Heart Disease and the Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Heart Disease and the ImportanceDid you know that poor oral hygiene could increase your chances of developing heart disease? Practicing good oral health habits isn’t just an important part of preventing tooth decay; it’s crucial in maintaining your overall health. But how are heart disease and oral health connected? What we’ve come to understand is that bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels, which can increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart and in turn cause an elevation in blood pressure thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

We can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Brushing and flossing combined with annual check-ups will help to fight the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease. Check out these oral hygiene facts and make sure to establish a routine to ensure a great smile and a healthy life.

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Eating healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or apples help clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
  • The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
  • Nearly 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases and oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
  • Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in teens than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
  • Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.

Issues that go untreated can end up costing a lot more than routine visits to your dentist. Prevention through daily cleaning and regular office visits is the best for both your health and your budget. Remember, regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to start taking serious care of your teeth and mouth.

The Benefits of Periodontal Laser Treatment

Traditionally, the methods used for periodontal treatment included scaling and root planing, a way of physically removing plaque and tarter deposits beneath the gum line. We now have, however, an additional tool for treating periodontal disease: the laser.

The Benefits of Periodontal LaserLaser treatment for gum disease is the use of laser light energy to vaporize bacteria and infected tissue in a deepened gum pocket. During the procedure, topical local anesthetic is provided.

It is important to note, however, that laser gum therapy is not usually prescribed as a treatment alone. Most often it is used in conjunction with scaling and root planing. You may be wondering, “What benefits does laser treatment provide that are not afforded by traditional periodontal therapies?”

Here are the five top reasons why we recommend laser periodontal treatment to our patients when it is an appropriate treatment option:

  1. Less pain = less anesthesia. Because laser treatment is less invasive, it tends to cause less discomfort. This means that usually, the only pain blocker needed is a simple topical anesthetic.
  2. Sterilization: Simply put, lasers sterilize the treatment site as they work and leave a sterile wound behind when finished, reducing the risk of further infection.
  3. Minimal Bleeding: A bonus for anyone, especially those taking blood thinners, laser gum therapy causes less bleeding than scaling and root planing.
  4. Less Swelling: The less invasive nature of laser therapy equates to less swelling in patients.
  5. Almost No Post-op Pain: Because swelling is minimized, we send you home with less discomfort.

Ask us how we can help you take good care of your gums with a combination of laser and traditional periodontal therapies.

The History of Bone Grafting

History of Bone GraftingThe concept of bone grafting is nothing new. In fact it has been an important part of medicine as far back as the early 1600’s and in recent years has become a standard procedure for people who need a dental implant or have had a traumatic jaw injury. Shortly after the invention of the microscope, the Dutch doctor Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone grafting operation on a soldier with a damaged skull. Unfortunately, back then doctors didn’t have the knowledge or bone grafting materials that we have today and in order to save the soldier, Jacob van Meekeren was forced to use a piece of dog bone as implant material. Van Meekeren was pleased with the surgery’s success, but it wasn’t until the soldier returned asking to have the implant removed that van Meekeren discovered just how successful it really was!

In the 1600’s, the Christian church looked at things a little differently and this poor soldier with a piece of dog bone in his skull was excommunicated after the church considered him to be part dog. What was upsetting for the soldier aided in the discovery of how well bone grafting actually worked. In the process of attempting to remove the bone graft, van Meekeren discovered that the bone had healed too well and was actually irremovable!

Bone grafting developed over the next 150 years and by 1821 the first graft of tissue from one point to another of the same individual’s body, known as an autograft, was performed in Germany. During WWI and WWII, bone grafting continued to develop as more soldiers became crucially wounded and a need for advanced surgeries became necessary. After another fifty years the first synthetic ceramic product was cleared for use in 1991.

As you can see, bone grafting has a much longer history than you might have imagined! To find out if you are a good candidate for bone grafting, give us a call!

Dental Implants: A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

Dental Implants - 3 StepIt helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Dental Implant eLet us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement.  For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years.  So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants.  In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.

Diabetes and Oral Health – A Two-Way Street

If you, a friend or s family member have diabetes, you may have heard that this common disease increases a person’s risk of gum disease and other oral health problems.  But did you know that this relationship is a mutually distressing one?  Not only does diabetes make gum disease worse, but gum disease can actually make diabetes worse too by interfering with blood-glucose management strategies.

diabetes oral healthHere, we shine some light on the relationship between diabetes and oral health, and what you can do about it.

Diabetes makes it difficult for the body to fight infection.  Whether the infection is located in the mouth, the leg or any other part of the body, poor circulation suppresses the immune system, making it harder for the body’s natural infection fighting responders to do their job.  This means that if you have diabetes, you are more prone to gum disease, and other oral health problems too such as thrush and dry mouth.

On the flip-side, gum disease can also make diabetes worse.  Whenever the body is fighting illness or an infection (such as a cold or the flu or even gum disease), blood sugar spikes are harder to control with regular methods and thus extra monitoring and control-measures are required.

Are you wondering what you can do to minimize this damage?  First and foremost, keep your blood sugar under control using the methods that your physician has prescribed.  Next, practice good oral health maintenance with regular brushing and flossing.  And finally, don’t skip regular trips to the dentist and other oral health professionals.  If you have diabetes, you cannot afford to ignore this important part of your body.

Dental Implants: Are they right for you?

Not everyone is blessed with perfect teeth. Many people would tell you they lack the smile they’ve always wanted due to genetics, disease, and sometimes even accidents. Fortunately, we have a solution. With dental implants, you will no longer feel self-conscious about your smile; but rather delight in having a new and improved grin!

dental implant dWhat are dental implants?

Technically, dental implants are replacement roots for missing teeth.  First, the implant, a titanium screw, is inserted into the jawbone.  Next, a removable or permanent replacement tooth is attached to the top of the implant to mirror the appearance of your natural teeth. Currently, over 3 million people worldwide have dental implants and the technology has reached a point where each procedure has a 98% success rate.

Why should I get dental implants?

Beyond simply improving the appearance of your smile, dental implants include many other benefits:

  • Oral health: Unlike other restorative procedures, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction or alteration of neighboring teeth, thus resulting in improved oral health overall.  Additionally, dental implants do not interfere with access to neighboring teeth, so it is no harder to brush or floss.
  • Longevity: While other dental aides such as dentures and bridges inevitably require replacement, dental implants are extremely durable, lasting many more years and in some cases even a lifetime!
  • Convenience: Dental implants do not ever need to be removed for activities such as eating, drinking and brushing, and do not require adhesives.  They act, look and feel just like natural teeth!

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of dental implants.  However, in the long run, dental implants are usually cheaper than other restorative procedures. Because they do not need to be replaced, the initial investment for implants is well worth the price.

Dental implants are becoming a popular trend in the world!  Call us to set up an appointment to upgrade your smile!

The Evolution of Dental Care: From Finger to Floss

Did you know that the toothbrush is one of the oldest tools that humans still use? In fact, in a survey conducted in 2003, Americans chose the toothbrush as the number one invention over the car, personal computer, cell phone, and microwave. This may come as a shock in a day and age obsessed with technology, but it just goes to show how much value we place on our pearly whites. But it makes you wonder… how have people kept their teeth clean throughout the centuries? How did the toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss come into existence and how have they evolved over time?

The Evolution of Dental CareOne would assume that the first toothbrush was surely the finger, but evidence has shown that as far back at 3500 BC to 3000 BC chewing sticks were used in Babylonia. These chewing sticks were essentially a stick from an astringent tree with a frayed end that acted as bristles to clean teeth. These chewing sticks have also been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Their predecessors are still commonly used in certain areas of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America and are known as miswak or mswaki sticks.

When excavating Ur in Mesopotamia, ornately decorated toothpicks were found that dated back to 3000 BC. Other archaeological digs have recovered various tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones, and porcupine quills as the earliest toothbrushes and toothpicks. An ancient Sanskrit text on surgery dating back to the 6th century describes severe periodontal disease and stresses oral hygiene; “the stick for brushing the teeth should be either an astringent or pungent bitter. One of its ends should be chewed in the form of a brush. It should be used twice a day, taking care that the gums not be injured.” Pretty sound advice, even by current standards! Ancient Greek and Roman literature referenced the use of toothpicks to keep their mouths clean, and ancient Roman aristocrats kept special slaves for the sole purpose of cleaning their teeth. Imagine that job!

Ancient Chinese writings from around 1600 BC portray chewing sticks that were derived from aromatic trees and sharpened at one end to act as a toothpick. In the thirteenth century, the Chinese began to attach boar bristles to bamboo, essentially fashioning the first toothbrush. The optimal choice for bristles was taken from the back of the necks of cold climate boars, generally found in Siberia. Traders introduced these toothbrushes to the West and they quickly gained popularity. At that time Europeans were brushing their teeth by dipping a linen cloth or sponge in sulfur oils and salt solutions to rub away tooth grime. This was referred to as “The Greek Way”, as Aristotle had recommended this method to Alexander the Great. As these toothbrushes spread from East to West, in the West they preferred softer horse hairs over the coarse boar bristles, yet horses were deemed too valuable for the sake of toothbrushes, making boar bristles popular well into the early 1900’s.

Fast-forward to 1780 and we meet a man named William Addis of Clerkenwald, England. Addis was sitting in Newgate Prison for allegedly inciting a riot. The method for brushing teeth in jail was to take a rag and dip it in a solution of soot and salt and rub it onto the teeth. Addis believed there had to be a more efficient way, so while he passed his time in jail he began to think up solutions. Spying a broom, inspiration struck him and he took a small animal bone leftover from his meal and drilled holes into it. He then tied some swine fibers into bunches, strung them through the holes, and glued them into place. At this time in Georgian England, refined sugar was being shipped in from the West Indies in mass quantities. This caused a huge increase in the consumption of sugar for Londoners who then suffered from rotting teeth, the only treatment for which was to pull the infected teeth. When Addis was released from jail, he went on to market and sell his toothbrush under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes, which went on to become a very successful business that is still around today.

Toothbrushes continued to be made with animal bone handles and more often than not, boar bristles, although fancy toothbrushes were made with badger hair for those who could afford them. Celluloid handles were introduced in the 1900’s and quickly replaced bone handles. In the 1920’s a new method of attaching bristles to the handle was developed: holes were drilled into the brush head, bunches of bristles were then forced through the holes, and secured with a staple. This method is the same method that is commonly used today.

The next evolution in toothbrushes occurred when Wallace H. Carothers of Du Pont Laboratories invented nylon in 1937. Nylon bristles quickly overtook animal hair bristles for sanitation and cost-effective purposes. Although boar hair bristles often fall out, do not dry well, and are prone to bacterial growth, they strangely still account for 10% of the toothbrushes sold worldwide. The new nylon bristled toothbrushes were sold as “Doctor West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush” due to its more hygienic properties.

With World War II looming in the background, British and American housewives were instructed to waste nothing, which translated to no more bone handles for toothbrushes. Bone handles had long been popular for things like toothbrushes, knives, guns, and handles for many more items. The shift to celluloid was a natural progression as soup bones were needed more than ornate bone handles. World War II gave oral hygiene an unexpected boost. The soldiers in World War II were expected to brush twice daily, a habit they brought home with them, likely due to the fact that Trench Mouth had become so rampant during World War I.

And what about toothpaste? Well, ancient Egyptians were making a “tooth powder” as far back as 5000 B.C.E. It was made from ox hooves, myrrh, eggshell fragments, and pumice. No device was found with the remnants of the tooth powder, which is why it is assumed that the finger was the first actual toothbrush. Other early tooth powders contained mixtures of powdered salt, pepper, mint leaves, and iris flowers. In Roman times, urine was used as a base for toothpaste. And since urine contains ammonia it was likely an effective whitening agent. In later times, homemade tooth powder was made of chalk, pulverized brick and salt. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte regularly brushed his teeth with an opium-based toothpaste. In 1873, Colgate mass-produced the first toothpaste in a jar called Crème Dentifrice. By 1896, Colgate Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible tubes. Finally, by 1900, a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was developed, and by 1914 fluoride was introduced and added to the majority of toothpastes on the market at that time.

And what of floss? Researchers have found floss and toothpick grooves in the teeth of prehistoric humans. But it wasn’t until 1815 when a New Orleans dentist named Levi Spear Parmly promoted flossing with a piece of silk thread that floss really gained notoriety. Levi went on to be credited for inventing the first form of dental floss. By 1882 the Codman and Shurtleft Company of Randolph, Massachusetts began mass-producing unwaxed silk floss for commercial use. In 1898 Johnson & Johnson received the first patent for dental floss.  Dr. Charles C. Bass then developed nylon floss, which performed better than silk because of its elasticity. Today floss is still made of nylon.

Who would’ve thought that the history of dental care would be so fascinating? And who would’ve guessed that the toothbrush we use today evolved from a stick and was perfected by a convict? Today, there are over 3,000 patents worldwide for toothbrushes. Regardless of how they got here, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are a necessity in our daily lives.

FAQs Regarding General Anesthesia for Oral Surgery

Here in our office we perform a variety of treatments including dental implants, facial reconstruction and teeth removal. If you have recently been diagnosed with a condition that requires any of these types of treatment, you will likely be required to go under general anesthesia. 

For some people, impending anesthesia can induce a bit of anxiety. We completely understand what you are feeling and believe that proper education can help put your fears at ease. The following are some of the most common questions our patients have before “going under”.

FAQ-Regarding-General-AnesthesiaWhat exactly is general anesthesia?

General anesthesia is a medically induced loss of consciousness (also called coma) that affects your entire body. This administration of a variety of medications is extremely beneficial for both our patients and our oral surgeons.

The purposes of general anesthesia include:

  1. Analgesia (loss of pain)
  2. Amnesia (loss of memory)
  3. Immobility
  4. Unconsciousness
  5. Skeletal muscle relaxation.

 

Is anesthesia safe?

Due to many advances over the past 25 years, the risks of anesthesia are very low. Certain types of illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, can increase your anesthesia risks. Still, even very sick patients are routinely brought through major operations safely.

Adverse events are very rare. The specific risks of anesthesia vary with the particular procedure and the health of the patient. You should ask your oral surgeon about any risks that may be associated with your specific condition.

What should I know before I come in?

Before you go to have your procedure completed under general anesthesia, here are a few requirements:

  • Have a responsible adult accompany you to drive you home.
  • Do not eat or drink anything  for 8 hours prior to surgery.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Do not wear contact lenses, jewelry, or dentures during the time of your
  • Do not wear excessive makeup, lipstick, or nail polish on day of surgery.
  • Make sure to notify your oral surgeon of any illness, cold, sore throat, or upset stomach.

Are there side effects I should be aware of?

There are a few different side effects of general anesthesia. The most common are nausea, sore throat, sleepiness, and shivering. However, effects may vary greatly with each patient — it all depends on how your body reacts to it. It’s a good idea to consider any prior experience(s) with general anesthesia to get an idea of to know what to expect during your next oral procedure.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any remaining questions you have. We are happy to answer them!

Bacteria’s Great Odyssey to The Pulp

If a tooth’s pulp, the innermost layer, becomes infected it is in grave danger. Without proper prevention or early treatment, the tooth can die and fall out. So how does a tooth reach this ruinous point? In this blog post, we will examine bacteria’s journey to infection of the pulp.

Bacteria's Great OdysseyBacteria Packs its Bags, Forms Plaque

As we all know, certain bacteria found in the mouth can cause serious problems. These harmful residents are gluttons for the lingering sugar in your mouth and produce an acid byproduct that strips enamel and weakens teeth.

Bacteria Makes Friends With Common Goals: Tooth Decay

Bacteria then groups together to form plaque (a clear, sticky film) and tartar (hardened plaque) which will adhere to teeth in the absence of proper hygiene habits. Beyond their sticking power, these substances allow bacteria to dwell in one area so all the damage they do is very concentrated. Accordingly, tooth decay in these areas can occur rapidly, causing a cavity.

Post-Cavity Voyage

When a cavity develops, the best treatment is to visit us to place a dental filling as soon as possible. If the cavity is left unattended to, decay continues. These bacteria burrow even deeper into the tooth until they access the tooth’s pulp. At this point the bacteria causes an infection with the power to kill the tooth. This infection can even spread into the jaw, mouth and rest of the body.

Bacteria Meets Its Final Destiny in Our Office

Thankfully, this infection spread can be halted with preventative hygiene habits and treatment of any dental cavities. If you suspect you have bacteria embarking on the journey described above, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. As with all ailments, early diagnosis is your best course of action.