Until recently most dentists tell you to floss and brush and your gum health will be ok. We even used to do that! But now the relationship between gum health and systemic disease is becoming a scientifically proven fact. Indeed, the bacteria under your gums are the same ones found in the heart vessels, the pancreas and many other organs. It is now thought that they create inflammation that helps destroy the lining of the blood vessels allowing plaques to collect on them and affect the blood flow. The body’s reaction to this inflammation is linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many other chronic problems.
How do you find out if you have these bacteria? In our office we use a phase microscope to look for the presence of the bacteria. This shows us what the ecosystem of your plaque is – and whether the good or bad bugs are present. We also use a new test called the BANA which tells us if you have 1 or more of the bad bacteria under your gums. Then, combined with other factors we know whether you should be flossing and or water-picking. Also what type of mouthwash (or medicament) would work best for your situation. Of course, cleaning the bacteria or biofilm off the teeth is also a major piece of the healing process.
And, by the way, you can pass the bacteria back and forth to each other through kissing! There are known cases where a human has actually contracted them from kissing their dog!
Dentistry is becoming more and more a “whole body” profession and we strongly believe in this “gum/heart” connection. If you are not one of our patients, please ask your dentist about these new tests and the microscopic study
SAVE YOUR GUMS AND SAVE YOUR HEART!
We’ve all noticed it from time to time – have some ice cream followed by good hot coffee and OUCH! – your tooth is telling you not to do that! But how do you know if your tooth sensitivity is a sign of (pardon the pun) a deep rooted problem?
Let’s start with a little quiz. What is the hardest substance in the human body?
b) The thigh bone, also known as the femur
c) Your hard-headed uncle’s skull
d) Tooth enamel
If you guessed tooth enamel, you’re not only on your way to a winning appearance on Jeopardy but you’re ready to understand tooth sensitivity.
The enamel that covers your teeth is an extremely hard substance and acts as a great protectant. Inside the enamel is something called dentin, which is a bit softer and actually has small hollow tubes leading right into the nerve chamber. Irritate that layer and your tooth will let you know! So if the enamel on your teeth is worn away, sensitivity can set in. The roots of your teeth are in a similar situation, and receding gums which cause the roots to be uncovered can cause sensitivity as well. So what can you do?
First of all, be gentle when you brush and always use a soft toothbrush. Lots of pressure and stiff bristles don’t clean your teeth any better and actually can wear away enamel and gums.
Some people find that acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes can cause sensitivity, so avoid those if you are in that category.
Also, there are over-the-counter products, such as special toothpastes and rinses; that can help. Let us know and we’ll be glad to recommend the right one for you.
Unfortunately, many of the causes of tooth sensitivity are also signs of much larger dental problems. Things such as cavities, defective fillings or crowns, receding gums due to gum disease, grinding, and many other conditions can cause sensitivity and all of these things definitely need attention from a dental professional.
At Falmouth Dental Arts (portlandmainedentists.com and knockoutsmiles.com) we want you to be comfortable and have healthy teeth and gums! If tooth sensitivity or any other dental issues are causing you concern, please give us a call at 781-5900 and we will be glad to see how we can help. We want to get you comfortable again!
Hey – Why Are My Teeth So Yellow?
Legend has it that comedian Rodney Dangerfield once asked his dentist for advice.
“Doc – my teeth are yellow. What should I do?”
To which his dentist replied: “Wear a brown tie!”
Fortunately, these days we can give much better advice than that.
Most of us begin life with beautiful sparkly white teeth, but just as the years bring wrinkles, sags, bags and more – the age fairy can make our teeth much more yellow or brown than they used to be. Why does nature add this cruelty to her bag of tricks?
Here is a brief primer on yellowing teeth. The outer coating of our teeth is made of enamel – a beautiful smooth sparkling white surface. On the inside is a material called dentin, a darker material which makes up the core of our teeth. Normal activities such as chewing and exposure to acids in foods cause microscopic cracks in our enamel, allowing the yellow dentin to show through.
As most of us know, certain foods and drinks can also stain our teeth, contributing to a darker appearance. Smoking makes things much worse (and it’s not too good to the rest of your body either!)!
Basically there are two types of tooth stains – extrinsic stains (those that form on the outside of the teeth) and intrinsic stains (those that come from within).
Simple extrinsic stains can be removed by a good professional tooth cleaning and polishing. As these become more complex, tooth bleaching – either professional or over-the-counter, will be required.
Intrinsic stains, those that come from the inside of your teeth, are more difficult to remove and typically involve treatment from a dental professional.
A question that we are often asked at Falmouth Dental Arts is “Do those whitening kits I can buy at the drug store actually work?” The answer is: Maybe!
For easy to remove light staining, in some cases they can do the trick. Best of all, it certainly won’t hurt to try them! However, we find that most of our patients achieve mush better results with professionally supervised whitening. Not only are the materials stronger, but in many cases we fabricate a custom application tray which fits your teeth perfectly, allowing the whitening materials to work at their maximum.
The good news is, you no longer have to put up with yellow unsightly teeth! Modern tooth whitening techniques are one of the greatest, easiest to use, most predictable and economically comfortable advances we have seen in dentistry in a long time! At Falmouth Dental Arts we would be happy to discuss your teeth whitening options with you. Give us a call at 207-781-5900 and we’ll happily bring you in for a free whitening consultation. Our goal is to give the you biggest happiest smile possible!
Here are two of the most frequent questions we are asked at Falmouth Dental Arts:
The first one is “Do you see children here?” and the answer is a resounding “YES! We love kids!”
The second is “When should I schedule my child’s first dental visit?” and the answer to that one is: “As soon as their insurance kicks in!”
Actually – that’s not true. We like to see kids usually by their 3rd birthday. Many times a child’s first dental visit involves just a quick peek at their teeth, wiping the teeth and gums with a piece of gauze and giving them a ride up and down in the dental chair. Of course everyone will tell them how good they are and how much fun it is to see the dentist – and that may be the most important part of the visit!
Studies have shown that many people avoid visiting the dentist purely out of fear – and we want to make sure that for the up and coming generation that is a thing of the past. With so many modern ways to make dentistry more comfortable, there simply is no reason to be afraid! But unfortunately, television shows and movies continue to depict things in a negative light. At Falmouth Dental Arts, it is our goal to let children (and adults!) know that dental health is a comfortable, important and even fun part of our overall well being.
Here are a few more easy and important tips to pass along to those with infants or older children:
• Never nurse a baby to sleep or allow them to go to sleep with a bottle. This can cause a very harmful and serious form of cavities. If a baby must go to sleep with a bottle, only water should be used.
• Use a small-headed soft bristle toothbrush with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth. Do it twice a day, and always before bedtime.
• Even though they will eventually be lost, “baby teeth” are very important. Not only do they help children to speak and chew, they also set a straight path for the permanent teeth to erupt. If they are lost prematurely, the adult teeth can be compromised.
• Sealants are a fast, easy and effective way to prevent cavities. Be sure to ask us if your child is ready for them.
At Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to provide the best and most comfortable treatment possible for patients of all ages. Should you have any questions about children’s dental care – or anything else – feel free to give us a call at 207-781-5900.
A common question we get in our dental office is – “What Causes Bad Breath?”
Many times the complaint is not from the offender but from a long suffering spouse or family member. There are many causes of bad breath (which we call “halitosis”) – some serious and some not. And while many people have decided to just hold their nose and live with it, the good news is diagnosing and treating bad breath is something that can easily be done.
Here is a list, in no particular order, of the reasons people may be slowly backing up during conversations:
• Foods Containing Pungent Oils
Yes – garlic and onions are very healthy, but they also contain oils which may cause an unhealthy reaction to those around you. These odors come from the lungs, last up to 72 hours and can be tough to cover up. Mints, gum and rinses are your best bet – or make sure everyone around you has had the same yummy food as well!
• Routine Illnesses
Colds, sore throats, coughs and sinus infections all cause yucky smelling mucus (or snot, depending on your age), to get trapped in our mouths, throats and noses, which causes foul breath until the illness is taken care of. Of course, if you have one of these highly contagious problems you shouldn’t be that close to someone anyway! If a sinus infection, sore throat, cough or cold doesn’t clear up in a few days to a week, you should probably see your physician to make sure things aren’t of a serious nature.
• Dry Mouth
A dry mouth lets dead cells accumulate on your gums, tongue and cheeks. And while morning breath is a perfectly normal phenomenon due to lowered salivary activity at night – it shouldn’t last all day. Those who snore, mouth-breath, take certain medications, or even have lasted into middle age are prone to a dry mouth.
Smoking dries out your mouth (see above) and also, tobacco just plain stinks. If lung cancer and heart disease aren’t reason enough to give up the ciggies, maybe a constant foul mouth will help you make that life-saving decision.
• Chronic Diseases or Conditions
Many serious diseases such as lung infections, kidney failure, diabetes, cancer, GERD, anorexia, bulimia and others can cause very specific types of halitosis. The good news is that these are on the rare side, but if anything along these lines is suspected, a referral to the appropriate practitioner is in order.
• Poor Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease
Ahhh… this is our favorite! Not because we like people to have poor dental hygiene and gum disease, but because these are very common causes of bad breath and we can usually treat them quite easily. But please don’t wait too long! Gum disease, which usually starts with poor brushing and flossing habits as well as a lack of routine dental visits, can do much more than make your mouth stinky.
In just a short period of time, gum disease can advance and eat away at the gums and bone which hold your teeth in place. The result? Loose, unstable teeth which will eventually be lost if not treated. Catching gum disease early is great as treatment is typically conservative. Wait too long and it gets much more difficult and extensive.
Bad breath is not normal! Seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a routine basis is your best bet for making sure your teeth and gums stay healthy, your smile stays bright, and your breath doesn’t cause others to run in the opposite direction.
If you have any questions about this or any other topic concerning you or someone you care about, please feel free to give us a call at 1-207-781-5900. Dr. Knock and Dr Vocal and their fantastic team are here to help you!