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Archive for February 2016

Children’s Dental Health Month

Children's Dental Health MonthThe Parents’ Basic Guide to Children’s Dental Health Month

Did you know that an increasing number of preschool children are getting cavities?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research shares that 42 percent of kids, ages 2 to 11, have cavities in their baby teeth and 21 percent of kids, ages 6 to 11, have them in their adult teeth. Dental decay, when left unchecked, could lead to more than just tooth loss. So you’ll want to address these concerns early on. And there’s no better time than Children’s Dental Health Month to make sure your kids are not at risk for dental problems.

The Earlier, The Better

You’re encouraged to bring your children to the dentist when they get their first tooth, within six months. The American Dental Association recommends that kids see dentists at an early age to detect cavities as soon as possible. The early visit also ensures that there are no early signs of damage.

And it allows your children to get comfortable in the dentist’s clinic and to feel safe around the health professional. You’ll have an easier time taking them to the dentist when they get a bit older. No more dragging your 10-year-old.

An early visit during the kids’ dental health month will also introduce your children to the merits of oral hygiene. They will know exactly how to brush and floss, and when to do it. Proper oral hygiene techniques secure good dental health for your children. As parents, you might even learn a thing or two about keeping your kids from bad habits, like thumb sucking.

Month-long Celebration

From a one-day event on February 8, 1949 to a month-long celebration today, the national dental health month for kids offers a wide array of activities. There are health fairs and dental clinic tours. You could take this opportunity to find the right pediatric dentist for your children.

Some places may also offer free dental screenings.

During dental health month, you’ll also learn more about the “evils” of sugar and how to defeat its impact on your children’s dental health. There is more to good oral health than brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly. Your kids also need to have a balanced diet—one that strengthens and protects their teeth.

But just because the month-long celebration is geared toward informing kids, does not mean the adults in the family should not participate. Don’t limit the dental check up to just the kids—turn it into a family event. Make sure you, the spouse, and the grandparents also get dental checkups.

 


Tooth Extraction Expectations

Tooth Extraction Expectations and Recovery Tips

Tooth extraction is one of the most common dental procedures available, but many people are still hesitant about undergoing the process. If you’re up for a tooth extraction, expectations checking and being more informed about it can allay your fears and help you prepare for a quick recovery.  

Reasons for tooth extraction

Several conditions can be a reason for your dentist to order or recommend extraction. Some of these reasons include: a tooth that is too lose for bone grafting; extensive decay; an extra tooth that blocks the growth of permanent teeth; infection or risk of infection; impacted wisdom teeth, and certain medical procedures that require the removal of teeth from the bone. Depending on your specific condition, you may need to undergo either a simple extraction or a surgical extraction.

What to expect pre-surgery

Before the actual extraction, you’ll undergo a thorough dental examination. If necessary, an X-ray may also be taken on the affected area, especially if a surgical removal is a possibility. In some cases, 3D imaging may be required to make sure no vital nerves, arteries and facial structures will be affected.

If surgery is indeed determined to be the best option for you, then you must provide your complete dental and medical history to your dental care team. This is to rule out allergies, contraindications to certain medications, and other considerations for surgery. If your teeth and gums show too much infection and inflammation, you may be asked to take a course of antibiotics for several days before the surgery, as a way of making sure the anesthesia takes full effect during the operation.  

What to do after the extraction

Depending on the anesthesia used, and more so if you have undergone surgery, it may be best to arrange for someone to accompany you to the clinic or drive you home after the tooth extraction.

Your aftercare regimen likewise depends on a case-to-case basis, so make sure to follow the instructions provided by the dentist. As a general guideline, however, the following tips apply to everyone who has just undergone a tooth extraction:

  • Swelling is expected. Applying ice packs to your cheeks can ease the inflammation.
  • You won’t feel pain during the extraction but you may feel discomfort afterwards, especially once the anesthesia wears off. Your dentist will prescribe medication to help you reduce and manage the pain.
  • Follow a soft diet for the first several days. Avoid hot food and beverages. Don’t drink through a straw and don’t make movements that create pressure within your mouth (sucking, spitting, etc.) and disturb the blood clot in the extraction area.
  • Gently swishing your mouth with warm water mixed with a pinch of salt helps relieve the bleeding.
  • Brush and floss carefully, making sure to avoid the area of extraction.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.

 


Do I Really Need A Root Canal?

Do I Need a Root Canal Treatment?

When people hear the words root canal, they often visualize a patient sitting in the dentist’s chair, experiencing pain and discomfort as the dentist goes about the procedure. This popular image is the reason why some people would say “I’d rather have root canal than (do some other random thing I really don’t want to do).”

On the contrary, people must be helped to understand that root canal is actually a procedure that can provide relief from an existing pain in the mouth. While the treatment can cause some level of soreness—like most dental treatments can—once healed, the result is the absence of pain, a much healthier mouth, and greater ease and comfort in eating and speaking.

Are you currently wondering, Do I need a root canal treatment? Here are important things you need to know about this beneficial dental procedure.

What is it?

In the hollow part of the center of a tooth, there is a soft substance made up of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, called the pulp. The pulp chamber (that hollow area) goes on down through canals that reach the tooth’s roots and the surrounding bone. When the pulp inside the chamber becomes infected, inflamed or dead, the pulp is removed, and then the pulp chamber as well as the canals are filled and sealed to prevent the entry of bacteria. This procedure is called root canal treatment or endodontic treatment.

When should a person undergo this treatment?

There are a number of symptoms of tooth pulp or nerve damage that can help a dentist pinpoint whether a root canal treatment is the best solution available for a patient’s specific condition:

Pain. Toothaches are quite common, but if the pain from the living tooth is mostly described as a sensitivity to heat or cold which continues even after the hot or cold stimulus is no longer present, a root canal is a must.

Abscess. If the tooth is dead, on the other hand, and there is an abscess that is possibly causing bleeding or swelling around a tooth, the person will feel pain every time pressure is directed on the tooth. This is also a sign that root canal is necessary.

In this case, a pocket of pus forms around the end of a tooth root or on the outside of the gums—it will look like a pimple from which pus drains.

Severe cavities. If you have tooth decay that has extended to the pulp, a root canal is needed to remove the infected pulp and affected nerves.

Fracture or trauma. When a tooth experiences a fracture that goes deep into the tooth, affecting the pulp and leaving too little teeth above the gumline to make a crown useful, root canal is recommended. During the procedure, a post will be placed down the tooth canal, and this can help restore the fractured tooth.

Likewise, great force trauma can sever and kill the nerve at the end of a tooth’s root. Root canal can help clean out the dead nerve.

Excessive dental procedures. If you have been repeatedly getting treatment for a particular tooth, the constant stress can cause inflammation of the pulp.

Your dentist knows best

If you have observed similar symptoms, pay a visit to your dentist. He or she will take X-rays and perform a pulp test to check your response and determine if root canal treatment is the best recommendation. 

 


TMJ Syndrome Symptoms

TMJ-symptons-and-treatment

3d rendered illustration – jaw bone – side view

TMJ Syndrome Symptoms and Other Relevant Facts About the Disorder

Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ syndrome is a disorder that affects the jaw muscles and the nerves on the temporomandibular joint.

Common Symptoms

Patients who suffer from this condition experience pain while chewing, as well as clicking and popping of the jaw. Other TMJ symptoms include headaches, swelling of the sides of the face, nerve inflammation, blurred vision, ringing or popping sounds in the ears, stiff or saw jaw and/or neck, pain in the tongue, shoulder pain, dizziness, and pain at the base of the tongue. In some cases, patients who suffer from TMJ syndrome may have their temporomandibular joint dislocated.

Causes Of TMJ Syndrome

TMJ syndrome may be caused by different factors that all lead to tightness in the jaw muscles. To date, experts remain unsure whether causes like malocclusion, teeth grinding, poor posture, stress and anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders and excessive chewing lead to TMJ syndrome or come as a result of the disorder.
People who are at a higher risk of succumbing to the syndrome include:

  • Those with poor neck and upper back posture
  • Those who are under stress
  • Women aged between 18 and 44 years old
  • Those who have been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory arthritis
  • Those with poorly positioned teeth
  • Those who have suffered jaw trauma
  • Those who are genetically predisposed to have high pain sensitivity and increased stress response.

How To Diagnose TMJ Syndrome

In order to diagnose whether you are indeed suffering from TMJ syndrome or a similar condition called trigeminal neuralgia, a doctor will need to assess your medical history as well as conduct a physical exam. In most cases, your doctor may refer you to a dentist, an oral and maxillofacial specialist, or an ear, nose and throat doctor. In other cases, your doctor will recommend an MRI in order to check the condition of the temporomandibular joint and rule out other issues.

TMJ Treatment

TMJ is often treated with a combination of over-the-counter medications, stress relief, and relaxation techniques like massage. You may also be asked to switch to soft food and avoid chewing gums.
If you do not respond to these home remedies, your doctor may recommend the use of a dental splint which resembles a mouth guard. This helps keep the teeth in alignment and prevent bruxism. You may also undergo physical therapy in order to help strengthen and improve the flexibility and range of motion of your jaw muscles. In lieu of over-the-counter drugs, your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength pain medicines. For severe cases, jaw or dental surgery may be recommended.


Understanding the Mouth-Body Health Connection

mouth-body health connection

mouth-body health connection

Understanding the Mouth-Body Health Connection

Most people would think that their dental needs and concerns are entirely separate and isolated from the needs and concerns they have for the rest of their body. After all, they visit different specialists whenever they need professional advice and treatments for these aspects of their health. So they don’t often make the connection between, say, their oral health and their sports performance, or their oral health and their ability to concentrate and excel at work.

Making the connection

Dental professionals, however, point out that there is actually a significant relationship between the health of your mouth and the health of the rest of your body.

When your dentist sees you for teeth cleaning, or to pull out a decayed tooth, or to install a dental device like crowns or implants, or to perform procedures like root canal surgery, he is working to improve the condition of your teeth and gums and to help you maintain good oral health over the long term. But aside from these, he can also make note of signs or symptoms visible in your mouth, teeth or gums that could point to other health issues that need to be looked at.

Here are three examples in which dentists can make the mouth-body connection and determine the best way to address the issues:

  • Some oral health problems, such as tooth decay, loss of taste, or yeast infections, may not necessarily be caused by changes to your oral hygiene habits, the products you use, or other dental-related issues. These conditions may actually be brought about by your use of medication for other health concerns. This is why your dentist should be informed about any medications you are taking, new habits or lifestyle changes, or medical procedures that you may be going through, during each visit. This can help them consider different possible causes of dental health problems.
  • Your dentist may also observe possible signs of health conditions that you may not know about yet from checking your oral health. One example would be if you become more prone to mouth infections; this could be a sign that your immune system (which protects the body from infection and diseases) has become compromised, perhaps due to illness, or as a side effect of taking specific drugs.

Upon observing such signs, your dentist can perform related tests and refer you to a physician or a specialist for further observation or treatment.

  • Helping you to pay strict attention to your oral health and habits can ensure that existing medical conditions are not aggravated or affected. Something seemingly harmless, like a mouth infection, can have a serious impact on someone with diabetes, for instance; that’s because the presence of an infection can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. Medical professionals are also studying whether gum disease (like gingivitis) can increase a person’s risk of stroke, heart and kidney disease.

The condition of your mouth can have an impact on your body, and vice-versa. Dental professionals can help you maintain not just excellent mouth health, but overall well-being also.


Oral Cancer Screening | Preventing Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer

The Great Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

Tips to Preventing Oral Cancer

Cancer, despite all the effective treatments for it, is still deemed by many as a death sentence. If not detected early, the likelihood of treatment working is diminished significantly. All doctors say that the key to beating cancer is early detection; therefore, everybody should be active monitors of his or her own health.

That means that you should eat healthily, exercise, do away with vices that compromise oral health, and most importantly, be screened annually if you’re over 40 years of age (the age when the level of your antibodies is reduced and your autoimmune system’s efficacy diminishes) and once every three years if you’re younger than 40.

Growing more prevalent nowadays are cases of oral cancer. A lot of people think there’s a very low chance that it will happen to them because it’s not as widely reported on as other cancers, but nobody really should discount the risk of developing it, especially with the amount of suffering it can create. And not only those, but treatment is also very expensive; plus, oral cancer, even if treated successfully, can leave permanent damage—you could lose your ability to eat normally, speak, and others.

These are some of the reasons why oral cancer screening is so important. It’s just a very small fraction of the cost of the actual treatment for cancer, and if you can avoid intense suffering and a whole host of medical expenses, why shouldn’t you?

Oral Cancer Screening Procedure

Dentists can perform a thorough inspection in just a short span of time; they will look for irregularities in your mouth which may indicate early stages of the disease, such as a mouth sore that won’t heal even with proper medication, or lumps on the lips that are irregularly shaped, or red and white spots in the mouth, swollen lymph nodes, suspicious lesions in the mouth, et cetera. If you don’t have any of these indicators, your dentist will still provide you valuable information or tips so you can prevent oral cancer from happening to you.

Now, if your dentist finds any of these indicators, he or she can quickly refer you to an oral surgeon who will have a look into your mouth and perform a biopsy, which is a more reliable detection procedure for oral cancer. If the biopsy reveals you’re positive for the disease, the best course of treatment will be determined for you to halt cancer’s rapid progression.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is this: Don’t live with regret that you could have done something to prevent suffering, but you were too lazy or you didn’t take the risks seriously. Oral cancer screening is easy and remember; as cliché as it may be, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Contact your local Prescott Valley Dentist today.


Receding Gums| Frequently Asked Questions

Receding Gums

Receding Gums

FAQs About Receding Gums Answered

Gum recession occurs when the margin of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is pulled back. Often, people are not aware that they have receding gums. When this happens, the tooth’s root is exposed, thus creating gaps between the gum line and the teeth. In turn, this makes the teeth vulnerable to bacteria that cause diseases. Left unchecked, the teeth’s supporting tissue and bone structure can be damaged, and this can lead to tooth loss. 

More often than not, people become aware of the problem only when they experience symptoms like tooth sensitivity or when they notice that their teeth seem to look longer.

What causes gum recession?

Gum recession may be caused by different factors. One of the most common causes of gum recession is periodontal disease. When you suffer from gum disease, the bacteria which caused it can destroy both the gum tissue and bone structure that support your teeth.

Some people are predisposed to gum recession. That means that you may suffer from gum recession even if you practice good oral health care.

If you brush your teeth aggressively, you can damage the enamel of the teeth and cause your gums to recede.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have poor oral health care habits, the bacteria in your mouth can lead to the buildup of plaque. Eventually, when plaque is left untreated, it can turn into tartar which causes gum recession.

Women who are experiencing hormonal changes due to puberty, menopause or pregnancy are more vulnerable to this condition.

Smokers are also vulnerable to gum recession. Tobacco products can increase the production of plaque.

If you suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding and clenching, the unnecessary force which results from this condition can wear away the teeth and cause the recession of gums.

Excessive force applied to the gums and the bone structure of the teeth due to crooked teeth or misaligned bites can also cause gum recession.

Finally, if you have a piercing on your tongue or lip, the jewelry you wear can rub on the gums and irritate these.

What are your options for treatment?

For mild gum recession, your dentist may use a treatment known as tooth scaling and root planing, also called deep cleaning. This treatment removes the buildup of plaque and tartar, especially in the pockets that have been developed due to gum recession. This also helps contain and remove harmful bacteria. Often, deep cleaning is supplemented by the prescription of antibiotics.

For more advanced cases of gum recession, your dentist may recommend surgical procedures like pocket depth reduction, regeneration or soft tissue graft.

What can you do to prevent gum recession?

Good oral health care, which includes regular brushing and flossing and visits to the dentist, is your best defense against gum recession. If you have a misaligned bite or if you are suffering from bruxism, solving these issues can also help minimize your vulnerability to gum recession. Finally, lifestyle modifications like smoking cessation and a shift to a healthier diet can help keep receding gums at bay.

 


Teeth Grinding – Reasons Not to Ignore This Bad Habit

Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding

Address Teeth Grinding Issues

Teeth grinding can be caused by a simple structural issue, or it can be a manifestation of a deeper, more severe condition. To effectively stop grinding teeth, you’ll need to trace the root of the problem. But regardless of the reason for it, it’s important to remember one thing: Teeth grinding is not just a mere annoyance. It’s a serious problem that may lead to serious complications if not addressed immediately.

Teeth grinding happens almost always at night, when the person is asleep. Since the behavior is involuntary, it’s possible that some sufferers are not aware of their condition until someone notices it and informs them about it. However, there are also cases when an individual grinds his or her teeth when they are awake, albeit unconsciously. It usually happens when you’re in the middle of tasks that require your intense focus, such as writing, or those that demand physical exertion, such as lifting something heavy.  

Aside from the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard sound they make, teeth grinding and clenching also lead to the following symptoms:

         Headaches

         Difficulty sleeping or sleep disturbances

         Pain or enlargement of facial muscles and joints  

         Jaw pain

         Stiff neck and sore shoulders

         Problems with teeth appearance, wear, strength and mobility

         Premature teeth loss

How you can address and stop teeth grinding depends on your specific case. But the following steps can help you find effective treatment.

Consult your dentist.

Discuss the problem with your dentist. Typically, you’ll be asked to undergo a comprehensive exam so your dentist can create a personalized treatment and care plan for you, or refer to you a sleep medicine doctor and other specialists as needed.

Check your stress and anxiety levels

Studies say 70 percent of teeth grinding cases are caused by high levels of stress and anxiety. If you think that this might be your case, try to consider new arrangements at work or at home that will help you feel less wound up every day.

Avoid going DIY

It’s good to do your own research and get to know more about your condition. But it’s best to avoid implementing treatments on your own. For instance, you might find that a common or traditional treatment for teeth grinding is by wearing a night guard. However, new research shows that this device may actually worsen sleep apnea.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

Alcohol, smoking and stressful lifestyles have all been found to trigger teeth grinding. So make a commitment to avoid stimulants and follow a more regular daily schedule with sufficient time for restful sleep. Having a healthier body and finding psychological balance can not only help with reducing teeth grinding, but can also contribute to improved well-being and better life quality for you.