Posts for: April, 2012
Having someone tell you that you have bad breath can be humiliating, but it can also be a sign that you need to see your dentist. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be a sign of an underlying dental or health problem, so before you run out and stock up on breath mints, make an appointment with our office. Using breath fresheners will only disguise the problem and not treat the root cause.
It's important to remember that if you have bad breath, you're not alone — it's the third most common reason people seek a dental consult. We use a systematic approach to determine the cause of your halitosis and offer a solution.
Causes: Ninety percent of mouth odors come from mouth itself — either from the food you eat or bacteria that may be present. Most unpleasant odors originate from proteins trapped in the mouth that are processed by oral bacteria. When left on the tongue, these bacteria can cause an unpleasant smell. Dry mouth, sinus problems, diet and poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath. In rare cases, a medical condition may be the cause.
Treatment: The best solution will depend on determining the real cause of your halitosis. If bad breath emanates from the mouth, it most commonly is caused by gum disease or even tooth decay, which need to be treated to correct the problem. If halitosis is of systemic (general body) origin, a more detailed examination might be needed from a physician. But the solution may also be as simple as demonstrating how to effectively remove bacterial plaque from your teeth, or offer instruction on proper tongue cleaning. If the cause is gum disease, we may suggest a deep cleaning and possible antibiotic therapy.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding bad breath. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”
Gum recession is a common problem affecting millions of Americans to some degree. If you have it, you will notice that the pink gum tissue surrounding one or more of your teeth has shrunk or receded and left the tooth-root surfaces exposed. How does this happen? And does it require treatment? The answers to both of these questions will vary from person to person. The good news is that treatment is available for those who need it.
The way you care for your teeth can be a major factor in gum recession. If you do not effectively remove plaque (bacterial biofilm) from your teeth daily, you may develop gum inflammation, gum disease and/or recession. Conversely, if you brush or floss too hard or for too long, you can also damage your gums. Please remember that it doesn't take a lot of pressure to remove biofilm; you just need to make sure you get to each tooth, right down to the gum line.
Other causes of gum recession include: mal-positioned and/or prominent teeth that are not fully encased in supporting bone; muscle attachments (frenums) pulling at the gum line; habits such as holding foreign objects (nails, pins) between the teeth that press on the gum tissues; and badly fitting oral appliances such as dentures, braces Ã¢Â€Â“ even tongue bolts and lip piercings.
Besides not looking too great, gum recession can lead to anything from minor tooth sensitivity to tooth loss in the most severe cases. If you are experiencing any discomfort from a loss of gum (also called “gingival”) tissue, we'd certainly like to know about it. We would be happy to examine your condition and make recommendations.
There are surgical procedures that are very effective in treating these problems. Procedures such as gingival grafting or periodontal plastic surgery (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), often involve taking a small piece of healthy gingival tissue from the roof of your mouth and grafting it to the area where it is needed. Ultrafine sutures hold the graft in place until it “takes.” Laboratory-processed donor tissue can also be used. In either case, the procedure has a terrific success rate.
If you have any questions about gum recession, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Did you know that Americans spend nearly 3 billion dollars each year on fresh breath remedies including gum, mints and mouthrinses to address their fears of halitosis (bad breath)? This simple fact clearly reveals that Americans are obsessed with having pleasant breath. Some other interesting statistics on this subject include:
- 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products like candy, chewing gum and sprays
- 50% of middle-aged and older adults have bad breath
- 25% of the population has chronic bad breath
- 20 to 25% of adults have bad breath due to their smoking habits
However, the best way to determine what is causing your bad breath is to have a thorough dental exam followed by a professional cleaning. The first important step of this process begins when we obtain a thorough medical history. This includes asking you questions so that we can:
- Identify your chief complaint and whether or not your bad breath is noticed by others or just a concern you have
- Learn about your medical history as well as what medications (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements, and vitamins you are currently taking
- Learn about your dietary history to see if pungent foods such as garlic and onions are foods you often eat that are contributing to the problem
- Conduct a psychosocial assessment to learn if you suffer from depression, anxiety, sleep or work problems
- Identify personal habits such as smoking cigarettes, cigars or a pipe that contribute to your bad breath
To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination, cleaning and treatment plan.
A pregnant woman has a lot to think about while preparing to welcome a new member of her family. It's important to think about her oral health as well. She is sharing her body with the developing infant, so problems with her health — including her dental health — can affect the baby. The following facts will help you understand the relationship between oral health and pregnancy.
- A baby's primary (baby) teeth begin to form during the sixth week of pregnancy. They begin to form their enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) and dentin layer (just under the enamel) at about the third or fourth month. The calcium, phosphorous, and protein that are needed for these structures must all be provided by the mother's diet.
- A good diet for a pregnant mother, in order to provide for both her needs and those of the fetus (the developing baby), includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables — including green leafy vegetables — proteins and dairy products. A doctor may also recommend iron and/or folic acid supplements.
- If the mother's diet does not provide enough calcium for the baby's bones and teeth, it will come from calcium stored in her bones — not from her teeth. The old idea that a mother's teeth lose calcium during pregnancy has been found to be a myth.
- Progesterone, a normal female hormone, is elevated during pregnancy. This hormone stimulates production of prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation in gum tissues if the bacteria that cause periodontal (gum) disease are present. The resulting swelling, redness, and sensitive gum tissues, called pregnancy gingivitis, are common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
- The bacteria involved in periodontal disease can affect whole body conditions such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The inflammation resulting from such bacteria can also cause premature delivery (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or low birth weight in the baby.
- Periodontal disease is also related to pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, during pregnancy.
- Dental x-rays do not expose the mother to very high radiation, but in any case every precaution is taken to minimize exposure to the fetus. These include a leaded apron that shields the baby from exposure.
- Most drugs commonly used in dentistry, including local anesthetics, can safely be given to pregnant women without affecting the fetus. However, it is important to let your dentist know you are pregnant before embarking on any treatment to make sure anything that is done will be safe for the fetus and its developing teeth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about pregnancy and your oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.”