Posts for: January, 2012
CAMBRA — Caries Management By Risk Assessment
Worried about tooth decay? Dental Decay is one of the most common and infectious diseases known to man, but it is also very preventable. Today, it is even possible to determine your risk for getting tooth decay. There are disease indicators and risk indicators that can be assessed and used to determine your chances of getting tooth decay. And more importantly, they can be used to prevent and reverse early decay.
Essentially, the difference between healthy teeth and tooth decay is a matter of balance and keeping the balance tipped toward health. That means controlling the factors that tip it toward health and away from disease. Here's a little about how it works:
Disease indicators, as the name implies, are indicators of disease. For example, the presence of white spots on the enamel of your teeth, early signs of decay, which can be detected by your dentist, your past experience of cavities, and whether you currently have tooth decay.
Today, with a “simple saliva sample,” we can test the bacteria in your mouth to determine your decay risk with a simple meter reading.
There are also certain risk factors for tooth decay that you can change by modifying what you do. The ways in which you can help yourself include:
- Reduce the amount of bacterial plaque (biofilm) build-up on your teeth. If plaque is actually visible on your teeth with the naked eye, it means there is a large amount that needs to be removed professionally. High levels of bacteria leave teeth more susceptible to attack from acid-producing bacteria that cause decay.
- Stop snacking on foods containing sugar between meals. Reducing the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugary snacks, and those that contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, will help lower your risk of tooth decay. Stop feeding the bacteria sugar, which is turned into acid.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. This toothpaste will help strengthen your teeth, making them more resistant to acid attack. Deep grooves in the biting surfaces of your teeth, which we call pits and fissures, increase the likelihood of tooth decay making it impossible to reach with just a toothbrush. However, sealing these areas with “sealants” will prevent these areas from decaying.
- Always ask your doctors about the potential side effects of all medications. Certain drugs reduce the production of saliva and lead to dry mouth, which is one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Saliva has important buffering properties, neutralizing acids in the mouth, helping to reduce risk of decay.
- If you have an eating disorder, get professional help. People suffering from both bulimia and anorexia frequently vomit after meals, which creates a highly acidic condition in the mouth. Getting control over these conditions can help you also gain control over your risk for tooth decay.
We can further help assess your risk for tooth decay by using low dosage x-rays, microscopes, innovative laser technology, and other modern means. Call our office today to schedule a screening. To learn more about the diagnosis and prognosis of tooth decay, read the exclusive Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
Life lessons are learned in the most surprising places. This is no different for celebrities. Take, for example, Florence Henderson, an actress, singer, philanthropist, author and star of the hit television series, The Brady Bunch. As she told Dear Doctor magazine, her experience with having four impacted wisdom teeth removed — at the same time — “...only made me more aware of how important dental care is.” She continued, “This is why I have always gone every six months for a check up.”
Another important lesson we want to share is the fact that even if your impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) are not bothering you or causing any pain, you may still need to have them removed.
Why? Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of other teeth is problematic; the tooth should be removed so that you can avoid major dental problems before they occur. For example, it is not uncommon for us to find an impacted third molar pressing against the roots of the adjacent second molar. Furthermore, because the enamel crown of this impacted tooth is trapped below the gum, we sometimes find an infection, gum disease or even cyst formation occurring.
Often, the best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it is not causing any problems. This is because a painful wisdom tooth or pain in the area of the wisdom tooth may be a sign that significant damage has occurred or is occurring. It is also better to remove wisdom teeth when you are young, as young healthy people with no prior infections at the site provide the best opportunity for us to remove the tooth with no complications.
To learn more about impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removing Wisdom Teeth.” Or if you suspect or already know that you have an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination that includes x-rays. During this private consultation, we will also address any questions you have as well as your treatment options. And if you want to read the entire article on Florence Henderson, continue reading “Florence Henderson.”
When it comes to sensitive gums during pregnancy, Nancy O'Dell, the former co-anchor of Access Hollywood and new co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight, can speak from her own experience. In an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, she described the gum sensitivity she developed when pregnant with her daughter, Ashby. She said her dentist diagnosed her with pregnancy gingivitis, a condition that occurs during pregnancy and is the result of hormonal changes that increases blood flow to the gums. And based on her own experiences, Nancy shares this advice with mothers-to-be: use a softer bristled toothbrush, a gentle flossing and brushing technique and mild salt water rinses.
Before we continue we must share one important fact: our goal here is not to scare mothers-to-be, but rather to educate them on some of the common, real-world conditions that can occur during pregnancy. This is why we urge all mothers-to-be to contact us to schedule an appointment for a thorough examination as soon as they know they are pregnant to determine if any special dental care is necessary.
Periodontal (gum) disease can impact anyone; however, during pregnancy the tiny blood vessels of the gum tissues can become dilated (widened) in response to the elevated hormone levels of which progesterone is one example. This, in turn, causes the gum tissues to become more susceptible to the effects of plaque bacteria and their toxins. The warning signs of periodontal disease and pregnancy gingivitis include: swelling, redness, bleeding and sensitivity of the gum tissues. It is quite common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
Early gum disease, if left untreated, can progress to destructive periodontitis, which causes inflammation and infection of the supporting structures of the teeth. This can result in the eventual loss of teeth — again, if left untreated. Furthermore, there have been a variety of studies that show a positive link between preterm delivery and the presence of gum disease. There has also been a link between an increased rate of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and periodontal disease. Researchers feel this suggests that periodontal disease may cause stress to the blood vessels of the mother, placenta and fetus.
To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.” And if you want to read the entire feature article on Nancy O'Dell, continue reading “Nancy O'Dell.”