Posts for: February, 2020
How do you know if you have periodontal (gum) disease? Sometimes your gums will tell you—when they’re red, swollen or bleed easily.
But your gums can also look and feel healthy while a gum infection still brews below the gum line. In this case, a regular dental visit could make the difference. Even without overt signs of infection, we may be able to detect gum disease with a slender metal instrument called a periodontal probe.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that most of the time arises from dental plaque. This thin film of bacteria and food particles accumulates on tooth surfaces, especially because of poor or non-existent oral hygiene. A continuing infection can weaken gum tissues and cause them to pull away or detach from the teeth.
Normally, there’s a slight gap between the gums and teeth. But as the infected gums pull away, the gaps grow larger and deeper, forming what are known as periodontal pockets. They become filled with infection that soon spreads to the root and bone and increases the risk of tooth loss.
These pockets, though, could be the means for detecting a gum infection with the help of the periodontal probe. During a dental exam we gently insert the probe, which has millimeter depth markings etched on it, between a tooth and its adjacent gums. While a depth of 1 to 3 mm is normal, a probe measurement of 4 to 5 mm could be a sign of an early stage infection. A reading of 7 to 10 mm, on the other hand, may indicate more advanced disease.
Along with other factors, periodontal probing can be quite useful identifying both the presence and extent of a gum infection and then how to treat it. The goal of any treatment is to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) deposits that sustain the infection. But probing, along with other diagnostic methods like x-rays, could point to deeper infection below the gum line that require more extensive methods, including surgery, sometimes to access and remove the disease.
Achieving the best treatment outcome with gum disease often depends on finding the infection early. Periodontal probing helps to make that discovery more likely.
Gum disease can strike when you least expect it…and it often strikes without warning.
Millions of people have gum disease and unfortunately many have no idea that they have this infection. If left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on your oral health, causing tooth loss, bone damage and significant gum recession. Preventing gum disease is far easier than treating it, and our Bethesda, MD, family dentist Dr. John Kelly wants you to know what you should do to reduce your risk.
Ways to Prevent Gum Disease
The good news is that gum disease is preventable. Here are some habits to adopt to maintain healthy gums,
- Brush twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Visit your dentist every six months for checkups
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar and processed foods
- Quit smoking
If you want healthy teeth and gums you need to practice good oral hygiene. Some people find that they get a better clean with an electronic toothbrush; however, your technique matters more than the type of toothbrush you use. If you have questions about your brushing technique or about which toothbrush is right for you, our Bethesda, MD, dentist would be happy to provide some recommendations.
Of course, even brushing can’t remove plaque and food from between teeth and under the gumline—only flossing can do that. This is why everyone should floss once a day.
Signs of Gum Disease
Along with making sure that your teeth and gums are as clean as possible, routine dental checkups also ensure that our dental team catches problems right away before they cause serious damage. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and can be reversed with immediate treatment. Since gum disease doesn’t usually cause symptoms during the beginning stages, these routine checkups are crucial, as our dental hygienists can pinpoint warning signs that you probably won’t notice.
It’s during the more advanced stages of gum disease that people start to notice symptoms. These symptoms include,
- Bleeding gums, often when brushing and flossing
- Sore, tender and inflamed gums
- Receding gums (teeth may suddenly appear longer)
- Tooth sensitivity
- Chronic and unexplained bad breath
When was the last time you got a routine dental checkup? Looking for a dentist in Bethesda, MD, that can provide gentle dental care for you and your family? If so, turn to the team at Bethesda Row Dental for everything from routine checkups to restorative dentistry. Call us today at (301) 657-3220.
Find out why more and more people are turning to dental veneers to get perfect smiles.
Unhappy with the state of your smile? If you weren’t born with the ideal smile—and let’s face it, most people aren’t—our Bethesda, MD, cosmetic dentist, Dr. John Kelly, and his team can help craft and create the set of teeth that you’ve always wanted with the help of dental veneers.
These durable pieces of porcelain are custom-made and bonded to the front of your teeth to transform the overall shape, size, color, and alignment of your smile
Here are just some problems that can be greatly improved with this cosmetic treatment:
Gaps between teeth and misalignment problems
Veneers can be specially made to cover gaps between teeth. These porcelain shells may even be able to make teeth appear straighter. While braces are the only way to straighten teeth and fix more serious malocclusions such as overbites and crookedness, minor issues may be addressed with veneers.
Deep, dark stains
While most stains respond to professional teeth whitening, internal discolorations caused by medication, medical problems, or certain dental disorders may not respond as effectively to teeth whitening. Fortunately, we can work with you to choose the appropriate shade of porcelain to give you a whiter smile while also covering those unsightly stains.
Do certain teeth stick out from the rest of your smile because they are bigger or oddly shaped? If so, veneers can alter the shape and size of your teeth so they look more like one another. The goal with cosmetic dentistry is to be able to provide patients with a more symmetrical smile, and veneers can do just that.
Interested? Give us a call
Do you want to learn more about how our dentist in Bethesda, MD, can transform your smile with dental veneers? If you said “yes” then call Bethesda Row Dental today at (301) 657-3220 to schedule an initial consultation.
Your gums play an important role in dental function and health. Not only do they help anchor teeth in the jaw, the gums also protect tooth roots from disease.
But you can lose that protective covering if your gums recede or shrink back from the teeth. An exposed tooth is more susceptible to decay, and more sensitive to temperature and pressure.
Here are 4 causes for gum recession and what you can do about them.
Gum disease. The most common cause for gum recession is a bacterial infection called periodontal (gum) disease that most often arises from plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles accumulating on teeth. Gum disease in turn weakens the gums causes them to recede. You can reduce your risk for a gum infection through daily brushing and flossing to remove disease-causing plaque.
Genetics. The thickness of your gum tissues is a genetic trait you inherit from your parents. People born with thinner gums tend to be more susceptible to recession through toothbrush abrasion, wear or injury. If you have thinner tissues, you’ll need to be diligent about oral hygiene and dental visits, and pay close attention to your gum health.
Tooth eruption. Teeth normally erupt from the center of a bony housing that protects the root. If a tooth erupts or moves outside of this housing, it can expose the root and cause little to no gum tissue around the tooth. Moving the tooth orthodontically to its proper position could help thicken gum tissue and make them more resistant to recession.
Aggressive hygiene. While hard scrubbing may work with other cleaning activities, it’s the wrong approach for cleaning teeth. Too much force applied while brushing can eventually result in gum damage that leads to recession and tooth wear. So, “Easy does it”: Let the gentle, mechanical action of the toothbrush bristles and toothpaste abrasives do the work of plaque removal.
While we can often repair gum recession through gum disease treatment or grafting surgery, it’s much better to prevent it from happening. So, be sure you practice daily brushing and flossing with the proper technique to remove disease-causing plaque. And see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups to make sure your gums stay healthy.
If you would like more information on proper gum care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Recession.”
Do you know the top cause for adult tooth loss? If you guessed tooth decay, you’re close—but not quite. The same goes if you said accidents or teeth grinding. It’s actually periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial gum infection that affects half of American adults.
What’s worse, losing teeth could be just the beginning of your health woes. Several studies show uncontrolled gum disease could cause problems in the rest of the body. That’s why we’re promoting February as Gum Disease Awareness Month, to call attention to this potentially devastating oral disease—and what you can do about it.
Gum disease usually starts with a thin film of food particles and bacteria called dental plaque. As it builds up on tooth surfaces, bacteria multiply and lead to an infection that can spread below the gum line, weakening the gums’ attachment to the teeth.
Beyond tooth loss, though, gum disease could affect the rest of the body. Oral bacteria, for instance, can travel through the bloodstream and potentially cause disease in other parts of the body. More often, though, researchers now believe that the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can aggravate inflammation related to other conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes or arthritis. Likewise, inflammatory conditions can worsen symptoms of gum disease and make it harder to treat.
The good news, though, is that reducing the inflammation of gum disease through treatment could help ease inflammation throughout the body. That’s why it’s important to see us as soon as possible if you notice gum problems like swelling, redness or bleeding. The sooner you’re diagnosed and we begin treatment, the less an impact gum disease could have on both your mouth and the rest of your body.
Similarly, managing other inflammatory conditions could make it easier to reduce symptoms of gum disease. You can often control the inflammation associated with these other diseases through medical treatment and medication, exercise and healthy eating practices.
You’ll also benefit both your oral and general health by taking steps to prevent gum disease before it happens. Prevention starts with a daily practice of brushing and flossing to remove dental plaque. You should follow this with professional dental cleanings and checkups every six months (sometimes more often, if advised).
Gum disease can damage your teeth and gums, and more. But dedicated dental care and treatment could help you regain your dental health and promote wellness throughout your body.
If you would like more information about preventing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”