important to be committed to your 6-month dental exams. Among other things, this is an opportunity for your dentist to check your bite alignment and look for signs of night-time grinding.

During sleep, misaligned teeth can prompt the jaws to seek out a comfortable fit. In a number of cases, this leads to night-time clenching and grinding, known as bruxing. Bruxing can result in worn teeth as well as broken, chipped or fractured teeth.

And, the importance of the unified movement of these joints goes even further. Some sleep apnea has also been linked to ‘malocclusion’ (misaligned bite). (See article “TMJ & Its Link To Headaches, Sleep Apnea”: dental.sleepreviewmag.com/2015/07/tmj-and-its-link-to-headaches-sleep-apnea/).

As a dentist who has completed advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorder, I’ve restored many patients to full comfort through adjustments to their bite. Some adjustments require only minor reshaping of certain teeth or the placement of crowns to bring the bite back to a harmonious position.

However, some bite disparities are such that realignment is needed. This is one reason I completed the training to become Certified in Invisalign. This comfortable, virtually ‘invisible’ alternative to braces helps adults avoid the awkward look and uncomfortable feel of brackets and wires used in traditional braces.

Invisalign moves teeth with clear, custom-contoured molds that are designed to snap snugly over teeth. These can be removed for eating and brushing. Invisalign gently guides teeth into proper alignment in a time frame similar to or, in some cases, even faster than traditional braces.

At Riverside Dental Arts, we want your smile to be healthy, beautiful and supportive to your overall health. With proper bite alignment, you can also avoid many uncomfortable, even painful, problems that can stem from TMJ disorder.

Let’s discuss your symptoms or smile goals. Begin with a free consultation to determine if Invisalign may be right for you. Call 910-254-4555.

While you’re here, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy, monthly payment plans, if desired. Most are interest-free with no down payment required.

 

Posted in Beautiful Smiles, cavities, Cavity repair, clenching & grinding teeth, Cosmetic Dentistry, crooked teeth, crowded, Crowns, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Financial Plans, Gentle Dentist, headaches, Invisalign, migraines, New patients, Oral Health & Wellness, Payment Plans, Smile Makeovers, Sore, TMJ & Bite Realignment, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Adults Who Have Crooked, Crowded Teeth Have An Alternative To Braces

April Is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Although we like to emphasize the importance of annual screenings for oral cancer, April provides an opportunity to stress the need through a month long, national campaign. Begin by visiting the American Dental Association’s (ADA) consumer updates on oral cancer at: www.mouthhealthy.org/en/Oral-Cancer-Slideshow?utm_source=mouthhealthyorg&utm_medium=mhhomerotator&utm_content=oral-cancer-awareness

Although Oral Cancer hasn’t received the publicity of cancers such as breast or colon cancer, it is important to be aware of warning signs, especially since Oral Cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers.

• Oral Cancer occurs in the tongue, tonsils & oropharynx, gums, base of the mouth and in the lips and salivary glands.
• Oral Cancer takes the life of one American every hour, on average.
• Only 50 percent of those diagnosed with Oral Cancer will live more than 5 years.
• The dismal survival rate is due to Oral Cancer being typically found after the disease has advanced.
• Treatment for Oral Cancer can be horribly disfiguring.
• Oral Cancer occurs twice as often in men as in women
• The average age of diagnosis is 62. However, more than a fourth occurs in ages 55 and younger.
• Oral Cancer has increased over recent years due to links to the human papilloma virus (HPV).
• A small percentage of those who are newly diagnosed with Oral Cancer will develop cancer nearby, such as the larynx (voice box), esophagus or lung.

These statistics are alarming, which is why we use advanced technology to detect Oral Cancer at early stages. The Oral Cancer screening technology ViziLite gives our patients a process for early detection that is performed painlessly and quickly.

Quick, painless screening for early detection of Oral Cancer

Quick, painless screening for early detection of Oral Cancer

ViziLite uses a light source that illuminates suspicious areas in the mouth that are not always obvious in a visible exam. If found, we can advise on immediate steps to take.

Below are some signs and symptoms of Oral Cancer. Please share these with loved ones as well as the need to react without delay.

• Swelling, lumps, rough or crusty spots on the lips or inside the mouth
• White, red, or speckled spots in the mouth
• Difficulty swallowing or moving the tongue
• Numbness or pain on the face or in the mouth
• Persistent pain in the ear
• Sores that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
• Feeling something is caught in the the throat or having a persistent sore throat
• Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice

It is important to react to any of these signs promptly. If you have not had an Oral Cancer screening in the past year, we hope the month-long focus of National Oral Cancer Awareness Month gives you new awareness of the need for regular screenings. It is important to be proactive when anything in your mouth or throat does not clear up within two weeks.

Call 910-254-4555 for more information or to schedule an appointment. If desired, ask to begin with a no-charge consultation.

Posted in Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Gentle Dentist, mouth sore, New patients, Oral Cancer, Oral Health & Wellness, Sore, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on April Is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Why We Are Fans of Dental Implants

I have been selecting, placing and ‘restoring (attaching replacing teeth) dental implants for decades. I’ve not only receiving advanced training in the diagnosis and placement, I have continued to take continuing education that have kept me on the cutting edge of the latest techniques, materials, and technology in the realm of implant dentistry.

I am also an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). This high level of credentialing requires completion of an extensive written and oral exam after having met the following to be eligible:

√ Dedication to providing the best possible dental implant treatment to patients

√ Experience in surgical placement of dental implants and/or the replacement of teeth?

√ Completion of at least 300 hours of postdoctoral or continuing education related to implant dentistry

It was important for me to add this achievement to my other credentials in order to reinforce my support of this tooth replacement option.

Obviously, my dedication to providing this service to my patients at an optimum level is significant. Yet, the reason I make such a commitment to offering dental implants is based on the remarkable results I’ve seen.

In our office, we believe our patients deserve the very best — the very best in comfort, treatment outcomes, preventive measures, and commitment to positive experiences. With each treatment we offer, behind it comes a great deal of devotion to the ultimate success and happiness of the patient.

Below are the benefits of dental implants that have motivated so many patients to opt for this superior tooth replacement option.

• Dental implants are supported by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots. This provides the same, sturdy foundation as your natural teeth once had.
• Biting and chewing with dental implants is comfortable and dependable. Implants eliminate worries of embarrassing or uncomfortable slips.
• Dental implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bone. This halts the process of bone loss that can lead to changes to facial appearance and challenges with the secure fit of dentures or partials.
• Dental implants come in many shapes and sizes, each designed to fit individual needs.
• Dental implants do not rely on the crowning of neighboring teeth for support.
• With the stability that dental implants provide, people are more confident in social settings.
• Because dental implants make it possible to eat a healthy diet and chew foods properly, they contribute to good overall health.
• Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. They will never decay, require root canals, or cause harm to adjacent teeth.
• Dental implants have one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates, including hips and knees.
• The placement procedure for dental implants has been simplified over the years. Patient comfort is always a priority.
• With many types, you can have teeth attached at the time of placement.

I invite you to schedule a no-charge, no obligation consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss which types may be best for your needs as well as comfort options. I’ll answer your questions thoroughly so you can make the decision that is best for you.

Call 910-254-4555 for your free consultation.

 

Posted in Crowns, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Implants, Full Dentures, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Partials, Tooth Loss, Tooth Replacement, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Why We Are Fans of Dental Implants

Pancreatic Cancer – New Findings Show It May Be Triggered By Periodontal Disease

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 47 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. This percentage increases with age, with over 70 percent of adults over 65 having the disease.

Although periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, researchers are delving into the harmful effects of the bacteria of gum disease, including links to the development of cancer.

In newly shared information by eCancer News (www.eCancer.org), recent studies have added further weight to the link between periodontitis and overall cancer risk. One study indicates that periodontitis, advanced gum disease, was associated with a 24 percent increased risk. (ecancer.org/news/13173-evidence-mounts-of-link-between-severe-gum-disease-and-various-cancers.php)

Of particular interest of late has been the association between oral bacteria of periodontitis and pancreatic cancer. While pancreatic cancer accounts for just 3 percent of all cancers in the U.S., the five year survival rate is only about 5 percent. (www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer.html)

Research now suggests that this potent oral bacteria may have a role in the development of pancreatic cancer. (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116093603.htm)

Scandinavian researchers at the Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Finland, along with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have been studying how the oral bacteria of advanced gum disease correlates to certain cancers.

Their most recent findings, published by the British Journal of Cancer, has shown an association with the bacteria of periodontitis and the formation of pancreatic cancer by triggering a reaction that can lead to its onset. They also found that the bacteria affects the production of certain enzymes, which can lower the effectiveness of the immune system.

This follows an earlier study that tracked 68,273 adults for a ten year period. The periodontal status of each was evaluated, with adjustments being made for age, sex, socio‐economic status, oral health, dental treatments and the presence of diabetes.

During the 10 year follow-up, 797 cancer deaths occurred, providing a cancer mortality rate of 11.36 per 10,000 for participants with and without periodontitis. However, the cancer rates for participants with periodontitis showed a higher risk overall for developing cancer, with even higher rates for developing pancreatic cancer.

The researchers felt the results of the study showed that advanced gum disease is clearly linked with the development of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. As with other studies, these results demonstrate that the infectious bacteria of gum disease are able to spread from the mouth to other parts of the body and activate mechanisms of tissue destruction that relate to cancer.

There is no better time to ensure your gums are healthy than now. In addition to having a healthy mouth and protecting your teeth, good periodontal health obviously correlates to your overall health. As a matter of fact, diabetics are encouraged to maintain healthy gums, which helps keep blood sugar levels under control. (www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/FTDP_July2013_2.pdf?la=en)

Having healthy teeth and gums requires more diligence than merely brushing twice a day and flossing daily. It is necessary to have regular dental checkups and cleanings to remove built up tartar. Tartar (or ‘calculus’) is a hardened form of plaque. It destroys healthy gum tissues and bores into tooth enamel. As the bacteria accumulate, gum disease can develop.

Symptoms of gum disease are:
• tender gums that may be swollen in certain areas
   • seeing blood in the sink when brushing teeth
   • frequent bad breath
   • gums that turn darker in color, to red versus a healthy pink
   • gums that pull away from teeth (recession)
   • pus pockets that form on teeth

However, gum disease begins silently. Early gum disease may not cause any obvious symptoms. Too, many people are not aware of the symptoms of gum disease and tend to ignore initial warning signs. This simply allows gum disease to worsen.

If you have not had regular dental visits or are experiencing signs of gum disease, call 910-254-4555 to schedule an appointment. Or, ask to begin with a free consultation.

Posted in Bad Breath, Bleeding Gums, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Diabetes, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Systemic Inflammation, Tooth Loss, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Pancreatic Cancer – New Findings Show It May Be Triggered By Periodontal Disease

Begin Warmer Weather Outings With A Fabulous Smile!

It’s the middle of March and the weather is still chilly. With today’s temperature and cold rain, it’s hard to imagine the warm weather that’s right around the corner. And, fortunately, it is!

We residents of Wilmington and surrounding areas love how the climate complements outdoor gatherings. With school breaks, graduations, weddings, and coming holidays, we have many outside opportunities to enjoy friends and family before us.

Does having your picture made at these gatherings remind you that the appearance of your smile is less-than-sparking? For people who have stained, missing, chipped, broken or crooked teeth, it’s not unusual to feel awkward having photos made when everyone else is saying “Cheese!”

For people with smile flaws, many tend to ‘hold back’ when smiling. Some smile with lips only or conceal their smile with a hand. Having the confidence to smile broadly and joyfully, we believe, should be the best part of every smile.

To correct problems that distract from the smile you want, consider scheduling a free consultation. During this time, we can discuss options that can recreate your smile into one you’ll be proud to share. Some options are:

• Porcelain Crowns or Veneers: Porcelain provides a beautiful opalescence with the look and feel of natural teeth. Porcelain also has the best durability of all materials used in esthetic dentistry and is more resistant to staining. The process is generally completed in just two visits.

• Inlays & Onlays: When a tooth requires a filling, porcelain inlays and onlays offer a more natural look versus tooth-colored fillings. These are ideal for teeth that do not require a full crown (‘cap’) but need a durable, natural-looking option for repair.

• Bonding: This is a process that ‘paints’ a material onto the surface of teeth. It can be shaped to filled in gaps, chips and other flaws. It is shade-matched to the teeth involved in treatment and then polished to provide a natural sheen. Although bonding provides a less-costly option than porcelain, it does not have the durability and longevity of porcelain.

• Invisalign: When teeth are crooked to the extent that it causes bite misalignment, you can avoid the discomfort and awkwardness of brackets and wires. Invisalign uses clear molds that gentle guide teeth into their proper positions. They are comfortable and can be removed when eating or brushing. And, they are virtually ‘invisible’ in a smile!

• Teeth Whitening: A white, bright smile provides a number of advantages. It tends to provide a more-youthful appearance, camouflages some flaws, and alludes to having a healthy mouth of clean teeth. Whitening is very affordable and, when provided by a dental office, is longer lasting than drug store whitening kits. Dental office whiteners also provide a higher degree of whitening, in most cases.

If you’ve delayed having cosmetic dentistry due to fear associated with dental procedures, ask about comfort options. In addition to the gentle touch we are known for, we offer several relaxation features. I’ll be happy to explain those and discuss the one(s) appropriate for you during a no cost consultation.

If the cost of treatment has prevented you from achieving the smile you desire, ask about easy payment options. Some are interest-free with no down payment required. These break treatment costs into monthly payments that fit most budgets.

Why begin warm weather fun without the smile you’ve always wanted? Call 910-254-4555 to request a private, no charge, no obligation consultation. I’ll be happy to make recommendations and answer your questions.

Posted in Beautiful Smiles, Bonding, cavities, Cavity repair, Cosmetic Dentistry, crooked teeth, crowded, Crowns, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Fear, Financial Plans, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Opalescence Go Whitening, Payment Plans, Porcelain Veneers, Sedation Dentistry, Smile Makeovers, Tooth Repair, Tooth Whitening, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Begin Warmer Weather Outings With A Fabulous Smile!

Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body

Could having good ORAL health give you a ‘leg up’ on having better OVERALL health?

I’d like to share some findings that reinforce the need to maintain a healthy mouth. First, allow me to explain why your oral health is now known as a major player in your overall health.

In your mouth, there are millions of bacteria, which are micro-organisms that are taken in via the food we eat, the utensils we use and even our toothbrushes. During a given day, ka-zillions of bacteria enter the mouth. Through saliva flow, a large number of these are moved out of the mouth.

However, saliva is unable to efficiently manage the bacteria reproduction that occurs from today’s normal lifestyle. Most Americans not only eat three meals a day, most of us have a snack (or two) as well. Additionally, our diets are laden with sugar and carbs. These tend to ramp up the reproductive ability of oral bacteria.

Thus, saliva is only able to remove just so much bacteria from the mouth. This is where twice daily brushing and daily flossing come in. When you brush thoroughly (at least two minutes per time) and floss to remove food particles caught between teeth, you help your mouth to more efficiently manage bacteria in the mouth.

As diligent as we try to be when it comes to our oral hygiene routines, very few of us have an ideal regimen. And, add in the many agents in our lives that contribute to oral dryness (such as many medications, caffeine, and a number of health conditions) and you have an environment that breeds oral bacteria beyond what we are typically able to combat.

Your twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings are designed to help remove oral bacteria buildup that has hardened into tartar (or calculus). This is what your hygienist is scraping off teeth during cleanings. Typically, the gums in areas where it exists are especially tender. This is because a buildup of oral bacteria creates inflammation on surrounding gum tissues. So, just as a cut on your finger that turns red is sore, so are the gum tissues under attack from an overload of bacteria.

When the inflammation in your mouth becomes full-blown gum disease, the tissues are weakened. Your overall health takes a hit when the oral bacteria of advanced periodontal disease enters the bloodstream through tears in inflamed gum tissue. Once bloodborne, it can travel throughout the body.

What researchers have found is how the inflammatory nature of gum disease bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Systemic inflammation is a term used often these days, which describes an immune system that has gone haywire. It is a constant simmering that leads to a long list of health problems.

Thus far, oral bacteria from advanced periodontal disease has been correlated to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, some cancers (including prostrate and pancreatic), Alzheimers disease, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and impotency.

For example, the American Diabetes Association shared a review that focused specifically on the relationship between oral pathogens and diabetes, which included the statement: “Many studies conducted during the past decade have focused on a change in approach to studying periodontal infection and its relationship to systemic health and disease. Periodontal diseases are recognized as infectious processes that require bacterial presence and a host response. Risk factors in conjunction with bacteria and the host response can affect the severity of disease, patterns of destruction, and response to therapy.” (clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/23/4/171)

Additionally, a study in Medscape reinforced the association between gum disease and the risk for stroke. One of the authors of the study stated, “results show that individuals who regularly attend the dentist had half the stroke risk of those who do not receive regular dental care.” (www.medscape.com/viewarticle/891550)

And the findings go on and on.

Yet, gum disease is actually easy to prevent. And, when caught early, treatment needs are minimal. All it takes is a commitment on the part of an individual, which includes staying involved with your dentist. Those six-month check ups are structured to help you care for your smile between visits and to provide tips on maintaining proper care at home.

Over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease. I suspect the reason for such an alarming static lies in the fact that gum disease often exists silently. An individual may not have initial symptoms, and then once they emerge, such as tender gums that bleed when brushing, are often ignored if “nothing hurts.”

While many people pay the most attention to the teeth seen in their smile in a mirror, the visual of “everything’s okay” is misleading. It’s what’s occurring underneath the gums that effects the health of teeth and, as research shows, your entire body.

Let us help you enjoy a healthy, confident smile while giving your overall health a leg up! Begin with a thorough examination. Or, call 910-254-4555 for a free consultation to discuss any concerns you have, such as dental fears or time constraints. We are here to help you achieve a healthy mouth – for life!

Posted in Arthritis, Bleeding Gums, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Fear, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Diabetes, dry mouth, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, Heart Disease, mouth sore, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Sore, Systemic Inflammation, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body

Simple Ways To Avoid Bad Breath.

Although the title of this blog begins with the word ‘simple,’ for people who struggle with bad breath, there is nothing simple about it. Persistent bad breath is a real problem for some people – once they realize they have it. When they do, it becomes not only worrisome, it is downright embarrassing.

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an unpleasant odor that emanates from the mouth. There is no mystery there. For many who struggle with bad breath on a regular basis, the mystery is often in where it is coming from.

There are many sources of bad breath. When we first wake up, after a morning of coffee, having a hot dog with onions for lunch, or battling a sinus infection – having bad breath can be bothersome although these are essentially temporary problems.

The most common cause of persistent bad breath, however, is periodontal (gum) disease. This is an overload of oral bacteria in the mouth that are attacking gum tissues. Their accumulation eventually leads to an infection in the mouth where gum tissues are being destroyed.

According to a report submitted by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, over 47 percent of American adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. (www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/periodontal_disease/index.htm) I believe the reason for this prevalence is in gum disease’s ability to exist without obvious symptoms. Too, gum disease symptoms are often easily ignored or assumed ‘normal,’ such as seeing blood in the sink while brushing teeth.

Below are some sources of bad breath and how to ‘freshen up’ once the source is found.

• Periodontal disease: Some symptoms of gum disease include swollen, tender gums; gums that turn darker in color (verses a healthy pink); and gums that bleed easily when brushing. However, gum disease also begins silently and you may not notice any symptoms until it is advanced. Having regular dental checkups is the best way to ensure your gums are in good shape.

• Dry mouth: The term for persistent oral dryness is Xerostomia. Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands are unable to keep the mouth ‘rinsed’ of oral bacteria. Thus, oral bacteria are able to accumulate in your mouth, which is a warm, moist and dark environment – an ideal breeding ground for oral bacteria. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), aging, mouth breathing, and some diseases. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent explanation of dry mouth and its causes. (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/symptoms-causes/syc-20356048) Also, read on to learn more about dietary contributors to oral dryness.

• Certain foods and beverages: If you indulge in morning coffee and perhaps a cola in the afternoon, you may be surprised to know that caffeinated beverages have a drying effect on oral tissues. This also applies to tea, chocolate and spicy foods. And, when you add sugar to your coffee or tea, you rev up the reproduction of oral bacteria by providing them with their ‘super food.’ Are we suggesting you give up your morning coffee or iced tea with lunch? No! However, knowing these are contributing factors to oral dryness should prompt you to follow each cup of coffee or can of cola with a glass of pure, filtered water. This will help to hydrate your whole body as well as your mouth.

• Snoring and mouth breathing: We all wake up with not-so-fresh breath. This is because oral bacteria accumulate in our mouths throughout the night. However, add the drying effects of mouth breathing or snoring and bacterial levels are even higher. This means that all those tiny organisms eating and breeding in your mouth have an ideal setting for thriving – and they thrive on your gum tissues.

• Some diseases: Certain health problems can make bad breath a regular occurrence. GERD is one as well as sinus infections and diabetes, all of which can also leave you more vulnerable to frequent bad breath. Some treatments for certain diseases, such as cancer, also make you more susceptible to oral challenges.

• Smoking: If you smoke, you’re likely aware of having a higher risk for many cancers, heart disease and stroke. Yet, many people ignore the fact that the mouth, with its moist, absorbent tissues, is the entry point for tobacco smoke and its many toxins. The poisonous fumes from this smoke are drying to oral tissues. Your risk for gum disease is higher, which includes a higher risk for persistent bad breath along with stained teeth. You are also at greater risk for oral cancer, which has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers.

The key to having fresh breath is keeping oral bacteria levels to a minimum. It’s ‘simple’ to do, as twice-daily brushing and flossing are tried-&-true ways to have a healthier mouth. Consider using a tongue scraper to remove oral bacteria embedded in the tongue. Also, drink plenty of unsweetened water throughout the day.

Combine this routine with dental exams and cleanings every six months and you’ll likely avoid the repercussions of gum disease and the embarrassment of being the one with bad breath.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with gum disease, call 910-254-4555 to schedule an exam. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment and can lead to tooth loss. You are also welcome to begin with a free consultation to discuss your oral health or goals for an attractive, confident smile.

 

Posted in Bad Breath, Bleeding Gums, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Diabetes, dry mouth, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, Heart Disease, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Cancer, Oral Health & Wellness, Smoking Cessation, Sore, Tooth Loss, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Simple Ways To Avoid Bad Breath.

Why Replace Missing Teeth? And How You Can.

Too many adults in our nation assume that losing a natural tooth is normal. Yes, accidents contribute to some tooth loss but the number one reason for losing adult teeth is periodontal (gum) disease. And, gum disease, although too prevalent among adults, is anything but ‘normal.’

Unfortunately, gum disease exists in an estimated 47 percent of American adults. This is an astronomical figure considering the level of advanced healthcare in this country. Although an adult mouth is designed to contain 32 teeth (wisdom teeth excluded), adults ages 20 to 64 have about 25 remaining teeth. (www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/ToothLoss/ToothLossAdults20to64.htm)

By the age of 50, an American adult has lost 12 teeth, on average. For adults 65 to 74, 26 percent have lost all their teeth.

The need to replace missing teeth is great. Even a tooth that’s not visible in a smile should be replaced promptly at the time of removal or loss. Why?

Each tooth is designed to serve as a part of a whole. Tooth roots not only provide stimulation and nourishment to the jaw bones that hold them, they help to keep neighboring teeth in proper alignment.

For example, a missing lower tooth allows the teeth on both sides to tilt out of their proper positions. The tooth above will grow longer since it doesn’t have a match below to keep it in place. This leads to misalignment.

When misalignment occurs, a number of problems can occur, including teeth that chip, crack or break. Additionally, bite misalignment can lead to night-time clenching or grinding and jaw joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, dizziness, ear ringing and jaw popping.

The best time to replace a tooth is at the time of removal. We advise dental implants since they restore a dependable foundation for biting and chewing. Implants also help to preserve the bone that supports them and gum tissues surrounding them.

The options for tooth replacement are below. The one best for your needs and preferences can be discussed during a private, no cost consultation.

Dental Implants – As mentioned above, dental implants provide a sturdy, stable option for replacing teeth since they are held by the jaw bone. And, since they recreate stimulation to the jaw bone, they halt the rate of bone loss that occurs when natural tooth roots are no longer present in the bone. Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime as well, making them an excellent investment.

Crown & Bridge – Crown and bridge combinations work when one, two or several teeth are missing in one area (as long as a natural tooth borders it on each side). This tooth replacement option involves the crowning of natural teeth on each side. A ‘bridge’ of one or several replacement teeth is placed, which includes the two crowns.

Partials – A partial denture is designed to replace several teeth when natural teeth are still remaining. The partial attaches to existing natural teeth using clasps that are generally undetectable in a smile. Partials help to restore the look of real teeth and preserve the ability to chew and speak.

Full Dentures – When an individual loses all upper or lower teeth, some prefer the option of a full denture. This is a gum-colored base that holds an entire ‘arch’ of replacement teeth. When dentures are first made, they are typically comfortable (once the individual becomes accustomed to eating and speaking with it in place). However, the pressure of a denture on the ridge that supports it contributes to bone loss. This is why a denture can begin to slip or cause uncomfortable rubbing after several years.

When we discuss tooth replacement options with our patients, we want them to understand the advantages and challenges associated with each. For dental implants, the only ‘challenge,’ for some, is the higher expense since implant costs are all ‘up front.’

However, in the long-term, implants provide a much wiser investment. In addition to their ‘for a lifetime’ longevity, they help to protect the health of other teeth along with the bone structures that support teeth.

Dental implants also allow you to eat a healthy diet of foods you love. By eating a nutritious diet and chewing foods properly, you support your overall health. And, people who have no worries about embarrassing slips or clicks are more socially active. Staying involved with others has proven to be a bonus to our overall health. (www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines)

We respect the choices our patients make when it comes to replacing teeth and want you to fully understand each option to help you determine which is best for you.

Call 910-254-4555 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Posted in clenching & grinding teeth, Cosmetic Dentures, Crown & Bridge, Crowns, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Implants, Full Dentures, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, headaches, migraines, New patients, Oral Health & Wellness, Partials, TMJ & Bite Realignment, Tooth Loss, Tooth Replacement, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Why Replace Missing Teeth? And How You Can.

The Oral Health – Whole Body Health Connection

It wasn’t all that long ago when people believed their brains were dormant during sleep. We now know that our brains are busy throughout the night doing housekeeping that fine-tunes it’s ability to serve as an efficient central control system.

The body is a remarkable structure. For it to function at its best, we’ve learned that we have to eat a healthy diet, get ample sleep, avoid polluting it with toxins from cigarettes and drug use, and to keep it reasonably active.

Yet, an emerging factor in having good overall health is how significantly our oral health impacts it. For years, researchers have tracked the close connection between oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease with serious health problems far beyond the mouth.

While early research showed a correlation between certain strains of gum disease bacteria and diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, they are now able to zero in on what triggers it.

Rather than go into ‘microbiomes’ and other complicated details, remember this: The health of your mouth influences the health of your body. As a dentist, this makes perfect sense.

Realize that your mouth is mostly made up of soft, absorbent tissues. Your teeth are actually a small part of the ‘oral cavity,’ although that’s what is most visible when we look in the mirror. These tissues are the first point of contact for most anything that enters the body.

Unlike the nose, which can filter out a certain amount of pollutants, the mouth takes a direct hit from whatever enters it. For example, while people assume the lungs get the brunt of cigarette smoke toxins, it is the mouth that gets the initial dose.

The mouth does a pretty good job of combating problems. But, like anything, it does have its limits. For all the bacteria that accumulates in the mouth, we must remove a certain amount each day for it to manage bacteria levels effectively.

When oral bacteria overload occurs, however, the oral tissues become inflamed. This inflammation is a normal reaction of the immune system, with the white blood cells crying out, “We’ve done all we can! Every man for himself!”

Oral bacteria causes periodontal disease and leads to cavities. However, when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream (through tears in gum tissues), the potential for problems elsewhere may lead to far worse than a cavity.

To give an example, a study of people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) showed that tissue samples taken from arthritic joints had an almost identical makeup to tissues of gum disease. And, to emphasize the connection further, it was found that successful treatment of gum disease could improve symptoms experienced by arthritis sufferers. (www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-100/issue-11/for-your_practice/periodontal-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis.html)

Every week, I read about new findings that connect oral health to our overall health. As a matter of fact, many cardiologists now advise patients to have thorough periodontal exams and necessary treatment prior to surgical procedures. Ob-Gyns are also advising their pregnant patients to tend to their periodontal health based upon links that indicate risks for preterm, low birth weight deliveries. (www.nytimes.com/1996/10/09/us/gum-disease-in-pregnancy-linked-to-premature-low-weight-babies.html)

In the U.S., about a third of adults do not brush their teeth every day or ever floss. These actions require about 5 minutes of one’s time on a daily basis. Having twice-a-year dental checkups and cleanings provides a ‘clean slate’ of sorts, making it easier to manage oral bacteria levels between visits. Yet, some adults assume these visits are optional and only go when something hurts.

Your commitment to oral health could be one of the best ways to avoid other serious problems from developing in the first place. Reconsider your at-home oral hygiene routine and ask us how you can optimize your time at the sink. The pay-off may be bigger than you realize!

If you’ve delayed regular dental visits, we want you to experience the comfortable, respectful environment we provide to our patients. We’ll make sure you enjoy a positive experience while learning easy ways to achieve and maintain a healthy, confident smile.

Call 910-254-4555 to schedule.

Posted in Arthritis, cavities, Cavity repair, Dental Care in Wilmington, Dental Hygiene Cleanings & Check-Ups, Diabetes, Gentle Dentist, Gum Disease, Heart Disease, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Systemic Inflammation, tooth ache, Tooth Loss, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on The Oral Health – Whole Body Health Connection

Go Ahead – Indulge In A Little Chocolate!

It’s Valentine’s Day so I thought I’d address something that many Americans think of when it comes to this day — chocolate!

Over the years, chocolate has been an indulgent temptress. For those who count their calories and fat grams, savoring chocolate has been a guilty pleasure albeit one worth the occasional bite (or two, or three…)!

Like red wine, chocolate has become less of a bad guy based on findings that have shown its antioxidant qualities (when consumed in moderation). When chocolate’s health benefits were brought to light, the general public celebrated with a little less guilt.

Although anything that contains sugar isn’t “good” for your oral health, according to the Cleveland Clinic, chocolate is an indulgence that can be enjoyed from time to time with less regret than many other sweets. (my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16774-heart-healthy-benefits-of-chocolate) Here’s why…

Chocolate comes from a cocoa bean, a plant that contains flavonoids.
Flavonoids are also found in other fruits and vegetables and protect and repair the plant from environmental toxins. This gives these plants antioxidant qualities.

When humans consume plants with antioxidants, the body also benefits.
Antioxidants help to filter out pollutants in the air and repair cell damage.

The flavonoids in the cocoa bean are largely of a particular type, known as flavanols. Flavanols are at the top of their game when it comes to antioxidant qualities. In addition to the cocoa bean, flavanols are found in red wine, cranberries, peanuts, apples and tea.

Not only do flavonoids have antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols are a benefit to vascular health by helping to lower blood pressure, maintain proper blood flow to the heart and brain, and regulating the clotting process.

However, not all chocolate flavanols are alike. When cocoa is processed from the bean and into the form we love, certain steps can greatly reduce the amount of flavanols.

While dark chocolate was once lauded as being chocked full of flavanols, it is now known that it is the processing from bean to truffle that most affects flavonoid content rather than the level of darkness.

Still, dark chocolate is recommended over milk chocolate as milk chocolate tends to have more fat and sugar. You should also consider the form of your chocolate. When a dark chocolate outer shell is filled with sugary, gooey caramel, the advantages of the flavanols are pretty much cancelled out.

Too, a chocolate ‘kiss’ is fine but ten, not so much. An overload of sugar and fats isn’t good for you in any form. Remember to see chocolate as an occasional pleasure rather than as a health benefit. Because, essentially, it is not.

Remember, your mouth is the first part of your body to endure the bombardment of sugar. Oral bacteria react gleefully when sweets (or carbs) are consumed because sugar provides a ‘super food’ they thrive on. And, no one should give these little critters a boost on growth and accumulation.

While there are no lectures here, especially on Valentine’s Day, we do want you to remember your smile. Know your smile is special to not only you, but others! It deserves your very best, every day!

May this day be filled with many smiles!

 

Posted in cavities, Cavity repair, Dental Care in Wilmington, Gentle Dentist, New patients, Oral Bacteria, Oral Health & Wellness, Wilmington Dentist | Comments Off on Go Ahead – Indulge In A Little Chocolate!