Posts for: May, 2014
While periodontal disease can take on a variety of forms, most are caused by a thin layer of bacterial plaque called biofilm. This layer of plaque will form every 8-12 hours and sticks like glue to your teeth near the gum line. With time, tartar formation occurs at and below the gum line.
If left unchecked, biofilm can give rise to a very unhealthy progression. It first triggers an infection that leads to painful inflammation, progressive bone loss and the gum tissue losing attachment with a tooth. Void spaces (or pockets) form where the gum and bone tissue once adhered; infectious plaque and tartar moves into these pockets and advances deeper to the root. Overcome by disease, the tooth is in danger of being lost.
It's imperative then to remove as much of this entrenched plaque and tartar as possible. Renewed oral hygiene is not enough — removing plaque and tartar from the root surfaces requires a treatment known as root planing.
Root planing is a meticulous, labor-intensive process. We first clear away larger portions of plaque around the teeth and gums with hand instruments or an ultrasonic device and then flush out the pockets with water. After administering a local anesthetic for pain, we would then turn to a number of small hand instruments known as curettes to probe and scrape away as much remaining plaque below the gum line as we can get to.
Root planing requires experience and a good sense of touch to work in areas that can't be clearly seen. Observing the gum line, though, can give us a good indication of progress as these tissues will actually change color once the biofilm and tartar deposits have been removed.
Being so deeply entrenched, not all the deposits might be removed during one session. However, as plaque and tartar are removed, the gum tissues will begin to heal and become less inflamed. This will make it easier to remove plaque in subsequent sessions.
Root planing takes time, but the effort is well worth it. In the short term you'll notice less inflammation and pain around your teeth and gums. In the long-term, it just may save your teeth.
If you would like more information on root planing and periodontal disease, 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 “Root Planing.”
What Does It Mean to Be a Family Dentist?
When should I visit my family fentist?
Many adults these days are opting for clear aligners to correct orthodontic problems that have long bothered them. Katherine Heigl is a perfect example. She had one tooth that was out of alignment, and wanted to have it fixed before her wedding day.
“I got them [clear aligners] because of this wonky tooth,” Heigl told In Style magazine not long ago. “It's awesome because every two weeks you switch to a new retainer. Pretty much the perfect way to describe Invisalign is Netflix for your teeth.”
That's actually a pretty good way to describe this highly user-friendly form of orthodontic treatment. Clear aligners are transparent, plastic oral appliances that are changed every two weeks so that your teeth can be moved a little bit at a time, according to a carefully staged sequence. Though they cover your teeth completely, clear aligners are barely noticeable.
In fact, when Heigl excused herself before taking out her aligners to eat, her In Style interviewer said, “Who knew you wore them? I guess that's the point of Invisalign.”
Being able to remove the aligners for eating and, more importantly, teeth-cleaning, is another major advantage of this method of straightening teeth. Successful orthodontic treatment for adults depends on good periodontal health (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), and the best way to keep your gums and the underlying bone that supports your teeth healthy is to keep up an effective daily oral hygiene routine.
Clear aligners have been improved in recent years to correct more complicated malocclusions (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) than previously; they can even work well for teenagers. But there are still some cases that call for traditional braces. We would be happy to explore all the different options for orthodontic treatment with you, whether you have crowded teeth, an overbite or underbite, or just one “wonky tooth.”
If you would like more information about clear aligners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about clear aligners in general by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners For Teenagers.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Wedding Day Smiles.”
Your toothbrush serves the invaluable purpose of minimizing bacterial buildup (plaque) that can irritate gums and lead to periodontal disease, infection of the bone and tissues supporting your teeth. Brushing also helps dislodge food particles that certain oral bacteria would otherwise feed on, producing acids in the process that can eat through protective tooth enamel and the vulnerable dentin below. Given its importance to your oral health, you can maximize your toothbrush’s effectiveness by using and storing it properly, and replacing it (or the brush head if you have a powered model) regularly.
Using and Storing Your Brush
All that’s needed to dislodge plaque from oral surfaces is a relaxed grip and a gentle jiggling motion. Too much pressure can wear away tooth enamel, cause gum tissue to recede, and shorten the life of your brush head.
When you’re done using your brush:
- Thoroughly rinse it to remove any remaining tooth paste, food particles, etc.
- If you’re super-vigilant, you also can disinfect your brush by soaking it in mouthwash, brush-sanitizing rinse, or a half water/half hydrogen peroxide solution, or dipping it in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Air dry in an upright position and do not routinely cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. A dark, moist environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms.
Replacing and Recycling Your Toothbrush
Even with the best of care, toothbrush bristles become frayed and worn and their cleaning effectiveness diminishes after 3 or 4 months, according to the American Dental Association, though it could be sooner depending on factors unique to each patient. Besides checking the bristles regularly, a good way of keeping track is to write the date you start using your toothbrush in permanent pen on a big-enough spot on the handle (or doing it on masking tape applied to the base of a power brush).
Once your brush has passed its useful life for oral hygiene, you can still get plenty of mileage out of it. You’ll find plenty of ideas on the internet for cleaning grout between tiles and grime-filled spots around taps and toilet lid hinges; removing mud from boot treads; scrubbing off corrosion from around car battery terminals and more!
If you would like more information about oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Toothbrush Lifespan” and “Manual vs Powered Toothbrushes.”