This is the number of people the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They also warn that there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia)
In the U.S., the disease affects over 5 million adults, with one in three seniors dying from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. (https://www.alz.org/)
Research is actively pursing a way to not only predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but prevent it. Of course, this requires finding its cause. Major studies are continually making headway in this pursuit. One of its possible ties has revealed itself in a way that may surprise you – Periodontal (gum) disease.
The oral bacteria of gum disease is getting more and more attention from researchers for its ability to create inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth. Research has already found links between oral bacteria and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, impotency, preterm babies and more. Now, the correlation between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia adds to a long, concerning list.
Obviously, the bacteria in your mouth are far more destructive than the cause of bad breath and cavities. According to researchers, the infectious bacteria of gum disease has been linked to brain tissue degeneration. In one study, brain tissue samples from patients with and without dementia showed that a particular component of oral bacteria was found in 4 out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease tissue samples. This same bacterial component was not found in any of the brain tissue samples of people who did not have Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers think these bacterial components found in the brain may trigger a response by the immune system that lead to pathological changes. Through this chain reaction, the study shows a pathways is created to Alzheimer’s. While the findings do not prove that oral bacteria causes Alzheimer’s disease, the links shown are sound reasons to maintain good oral health.
Because the bacteria of gum disease can weaken oral tissues, bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream and travel through the bloodstream to the brain. This can lead to degeneration in brain tissue that appears similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
This extensive research was conducted after a previous study on mice infected with specific periodontal bacteria. Researchers in this study found the bacteria traveled to the brain in mice, which prompted further studies involving humans.
Periodontal disease begins silently. It is not always obvious in early stages. However, as gum disease progresses, you may see blood when brushing and have frequent bad breath and sore and swollen gums. As it worsens, gum tissues turn from a healthy pink color to red.
Some level of periodontal disease exists in over 47 percent of the adult population. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm) Its early-stage, gingivitis, is one of the most common diseases found in humans and is more common than the common cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 64 percent of adults ages 65 and over have moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease.
Yet, preventing gum disease requires minimal time and expense. Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes each time) and flossing will help keep oral bacteria to a minimum between regular dental check-ups and cleanings. These visits remove any built-up If you are a smoker or take medications that are drying to oral tissues, hygiene visits every four months may be advised.
Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible way to spend one’s final years, and just as bad when we watch people we love as they suffer through years of decline. Keep the bacteria levels in your mouth under control and stay involved with regular dental visits to lower your risk.
Remember – gum disease only worsens without treatment. In addition to increasing susceptibility for serious diseases, it is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. If you are having symptoms of gum disease (as mentioned above), contact our office at 843-871-6351 or tap here for an appointment.
If you prefer, you can begin with a no-charge consultation to discuss the exam and treatment process, comfort options, and payment plans.Read More
At each visit, we ask patients to update their medical status as well as check the list of all medications – those prescribed as well as taken as supplements. Although this may seem an insignificant part of your oral care, it is vital information.
To the surprise of many, there are a number of medications that contribute to oral problems. For instance, adults taking antidepressants and high blood pressure medications were found to have elevated levels of plaque and signs of gingivitis.
A a side effect of more than 400 medications is ‘dry mouth’, a condition that contributes to higher plaque levels and the development of periodontal (gum) disease. Without a sufficient flow of saliva, oral bacteria can accumulate. Hence, the formation of plaque, which is the sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth and gums.
If you have been prescribed medications that cause oral dryness, ask your physician if an alternative is available. Also, drink plenty of plain, filtered water throughout the day to support oral moisture. (Tea, coffee, and colas don’t count! They actually contribute to oral dryness even more!) Too, oral rinses are available OTC that can also help minimize the risks associated with dry mouth.
People are often surprised to learn just how much sugar exists in cough drops, medications in syrup form and antacids contain sugars that often leave a sticky residue on teeth, making them more susceptible to decay.
Oral contraceptives and blood pressure medications have been linked to mouth sores and inflammation. Certain antibiotics and ibuprofen can cause lesions or ulcers in the mouth. Tetracycline, typically used for treating acne, can discolor teeth as well as supporting bone.
And, the list of problems go on and on. For example, calcium channel blockers used to control high blood pressure can contribute to gum tissue overgrowth. Gingival enlargement, a condition that causes the gums to swell and grow over teeth, can lead to severe periodontal infection.
As more and more people turn to herbal supplements as a ‘safe’ alternative to synthetic medications, be aware that what is not known CAN hurt you. And, much is NOT known about many of the companies packaging these supplements or what they’re putting into the mix.
Too, it is important to know that some dental patients can have serious side effects these supplements. For example, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin E can act as blood thinners. When combined with aspirin, the combination may cause difficulties in blood clotting. For patients undergoing surgical procedures, this can be a serious problem.
Taking high dosages of vitamins before undergoing anesthesia can also put you at risk. For instance, high doses of Vitamin C can weaken the efficiency of anesthesia. On the flip side, supplements such as Kava and St. John’s Wort can accentuate anesthesia’s effectiveness. (Kava has actually been banned in the U.S. but still attainable through some online vendors.)
Especially concerning are the herbal supplements with a high risk of interfering with medications. In addition to Kava, Gingko, and St. John’s Wort, these include Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Hawthorn, Evening Primrose Oil, and Yohimbe. Be sure, also, that your prescribing physician is aware you are taking these supplements.
It is also risky to ‘bargain hunt’ online for herbal supplements, lured by low cost with unknown manufacturers. Some unregulated distributors in foreign countries could be shipping you unsafe ingredients, including lead and mercury. It is best to shop U.S. based companies with familiar brand names.
As your Summerville dentist, it is important that we are aware of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. This way, we can help you avoid issues that can be risky or leave you vulnerable to undesirable reactions or future problems. Keep us informed of any new medications you are taking as well as those that have been eliminated from those listed in your file.
While not all side effects create high risk, we want to ensure each dental visit provides you with an individualized approach to your care. Working together, we can achieve this! Bring current medication information (including dosage) to every appointment.
Need an appointment to update your smile? Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.Read More
It is a misconception that losing natural teeth is a normal part of the aging process. Although previous generations may have assumed that tooth loss (and ending up in dentures or partials) was natural for adults as they grew older, we know today that this is far from true – and certainly not desirable.
When teeth are missing in a smile, it compromises its appearance, often causing people to feel self-conscious when smiling. Yet, the repercussions of missing teeth go far beyond esthetic. It is now known that dental challenges caused by missing teeth can lead to a long list of problems.
The space left by missing teeth needs to be filled to avoid teeth drifting. Drifting teeth can lead to:
• Compromised chewing efficiency
• The tooth above or below the missing tooth growing too long
• Neighboring teeth moving out of alignment
• More challenges with food accumulation, accelerating bacteria growth
• Uneven chewing patterns, which strains jaw joints and can lead to worn teeth, tooth fractures and chips, clenching and grinding, and headaches
• Loss of jaw bone mass in the extracted area
• Facial changes and biting/chewing problems in the area of tooth loss
• Increased risk of tongue biting
Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, it is easily preventable with simple measures applied on a daily basis. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing and twice-a-year dental visits can greatly reduce the risks of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss.
Those most at risk for tooth loss with the highest susceptibility to gum disease are:
• Males over the age of 35
• Adults who fail to have professional dental care
• Not brushing teeth
• Having diabetes, high blood pressure or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Additionally, teeth most commonly lost due to gum disease are in the front of the mouth rather than back teeth. Health issues such as diabetes and arthritis can also make you more vulnerable to developing gum disease.
When a tooth is lost, it is imperative that it be replaced as soon as possible. We recommend dental implants because they restore the look and feel of a natural tooth. Dental implants also recreate the presence of a tooth root in the jaw bone. This helps halt bone loss, protects your facial structure, and preserves the natural alignment of your bite.
Missing natural teeth? We offer many tooth replacement options to restore the look, feel and function of a natural-looking, confident smile. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a free consultation to discuss the choices that may be best for your individual needs.Read More
Through decades of research and findings from countless studies, there is no doubt that your oral health plays an integral part of your overall health. Not only does oral bacteria overload lead to tender, bleeding gums, it causes cavities, bad breath and some serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Studies have shown that oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, it can cause inflammatory reactions that have been associated with a long list of diseases and health conditions. These include stroke, heart disease, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
Still, with all these findings, it’s perplexing that nearly half of American adults have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. I believe the problem lies in the fact that gum disease can begin – and even exist to a certain extent – without obvious symptoms.
To help our readers be in a better position to avoid (or respond promptly to) gum disease, I hope the following Q&A will help in your appreciation of good oral health:
What is gum disease? Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. It forms from accumulated oral bacteria. Like any infection (which is bacteria that is straining the capability of the immune system), it causes redness, tenderness, and swelling. Because it is hidden inside the mouth, gum disease is easier to ignore than if the same were to occur on a skinned knee. Early-stage gum disease causes the gums to bleed when brushing, tender gums, and frequent bad breath. As it progresses, gums swell and turn red. The gums loosen their grip around the base of teeth. Eventually, persistent bad breath occurs and may be accompanied by pus pockets that form on gum tissues. As the bacteria eats away at the structures that support tooth roots, the need for tooth removal can occur.
Why should I worry about gum disease? As if the discomfort, bad breath, and rotten teeth weren’t enough, many people are unaware that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. When a tooth is lost, it creates a domino effect that can lead to more tooth loss. Replacing teeth can be expensive. For some tooth replacement options, it typically causes bone resorption. This is when the jaw bones that once supported natural tooth roots begin to shrink in mass. A thinning jaw bone is what causes a denture or partial to slip or rub uncomfortably on tender gum tissues. (Dental implants, fortunately, mimic the presence of tooth roots. This halts the process of resorption.) Additionally, as mentioned prior, gum disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream and contribute to a number of serious, even deadly, health problems.
How do I prevent gum disease? Although I’d like to say that twice-daily brushing and daily flossing is sufficient, that’s only part of the equation. It is necessary to keep the mouth moist. Aging and the side effect of many medications can be very drying to the mouth. This mean that oral bacteria are not being washed away efficiently. Also, American diets are full of sugar. Sugar is especially challenging in the mouth, triggering acids that can damage almost immediately. Too, just over 52 percent of the adult population visit the dentist every six months. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), over 20 percent (in 2014) stated they only saw a dentist every “few years.” (https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/patients) Your dental check-ups are structured to remove built up oral bacteria that has hardened on teeth (known as tartar, or calculus). Seeing your dentist every six months helps you to prevent, or greatly minimize, the risks associated with gum disease.
As a dentist in Summerville, I’ve been pleased to offer a “dental home” where our patients know we will treat them thoroughly, respectfully, and with gentle hands. We keep our fees affordable so all individuals can enjoy the benefits and confidence of a healthy smile.
If you suspect you have gum disease or have not had a dental cleaning in over six months, call 843-871-6351 to schedule an appointment. If preferred, ask to begin with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss your unique needs and how we can assist you in achieving the smile you desire.Read More
Every time I go to have my oil changed or tires rotated, I know the time and money required is to prevent problems or extend the life of my investment as much as possible. It makes handing over my credit card a little easier since I’m willingly taking steps to avoid larger expenses that could have been prevented.
This is why your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are so important. By removing built-up tartar, you can avoid the time and expense for cavity repair and gum disease treatment. However, these visits can help you avoid much greater expenses, some you may not realize.
For example, during these appointments, we check your bite alignment. Why is this important?
Every tooth in your mouth is designed to interact with neighboring teeth. For instance, an upper front tooth is bordered by teeth on each side as well as one below it. The teeth on each side help to keep adjacent teeth in their proper positions. The one below it – the one it ‘meets’ – helps to keep it at a proper length. Without the tooth below, the upper tooth would elongate. Without the teeth on each side, the tooth would turn or tilt.
It doesn’t take much to create a domino effect when it comes to the balanced alignment of how the upper teeth meet lower teeth. When just one tooth moves out of position, the others can bear the brunt of misalignment or malocclusion.
While a tooth that has become crooked may seem to create like a minimal flaw in your smile’s appearance, the problem can go much deeper than esthetics. For example, bite misalignment can lead to teeth that break, chip, or crack. It is also what leads to TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.
TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches; migraines, ear ringing; dizziness; night-time clenching and grinding; jaw popping, and sore facial and neck muscles. Because some of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated to bite alignment, many people spend years seeking relief, going from doctor to doctor, trying different medications, and undergoing procedures – all coming up short of actually resolving the true source of the problem.
Another check we perform during your dental hygiene visits is to look at the condition of your gums.
Periodontal (gum) disease can begin without obvious symptoms, symptoms that YOU may not notice. However, we are trained to catch early warning signs such as gums that are pulling away from their tight seal around teeth. Gums that bleed easily during ‘probing’ are also signs we note.
Yet, when it comes to your gum tissues, which cover the entire oral cavity, there ae additional problems that we can address during your oral hygiene visit. One, in particular, is to examine any lumps or bumps that can indicate oral cancer.
During your exam, you may notice us feeling around inside your mouth. We look under your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. What we’re looking for are unusual areas that can be early signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers due to its dreadful survival rate. If caught early, treatment requirements may be minimal. During this exam, we check for discolored spots, lumps, and growths that may indicate the need for a biopsy.
Other problems that your gum tissues can reveal are oral fungal infections, such as thrush. This can be an uncomfortable condition that is contagious. Even pregnant females can pass this on to their unborn babies. We can also note the emergence of things like canker sores and recommend ways to minimize their discomfort and duration.
If signs of a cavity exist, we can address the problem before it becomes a bigger problem! Filling a small cavity is a much simpler procedure than having to crown a tooth that has a large cavity. And, it is less of an expense.
We can also help in the prevention of tooth loss by checking teeth that are showing signs of break down. When a tooth is cracked, fractured, or overloaded with fillings, the potential for losing the tooth increases.
Tooth removal is necessary when a tooth breaks off below the gum line. To save the tooth, we can advise an inlay or a crown (cap) to help prevent the need to remove it (resulting in time and expense to replace it).
One of the most effective ways we can support patients during their cleanings and exams is to provide easy-to-follow recommendations and instructions for their at-home care. For example, if we note that a patient is being less-than-thorough with certain back teeth, our hygienists can discuss holding the toothbrush at a different angle. Or, the hygienist may advise using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if ‘dry mouth‘ seems to be a challenge.
So you see, these 6-month check-ups are important ways to have a healthy mouth and enjoy a bright smile between visits! They can help you save time and money by helping you avoid problems, or minimize those that do occur.Read More
Growing up, I remember a particular relative I only saw at Christmas gatherings at my Grandmother’s home. I was probably eight or nine when I recall him bending down and greeting me just inches from my face. While I don’t remember his words, I do remember his knock-you-over bad breath.
For years, every time his name was mentioned, I remembered the jolt of breath odor. I should have remembered his words and his smile, first and foremost, but his breath seemed to take a front-&-center place in my memory bank whenever his name came up.
None of us want to be remembered for our breath odor! While it is often associated with spicy foods, breath that is less-than-pleasant actually has a number of sources.
PERIODONTAL (Gum) DISEASE: A common symptom of gum disease is frequent bad breath. As the disease worsens, it goes from frequent to persistent. This is because oral bacteria produce a sulphuric odor that causes bad breath. As they reproduce, more and more of these bacteria exist, subsisting on the soft tissues in the mouth. The gums become so compromised from this over-accumulation that they bleed easily (often while brushing). Other symptoms include tender or swollen gums, gums that release their tight grip around teeth, and gums that turn red. Keep in mind, however, that gum disease begins silently. Beware: You may even have it without noticing symptoms in initial stages.
GERD OR ACID REFLUX: In addition to causing heartburn and a sore throat, acid reflux can cause bad breath. This occurs when acid travels up the throat and reaches your mouth. When these digestive acids mix with saliva, it produces bad breath that is uniquely associated with acid reflux. An excellent explanation of how it occurs (and ways to curtail it) can be found at: http://digestivehealthguide.com/acid-reflux-bad-breath/
DENTURES & PARTIALS: The gum-colored base that holds replacement teeth in dentures and partials is of a porous material. These pores actually provide oral bacteria with little homes where they breed and thrive. As mentioned prior, oral bacteria that accumulate in the mouth produce a surphur-ish odor (likened to a garlicky scent). Although soaking these appliances nightly in a denture cleanser rids most of these bacteria on a daily basis, many people also sleep in their dentures or partials. How bad is this bacteria? One study showed that pneumonia risk doubled in the elderly who slept in their dentures. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)
INSUFFICIENT ORAL HYGIENE: For many people who brush twice daily, the process may not be nearly as effective as they may think. It is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, using a soft to medium toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. (This applies when using either manual and electronic toothbrushes). Divide the mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each. Finish up by brushing the tongue to remove millions of oral bacteria embedded there. If you’re not flossing prior to brushing, however, you can be missing an important part of the process. Food particles caught between teeth cannot always be dislodged by the bristles of a toothbrush. Left behind, they rot in your mouth, creating a welcome food source that boosts oral bacteria growth.
DRY MOUTH: When the mouth is dry, it means that saliva flow is unable to rinse oral bacteria from the mouth efficiently. This leads to bacterial growth. Dry mouth is a side effect of many prescription and OTC medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and sedatives. Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol are also drying to oral tissues. Be aware of the moisture level in your mouth. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, chew sugarless gum to promote saliva flow, and consider using a rinse to replenish oral moisture (available over-the-counter at most drug stores).
While other causes of bad breath may be your problem, these are the most frequent culprits. However, regardless of the cause, having a healthy mouth can give you more confidence in close settings with others, and help you avoid the dreaded reputation of “the one who has bad breath.” Begin by scheduling a cleaning/exam to address your problems head on, or ask for a free consultation to discuss your concerns. I’ll make recommendations to help pinpoint the source of your problem and ways to help resolve it.
If you have dental fears or anxiety associated with dental care, please know that we hold consultations in a private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. You’ll never be asked to sit in a treatment chair until you are ready. I’ll also be happy to discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), if needed.
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.Read More
After years of wearing a denture, many people realize the fit is not as dependable as when it was first made. It begins to slip while chewing and also rub sore spots on tender gum tissues.
The reason for this is due to bone loss. When natural tooth roots no longer exist in the upper or lower jaw, the bone begins to shrink, or ‘resorb.’ Resorption is also the reason a once-secure fitting denture feels less and less so after each year.
Most people are not aware that wearing a denture places pressure on the jaw bones, which speeds up the process of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, the rate is accelerated even more.
Initially, after a denture is first made, patients may be advised to wear it 24/7 until becoming used to its presence in the mouth. However, after an adjustment period, you should remove it before bedtime. Studies have also shown that people who sleep in their denture have a higher risk for pneumonia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)
For people who do everything possible to care for their dentures, however, there is no way to prevent bone resorption. In addition to the looser fit with each passing year, changes to facial appearance will begin to take place.
These changes include deep wrinkles that form around the mouth, having the corners of the mouth turn downward (even while smiling), a more pointed chin, having a mouth that seems collapsed into the face, and jowls that form as facial muscles detach from bone structures.
A temporary fix to loose dentures is a reline. This reshapes the gum base portion to fit the less prominent contours of a declining gum ‘ridge’ to which it was originally fitted. Yet, the problems will reappear as bone loss continues.
In the past, people who had experienced severe bone loss were required to first have a bone graft, often using a piece of hip bone to rebuild the jaw bone where implants were to be placed. As dental techniques advanced, bone rebuilding materials were developed that could regenerate bone mass, preventing the need for the more-involved surgical grafting procedure.
Fortunately, in 1998, a new dental implant system was introduced that enabled implant placement in even severely resorbed bone mass. All-On-4 dental implants relied on specially designed implants placed at unique angles. This technique evenly distributed the load among four implants.
There were additional advantages to the All On Four system. First, the procedure itself was less complex than traditional implant placement, making it possible for the patient to recover quickly. Too, teeth could be attached immediately after placement. So, not only could the patient walk out of the dentist’s office and meet a friend following the procedure, they could enjoy lunch together!
For many, the best advantage of all is in the lower cost as compared to many other implants systems. Because only 4 dental implants are needed to support a full upper or lower arch of teeth, treatment costs are typically quite lower than traditional implant types.
While All On 4 dental implants won’t work for every individual who is missing teeth, they are a beneficial option for a number of patients who wish to be rid of a bothersome denture. If you’re one, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.Read More
When an individual is missing natural teeth or facing the removal of a tooth (or teeth), I take time to help the patient understand his or her options for replacement as well as why replacement is needed (even when missing a back tooth that is not visible in a smile).
Like the legs of a table or wheels on a car, each tooth plays a role in proper alignment. When a tooth is missing, the tooth above (or below) will grow longer since it does not have an opposing force to help keep it in place. By the same token, the teeth on either side of the open area will begin to tilt out of their positions.
This misalignment leads to a number of problems, including chipped, cracked, broken and fractured teeth. Improperly aligned teeth also contribute to a misaligned bite that places stress or strain on the jaw joints, which is commonly referred to as TMJ disorder.
The TMJ (temporo-mandibular joints) hinge the lower jaw to the skull. When properly functioning, the joints rotate harmoniously every time the mouth opens, while chewing or speaking and even during swallowing.
Misaligned teeth transfer stress and strain to the the jaw joints. This can lead to night-time clenching and grinding, worn teeth, frequent headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing and sore jaw joints.
Obviously, there is a domino effect when lost teeth are not replaced. At the same time, people who wear dentures or partial dentures may encounter an entirely different set of challenges.
When teeth are missing, the jaw bone that once supported their roots begins to shrink. This process is known as resorption. When the bone resorbs, it declines in height and mass. This reduced mass of bone creates a vulnerable foundation for remaining natural teeth. Statistics show that the next tooth you’re most likely to lose is one adjacent to a missing tooth.
Unbeknownst to many people, wearing dentures or partials actually contributes to the rate of bone loss. The pressure these appliances place on the bone speeds up the process of resorption. For those who sleep in their dentures, bone loss occurs at an even faster rate.
When the bone declines in mass, the denture or partial will eventually begin to slip or rub uncomfortable spots on tender gum tissues. This is because the appliance is custom-designed to the unique contours of an individual’s gum ridge. As the gum ridge flattens due to resorption, the fit becomes less and less secure. Over time, even denture pastes and adhesives will do little to hold the appliance in place.
We recommend dental implants for a number of reasons. The main advantage is how dental implants restore natural biting and chewing ability without requiring the support of neighboring teeth (as with some partials and crown-&-bridge combinations).
Additionally, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. They will not experience decay, require root canals or cause damage to neighboring teeth. And, because they recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, bone loss is halted.
When it comes to dental implants, the only obstacle for some people is cost. Although the fees associated with implants are all ‘up front,’ the problems experienced with dentures and partials that require future expense will not creep up and need continual upkeep.
Dental implants are one of the most successful implant-in-bone procedures, with a nearly 97 percent success rate. When you place your treatment in the hands of an experienced dentist who is trained in all types of implants, you optimize your potential for a successful outcome. He or she can choose the type that is truly best for your individual needs.
In our office, we combine experience, skills and comfort. We offer oral and I.V. sedation and use advanced technology to maximize comfort and precision placement. Here, safety and comfort are priorities with our entire team and our track record is exceptional.
To discuss your individual needs, call 843-871-6351. We will be happy to make recommendations and discuss easy payment plans that require no down payment and are interest-free.Read More
With the beginning of the school year, contact sports have parents and grandparents cheering from the sidelines. The last thing we expect is to see a player with a broken tooth, tooth that has been knocked out, or fractured jaw. If that player is one of our own, it’s even worse.
I’ve treated all ages of dental patients over the years, including tending to the unexpected injuries of players from football, baseball, basketball, hockey (field and ice), soccer, gymnastics and even tennis. I’ve seen lips and tongues bitten deeply from activities such as swimming, biking and skiing.
No matter how minor, accidents that involve the mouth can be painful and may cause permanent damage. This is why we encourage wearing a custom-made mouth guard as often as practical.
The advantages of wearing a custom-made mouth guard include:
• For a mouth guard to work in the first place, it must be worn in the first place! When a mouth guard is fitted to the unique contours of the mouth, it is typically worn more often since the fit is comfortable.
• Having a mouth guard that is made of superior material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred. It also is less bulky and more comfortable to wear.
• A mouth guard can lessen the impact of trauma to the jaw in a head injury.
• Having a properly-fitted mouth guard can prevent knocked out teeth or broken or chipped teeth. It can also prevent biting the tongue, lips, or inside of the cheek.
• For patients who wear braces, a mouth guard can prevent cuts and gashes to tender gum tissues inside the mouth.
While we hope you never have to deal with an injury to the mouth, knowing what to do should one occur can help to lessen the severity to a large degree. Below are quick tips so you can pursue the best course of action:
CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.
BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with lukewarm water. Place cold compresses over the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.
KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Rinse the tooth without touching the root portion while you handle the tooth as little as possible. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite gently on a clean gauze or cloth to hold the tooth in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Seek treatment quickly! Time is critical in saving a tooth.
FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. First, however, prevent the jaws from moving by using a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head.
BROKEN ORTHODONTIC BRACKETS OR WIRES – Cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, try to reach the orthodontist for immediate care rather than attempt to remove the wire yourself. If you cannot reach your orthodontist, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.
Never hesitate to contact us for an emergency need. Our answering service will direct you if after hours.
To inquire about a custom-fitted mouth guard, call 843-871-6351. The health of your smile (and the smiles precious to you) depends on YOU!Read More
Women who are pregnant, even early on, have a long list of precautions to follow to help in the healthy development of their unborn babies. These include dietary restrictions as well as avoiding alcohol, smoking and many medications.
New findings now add another precaution to the list. Studies show that it is important for pregnant women to maintain excellent oral health throughout their pregnancy — for their own health and that of their baby.
Pregnant women have elevated hormones, which increases their potential for periodontal (gum) disease. Because of this, many experience Pregnancy Gingivitis, causing swollen, red and sore gums that bleed while brushing. This also makes the gums more susceptible to inflammation and sensitive to the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease, leaving an estimated one-third of all pregnant females with gum disease.
Even worse, it is now known that the oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in compromised gum tissues. Studies show that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies.
When the infectious bacteria of gum disease reaches placental membranes, it can trigger inflammation that can lead to pre-eclampsia or early labor. For instance, the preterm birth rate for women without periodontal disease is approximately 11% compared to about 29% for moms-to-be with moderate or severe levels of gum disease. Gum disease also increases the risk for late-term miscarriage.
In one study, pregnant women who had higher levels of oral bacteria also had higher percentages of preterm births and babies born at low birth weight. Showing a direct connection between the oral health of the mom-to-be and her unborn baby, the same elevated antibody levels were noted in amniotic fluid and fetal cord blood samples of preterm or low birth weight babies.
Fortunately, studies show that successfully treating gum disease reduces the risk of preterm births, motivating a growing number of obstetricians to advise their pregnant patients to be evaluated for signs of periodontal disease. Typical signs include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, tender or swollen gums, and gums that turn red in color. Eventually, pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth and teeth will loosen and may require removal.
Take extra good care of your smile during pregnancy for the good of your own health as well as that of your baby. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease or Pregnancy Gingivitis, our non-surgical treatment is safe and effective for nearly all levels of gum disease.
Begin with a free consultation by calling 1-877-966-9009.Read More
No adult wants to lose a tooth. When an adult loses ALL upper or lower teeth, however, it’s much worse. This leaves an individual with a long list of decisions and future costs. While dentures may seem to be a less-expensive option compared to Dental Implants, their upkeep and replacement costs over the years are just the beginning.
A denture is primarily designed to replace the presence of teeth. This helps the patient to speak and eat. It’s what happens beneath the gums that can create the greatest challenge when it comes to dentures.
When teeth are removed, so are their roots. Without tooth roots present in the jaw bone, the bone lacks necessary stimulation and nourishment to remain healthy. Thus, a process known as resorption takes place. This is essentially the gradual and continual decline of jaw bone mass.
A new denture is designed to contour to the unique shape of your ‘gum ridge,’ which is the raised arch where tooth roots were held. Because a denture, when first made, is generally a snug fit, it takes several years for bone resorption to be noticeable.
Resorption causes this ridge to gradually flatten. A denture that was shaped to conform to the height and width of a gum ridge won’t have the same surface to support it 2-3 years later. Additionally, the pressure of wearing dentures actually speeds up the rate of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, the round-the-clock pressure accelerates it even more.
Biting and chewing with a denture that moves is uncomfortable. This causes people to apply (and reapply) denture pastes and adhesives to compensate for the loose denture that now rubs tender gum tissues. As the bone ridge continues to flatten, the denture becomes more ‘rocky’ or ‘wobbly’ when eating certain foods.
Generally, people with loose-fitting dentures resort to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. These are typically lacking in the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals needed for good nutrition. As a matter of fact, denture wearers are known to take more medications and have more gastro-intestional problems than people who have their natural teeth.
Yet, it’s not just eating difficulties that cause challenges for denture wearers. Fear of embarrassing slips or clicks can deter many denture wearers from joining friends and family when food is the centerpiece of a gathering. Since many events are surrounded by food, this fear lessens social interaction that is an important component of healthy aging for adults. Studies have shown that lack of social causes a decline in overall health.
One such study conducted by the Population Research Center at University of Texas at Austin found that “older adults who maintain high levels of social activity or ramp up their social life as they age might be protected from increases in physical and cognitive issues over time.” (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines).
A temporary fix for dentures that slip is a reline. This reshapes the denture so it more-closely conforms to the reduced height and width of the gum ridge. As the gum ridge continues to decline (and it will), relines will be needed on a more frequent basis each time.
For many reasons, many of today’s adults are opting to replace missing teeth with Dental Implants. Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, halting bone loss. And, since Implants are supported by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once had, they provide the same, dependable foundation as that of natural teeth.
When it comes to the disadvantages of Dental Implants, the only deterrent seems to be cost. Yet, Dental Implants are a one-time expense. When properly selected, placed and maintained, they are designed to last a lifetime. Not surprisingly, Implants enjoy one of the highest success rates of all implant-in-bone types, including knees and hip joints.
If you can use terms such as ‘rocky’ or ‘wobbly’ to describe the fit of your denture, you should know that this will never improve. Quite frankly, bone loss will continue and eventually be visible to others. Remove your dentures and look in a mirror for an honest view of how bone loss may have caused facial changes that are aging you far beyond your actual years.
Typical signs of bone loss are deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls that form from the detachment of facial muscles, a mouth that seems to collapse into the face and a chin that points. This creates a very unflattering ‘granny look.’ Who wants that?!!! There is a solution.
Because Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the bone, they can halt bone loss. There are many implant types that are affordable and support non-removable teeth. They restore a look and feel that is natural and worry-free. Eating and laughing with friends will be a pleasure again. And, with proper care, your implants will last your lifetime, making them an excellent investment.
Considering Dental Implants? Begin with a private, no-charge, no obligation consultation. Call toll free 1-877-966-9009.Read More
Our patients enjoy one, comfortable office for nearly every dental need, from regular cleanings to dental implants and everything in-between. In addition to added relaxation options of Oral and I.V. Sedation, our office features some of the most advanced dental technology available to reduce treatment time and optimize comfort.
Just some of the advanced features you’ll find in our Summerville dental office include:
Dental Radiology With 3D Cone Beam Technology – This 3D imaging covers the whole dentition area (all teeth and jaws, from ear to ear), giving a clear view of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw). This provides an intricate review of diagnostic requirements and is ideal for treatment planning of endodontics (root canals), periodontics (treatment of gums), orthodontics (tooth realignment), dental implants, TMJ (jaw joints) and dental prosthetics (crowns, bridges, partials, dentures and teeth attached to implants). Cone beam images also pinpoint the lower jaw nerve canal for pre-surgical planning for ideal implant positioning. The imaging process is fast and comfortable and exposes patients to minimal levels of radiation.
One Appointment Crowns & Inlays – CEREC 3D creates beautiful, durable ceramic restorations using the latest in computerization, ready for placement. The tooth is prepared and, while the patient relaxes for a brief time, their ceramic crown or bridge is created and ready for placement — no dental lab needed (that takes weeks). CEREC 3D also eliminates the need for temporaries and reduces numbing requirements by fifty percent.
Laser Therapy – Treatment of gum tissues using our laser is ideal for precision gum contouring, bacteria removal, uncovering implants, repair of oral ulcers and other tissue related procedures. Additionally, the laser causes no bleeding and reduces numbing requirements.
‘Silent’ Drill – We use handpieces that sound like a gentle whirr – with no high-pitched sound of a drill. This handpiece also has better precision and is much quieter.
Digital X-Rays – This digital imaging (x-ray) system reduces exposure to radiation by up to 90% while providing enlarged, on-screen images instantly. Its magnification aids in early diagnosis, helping to reduce treatment time and costs. Patients also like that this fast process is more comfortable than traditional “bite wings”.
Oral Cancer Detection – As a standard part of a patient’s annual examination, we use the VELscope Early Detection System. This is a hand-held device that aids in early detection of oral cancer. The exam is non-invasive, painless and takes only minutes. This process gives a better visual of abnormal tissue that may be, or may lead to, oral cancer.
CASEY Patient Education – To enhance patient communication and their involvement in treatment decisions, we use wall-mounted video technology in treatment suites. These also feature step-by-step information on the latest dental procedures.
IntraOral Imaging – To enhance patient understanding of areas in need, this technology gives enlarged views of specific areas in the mouth that can be easily viewed by the patient while in the treatment chair.
Computerized Charting – At each visit, a patient’s oral health status is recorded and stored, providing easy retrieval for future comparisons. This not only measures the patient’s oral status, it helps in predicting vulnerable areas. This allows patients to be proactive so preventing problems in the first place can occur.
Sterilization System – In our office, all instruments used in patient care are heat sterilized. Our process meets or exceeds the guidelines set forth by OSHA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
We are also proud that many of the features in our office are environmentally-friendly, helping to preserve precious natural resources and reducing the use of chemicals.
For a firsthand look at our advanced features, and to learn more about the patient benefits of each, feel free to ask. We are also happy to help you understand your options!Read More
School has resumed and the season for contact sports is in full swing. However, it’s not just football and ice hockey that create the most risk to a smile. As a dentist who has treated patients of all ages for years, I’ve seen a number of mishaps from activities such as swimming, skiing, biking, skating, soccer and basketball.
These injuries include broken teeth, teeth that have been knocked loose or out, fractured jaws, cut lips and gums, bitten tongues and everything in-between. Accidents, although unexpected, can lead to unpleasant results. No matter how minor, accidents that involve your mouth can be painful and result in permanent damage.
The value of wearing a mouth guard is priceless. Even when mishaps do occur while wearing these, a custom-fitted mouth guard made of the right material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred.
Knowing how to respond to common dental mishaps can save you greatly in the severity that occurs. Some tips include:
TOOTH ACHE – Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm, salt water or use dental floss to gently dislodge trapped food or debris. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take acetaminophen for pain and call our office as soon as possible. Do not place aspirin on the gum or the aching tooth.
CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.
BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the area of the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.
KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Handle the tooth by the top portion rather than the root. Rinse the tooth, but do not clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and hold it in place by biting gently on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving a tooth.
BROKEN BRACES & WIRES – Fortunately, most loose or broken appliances do not require emergency room attention. If the appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If not, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, do not remove it. Try to reach the orthodontist for immediate attention. Or, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.
COLD OR CANKER SORES – For most cold and canker sores, over-the-counter preparations are usually sufficient to provide relief. However, some serious diseases may begin as sores and a prompt dental evaluation is necessary if these sores persist. Any red, white or unusual sore in the mouth that does not heal within 2 weeks should be examined immediately.
FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, use a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head. This will help to keep the jaws from moving. Go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
Our goal is to help you avoid problems or greatly lessen the impact of those that do occur. Never hesitate to contact our office for assistance. If after hours, our answering service is set up to provide instructions for emergency needs.
If you do not wear a custom-fitted mouth guard during sports and other activities, call toll free 1-877-966-9009 to inquire about the process to have one created. This small investment can save you enormously when it comes to the health and appearance of your smile.Read More
One of the most exciting developments in the realm of dentistry has been the advancements in dental technology. As computerization has advanced, dental technology has as well. For the patient, its cutting-edge capabilities provide faster, more precise results with exceptional durability and enhanced comfort levels.
Let’s start with the imaging. The old ‘x-rays’ once used in a dental office have been replaced by modern offices for digital imaging. These images provide a clearer view of problem spots and areas of vulnerability. The images can be easily enlarged for patient viewing, enabling them to have greater involvement in treatment decisions.
An added bonus of digital imaging versus x-rays is patient safety. Imaging emits about 90% less radiation than traditional x-rays of prior film methods. The images also appear faster and can be projected onto large monitors to show minute details. Plus, they’re greener for the environment — no more film or development chemicals!
Another asset in modern dental offices is CEREC 3D. This computerized technology does a number of functions that save treatment time, optimize results and enhance patient comfort. One of its most popular functions is the creation of single-visit crowns.
For many years, providing a patient with a crown (‘cap’) required two visits. In the first, the patient’s tooth was prepared and a mold taken. This mold was sent to a dental lab, who would spend 2 weeks to a month creating the porcelain replacement ‘restoration.’
In the meantime, the patient wore a ‘temporary’ over the prepared tooth. These were designed to be removed easily so the lab-created crown could be placed once completed. However, temporaries tend to detach rather easily, often at the worst of times! Typically while chewing, the temporary’s adhesive would give way and end up requiring an appointment to resecure it.
When the final crown was ready, the patient had to return to the office for another appointment. The area for the new crown was again numbed and the crown would be attached. However, if the lab failed to properly match the shade or the fit was not done according to the doctor’s specifications, the process had to begin all over. Another appointment, another numbing, etc.
CEREC 3D technology solves all the back-&-forth. It takes an image of the prepared tooth, then imports it into a computer that logs in the Doctor’s specifications. It then begins creating the final restoration while the patient relaxes.
In a brief time, the final crown is ready for placement, with no additional numbing or a second appointment needed! CEREC can also create inlays or onlays, bridges and dental implant attachment-teeth.
One of the most fascinating new additions to our office technology is our Cone-Beam imaging. This takes a ‘head view’ image that shows the entire mouth and surrounding sinus, jaw and head joint structures in intricate detail. These ‘space age’ images can be viewed from all sides using a single image. For example, the Doctor can turn the image to see a tooth from both sides, the front or the back.
These views are a tremendous asset when it comes to diagnosis and planning appropriate treatment. This means that the potential for over-treating or under-treating is virtually eliminated.
Other advanced features (in our office) include a dental laser, which gives a number of advantages for patients. Primarily used in oral tissue treatment, a laser causes no bleeding and reduces numbing requirements in gum contouring, bacteria removal, uncovering implants, repair of oral ulcers and other tissue related procedures.
We also use the VELscope System, which is a hand-held device that aids in early detection of oral cancer. The exam is non-invasive, painless and takes only minutes. The process gives Dr. Andrews a better visual of abnormal tissue that may be, or may lead to, oral cancer.
Computerized charting is another advanced feature. This measures and stores your oral status while predicting vulnerable areas as it compares data at each visit.
While not all dental offices feature this array of dental technology, we’ve found our patients prefer the higher level of comfort, time savings and optimized outcomes it all provides.
To see just some of the unique features in our office, visit: http://smilesbyandrews.com/comfort-advanced-features/Read More
The human body is an amazing structure. It can react both physically and emotionally, process and distribute nutrition efficiently, and even heal itself.
Every body contains bacteria, some of which is good bacteria. When ‘bad’ bacteria enter the body, the white blood cells are signaled. Their job is to swoop in to attack bacteria so the healing process is not complicated. However, these ‘white knights’ are not always able to overpower an overgrowth of bacteria.
Because bacteria reproduce rapidly, they can overwhelm the body’s built-in defense mechanisms. This is when infection begins. Just as a cut on your foot can become infected, oral bacteria can cause infection in the mouth. This is what leads to periodontal (gum) disease, an inflammation that attacks teeth, gum tissues and the bone that supports tooth roots.
Symptoms of gum disease begin with tender gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, receding gums, gums that darken to red in color and pus pockets that may form at the base of some teeth. Without treatment, gum disease will eventually cause teeth to loosen, which often requires removal.
In most cases, gum disease progresses because people don’t realize that bleeding gums are not normal. Without proper tooth brushing, flossing and dental checkups, the result leads to a build-up of bacteria. This is a sticky substance that coats the teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque. When plaque is not thoroughly brushed away on a daily basis, it can harden into a mass of bacteria called calculus (or tartar).
Oral bacteria thrive on gum tissues and tooth enamel as they reproduce. The greater their numbers, the more rapidly they accumulate. Often, by the time people realize that something is wrong in their mouths that won’t go away, only dental treatment will be able to eliminate the bacterial onslaught. This is especially true when bacteria have penetrated beneath the gum line.
Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease. Symptoms are typically gums that ache in one area and some bleeding when brushing. These signs signal the need for immediate attention. With prompt attention and proper measures, you can halt and reverse the need for dental treatment and restore your gums to a healthy condition.
Begin by twice daily brushing with a soft bristle tooth brush using a tooth paste with fluoride. Brush for at least two minutes each time and floss daily. Avoid popping the floss between teeth so you don’t damage vulnerable gum tissues. Ease the floss between teeth in a back-&-forth motion to scrape the sides of each tooth.
To remove a tremendous amount of bacteria from the mouth, use a tongue scrapper daily. Scrape from back to front, rinsing after each pass. Or, you can use your tooth brush to brush your tongue after each brushing. Either method helps to dislodge bacteria that is embedded in the tongue. Be sure to get the back of the tongue where most of the bacteria live.
Drink lots of water during the day. (Sorry – colas and tea don’t count!) This will aid saliva flow so it is able to move bacteria from your mouth on a continual basis. Avoid or cut down on foods and drinks that are drying to the mouth, including alcohol, coffee, colas and spicy foods. Minimize sugary foods and reduce carbohydrates, which are the super-food that rev up the reproduction of oral bacteria.
If you smoke, use an oral rinse that will replenish the mouth with moisture. These are available over-the-counter. Just avoid those that contain alcohol. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are terribly drying to oral tissues. Be aware that a dry mouth provides oral bacteria with a favorable environment for reproduction.
If you adhere diligently to these steps before gingivitis progresses, gum tenderness and bleeding should cease in a week or so. If you do not see marked improvement after two weeks, make an appointment as soon as possible. We will determine if full-blown gum disease is underway and, if so, recommend appropriate treatment.
The key is to act promptly. Gum disease only worsens without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause for adult tooth loss. Additionally, the bacteria of gum disease has been found to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. It has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, preterm babies and impotency.
Call toll free 1-877-966-9009 if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with gum disease. Also, arrange an appointment if you are behind on your cleanings and exams. These appointments can catch problems in early stages and often save you time and expense for future repairs.Read More