If you find yourself “jittery” in the dental chair or have ever had a “white-knuckled” grip during appointments, don’t feel you are in the minority. Unfortunately, an estimated 70 percent of American adults have some level of anxiety or fear when it comes to going to a dentist.
Even worse, about a third of these adults have such deep levels of fear that they’re classified as ‘dental phobics.’ These are people who find it difficult to even call a dental office. Some have avoided dental care for decades.
Some people are unable to pinpoint where such fears originated. However, the majority of these fears are the result of traumatic dental experiences in the past (often as children).
Those with severe levels of dental fear often avoid dental care until they have an emergency need. Typically, the discomfort becomes so intense that it forces them into a dental chair for treatment. What I often see, at this point, are problems that could have easily been avoided had they been able to receive regular check-ups and cleanings.
Regardless of an individual’s level of fear, we know it’s vital that every patient feels a sense of trust that we won’t subject them to pain. We commonly start with a conversation in our consultation room. This room is away from the clinical side of the office so you won’t hear sounds or see a treatment chair.
During this time, we are seated in comfy armchairs in a private setting. We discuss your oral needs and goals, particular concerns (including dental fears) and what you want to accomplish when your oral health has been restored. For fearful patients, however, our first goal is to assure each one that comfort is a priority at all times in our office.
I explain the various options we use for enhanced comfort. Since many people are uneasy about dental visits before they walk into a dental office, I may recommend oral sedation. In pill form, oral sedation is highly-effective and safe.
Before the patient is seated in a treatment suite, the medication has taken effect. Patients relax as they ease into a state where many doze in and out. I administer numbing medication to the areas being treated so there are no worries about discomfort. Sedated patients are also monitored by a trained staff member along with advanced monitoring equipment to ensure safety and comfort.
An advantage of oral sedation is its ability to erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards. Fearful patients like knowing this. Occasionally, a patient may share later on that they recall hearing the sound of my voice during treatment, but most have no memory of their time while in the treatment chair.
Patients also like that oral sedation has a quick recovery time. After a brief nap at home, most patients feel refreshed and back to normal within hours. Although I am certified to provide I.V. sedation, also referred to as “twilight sleep,” it does require a longer recovery time (even though it’s within 24-hours) and is a bit more costly than oral sedation.
Oral sedation is a practical way for fearful adults to have dental care while being totally relaxed before and throughout treatment. In addition to achieving the healthy, confident smile you desire, a healthy mouth plays an important role in your overall health. Research has shown that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through weakened tears in inflamed gum tissues. This bacteria has been linked to heart disease, memory loss, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.
We are always pleased to watch once-fearful patients overcome their fear altogether. Often, after one or two visits with oral sedation, patients feel they no longer need sedating. If fear prevents you from a healthy, attractive smile, begin with a friendly phone call at 843-871-6351 or tap here to request a no-charge consultation.Read More
Imagine a center brick in a brick wall that begins to crumble. It makes sense that removing the brick and leaving the space open will eventually weaken the entire wall. To preserve the strength of the wall, the brick should be repaired or quickly replaced.
In the natural design of your “bite,” the upper teeth and lower teeth work in unison. Each one serves as a support to the others around it. For example, a tooth helps to keep those on either side in their proper positions as well as the one above or below to its proper height.
Once the process of tooth loss begins, whether a tooth is removed due to infection, decay, an overload of fillings, a crack, or an injury, its presence (above and below the gum line) is still important to other teeth. Just like a brick wall, lack of its support will result in other teeth becoming more vulnerable to tilting, turning, and so on.
There is a misconception that removing a tooth rather than trying to save it will be the cheapest option. There is a domino effect that results, including the potential for continued tooth loss of neighboring teeth. People are often unaware of the long-term effects of leaving an open space.
When we are unable to save teeth, we recommend replacement options. This, ideally, occurs with a dental implant. Dental implants are advised because they are held in the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots. This foundation restores the same, dependable foundation for biting and chewing. It also helps to preserve the bone mass of the supporting structures of remaining teeth.
Dental implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bones that secure tooth roots. Without this, the bone begins to shrink in height and width. This occurs in a ‘melting away’ of bone mass through a process known as resorption. This begins the domino effect
Bone loss in one area affects the supportive foundation of adjacent teeth. This causes neighboring teeth to become vulnerable as their supportive structure declines. These teeth have a higher risk for being the next to be lost as a result. Thus, one open space leads to another, and so on, and so on.
Too, people are often unaware that a denture or partial actually accelerates the process of resorption. While these appliances may recreate the presence of teeth above the gum line, what is occurring below is very different. The pressure of these appliances on the ‘ridge’ that once supported tooth roots speeds up the rate of bone loss.
When a patient is interested in dental implants, tired of the frustrations associated with dentures and partial dentures, the amount of bone mass they have remaining is a guiding factor in my recommendations. Why?
Like teeth, a dental implant is dependent on a solid foundation. Without sufficient bone mass, the size of an implanted “core” can’t be adequately supported. Too, a lower jaw bone has a nerve that runs vertically through it. An implant cannot be placed in its proximity or eventual removal will be necessary.
By the same token, the upper jaw must be to a certain mass to sufficiently support dental implants. When an implant is placed in shallow bone, the sinus cavity can be too close to the implanted site. There is a risk that the implanted portion will work its way into that proximity. Again, removal can be eventually needed if this occurs.
This is why it is so important to select an implant dentist carefully. When he or she is fully trained in the diagnosis (selection of the best type) and placement of ALL implant systems, your results have a greater potential to provide you with a lifetime of confident eating and smiling. However, a dentist trained in only one or two implant systems is limited in their recommendations. You could end up making an investment that fails to fully achieve your needs and goals that another type may have been better suited to provide.
With decades of advancements in implant dentistry, there have been refinements to the implant systems available. There are now a number of types to select from, each designed to accommodate specific needs and preferences. When shallow bone mass exists, however, one particular type has proven to be beneficial and effective.
While it was once necessary to rebuild bone mass through bone grafting or applying bone rebuilding materials, the All on 4 Dental Implant system can eliminate that need. Through an elongated design and placement at unique angles at strategic points, patients who have experienced severe bone loss can even enjoy the benefits of dental implants.
Using only four implants to support a full upper or lower arch of teeth, All-On-4 also lowers treatment costs since implant fees are based on the number of implants placed, While helping to curtail treatment fees, the teeth attached to All-On-4 implants are non-removable (“fixed”). This means you don’t have to take your teeth out of your mouth to clean them. You brush and floss them just as your would natural teeth!
Best of all, All On Four can effectively manage the forces of biting and chewing. They support a full arch of replacement teeth that restore the ability to eat the foods you love again, laugh with confidence, and wake up with a fabulous smile!
To discuss the All-On-4 process or any tooth replacement options, call 843-871-6351 or tap here for a no-charge consultation. During this time I’ll answer your questions, discuss treatment fees, and what to expect during the treatment process. While you’re here, we can also have you meet with our financial coordinator who will explain easy payment plans that are interest-free with no down payment required.
Take charge of your smile by preventing tooth loss through thorough hygiene at home and regular dental check ups. However, if you’ve found yourself in dentures and desire a better way to eat, smile, and be confident with others, the consultation appointment is a good way to understand the options that are available to you.Read More
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
It is estimated that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions and a whopping 80 percent fail by February. (https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail)
Although losing ten pounds or training to run a marathon may not be achieved by the end of the year, we’d like to suggest a “replacement resolution” that is easy to keep, takes mere minutes a day, and can save you much in time and money.
What, you ask, could this be?
The simple steps you take to maintain good oral health can pay off greatly by helping you avoid cavities and in the prevention of gum disease. As an added bonus, you’ll have a brighter smile, fresher breath, and even enhance your overall health.
How could good oral health improve your overall health?
The bacteria in our mouths can accumulate to the point where they can cause inflammation in gum tissues. This can cause the gums to become swollen, tender, red, and bleed easily when brushing.
If not treated promptly, this early-stage of gum disease (known as gingivitis) can progress to periodontal disease. In addition to attacking gum tissues and the bone that support teeth, this disease can weaken gum tissues and allow entry of infectious bacteria into the bloodstream.
Once bloodborne, the bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has shown it can increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm births, impotency, and some cancers. That’s pretty scary stuff – far scarier than a cavity.
By being committed to a good oral hygiene regimen at home and having dental cleanings and exams every 6 months, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even protect your overall health. And, it’s easy; perhaps as easy as making small adjustments to your existing routine.
Let’s look at your daily brushing habits. First, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day. And, it’s not just your brushing but in HOW you brush.
For example, you should use a soft or medium bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. Additionally, each brushing should last at least two minutes, even if using an electronic toothbrush.
But, it’s not just in the time you spend at the sink, but the technique you use. For example, you should brush all sides of all teeth, including the tops and backs. You should also brush near the gum line to dislodge oral bacteria that has gathered at the base of teeth.
Flossing your teeth is also important. This action dislodges food particles caught between teeth, which if left to rot, can provide fuel for more bacterial growth. Our hygienists can help you with the proper way to floss your teeth – comfortably! Ask at your next visit.
If flossing seems too difficult, consider using a water flosser. These have proven to be just as effective as manual flossing. Ask us about which brands are easy and affordable. (Hint: Most of them are!)
Many people do not realize what a hotbed of bacteria exist in the tongue, but it can house over 25,000 types of bacteria with over 700 species identified in its oral microbiome. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585543/) This is why we recommend either brushing your tongue at the end of brushing teeth or using a tongue scraper.
A tongue scraper is often a flexible strip that you slide over the surface of the tongue, from back to front. Rinsing of the scraper is done after each pass. These are easy to use and take just seconds but the action can uproot millions of micro-organisms.
The goal is to minimize oral bacteria. You can help this further by keeping the mouth moist. Although saliva is designed to rinse bacteria and food particles from the mouth, it can only do so much. With today’s frequent snacking habits and our sugary, carb-laden diets, saliva flow is up against the odds.
You can aid saliva flow by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Colas, tea and coffee don’t count. They actually make things worse! Because these beverages contain caffeine, they can be drying to oral tissues, which depletes saliva.
Be sure to minimize sugar intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, and caffeine. At the very least, swish with water several times afterwards. Sipping colas or sucking on candy or mints containing sugar can place you at high risk for developing cavities and gum disease.
Your 6-month oral hygiene check-ups are structured so you are given a ‘clean slate’ of sorts twice a year. During this time, our hygienists remove plaque (a film of bacteria) and calculus (a hardened form of plaque) from teeth. They can also point out areas at risk to help you avoid further damage with instructions for effective at-home care.
Delaying or avoiding these twice-a-year dental visits can heighten your potential for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. This is unfortunate, especially since it takes mere minutes each day to avoid and is so inexpensive to do.
So, if you want a resolution you can easily keep and reap the rewards almost immediately. make it to have good oral health for 2019 and for the rest of your life! Our Summerville dental office can help! Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a no-charge consultation to begin.
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
Over the years, our Summerville dental office has developed a reputation for successfully helping adults who struggle with dental fears.
We understand that, for many fearful patients, it takes a great deal of effort to just come in for a consultation. Once here, however, they see that our office is structured to attend to their unique needs.
Our goal is to give all patients an environment where they can achieve a healthy, confident smile. For those who have avoided dentistry, we feel this enables many to have much-needed treatment BEFORE they are ‘forced’ into a dental office because of severe pain.
When regular dental care is avoided, it increases the risk for losing natural teeth and/or developing gum disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease that is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Gum disease is also associated with serious health problems. The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth. It has been linked to higher risks for heart disease, stroke, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Some patients prefer to begin their care with the addition of Oral Sedation. This is in pill form and allows the patient to be fully relaxed throughout their care, even “dozing” in and out.
For those who prefer a deeper level of sedative, I am certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep). Both forms of sedation erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards and have a practical recovery time.
Rest assured – patients who are sedated are closely monitored throughout treatment with advanced safety equipment and specially-trained staff members.
No matter what your fear level, you CAN experience gentle dentistry where you’ll feel relaxed before, during and after your visit. And, like many of our once-fearful patients, you can enjoy a healthy, confident smile without having a white-knuckled experience!
Dental fear affects over 70 percent of Americans, but it can be overcome. We have hundreds of formerly fearful patients who now have confident, healthy smiles. They know that dentistry can be performed without discomfort and enable them to achieve excellent oral health. You, too, can achieve this regardless of your level of fear.
We’ll begin with a friendly conversation in our private consultation room. This room is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, you can share your concerns and learn about options that can help you move at a pace that’s right for you. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a convenient time for this no-cost consultation.
In the right hands, you can have the healthy, confident smile you desire!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
The health and appearance of your smile depends on a daily commitment of thorough at-home care. It also depends on regular involvement with your general dentist.
These visits are designed to remove plaque and tartar buildup that has accumulated between visits and catch problems at early stages. The appointments are spaced at 6-month intervals to keep you in a better position to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Not many people look forward to a dental cleaning or exam, although we actually have some who tell us they DO look forward to their oral hygiene visits. They enjoy seeing long-time staff members whom they’ve grown close to. Primarily, though, they like the clean feeling and bright smile they get from these twice-a-year visits.
I understand people who don’t look forward to dental check ups, however. I feel the same way about my ophthalmologist. I know I need an annual eye exam and like the doctor and staff very much. But, the process isn’t something I deem pleasant, even though I appreciate its importance.
One of the reasons many of our patients are such long-time patients is because they trust us. They know we will never over-treat or under-treat, recommend treatment according to their specific needs, respect their preferences, and make their comfort a high priority at every visit.
Comfort is a big deal when it comes to dentistry. There are many individuals who avoid dental care altogether because they have such intense dread or fear associated with these visits. Dental fear or anxiety is said to affect over 70 percent of the American adult population.
To lessen the worries of anxiety or fear of being in pain, we have taken a number of measures. We pride ourselves on having a relationship of trust with our patients — they trust us to keep them comfortable and minimize the potential for discomfort. Yet, we know that comes with time. New patients simply don’t walk in and perceive that; they need to experience it to just know it’s part of our commitment to care.
Below are just a few of the ways my team and I optimize your comfort in our Summerville dental office:
For adults who have fear, anxiety, or even dental phobia, we have been able to help the majority to achieve a healthy, appealing smile while being relaxed and comfortable. Here, we know you can learn to dread less and smile more!
Consider starting with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we will discuss your concerns, make recommendations for your specific needs and goals, and give you a firsthand look at the exceptional Summerville SC environment we offer for your very best smile.
To schedule, call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.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
I have a friend who struggled for years to quit smoking. He tried every kind of patch, gum, and hypnosis available to try to kick the habit. He eventually did, but I remember him telling me that the lectures and chastising he received from (mostly) well-meaning friends, family and strangers had very little impact on his decision to quit.
Cigarettes are manufactured to be addictive. In a 2006 ruling from a lawsuit filed by the federal government, it was found that cigarette makers deliberately misled the public about the dangers of smoking. (https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/content/what_we_do/industry_watch/doj/FinalOpinion.pdf)
The ruling cited that the tobacco companies intentionally designed their products to be addictive, even while knowing their use led to harmful, and even deadly, effects.
For most smokers, they’re aware of the health risks associated with smoking. However, many are unaware of the risks that smoking poses to their oral health. Yes, gum disease and tooth loss are more prevalent in people who smoke.
The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns that:
• Smokers have double the risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers.
• The more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher their risk for developing gum disease.
• The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
The CDC also warns that smoking can make treatment for gum disease less effective. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html)
With these challenges in mind, we want to help smokers be aware of their unique needs while providing an environment that supports their ability to prevent the development of periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent tooth loss.
In our office, we see each individual as, well… just that – an individual. Every mouth is different. And, the lifestyle and habits of each patient is different as well. Some of our patients eat too much sugar, which is a challenge in the prevention of cavities and gum disease. Others are infrequent brushers, leaving their mouths more prone to bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Some are arthritic and have difficulty managing thorough at-home oral care.
For every patient, we strive to help them work around these particular issues so their smile is always healthy and bright. Being committed to good oral health means you can avoid the time and costs associated with treatment for cavities, gum disease, and even tooth replacement.
If you smoke, here are some at-home tips to help you keep your smile in good shape:
• Cigarette (and cigar) smoke is very drying to the tissues in the mouth. This provides an environment for the accumulation of oral bacteria that attack tooth enamel and gum tissues. The goal is to keep your mouth moist throughout the day. Drink lots of plain water (or add cucumber slices or fresh mint as smile-friendly additives). Swish water around your mouth after each cigarette. This will moisten the oral tissues and remove some of the oral bacteria from the mouth. You may also want to begin using a mouthwash that is specifically-designed to replenish oral moisture. These are available over-the-counter in most stores’ pharmacy section.
• Brush thoroughly twice a day. Spend two minutes each time you brush (even if you use an electronic toothbrush). Be careful to reach all sides of every tooth, especially back teeth. Use a soft to medium toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. This will help toughen up tooth enamel. Consider finishing up by brushing the tongue with your toothbrush. There are ka-zillions of bacteria embedded in the tongue and this will help management bacteria levels. Swish and spit several times after.
• Flossing is another area that we try to avoid lecturing. However, this action gives you a ‘leg up’ when it comes to managing bacteria in the mouth. If you find the process uncomfortable, our hygienists can show you easy techniques so you’re doing an effective job in a minimal amount of time (less than 2 minutes). If preferred, use a ‘water flosser.’ Our patients (whether they smoke or not) really like these. They are affordable and easy to use. Too, studies have shown that they can be just as effective as manual flossing. (Read one article on the studies in Dental Economics: https://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-101/issue-30/features/water-flosser-can-address-futility-of-floss.html)
• Your regular dental check-ups (cleanings and exams) are designed to remove the buildup of oral bacteria (that forms plaque, which can harden into tartar). If you smoke, your gums are more susceptible to the hazards of cigarettes. For some patients, we arrange their dental cleanings to occur every 4 months rather than every six. This additional visit helps many of these patients avoid problems in the first place.
We want to support you in finding the best way to have fresh breath, healthy gums, and teeth that create a fabulous smile! If you are behind on regular dental visits, you may want to begin with a no-charge consultation. During this time, we can discuss ways we can help you have a confident smile.
If dental fears have prevented you from having regular dental care, we can also discuss ways to help you achieve the smile you desire through oral or I.V. sedation. You’ll also find that our entire team is committed to providing a comfortable experience with a gentle touch, at every visit!
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule or learn 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
When I go to the eye doctor for my annual eye exam, it’s usually one of my least favorite items to check off my healthcare to-do list. Having my pupils dilated, that puff of air shot at my eye ball, and sitting still while a bright light blares into each eye is no fun. However, I see my vision as not only a vital part of living a full and active life. As a dentist, having good vision is vital.
Having an annual eye exam is an appointment most people want ‘over and done with’ quickly. But, like many medical screenings and checkups, we know it’s wise to take the time. Dental checkups, although not something most people look forward to, are also important to your health and well-being. Plus, these twice-a-year dental visits are structured to help you avoid or minimize time and expenses for treatment that can occur without regular care.
Fortunately, these visits typically require only an hour or so of your time. In our office, we try to minimize wait time and use advanced skills and technology to create more efficiency while optimizing comfort. This certainly makes dental visits more appealing for all patients. Yet, for people who do struggle with dental fear, these visits require far more of them than just setting aside the time needed for each visit.
I have decades of experience helping patients who have anxiety or fear (and even dental phobia) to be able to relax through dental treatment. Some have been able to overcome their fears altogether. While I don’t claim to convert them into dental appointment ‘fans,’ I will say that a large percentage go from a sense of dread and ‘white knuckled’ tension to walking in with a smile and leaving with a smile, having completed their appointment without dealing with the grip of fear.
In our nation, periodontal (gum) disease effects over 47 percent of adults – a staggering statistic when you consider how easy it is to prevent. Gum disease occurs from the over-accumulation of oral bacteria that cause inflammation. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, oral health is not the only thing compromised because of gum disease.
These potent bacterial organisms can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. Research has shown they can cause reactions that have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. As more research is conducted, new findings keep connecting oral bacteria to more and more health problems, some that are deadly.
With that said, our nation sadly has far more people who are nervous or afraid of dental visits than not. It is estimated that over 70 percent of adult have some level of dental anxiety or fear. Because this fear prevents some people from being able to receive regular dental care (often delaying treatment until pain forces them), it’s to no surprise that so many suffer with gum disease. As mentioned prior, it’s nearly half of our adult population.
Although we offer both oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), all patients (in our office) enjoy the benefits of a number of comfort options. In addition to a gentle touch, we’ve invested in a wide variety of advanced technology that reduces treatment time and enhances comfort. (Even our drills are designed to eliminate that dreadful, high-pitched whine, with a gentle humming sound instead).
We also pace each patient’s care to match individual needs. Some people are happy to move through treatment in one or two appointments while others wish to proceed in small steps. We are also careful to communicate what is being done in their mouths, and why. This is reassuring to patients, especially those with fear issues. They may ‘perceive’ pain when there is unknown action taking place that they can’t see.
We encourage anyone who has dental fear or anxiety issues to begin with a private conversation at no charge. This consultation is just a chat. I take the time to learn the unique concerns of each individual and make recommendations based upon those concerns. From there, we can determine the most comfortable way to proceed. Or, they may choose to do nothing for the time being. The choice is in the hands of the patient. We are not here to nudge someone into treatment, but rather to support them when they are ready.
If you would like to schedule a private, no cost consultation, call 843-871-6351. From the very first conversation on the telephone, I’m certain you’ll understand why so many once-fearful people have chosen us to help them achieve healthy, confident smiles.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
“A rose is a rose,” is a common alteration of Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Both mean the same, basically, in that one rose is the same as all the others. However, we know that’s not the case.
One dental office or one 6-month dental cleaning may be far different in one office than the other. For example, one dental office may make comfort a high priority while another moves patients through care in a rushed pace with little regard to comfort.
In our office, we’ve taken a number of measures to ensure patients understand the difference as well as feel it. We hope that each patient comes to find, with each appointment, that it’s not one thing but a combination of things that make the difference.
Below, we’ve listed a few areas we know affords our patients with an elevated standard of care as well as a noticeably high level of comfort:
• Advanced Technology – We’ve carefully incorporated a number of state-of-the-art features that shorten treatment time, enhance results, and optimize comfort. These include Cone Beam Imaging (for 3-dimensional views of teeth, gums and supporting bone structures), CEREC 3D computerized technology (for one-appointment crowns and implant restorations), ‘Silent’ Drills (that eliminate the high-pitched whine of a drill, replacing it with a gentle whir), and Laser Dentistry (which reduces bleeding and speeds healing).
• Staff Longevity – I am so proud of the longevity of each team member. For decades, many have worked by my side and become “like family” to patients. Newer staff members have immediately sensed the unified team spirit here, feeling fully supported in their commitment to excellent patient care.
• Exceptional Comfort – In addition to oral sedation (a sedative in pill form), I am Certified to provide I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). This provides a deeper level of comfort through ‘sleep dentistry’ and erases most, if not all, memory of treatment afterward. In addition to sedation options, all measures are taken for the highest level of patient comfort possible, starting with a gentle touch and care that is paced to each individual’s specific need.
• Complete Dentistry – In addition to providing all phases of Dental Implants, you’ll find all levels of dental care are covered – for all ages and all needs. Everything from six-month checkups to root canals to tooth replacement to therapy to treat gum disease – our patients appreciate having all services in one, convenient location.
• Skilled, Ethical Care – Our patients know our recommendations are made based on what is in their best interests. By instilling a sense of confidence with each, they have faith in us to provide the best care according to their individual needs and goals. This has created strong bonds that we feel is the foundation of “exceptional dentistry.”
You should feel positive about your dental caregivers, at every visit. If you feel something is missing in your relationship with your dental office, consider scheduling a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss how our office may be compatible to your needs and desires, enabling you to achieve a healthy, confidence smile you’ll love to share.
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule. I look forward to meeting you and including you as one of our many happy patients!Read More
For years, I never knew what my ophthalmologist was looking for when he shot that puff of air into each eye. I finally asked. Now, knowing it is a test for glaucoma makes it a little easier to tolerate.
As a dentist, I felt the same thing may apply to those 6-month dental checkups. During this time, your hygienist takes a small ‘probe’ and runs it along 3 positions at the base of each tooth and on both sides. During probing, you may hear her record numbers three-at-a-time, such as 3-3-2, 2-3-2, 1-2-2, 2-3-3, etc.
What do these numbers mean?
What you may not know is how these probes have measurements near the blunted tip. A dental probe is actually a gauge that shows the depth between your tooth and the gum tissues that surround it. Depth? Allow me to explain.
Of course, your teeth are more than the white, enamel-coated portions you see in the mirror. Each tooth is wrapped tightly with gum tissues at its base. Gum tissues help to seal bacteria from penetrating the structures below.
As you know, each tooth has roots that we can’t see. The root portion is what is anchored into the upper or lower jaw, giving the tooth a firm foundation and the stability necessary for biting and chewing.
The portion of your teeth that is beneath the gums is not coated by protective enamel as the portion of the teeth we see. The root areas are very sensitive. This is why darker, tooth root areas appear when the gums recede. This is the reason you may experience a jolt of pain when drinking hot or cold when these sensitive areas are exposed.
Not only are these parts of the tooth highly sensitive, they are more susceptible to the penetration of oral bacteria. When bacteria accumulation eats away at healthy gum tissues, it can weaken the gums and interfere with their ability to keep the tight seal around teeth.
The numbers your Hygienist is calling out during the probing part of your cleaning indicate how far down the gum tissue has loosened from the tooth (the depth). The higher the number, the farther down the probe can go. So, like a golf score, a lower number is better.
Hearing 1 or 2 is good. That means the probe is unable to go down into the gums or can penetrate only slightly. A 3 means there is room for improvement. Perhaps you were not as thorough when brushing at certain angles around back teeth. Or, you weren’t flossing often enough to remove food particles caught between teeth. When oral bacteria builds, the gums react by becoming inflamed.
This inflammation is what causes the gums to feel tender. If you dread a cleaning because it is uncomfortable, it’s likely because your gums are sensitive due to inflammation. They may also appear more red in color versus a healthy pink and be swollen in some areas. This is the same reaction you’d have from a cut on the skin that is becoming infected – it becomes red and swollen.
Naturally, hearing a 4 or a 5 from the hygienist is not good. These numbers indicate trouble. The higher numbers indicate a depth that is due to bacterial overload that has created inflammation.
Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, research has found that the potent bacteria of gum disease is linked to a number of serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues. It has been shown to cause inflammatory triggers that contribute to diseases and conditions that range from cancer to stroke. (https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-living/gum-disease-and-health)
When you take good care of your oral health at home and have regular dental checkups, you’re doing more than protecting your pearly whites. You are keeping your gums healthy, which in turn help to support good overall health.
At your next hygiene visit, ask your hygienist how to have all 1’s and 2’s. She’ll develop an individualized program that works well for you. Thorough, twice-daily brushing and daily flossing can help you avoid expensive repairs for cavities and gum disease as well as mean a more comfortable dental cleaning.
If you are behind on regular dental checkups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. We’ll be happy to help you get back up to speed!Read More