News

January 09, 2017


Gingivitis and Periodontitis: The Dangerous Duo

Gingivitis and periodontitis. For many people, a common misconception is that gingivitis and periodontitis are the same. While they are, without a doubt, closely related, it is important to note that these are two different diseases. Let’s take an in depth look at both gingivitis and periodontitis, and see how they differ.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the inflammation or irritation of the gingiva, or gums. Gingivitis is caused by a build-up of certain types of bacteria on the teeth, which collect on the surface of the teeth and are called plaque. Unlike most of the other surfaces of the body, the teeth do not have any way of shedding their outer surfaces, thus allowing plaque to build up on the surface unless they are intentionally removed. These plaque feed on food particles which enter into the mouth and sometimes become stuck while eating, which produces toxic byproducts. These byproducts initiate the body’s immune system to attack both the plaque and the surrounding tissue, which leads to damage of the gum tissue.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is caused by the inflammation of the periodontal areas, which are the structures within the mouth that surround and support the tooth. Periodontitis involves the loss of the alveolar bone (the bone that supports the tooth and root) and connective tissues in the jaw. This occurs because of the body’s immune response to plaque. As the body initiates a host response to attack plaque, the gum tissue is also damaged, leading it to separate from the tooth and form spaces called periodontal “pockets”. The plaque then invades these spaces, and further progressive loss of the bone and other connective tissues within the oral cavity is caused by the continued immune response to destroy the plaque in these pockets. The loss of the bone and connective tissues may become so advanced that the gums too, begin to retract and teeth become loose and fall out.

Differences Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis Disease

While both of these diseases share the similarities of being caused by the immune system’s response to plaque, there are several ways to distinguish the two.

  1. Gingivitis always precedes periodontitis, and is a necessary condition for periodontitis to form. Therefore, if a person does not get gingivitis, then they cannot get periodontitis. However, there does not need to be any pre-existing periodontal disease present for gingivitis to arise.
  2. Gingivitis involves mainly the inflammation or destruction of the gum tissues, while periodontitis revolves mainly around the damage to the surrounding alveolar bone and connective tissue.
  3. The tissue damage which occurs due to gingivitis is temporary, because of the ability of the body to quickly heal and regenerate this type of tissue. Because periodontitis damages the bone, which cannot be easily regenerated, this is usually considered to be permanent damage.
  4. Gingivitis is usually physically obvious, with symptoms such as bleeding or reddened gums. Periodontitis is not as obvious, and there may be little pain associated with it as the bone is damaged. Also, because the damage occurs beneath the gums within the jaw itself, it is not as physically noticeable as gingivitis.
  5. Gingivitis can usually be successfully treated by removing the gingivitis causing plaque. This can be done through methods such as proper brushing and flossing or using antibacterial mouthwashes. Periodontitis, however, will require specialist treatment to remove the plaque buildup from beneath the gums, and may at times require surgery such as bone grafts or guided tissue regeneration in order to restore some of the damaged bone.

Treating Gingivitis and Periodontitis

There may be times where it is necessary for a dentist to carry out specialized procedures in order to treat either gingivitis or periodontitis disease. Two popular treatments for these diseases are root planning and scaling, which are usually done in tandem with each other. These treatments involve using instruments to remove the plaque in hard to reach areas and then as well as smoothing out the tooth surface to make it more difficult for plaque and tartar to adhere to the tooth exterior. In cases of moderate to severe periodontitis, a dentist may suggest bone grafts or guided tissue regeneration, which uses material in order to re-grow lost bone in order to prevent against tooth loss, as well as to improve the aesthetic appearance.

The best way to treat these two diseases, however, is not to get them in the first place! With a good oral hygiene regimen, which includes brushing teeth properly twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and staying away from food and beverages that put you at an increased risk of plaque, you are well on your way in avoiding the dangerous duo of gingivitis and periodontitis.

January 08, 2017


What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a type of gum disease; although it is not especially severe, it can lead to periodontitis if it is not treated.  With this more advanced type of gum disease, “gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called ‘pockets’) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.”  Unfortunately, this leads to additional problems: “Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.”  Ultimately, the problem may result in removal of the teeth: “If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed.  The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.”

Many people assume that all is well if they have no pain or obvious discomfort; however, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) notes that gingivitis can be painless in the early stages. There are some red flags that may indicate the presence of gingivitis; it is important to be aware of them and begin treatment before the disease progresses.  Symptoms can include chronic bad breath, gums that are red and/or swollen, gums that are sore or prone to bleeding, and pain when chewing food.  In addition, teeth may be sensitive and may become loose; finally, gums may appear to have gotten smaller and teeth may consequently appear larger.

How is gingivitis treated?
The type and scope of the treatment will depend on the extent of the gum disease; in addition to deep cleaning methods of treatment, there are also surgical and medicinal treatments.  In some cases, gingivitis may be treated with some combination of these treatment options.  Although some of the treatment will happen in the dentist’s office, “Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home.  The doctor may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.”

Gingivitis is preventable
Rather than dealing with gingivitis – and even periodontitis – it is advisable to practice the best possible oral care and visit the dentist on a regular basis to keep gingivitis at bay and detect it early if it develops.  The American Dental Hygienists’ Association recommends regular visits “every six months or as scheduled by your dental hygienist.”

Finally, it is important to note that gingivitis and periodontitis can be a problem during pregnancy.  According to the ADHA, hormonal changes are partly to blame.  “When gingivitis is evident, both the dental hygienist and the pregnant patient should make every effort to reverse or control the progress of the disease. One of the first things that should be discussed with the expectant mother is proper brushing and flossing techniques.”  In addition, if the patient is vomiting as a result of morning sickness, the ADHA notes that she “should be advised to rinse the mouth with water and then brush her teeth to neutralize the acid. It may also be beneficial to suggest a well-balanced diet including plenty of vitamins C and B 12.”  This is essential because periodontitis can compromise the baby’s health and well-being.

January 07, 2017


Six Beauty Moves for a Superstar Smile

The average woman smiles about 62 times a day!
A man?  Only 8!
Kida laugh around 400 times a day.
Grown-ups just 15:-(
Smilers in school yearbooks are more likely to have successful careers and marriages than poker faced peers.

  1. Relax- a real smile reveals facial muscles all pointing upward from your jaw right up to your eyebrows, mouth is often open and your eyes are crinkly :-)  

  2. Plump lips-lay off the lip pencil, it looks fake.  Just trace a clear, shimmer highlighter pencil above the cupid's bow on your upper lip, the reflection makes it look fuller or try a mouth moisturizer.  Well-hydrated lips look fuller.

  3. Brighten your teeth in seconds-try a lipstick in true reds, avoid coral or orangey shades...they bring out the yellow.

  4. Go white...just not too, too white-refrigerator white teeth are out...instead go for a softer, more translucent shade.  Bring a photo of a person whose teeth you admire with you to the dentist office.  

  5. Sparkle up your eyes-Smear a little shimmer cream under your brows and down onto the center of you lids, every time you blink your eyes will sparkle and get plenty of rest.

  6. Smile...it will do your body good. 30 minutes of a hearty laugh, your white blood cell count shoots up by 25%, strengthening your disease fighting powers.

January 06, 2017


MAKE DENTAL HEALTH PART OF YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

The New Year has finally come and with it many people have created New Year’s resolutions. Many people make an effort to stop eating low quality foods and to start exercising more. Some people like to set a goal to get a new job, home, or apartment. But this year one of the best things to do is make dental health part of your new year’s resolution.

Making dental health part of your new year’s resolution is just as good, if not better, than most of the resolutions people decide on. One of the great things about this is that it is doable and realistic unlike some ideas people attempt to commit to. While wanting to lose 40 pounds is great, there are a lot of things getting in your way, but when it comes to oral health it is extremely easy to get on track and to stay there for years to come!

Improve Your Dental Health

1. One way you can improve dental health is simply being more invested and concerned about it. If you have been using the same old tooth paste and same type of tooth brush maybe it’s time for a change. Our bodies change over time and so do our needs; what may have worked for us in the past may not work now. Talking with your dentist about proper tooth paste and types of tooth brushes is a great start to getting on track.

2. Flossing is another great way to make dental health part of your new year’s resolution. We rarely take care of our gums and they make up a large portion of our mouths! Only taking care of our teeth and not our gums is like only taking care of the tires on the car and not the rest of it! Flossing is a great way to keep your mouth healthy and healthier gums means healthier teeth.

Making dental health part of your new year’s resolution is an overall good health practice. Many studies have shown that there is some connection to good oral health and overall health in the rest of the body. Some studies even show evidence that people who take care of their mouths and teeth have lower incidences of heart disease and heart related illness. So stop waiting around and make dental health part of your new year’s resolution!

January 05, 2017


New Year’s Resolutions to Make You Smile!

As 2016 draws to a close, it is time to consider New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Like many people, you may resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle each New Year. Have you considered enhancing your dental health as a goal? Good dental health habits not only promote healthy teeth and a beautiful smile, but contribute to your overall health as well. Here are some dental health tips to consider for the New Year:

Eat healthy

A healthy diet is important for maintaining good dental health. Nutrients in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and whole grains strengthen teeth and fight bacteria that cause gum disease. Make a point this year to incorporate more tooth-healthy foods in your daily diet.

Control your sweet tooth

Sugary snacks and beverages are your teeth’s worst enemy. When sugars are broken down in your mouth, they produce acids that wear away your enamel and cause tooth decay. Make it a goal this year to limit your intake of sweets, for your health and your teeth!

Quit using tobacco products

Tobacco use can cause all kinds of oral health problems, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Oral cancer

If you currently use tobacco, consider quitting this year. Instead, try out a healthier habit, like chewing sugar free gum, which stimulates the flow of saliva that washes away bacteria.

Brush and floss regularly

Brushing and flossing your teeth are the first line of defense against oral health complications. If you don’t brush and floss as recommended, plaque can develop on and between teeth causing decay and gum disease, which can in turn lead to other health problems like heart disease. Dentists recommend brushing twice and flossing once each day. If your dental hygiene habits are lacking, step up your game in 2017 by brushing and flossing regularly.

Check in with your dentist

Your dentist knows best when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy. Scheduling regular checkups allows your dentist to monitor your dental health and address any concerns before they become bigger problems. Visiting your dentist every six months is the best way to ensure a clean bill of dental health, so this year, schedule regular appointments and keep your mouth in good shape.

You owe a lot to those teeth and gums of yours. Do them a favor this New Year by practicing excellent dental health habits and smile big in 2017!

December 16, 2016


Oral Health Tips for a Merry Christmas!

Christmas day is one full of food and drinks packed with sugar and calories, which can be bad for your oral health. 

1. Offer Alternatives to Sweets

Sweet and sugary food and drinks activate the naturally-occurring bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria feed off the sugar and produce the acids that harm teeth.

Instead of weighing down the Christmas table with cookies, candy and other Christmas favorites, balance it out by providing alternatives. Make sure there’s a veggie tray with crunchy carrots, celery and broccoli. The natural crunch can help clean teeth in between sugar cookies.

Along with vegetables and a an assortment of delicious dip, don’t forget to put out a few sources of protein. Meat like salami, chicken skewers or ham can provide a much needed source of protein to help balance out the sugar that everyone will be eating.

2. Set a Time Limit

It’s really tempting to graze all day during the Christmas season, but this puts our teeth more at risk of decay. Instead of leaving food out until all hours, set up specific times of the day to set the table for people to eat. These can be sit-down meals or buffet style, but it’s important that there is a definite beginning and ending to these times. This will help keep everyone from constantly reaching for food that’s high in sugar and fat.

3. Drink A Lot of Water

There are times when we feel hungry in which we just need to drink some water to re-hydrate. Provide family and friends with plenty of water to help balance out all of the food and to wash away any sticky, sugary residue that might remain on teeth. Offer different natural ways to flavor their ice water, such as peppermint leaves or freshly cut lemon wedges for variety.

4. Keep Hands Busy

Christmas is traditionally a break for children and adults from school and work commitments. While this is a great time to relax, too much down time can mean overindulging in sweets. Engage family members and friends in games or toys received during the Christmas holiday. Offer sugar-free chewing gum while they play to keep both mouths and hands busy!

5. Practice Moderation

Moderation is an important concept that can be hard for kids to grasp. Set a good example by exhibiting balance, especially on your plate. Christmas treats are great, but don’t forget to “indulge” in foods that will help absorb all of that sugar. Fill your plate with healthy veggies and some protein, then sit down with family and friends to enjoy the Christmas season!

December 15, 2016


Holiday Dental Tips

The holiday season is here on beautiful Mercer Island and we want to wish all our patients a happy holiday season. No matter what you celebrate at this time of year, be it a traditional Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule or Festivus, we want you to be safe and enjoy your family at this important time of year.

To help keep your smile bright and healthy during the busy and party-filled season, here are 12 days of holiday dental tips to see you (and your teeth) safely through the season-

#1 Be cautious of candy canes – Hard candy is tasty and readily available at the holidays from candy canes to peppermints, but it can crack your teeth if you bite down wrong. It may be better to let candies dissolve to prevent any chipping or other damage – but be sure to brush thoroughly after eating candy of any kind.

#2 Stay clear of soda – Holiday parties are rife with soda and this sugary substance is never good for your teeth. Read more here. If you want something bubbly, try fizzy water rather than soda. If you must drink soda, use a straw to keep most of the acid off your teeth.

#3 Watch the wine – If you like a nice red, be mindful of how this can stain your teeth. White wine is less of a risk to your white smile. If you do drink red, do so with food to mitigate how much of it gets on your teeth. Be sure to brush well if you do indulge in reds.

#4 Take more turkey – One holiday food that’s great for your chompers is turkey. It’s a great source of phosphorus and protein – both of which can help your body fight tooth decay and keep your teeth strong and healthy.

#5 Stock your stockings well – Christmas stockings are often chock full of sugary treats that can cause your kids to get cavities. Instead, consider eliminating candy altogether or stick to one sweet item. Also consider giving them a cool new toothbrush as part of their holiday loot.

#6 Dip into veggies – At holiday events, skip the trays of Christmas cookies and brownies and instead fill your plate with veggies. Broccoli and carrots are great treats for your teeth because they’re loaded with Vitamin A which strengthens your enamel.

healthy holiday snacks for teeth#7 Chomp on cheese – Choose cheese to snack with if you’re drinking alcoholic drinks at parties. The pH balancing effects help neutralize the acid that’s in boozy beverages and the calcium is great for your tooth health as well.

#8 Carol while you clean – Optimal tooth brushing last about two minutes so if you hum a few verses and choruses of your favorite holiday song while you brush, you’ll likely brush long enough to clean up your teeth and gums (be sure to brush your tongue too).

#9 Don’t use your teeth as a tool – The holidays come with packages to open, tape to apply to presents and loads of other things you may be tempted to break open or cut with your teeth. Don’t do it! Using your teeth as a tool can cause chips and breaks.

#10 Fill up on fruit – Instead of piling on sugary desserts at your holiday meal, turn to fruit instead. If you’re having a big dinner or party, rather than prepping a number of cakes and pies, try sticking to one sweet dessert and then prep a big fruit plate to satisfy your sweet tooth.

#11 Forego the grazing – At the holidays, we often have spreads of food left out all the time. Grazing all day can put your teeth at greater risk for decay. Instead of leaving out things to nosh on, only put out food at mealtimes and then stash the food away.

#12 Make the holiday meaningful – We often structure our holiday events around food, but this is good for your teeth or your waistline. To take the focus off of food, set up activities like board and card games, craft projects or holiday movie marathons.

Our entire team hopes you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday and we can’t wait to see your bright smile in the coming New Year.

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