Posts for: September, 2014
Not long ago, musician, businessman, and actor 50 Cent (AKA Curtis James Jackson III) joined the growing ranks of celebrities (like Demi Moore and LeAnn Rimes) who have sent out tweets from the dental chair. The rapper, who has had extensive cosmetic work done on his teeth, even live-tweeted an action shot of his dentist giving him an oral exam!
Some might consider this too much information — but we're happy whenever people are reminded of the importance of regular dental checkups. In fact, the “routine” dental exam is truly one of the most useful procedures (and one of the best values) in dental care. Let's “examine” some reasons why that's so.
For one thing, coming in to our office when you don't have a specific problem gives us the chance to talk to you about any concerns you may have in regard to your mouth — or your health in general. In fact, many of the questions we ask and the exam procedures we perform give us an opportunity to detect potentially deadly diseases. For example, simply monitoring your blood pressure may identify a risk for heart disease; or an examination of the oral tissues may reveal the first signs of oral cancer. Both conditions are treatable if caught early on.
Of course, at a dental exam we always look closely at your teeth for signs of cavities. We also check your gums for inflammation or bleeding, which could indicate gum disease. X-rays or other diagnostic tests are performed when necessary. Generally, the sooner we can diagnose and treat any problems we may find, the better (and less costly) the outcome tends to be.
A typical checkup also includes a thorough, professional teeth cleaning with specialized tools, performed by our skilled dental hygienists. This not only makes your mouth look and feel sparkly clean — it also removes the built-up hard deposits (called tartar or calculus) that can lead to bad breath or gum disease.
Once the exam and cleaning are done, we have a good idea of the general state of your dental health. We can then give feedback on your oral hygiene techniques, assess your risk for disease, and make recommendations tailored to your individual needs. And we can do all this in about half an hour.
So talk about it, tweet about it — but don't neglect it! Along with regular brushing and flossing, routine dental checkups are the best way for you to maintain good oral hygiene — and prevent future dental problems.
If you would like more information about the benefits of regular dental exams, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Dental Hygiene Visit.”
If you notice your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth, you’re not alone — it’s estimated that as many as 90% of the population have at some time had the same experience. That doesn’t mean it’s normal, though; in fact, unless you’re pregnant, have a systemic condition like diabetes or take blood-thinning medication, it’s more likely a sign that an infection has caused your gums to become inflamed and tender. The infection arises from a bacterial biofilm that’s been allowed to accumulate on tooth surfaces due to inadequate brushing and flossing.
If not treated, the early form of this infection known as gingivitis can develop into a more serious form of gum disease in which the various tissues that help attach teeth to the jaw become infected and eventually detach. As it progresses, detachment forms voids known as periodontal pocketing between the teeth and gum tissues. The end result is receding gum tissue, bone loss and eventually tooth loss.
If you begin to notice your gums bleeding when you brush, you should make an appointment with us for an examination — and the sooner the better. During the exam we’ll physically probe the spaces between your teeth and gum tissues with a periodontal probe, a thin instrument with a blunt end marked in millimeters. As we probe we’ll determine the quality of the gum tissue — whether the probe inserts easily (a sign the tissues are inflamed) or gives resistance (a sign of healthy tissue). We’ll also determine the degree of detachment by measuring the depth of the insertion with the millimeter scale on the probe.
The presence of bleeding during this examination is a strong indication of periodontal disease. Taking this with other signs we encounter during the exam (including the degree of pus formation in any discovered pockets) we can then more accurately determine the existence and level of advancement of the disease.
While gum disease is highly treatable, the best results occur when the condition is discovered early, before the infection severely damages tissues around the teeth. Being on the lookout for bleeding and gum tenderness and responding to it quickly can significantly simplify the necessary periodontal treatment.
If you would like more information on bleeding gums and other symptoms of gum disease, 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 “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”