Posts for category: Oral Health
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if your teeth aren’t cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. Plaque then hardens and becomes tartar, or calculus. Plaque and calculus create a perfect home for bacteria to thrive and cause periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing remove plaque and calculus from the teeth and creates a healthy oral environment.
Fortunately, when treated early, periodontal disease can be stopped so that it does not progress and become more severe. If periodontal disease is left untreated, tooth mobility, bone loss, and tooth loss can occur. Scaling and root planing is an effective method for stopping the spread of periodontal disease. This treatment can be performed by Dr. Charles Felts, Dr. Elizabeth Randall, and their hygienists at Chattanooga Periodontics and Dental Implants.
Scaling and root planing may take more than one appointment to complete, and a local anesthetic is often used to minimize any discomfort. This treatment can be compared to having an irritating splinter removed from an infected finger. The procedure involves thoroughly scaling all plaque, bacteria and calculus deposits from your teeth and root surfaces. Root planing smoothes all rough areas on the root surfaces. Smooth root surfaces keep bacteria, plaque, and tartar from re-adhering underneath the gumline, which will allow your gums to heal and reattach themselves more firmly.
If your gums are inflamed, show signs of pulling away from the teeth, or bleed after brushing or eating, you may have periodontal disease. The non-surgical treatment of scaling and root planing is an effective, minimally invasive therapy that will aid in stopping the progression of periodontal disease. When followed by regular dental visits and good oral hygiene habits, your oral health can be greatly improved.
For treatment of periodontal disease in Chattanooga, TN, visit Chattanooga Periodontics and Dental Implants. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Felts or Dr. Randall, call (423) 756-2450.
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.
For over a century now, health providers have depended on blood and urine samples to diagnose many forms of disease. Very soon, though, we may routinely use a different bodily fluid that's easier and cheaper to collect: saliva.
Secreted by six hundred or more glands in the mouth, saliva performs a number of important functions for digestion and overall oral health. Saliva lubricates the mouth to make food easier to swallow. Its enzymes begin the digestion process breaking down food even before we swallow. It also helps wash out food particles that could build up as plaque on the teeth and harbor disease-causing bacteria.
In terms of dental health, its greatest role is as a neutralizer of food acid. It's natural after we eat for the acid levels in the mouth to rise above normal. If acid remains in contact with enamel for an extended period of time it can soften the enamel's minerals and make it easier for them to erode. Within thirty minutes to an hour after eating, saliva neutralizes acid and restores the mouth's normal pH level. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate materials, which helps restore some of the minerals the enamel may have lost from the acid contact.
But we're discovering saliva can do even more: we can now use it as an indicator for certain conditions in the body. Like blood or urine, saliva contains molecules that can serve as biological markers for different types of disease. By employing devices calibrated to detect these markers, we can use saliva to uncover cancer, diabetes or other systemic conditions.
As these particular devices are manufactured and become more available, the use of saliva for disease diagnosis will rise. In the future, you may not need a trip to the bathroom or wince at a needle stick — a swab of your saliva will do!
If you would like more information on saliva's role in your health, 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 “Saliva: How it is Used to Diagnose Disease.”
Gum disease affects half of American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to decrease your risk of developing the disease. Dr. Charles Felts and Dr. Elizabeth Felts Randall, your Chattanooga, TN, periodontists at Chattanooga Periodontics & Dental Implants, share information on the types of gum disease and explain how you can avoid becoming another statistic.
Gum disease types
Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, is often ignored because it doesn't cause dramatic symptoms. If you have gingivitis, your teeth may bleed when you brush and floss, and you may notice that your gums are red and swollen. Unfortunately, if you don't take steps to reverse the disease, it can turn into periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease.
Periodontitis can cause receding gums, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, loose teeth and a change in the way partial dentures fit. You may also notice that your gums have pulled away from your teeth, creating pockets that harbor bacteria. Bone and tooth loss can occur if you have periodontitis.
How can I prevent gum disease?
- Brush and Floss: Good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid gum disease. Brushing and flossing, daily, removes bacteria-laden plaque. If plaque remains on your teeth long enough, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar. Tartar buildup causes receding gums and pockets.
- Don't Skip Dental Visits: Because tartar can only be removed with special dental instruments found at your Chattanooga, TN, dentist's office, it's important to not skip your twice a year cleanings. If tartar has begun to cause gum problems, you may benefit from a deep cleaning that removes tartar from below the gum line.
- Replace Poorly Fitting Crowns: Crowns that don't fit well make it difficult to clean around your teeth, which can lead to tartar buildup.
- Quit Smoking: Smokers have a higher risk of developing gum disease. Quitting smoking is a simple way to decrease your risk.
If you do develop gum disease, periodontists offer a variety of treatments that can help control the infection. Call your Chattanooga, TN, periodontists at Chattanooga Periodontics & Dental Implants, at (423) 756-2450 to schedule your appointment.
With a 95%-plus success rate, dental implants are an effective and durable replacement for lost teeth. But we can't place them and forget them: if you don't clean and maintain them they could fail as a result of disease.
The inorganic materials that make up the implant aren't in danger of infection. But the living gums and bone that surround and support the implant are at risk. In fact, there's a particular periodontal (gum) disease involving implants called peri-implantitis (“peri” – around; implant “itis” – inflammation).
Peri-implantitis begins when the gum tissues around the implant become infected and inflamed. This happens most commonly because plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles, builds up on implant surfaces. Another less frequent cause is a buildup of excess cement used to bond the crown to the implant. We need to remove the built-up plaque or the excess cement during your dental visit.
If the infection isn't treated or you don't keep up effective, daily hygiene practices, the infection can grow and extend deeper into the tissues and finally the bone. This can destroy the all-important integration of bone and metal titanium post that has created the implant's strong hold. When that support becomes compromised the implant can lose its attachment and, if untreated, eventually fail.
It's important to keep an eye out for any indications you may have a gum infection around an implant. Look for redness, swelling, bleeding or pus formation. If the implant feels loose, this may mean that extensive bone loss has already occurred. If you encounter any of these signs, see us immediately for an examination.
The best approach, though, is to prevent peri-implantitis in the first place. So, brush and floss daily around your implant as you do your natural teeth. And be sure you keep up regular dental cleanings and checkups.
With proper care and maintenance you can avoid problems with disease that could affect your implant. Healthy gums and bone will ensure your implant will last for many decades to come.