Do you know about the mouth-body connection? Studies have shown that the bacterial infection known as periodontal disease has been linked to chronic health problems like stroke, coronary artery disease and premature, low birth-weight babies. Our dentist and hygienists are trained to spot the signs of gum disease and help reduce the infection, sometimes even reversing the damage.
Tooth decay, also know as caries or cavities, is preventable. While it might not be life-threatening, tooth decay can greatly impact the quality of your life.
A diet rich in sugars and starches can result in tooth decay. This is caused by the waste product of the bacteria that feed on the bits of food that remain after you eat. Bacteria produce acid, which eats away at the enamel of the teeth. They also produce plaque, which can bond to your teeth to become tartar, which is a cause of gum irritation and eventually gum disease.
Your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. Hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth. Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede, or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.
Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, also called gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
Periodontal simply means “the tissue around the teeth.” Periodontists specialize in the treatment and surgery of this area, which is often characterized by gum disease. Plaque is the most common element causing gum disease.
Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care and regular dental checkups will minimize the risk of gum disease. Gum disease ranges from mild (gingivitis) to moderate (periodontitis) to the severe (periodontitis). Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.
Common problems associated with gum disease:
- “Long” teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth)
- Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
- Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
- Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
- Tooth loss or tooth movement
The effects of gum disease can be damaging to your dental health. However, through proper preventive care and oral hygiene, you can avoid problems associated with gum disease.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem.
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.
A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, though some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth, or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions.
Innumerable studies and research have agreed on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – as early as infancy.
The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later, teaching brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
- Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
- Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
- Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
- Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.