Moms-to-be out there can agree – pregnancy is an exciting time of life! It is a time when you become more mindful of your health – for your sake and your baby’s. While it is evident that your body needs to be well cared for during this time, we like to remind moms that it’s also important to stay on top of your dental health as well. Here are a few important dental health facts and practices to keep in mind when you’re expecting.
To start, many people may not be aware but oral health changes during pregnancy, primarily due to an upsurge in hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes can affect gum tissues’ reactions to plaque. In fact, this is so common among expecting mothers that it is referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis.’ Because of this change, it is important that you stick to your normal dental care regimen: flossing well each day and brushing (with an electric toothbrush) at least twice per day and after eating when and if you are able.
Related to pregnancy gingivitis, expecting patients could also develop pregnancy tumors, which are non-cancerous growths on swollen and irritated gums. Usually these disappear on their own. However, if they get in the way of chewing or carrying out your normal oral hygiene rituals, let us know and we can discuss what to do.
While there are challenges to oral health during pregnancy, those challenges can be met easily as long as you take care of your teeth. We recommend coming in for a cleaning as soon as you know you are pregnant, so that we can build a plan and complete any important or outstanding work within the first trimester. We will also plan to have another cleaning in your second trimester to keep plaque in check.
And while it may seem trivial, please provide us with all the medications and vitamins you are taking throughout your pregnancy – we might need to adjust our treatments based on that information.
If you discover you are getting morning sickness in connection to brushing, try switching to a bland-flavored toothpaste throughout your pregnancy – we are happy to recommend some brands to you! We also recommend rinsing your mouth with water and anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes if you have frequent bouts of vomiting.
Good nutrition is also important throughout your pregnancy. While your obstetrician will advise you on these matters, we also recommend plenty of vitamins C and B12, to help support strong oral health. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet will also put your baby on an early track to good oral health – dairy items like cheese and yogurt provide critical minerals to support the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, and gums. And as always, we recommend keeping sugary cravings in check to keep tooth decay at bay.
Do you have more questions about dental care during pregnancy? If so, we encourage you to ask! We’d love to help you during this time. Call us to schedule your appointment today!
When thinking about dental implants, you might assume they’re just like your other teeth. But in the dental world, we treat implants quite differently from your natural teeth, especially in terms of hygiene and care needed. Today we’d like to share with you the differences between natural teeth and implants, and mention a few tools that can help you take better care of your dental implants.
Most implants are made of titanium. This matters because titanium is a uniquely osteophilic material, meaning that it is “bone-loving.” For us, that is important because it means the implant is able to fuse with the bone to which it ultimately attaches, setting up the makeshift “root” of the implant tooth.
Now here’s where implants differ from natural teeth. The gum tissue surrounding implants cannot attach itself to implants as it would to natural teeth. Instead, they attach themselves to the gums by way of an epithelial attachment, aka special cells that attach themselves to the implant, like a microscopic suction pad would. Your teeth have fibers called periodontal ligaments that connect the tooth to the gums surrounding it, but an implant does not.
This difference is the main reason your implant needs special care. Natural teeth and implants both require routine brushing, flossing, and teeth cleanings, but with implants you need to go a step further to ensure the longevity of the implant. As with natural teeth, we want to prevent infection of gums and bones, which means also protecting the implant housed within them.
The bottom line is that plaque must be removed from your implants daily. If plaque isn’t cleaned away daily, you run the risk of developing peri-implantitis, which means that tissues surrounding the implant become infected, resulting in the loss of the delicate gum-bone attachment. If infection spreads to the bone it can be devastating to oral health, possibly progressing to loss of bone or loss of the entire implant.
Rest assured however, there are a number of tools available to keep your implant healthy. Some good tools to supplement our regular cleanings include tiny brushes known as interproximal brushes, as well as implant-specific floss, both of which can be very effective when fitting into the crevices surrounding your implant. There are also small, angled toothbrushes designed to better reach implant surfaces. Water irrigation tools like the Waterpik may also be used to clean implants as well.
Which tools you should use depends on a number of factors, so please give us a call to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and to establish your dental implant’s care regimen with our team!
This is a question we get asked more and more. It may seem unnecessary to some of you, but we’d like to share two major reasons why blood pressure should be monitored during your visit to the dentist.
First and foremost, hypertension. Monitoring blood pressure is a harmless precaution that can help detect health concerns early on. With high blood pressure being such a leading cause of health issues in the United States, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises that all dentists aid in the detection and management of hypertension. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a serious condition that can lead to stroke or heart attack. Any reading above 140/90mmHg is considered to be on the higher side at which point we will recommend you be examined by a physician.
Does your dental care require anesthesia? If so, certain anesthetics contain agents that increase blood pressure, so in these instances it’s crucial we know if your blood pressure is already above average to prevent any further risk. Blood pressure levels will help us decide what anesthetics can and cannot be administered.
As your dental provider, it is our responsibility to provide safe and efficient assessments for you. Your blood pressure can help us identify anything from hypertension to something as simple as your current comfort level. It’s not uncommon to have feelings of anxiety or stress before undergoing dental work, and if that’s the case, we want to know. By knowing, we can talk you through the procedure or suggest some breathing exercises to help reduce your discomfort. We’re here to make your dental experience as pleasant as possible. The way we see it— if checking your blood pressure will help keep you healthy, well of course we’re going to do it.
If you have any additional questions about blood pressure in the dental world, we’re happy to talk further about it during your next visit or you can feel free to call us at 207-781-5900.
As a child, you may have disliked the constant reminders from mom and dad to brush your teeth before bed, but as we get older, we realize more and more how beneficial healthy oral hygiene is to the longevity of our pearly whites, and just how right mom and dad were.
With each meal, we invite sugars and starches to engage with the natural bacteria that exists within our mouths. This combination of bacteria is the sticky film we all know as plaque. When we brush our teeth, we’re cleaning the plaque from our teeth which in turn minimizes the likelihood of developing cavities and gum disease.
What’s the difference between a cavity and gum disease? A cavity is the result of tooth decay, and gum disease is when there’s an infection in the tissues that surround and support our teeth. The term gum disease can sound pretty scary to some, but it’s actually a condition that can be very subtle and easily treatable in its early stages. Let’s review the three stages of gum disease and their side effects.
This is the earliest stage of gum disease, and is best defined as inflammation of the gums. If you’re experiencing gum line inflammation, that may be a strong indicator that there is plaque buildup within the actual gums. A side effect to gingivitis (if inflammation is not prominent) is bleeding of the gums while brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is nothing to be too shook up about if caught in early stages, as the tissue and bone have yet to be affected.
If gingivitis goes untreated the infection can begin to progress into a more moderate case. Periodontitis can destroy the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. Side effects in addition to those of gingivitis are receding gum lines, spaces forming between teeth, an unpleasant mouth odor or taste, and a pus between the teeth and gums. Real tooth and gum damage are a concern with periodontitis, so treatment to prevent any further damage is highly recommended at this stage.
This stage can bring an abnormally rapid deterioration of the teeth and gums. In this acute case of gum disease, tooth loss becomes an actual concern. A visit to the dentist is necessary in an effort to save the teeth and the function of chewing.
As you can see, gum disease can go from being something as mild as gum tenderness to a larger oral condition in just a few stages; however, prevention is simple and treatment options are available. Preventative care is as easy as (1) choosing the right toothbrush for your gums, (2) brushing twice a day, (3) flossing once a day, (4) monitoring sugar intake, and (5) keeping up with routine cleanings.
We understand oral health is a sensitive matter, so if after reading this you have questions regarding gum disease, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to call our office to schedule an appointment at 207-781-5900.
Halloween is before us and what more to look forward to than households of children amped up on sugar while their precious teeth remain coated in sticky treats. Let’s not take away their treat-filled fun, but we can certainly help to make it a healthier experience for their smiles, right?
While all candy is delicious and most often packed with sugar, there are some candy choices that are better than others. Here are some questions to keep in mind when choosing what your trick-or-treaters will be snacking on: How sticky is the candy? How long will it take to consume? Is it high in acidity? Each of these questions will help gauge how the candy impacts oral hygiene.
Sticky Candy (Snickers, Starburst, Charleston Chew, etc.):
Candy that sticks to the teeth is more difficult to clean off of the teeth. It’s that simple. Unless the teeth are brushed immediately after consumption, these types of candies are popular in the cavity department. Interestingly enough, if you choose a sticky candy bar, keep in mind that several studies have stated that dark chocolate can help fight against tooth decay. Another tip, nuts help to separate the candy from teeth while also providing dietary value with protein and fiber.
Long-lasting Candy (lollipops, Jawbreakers, sugar-filled bubble gums):
When we expose our teeth to sugars and acidity for long periods of time, we increase the chance of a cavity. However, there are lollipop options like LoLoz that contain zero sugar and actually promote healthy teeth, or Dr. John’s lollipops, THRIVE, which are also sugar free. Xylitol is the sugar alternative in these two treats.
Acidic Candy (Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, Nerds, etc.):
I’m sure you’re wondering how to know when a candy is acidic? Well, if the candy is sour, then it’s definitely acidic. Though these lip-puckering candies are a big hit with the kiddos, they have a tendency to strip the enamel from teeth. The job of tooth enamel is to protect the teeth from decay, so it’s certainly best to keep that enamel in place. A healthier alternative to sour candy? Unfortunately, this is a difficult one to substitute for trick-or-treaters, but a granny smith apple is great for the everyday snack.
Candy happens. The best way to prevent cavities is to brush after eating and to consume in moderation, but if after the Halloween season passes you feel a cleaning is necessary—we are happy to help. Call us anytime at 207-781-5900.