Posts for: January, 2018
Tooth decay is a primary cause of tooth damage and loss, with annual treatment costs in the billions of dollars. It arises mainly from oral bacteria, which proliferates in the absence of effective oral hygiene. There are, however, other risk factors besides poor hygiene that could make you more susceptible to this disease.
Many people, for example, have genetically inherited deeper grooves (fissures) and depressions (pits) than the average tooth anatomy. These may be harder to reach with a toothbrush and can become havens for bacterial plaque. Others may have health conditions that indirectly affect the mouth: bulimia or anorexia, psychological conditions that involve self-induced vomiting, or GERD, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, in which stomach acid could regurgitate into the mouth. These conditions could result in a highly acidic mouth environment.
Some medical and — ironically — dental treatments could also increase your tooth decay risk. Some medications can reduce saliva flow, which inhibits acid neutralization and re-mineralization of enamel. Retainers, braces, bite guards or other dental appliances may also reduce the saliva wash over teeth, and can make brushing and flossing more difficult.
There are also risk factors that result from our lifestyle choices. Eating a lot of foods rich in sugars and other carbohydrates, for example, or acidic beverages like soda, energy or sports drinks contributes to the rise of bacteria in our mouths.
There are ways to reduce the effects of these risk factors. In addition to a daily habit of effective brushing and flossing, you should also include semi-annual cleanings and checkups at our office a part of your routine. If you have genetic, medical or dental issues that are out of your control, we can discuss solutions, such as alternatives to medications or different techniques for cleaning around dental appliances. For lifestyle-related factors, you should consider removing the habit or modifying it: for example, snacking at specific times or drinking acidic beverages only at mealtime.
While tooth decay is a serious, destructive disease, it is highly preventable. Addressing all your risk factors, not just hygiene, will reduce your chances of having it.
If you would like more information on tooth decay prevention, 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 “Tooth Decay: How to Assess Your Risk.”
Find out if you are truly doing everything you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean.
Caring for your smile shouldn’t be difficult and yet there are so many people dealing with cavities and gum disease. If you are wondering what you can do to keep these issues from happening to you, then you’re in luck; our Downingtown, PA, general dentist, Dr. Carl Horchos, is here to offer up some simple ways for you to maintain good oral hygiene:
Brushing is Critical
Yes, we know that everyone understands that brushing is necessary for healthy teeth and gums; however, you might be surprised to know that your brushing habits just aren’t up to snuff.
Do you fall asleep before you get a chance to brush your teeth? Do you often forget to brush your teeth in the mornings before hopping in the car to work? Do you rush through your brushing routine? If you said “yes” then it’s time to reevaluate your brushing habits. Here is some advice for you:
- Make sure you brush at least twice a daily, ideally in the morning and again at night before bedtime
- Spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth (set a timer, if necessary)
- Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities
- Replace your toothbrush head every three to four months, or once the bristles start to fray
Don’t Forget to Floss
While most people make a habit of brushing their teeth they don’t often floss as often as they should, or at all! It’s important to floss at least once a day to remove plaque from between teeth. Your toothbrush won’t be able to get into those tight spaces between teeth but floss can. If you only brush your teeth you won’t get your teeth and gums as clean as they should be. To prevent cavities from forming between teeth you should floss daily.
We know this is easier said than done and while our Downingtown dentist won’t say that a sweet treat every now and again will cause irreparable damage to your teeth, if you are someone who consumes a lot of soda (even diet soda), fruit juices, desserts and other sugary treats then you may just find yourself dealing with some serious decay down the road.
Do you have questions about your at-home dental routine? Curious to know what toothbrush will be the best option for you? Do you need to schedule your routine dental cleaning? Then call Chestnut Dental Associates in Downingtown, PA, today.
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.