Posts for: December, 2019
Here’s the bad news about periodontal (gum) disease: It’s a leading cause for tooth loss. Even worse: Half of adults over 30 will have some form of it during their lifetime.
But here’s the good news: If caught early, we can often treat and stop gum disease before it can do substantial harm to your mouth. And the best news of all—you may be able to avoid a gum infection altogether by adopting a few healthy habits.
Here are 4 habits you can practice to prevent a gum infection from happening.
Practice daily brushing and flossing. Gum disease is a bacterial infection most often arising from dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth. Removing plaque daily with brushing and flossing will reduce your chances of a gum infection. And be sure it’s daily—missing just a few days is enough for gum inflammation to get started.
Get regular dental cleanings and checkups. Even the most diligent personal hygiene can miss plaque, which may then harden into a calcified form impossible to remove with brushing and flossing called calculus (tartar). At least twice-a-year professional dental cleanings will clear away any remnant plaque and tartar, which can greatly reduce your risk for dental disease.
Make gum-friendly lifestyle changes. Smoking more than doubles your chances of gum disease. Likewise, a sugar-heavy diet, which feeds disease-causing bacteria, also makes you more susceptible to infection. Quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol consumption and following a dental-friendly diet could boost your teeth and gum health and avoid infection.
Watch for signs of infection. Although you can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease, you can’t always bring that risk to zero. So, be aware of the signs of gum disease: sometimes painful, swollen, reddened or bleeding gums. If you notice any of these signs, make a dental appointment—the sooner you’re diagnosed and begin treatment, the less likely gum disease will ruin your dental health.
In her decades-long career, renowned actress Kathy Bates has won Golden Globes, Emmys, and many other honors. Bates began acting in her twenties, but didn't achieve national recognition until she won the best actress Oscar for Misery — when she was 42 years old! “I was told early on that because of my physique and my look, I'd probably blossom more in my middle age,” she recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “[That] has certainly been true.” So if there's one lesson we can take from her success, it might be that persistence pays off.
When it comes to her smile, Kathy also recognizes the value of persistence. Now 67, the veteran actress had orthodontic treatment in her 50's to straighten her teeth. Yet she is still conscientious about wearing her retainer. “I wear a retainer every night,” she said. “I got lazy about it once, and then it was very difficult to put the retainer back in. So I was aware that the teeth really do move.”
Indeed they do. In fact, the ability to move teeth is what makes orthodontic treatment work. By applying consistent and gentle forces, the teeth can be shifted into better positions in the smile. That's called the active stage of orthodontic treatment. Once that stage is over, another begins: the retention stage. The purpose of retention is to keep that straightened smile looking as good as it did when the braces came off. And that's where the retainer comes in.
There are several different kinds of retainers, but all have the same purpose: To hold the teeth in their new positions and keep them from shifting back to where they were. We sometimes say teeth have a “memory” — not literally, but in the sense that if left alone, teeth tend to migrate back to their former locations. And if you've worn orthodontic appliances, like braces or aligners, that means right back where you started before treatment.
By holding the teeth in place, retainers help stabilize them in their new positions. They allow new bone and ligaments to re-form and mature around them, and give the gums time to remodel themselves. This process can take months to years to be complete. But you may not need to wear a retainer all the time: Often, removable retainers are worn 24 hours a day at first; later they are worn only at night. We will let you know what's best in your individual situation.
So take a tip from Kathy Bates, star of the hit TV series American Horror Story, and wear your retainer as instructed. That's the best way to keep your straight new smile from changing back to the way it was — and to keep a bad dream from coming true.
If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Why Orthodontic Retainers?” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.” The interview with Kathy Bates appears in the latest issue of Dear Doctor.
Holidays are a wondrous time for family, travel, and treats!
Keep your smile safe and healthy during the holidays with these tips from Two Rivers Family Dental, LLC. Whether you young or old and are planning to stick close to home or visit family afar, these reminders will help make sure you can keep smiling with confidence.
Avoid These Holiday Dental Dangers
Instead of indulging in these holiday treats, try to make some healthy substitutions, avoid, or minimize how much of them you enjoy.
Chewy, hard or sticky sweets can damage your teeth and should be avoided. However, if you are going to eat a few sugary treats, do so after a meal and then brush your teeth right afterwards to minimize the damage they can do. If you eat these foods at a separate snack time and don't brush your teeth, they will have more time to erode your teeth's defenses.
It's common to find an assortment of nuts over the holidays and we're not just talking about odd house guests! When you want to eat whole nuts in the shell, don't ever use your teeth to crack the shell. Use one of those beautiful nutcrackers instead. (The nuts themselves? Go ahead. They are actually good for your teeth.)
For that matter, don't ever use your teeth to tear open packages or bottles.
Smoking and beverages like red wine, coffee, soda and tea can stain your teeth. And carbonated drinks can really damage your enamel.
Finally, remember that it's easy to get anxious over the holidays. If you are a person who chews your nails or grinds your teeth, try to relax and be conscious of these nervous habits. They can hurt your smile!
Maintain a Dazzling Holiday Smile
A great way to keep your smile over the holidays is to snack smart. Instead of going for the gooey treats, enjoy a holiday orange or apple. Want to munch? Choose some raw vegetables which are great for your teeth. Even cheese is a good choice because it can clear food particles from your teeth and neutralizes acids.
Drink lots of water, too. Especially after you've had a meal (or if you can't brush right away), drink a glass of water. You can even swish and rinse to get rid of some of the excess food from between your teeth.
Keeping to a regular dental routine can be tricky during holiday visits and events, but it's more important than usual. Make brushing and flossing after meals a regular habit. If you have a mouthguard, be sure to wear it. You can even chew some xylitol gum either after or instead of a sugary treat.
If you've got children, you can help them keep to a schedule by making brushing time fun by using some colorful toothpastes or other novelties like a favorite cartoon character toothbrush.
And just to be extra safe, you should Appointment Request with your dentist before or after the holidays.
Protecting Your Smile While Traveling
The holidays often means taking a road trip or flying to visit with loved ones. Remember to pack dental supplies when you travel and consider what you might need if there's a minor emergency. If there's a real emergency with your teeth, know who you can call near where you are visiting. Definitely do not put off treatment until after the New Year!
On behalf of the doctors and staff at Two Rivers Family Dental, we wish you a joyous holiday season full of smiles!
With only a few teeth now showing in your baby’s mouth, you might think it’s too early to schedule their first dental visit. But you should, and here’s why: tooth decay.
Although adults are more likely to contend with dental disease, the exception for children is tooth decay. One kind of decay, early childhood caries (ECC), can wreak havoc in children’s primary teeth. While your child may or may not be at high risk for ECC, it’s better to err on the side of caution and begin regular checkups by their first birthday.
Since primary teeth eventually give way for permanent teeth, it may not seem that important to protect them from decay. But despite their short lifespan primary teeth can have a long-term effect on dental health for one primary reason: They’re placeholders for the permanent teeth that will eventually replace them.
If they’re lost prematurely to decay, nearby teeth can drift into the resulting open space. This can crowd out the intended permanent tooth, which may then erupt out of place (or not at all, remaining impacted within the gums). Protecting primary teeth from decay—or treating them if they do become infected—reduces this risk to the permanent teeth.
Besides regular cleanings, dentists can do other things to protect your child’s teeth from decay. Applying a high strength fluoride solution to teeth can help strengthen enamel against acid attack, the precursor to decay. Sealants on the biting surfaces of teeth deprive bacterial plaque of nooks and crannies to hide, especially in back molars and pre-molars.
You can also help prevent decay in your child’s primary teeth by starting a brushing regimen as soon as teeth start appearing. Also, limit sugar intake by restricting sugary foods to mealtime and not sending a child to bed with a sugary liquid-filled bottle (including juices or breast milk). And avoid possible transfers of oral bacteria from your mouth to theirs by not drinking from the same cup or placing any object in your mouth that might go in theirs.
Tooth decay can have long-term consequences on your child’s dental health. But by working together with your dentist you can help ensure this damaging disease doesn’t damage their teeth.
If you would like more information on tooth decay in primary teeth, 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 “Do Babies Get Tooth Decay?”