Posts for: September, 2018
September is National Gum Care Month, an ideal time to talk about how to keep your gums healthy. Unfortunately, nearly half of adults have gum disease, which can damage the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. In fact, advanced gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss among adults, and it’s associated with other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pregnancy complications. But there’s good news—gum disease is preventable and, in its early stages, even reversible. Here are some tips for taking care of your gums:
Keep up a good oral hygiene routine
Gum disease begins with plaque buildup, so attack the plaque in your mouth with good dental hygiene. Spend two minutes morning and night brushing all surfaces of your teeth, and floss once a day to get rid of plaque that forms between teeth.
Use a soft toothbrush
The American Dental Association recommends brushing gently with a soft toothbrush. Hard bristles can damage your gums and cause them to pull away from the teeth.
Swish with a mouth rinse
Consider using a mouth rinse. Over-the-counter and prescription oral rinses are available to help wash away food debris, reduce plaque and fight gum inflammation.
Say no to tobacco
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease. And it’s not just cigarettes but all forms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes, pipes and chewing tobacco, that raise your risk of gum disease.
Eat a healthy diet
For the best gum health, avoid refined carbohydrates (sugary and starchy foods) and make sure you are getting enough vitamin C, vitamin D and antioxidants (found in berries and green tea, for example). In addition, studies suggest that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risk of gum disease and other inflammatory conditions. These healthy fats are found in many fish, nuts, seeds, soy products and vegetable oils.
Come in for regular cleanings
Professional dental cleanings can remove plaque from the tiny spaces that are difficult to reach by simply brushing and flossing. And once plaque hardens to form calculus (tartar), it cannot be removed during your regular oral health care routine at home. Further, at the dental office we can detect gum disease in its early stages—and the earlier gum problems are caught, the more easily they can be reversed.
Could this durable restoration be exactly what you need to preserve an injured tooth?
There are many reasons our Madisonville, KY, family dentists Drs. Ben and Stuart Baldwin may recommend getting a dental crown. After all, they boast both restorative and cosmetic benefits that could significantly help someone who is dealing with dental issues. A crown is a great way to protect the natural structure of a tooth after it's been damaged while also restoring chewing and biting. In fact, crowns are also instrumental in being able to replace a missing tooth. So, let’s find out whether crowns are right for you.
Crowns are most often used for restorative purposes; however, the ways in which a crown can improve a smile are also endless. You may need a dental crown if you are dealing with:
- A severely weakened tooth due to decay or damage
- A cracked or fractured tooth
- A tooth that has undergone root canal therapy
- An infected tooth
- A missing tooth
In most cases, this hollow, tooth-shaped cap is placed over the crown of the tooth to become its new outer layer. This cap will encapsulate the natural structure and protect it from further harm. This is particularly important because a damaged tooth is weaker than a healthy one and is susceptible to further damage. Placing a crown will restore the tooth’s durability while maintaining its natural structure.
A crown can also be a great option for patients looking to cosmetically improve the shape, color or overall appearance of a tooth. While there are other cosmetic treatment options out there, if your tooth isn’t just damaged but is also malformed or severely discolored then a dental crown will also restore its appearance so that it looks just like the rest of your healthy teeth. Crowns are also made from resilient, tooth-colored materials such as porcelain, ceramic or composite resin, so the only person who will know that you have a crown is you.
Are you missing a permanent tooth? If so, then our Madisonville, KY, dentist will most likely use a dental crown to help fill the gap where your missing tooth used to be. No matter whether you choose to get a dental implant or a dental bridge, a crown will be used to either hold the dental bridge in place or to cover the implant.
If you want to learn more about dental crowns and whether your smile could benefit from restorative or cosmetic dentistry in Madisonville, KY, then call Baldwin Dental Group to find out the many ways in which we can get you a healthy smile.
Periodontal disease may start in the gums’ superficial layers, but it’s not likely to stay there. As the disease moves deeper it can wreak havoc on tooth roots and bone as well as gum tissue attachments. Teeth with multiple roots are in particular peril because of the “forks” called furcations that form where the roots separate from each other. Infected furcations can be very difficult to treat.
We primarily treat gum disease by removing its main source, a thin film of bacteria and food particles called dental plaque that builds up on teeth. To remove it we most often use special hand tools or ultrasonic equipment to vibrate it loose. As the plaque and tartar diminish, the infection begins to wane.
But we can’t be completely successful in stopping the disease if any lingering plaque deposits remain. This especially includes furcations where the infection can cause significant damage to the roots. Although cleaning furcations of plaque can be difficult, it’s not impossible with the aforementioned tools and antimicrobial substances to disinfect the area.
The real problem, though, is access—effectively getting to the furcations to treat them. We may need to perform a surgical procedure called flap surgery where we create a hinged flap in the gum tissue to move it aside and access the root area beneath. Afterward we replace the flap and suture the tissue back in place.
In some cases, the infection may have already caused significant damage to the tissue and underlying bone. We may therefore need to graft gum or bone tissues to these damaged areas to stimulate re-growth. We may also need to surgically reshape the gum attachments around a tooth to make it easier in the future to access and clean the area.
These additional treatments around furcations can be very involved and labor-intensive. That’s why the best outcomes occur if we’re able to start treatment in the early stages of an infection. So, if you notice red, swollen or bleeding gums contact your dentist as soon as possible. Treating gum disease as early as possible will help ensure your tooth roots won’t suffer extensive damage.
If you would like more information on treating 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 “What are Furcations? Branching Tooth Roots can be Periodontal Nightmares.”