Posts for tag: oral hygiene
While you may most associate professional dental cleanings with that “squeaky” clean feeling you have afterward, there is a much higher goal. What is also referred to as “non-surgical periodontal therapy,” these cleanings seek to remove bacterial plaque and tartar (hard deposits) not only from the visible portions of the tooth but also the root surfaces (scaling), so as to reduce the risk and occurrence of periodontal gum disease.
For generations, this was primarily achieved by dental hygienists using hand-held instruments specially designed to manually remove plaque from tooth surfaces. Since the 1950s, though, a new technology known as ultrasonic or power scaling has become more prevalent in use. Initially only used in the outer most portions of the gum tissue (the supra-gingival area) power scaling is increasingly employed to clean the sub-gingival area, much closer to the tooth roots. As this technology has developed, it’s been shown to be just as effective, if not superior in some cases, to manual scaling for removing plaque and tartar.
Ultrasonic or power scalers work by emitting high vibration energy that crushes and removes plaque and calculus (tartar). The resulting shockwaves also tend to disrupt bacterial cell function. The hygienist uses water to flush away the dislodged calculus. They have a number of advantages over manual scaling: they’re quite effective on deep gum pockets, especially when specially designed tips are used; they require less time than manual scaling; and when used correctly power scalers are gentler to tooth structures.
However, they do have a few drawbacks. Because they produce an aerosol effect, power scalers can project contaminants from the patient’s mouth into the atmosphere, requiring special protective equipment for the hygienist. They’re not recommended for patients with hypersensitive teeth, especially regarding temperature change, or for teeth with areas of de-mineralization (the loss of mineral content in the enamel). Care should be taken when they’re used with implants or porcelain or composite crowns — specially designed tips are necessary to avoid scratching the restoration. They may also have an effect on cardiac pacemakers.
In the end, the best approach is a combination of both power and manual scaling techniques. Depending on your individual needs, ultrasonic scaling can do an effective job in removing plaque and tartar and help you avoid gum disease.
If you would like more information on ultrasonic cleaning techniques, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Cleanings Using Ultrasonic Scalers.”
Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.
Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.
Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.
To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
- Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
- Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
- Do you floss daily?
Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!
Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:
- Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
- Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
- Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
- Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
- Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!
Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!
Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!
To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
Gum or periodontal disease is a condition in which “biofilms” or dental bacterial plaque sticks to teeth around the gum line in the absence of good oral hygiene. If left untreated, it causes inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues of the teeth that can result in “pocketing,” gum recession and bone loss that eventually leads to loose teeth, followed by no teeth! And for about 10 to 15% of those having gingivitis or stage 1 periodontal disease, it can get worse by progressing into chronic periodontal disease. However, the good news is that a conservative and simple treatment called root planing combined with good daily oral hygiene may return your gum tissues to health, and even eliminate the need for gum surgery.
Most of the time, root planing is performed with local anesthesia (numbing shots) in the areas requiring treatment. Anesthesia is an important part because you should always feel relaxed and comfortable during treatment. Because inflamed gum tissues may be quite sensitive, these numbing shots enable us to accomplish our goals and thoroughly remove the problematic material from your teeth's roots.
Root planing or deep cleaning is a routine dental procedure usually done in conjunction with scaling, the removal of the more superficial deposits on the tooth surfaces. Root planing involves physically planing (scraping) the root surfaces of the teeth to remove calculus, bacteria and toxins that are ingrained into their surfaces so that the attached gum tissues can heal. It is carried out with manual hand instruments, ultrasonic electronic instruments or a combination of both for your comfort and best results.
If you have ever had halitosis (bad breath), you know it can cause you to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. And while the odor is typically a primary concern, determining what is causing it is a task we can assist you with resolving. This is especially true when you experience bad breath outside of those times when you've just consumed pungent foods and drinks such as coffee, garlic or raw onions. For example, it is quite a different scenario to have family members, friends, co-workers or even total strangers consistently complaining or using body language to denote your bad breath. If the later best describes your situation — and be honest with yourself — then you need a thorough dental exam to discover the ultimate cause (or causes) of your halitosis. This is especially important because so many people are unaware that there can be numerous oral and/or general health concerns triggering their bad breath.
Most unpleasant mouth odors arise from the more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, with several dozens of these bacteria being the primary culprits for producing foul odors. And while food particles left between teeth can be key contributors to bad breath, the tongue or more specifically, the back of the tongue, is the most common location. Dry mouth is another cause for bad breath, as evident by the dreaded morning breath we all experience from mouth breathing as we sleep. Bad breath is also caused by certain medical conditions such as liver disease, lung infections, diabetes, kidney infections or failure and cancer.
The good news is that we can work with you to develop an effective treatment for your bad breath. And if necessary, we can work with your physician on a total treatment plan should your condition be due to health conditions outside your mouth. However, if your bad breath originates in your mouth, we may recommend any or all of the following to return your mouth to optimal oral health:
- Oral hygiene instruction to learn the proper ways to brush, floss, scrape your tongue and use mouthwashes
- Denture hygiene instruction for proper cleaning and maintenance of both full and partial dentures and bridgework
- Periodontal (gum) therapy that includes professionally cleaning your teeth (scaling), smoothing your teeth's root surfaces (root planning) and possible antibiotic therapy
- Removal of tooth decay where large, open cavities (caries) are present
- Repair of broken fillings
- Removal of wisdom teeth (third molars) with gum flaps
- Treatment of yeast infections (candidasis)
To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.”
Ready To Take The Next Step?
If you want to address your own concerns with bad breath, contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan. You will find yourself smiling and laughing more once you are confident you have a clean, healthy mouth.
We are often asked about the role the tongue plays with bad breath or halitosis, as it is known medically. The truth is that everyone will experience it at some point in life; however, there can be a number of reasons for its cause. Some of these include:
- Consuming odorous foods and/or drinks such as coffee, onions and garlic. This is usually just a temporary condition that can be resolved by brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. Also consider chewing gum containing xylitol, a sugar-free gum that both promotes saliva flow and reduces tooth decay.
- Diabetes, a disease caused by a faulty metabolism of sugar, as well as diseases of the liver and kidneys can also cause bad breath. Be sure to always let all your health care professionals know if you have any unusual symptoms or you been diagnosed with any of these or other illnesses.
- Poor oral hygiene, which causes gingivitis (gum disease), is one of the most common reasons for bad breath. And if your gum disease is progressive, you could eventually lose your teeth.
- If you use tobacco and regularly drink large amounts of alcohol, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of having halitosis.
- And lastly, if you do not drink enough water to maintain proper hydration, you can develop bad breath.
There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, many of which can cause bad breath. And the back of the tongue is where these bacteria typically produce Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC), the culprits responsible for the worst odors attributed to halitosis.
As for cleaning your tongue, there are two common methods. You can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, or you can use a tongue-scraper. The latter can generally be purchased at a drug or discount store. The keys to remember are that a clean, healthy tongue should be pink in color and not have a yellow or brownish coating.