10/9/2017 5:27:06 PM
Morgan Johnson, RDH
What is Gum Disease?
You may have heard your Dental Hygienist talk about gum disease at one of your appointments, and been left feeling a bit confused! Hopefully we will answer any questions you may have about it. The first thing to understand is that there are two different kinds of gum disease, also called periodontal disease; one is called “gingivitis” and the other “periodontitis.” We will discuss what causes gum disease, the difference between the two types, and how to treat it!
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. The gums can appear red and swollen, and will most likely bleed when brushed or flossed. This is most likely caused by poor oral hygiene habits (not brushing and flossing regularly). But, it could also be caused by other factors such as smoking, aging, genetic predisposition, systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medication use.
Luckily, this stage is reversible. By brushing for two minutes morning and night, flossing at least once a day, and making sure you are visiting your dental hygienist regularly, this disease can be reversed!
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease, and occurs when gingivitis has gone untreated. The plaque eventually spreads below the gum line and irritates the gum tissues. When the bacteria eat away at our gums, deep pockets are formed. The body’s inflammatory response becomes stimulated, which in turn destroys the supporting bone and tissues, which hold our teeth. Without that underlying support system, our teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.
How is gum disease treated?
There are many different treatment options, depending on what stage of gum disease is present. A preventive cleaning, or Prophylaxis, is performed to remove the plaque and tartar build up on a healthy mouth, in order to prevent gum disease. A deep cleaning, or Scaling and Root Planing, is performed on a mouth that has active gum disease. This includes removing plaque and tartar buildup above and deep below the gum line. In addition, we will irrigate the pockets (the space in between your teeth and your gums) with a prescription strength mouth rinse that will help kill bacteria deep in those pockets. If a more extensive treatment is needed, we will often refer you to a Periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease.
Hopefully this has been helpful in answering any questions you had about gum disease, and as always, ask us if you have any further questions! We would love to answer them.
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9/25/2017 2:44:46 PM
Patti Peters-Sittner, RDH
“Turn your head right a little.” “Now turn a little to the left.” “Can you bring your chin down some?” “Now I need you to bring your chin up.”
Have you ever wondered why during a dental visit you find yourself maneuvering your head and neck around so much? It’s all because of ergonomics.
What is ergonomics?
According to Merriam-Webster, “ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.
You are probably wondering, why do I need to know this when I go to the dentist? Poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
What is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs)?
Contemporary Clinical Dentistry states musculoskeletal disorders are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs which can also be work-related. Examples of MSDs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder), epicondylitis (affects the elbow), trigger finger; and muscle strains and low back injuries which are very common in the dental profession.
How do work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur?
The International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry states work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur in jobs that “require repetitive, forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or carrying of heavy objects and prolonged awkward postures”. Now you might putting two and two together on how this relates to your favorite dentist, hygienist, dental assistant or front office staff at Alameda Dental Care. When your clinician is asking you to turn your head in a different direction, it helps us with proper ergonomics in order to avoid awkward positions and potential work-related MSDs. Musculoskeletal disorders don’t just affect dental professionals, OSHA lists professions in industries such as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, healthcare, transportation, and warehousing all as professions with higher-risk for MSDs. Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says work-related MSDS are the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time?
What can I do to improve my ergonomics and prevent potential musculoskeletal disorders?
The answer is simple: clean between your teeth daily with floss and brush at least twice a day for two minutes with an electric toothbrush! Okay, so that’s not the real answer but it would be great if you started or continued those healthy habits to maintain a healthier mouth which leads to a heathier you. Here are a few tips from Safety & Health magazine to help avoid ergonomic issues and keep your body working smoothly:
1) Ensure your chair is adjusted properly (whether it is work or home), feet should be touching the ground and make sure there is lower back support as well as arm support
2) Keep items you use regularly close by to avoid stretching unnecessarily
3) Position your wrist so that it is straight when typing on a computer
4) Avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder, use a headset or speaker-phone instead
5) Pay attention to posture and like your momma said “don’t slouch and stand up straight”
9/17/2017 3:00:25 PM
Sharma Mulqueen RDH
Oh goodness, what do I do with my knocked-out tooth?
A knocked-out tooth can be a surprise, but it can be more than that if you don’t take action quickly. A broken or chipped tooth can also constitute a dental emergency, but a knocked-out tooth demands an immediate appointment. The importance of caring for your tooth, handling your tooth after it’s been knocked out and cleaning it is very important to return it to its original position.
Handling the Tooth with Care
After you have noticed that one of your teeth has been knocked out of your mouth, the first step is to handle it with care. If you want your dentist to be able to salvage your natural tooth and quickly repair your oral health, you’ll need to handle the knocked-out tooth correctly. Make sure you don’t touch its root and instead handle it by its crown. If you touch the root, you might damage the tooth and minimize your chances of having it placed back in its socket.
Cleaning and Repositioning
If your tooth has been knocked into dirt, mud, covered in blood or the ground in general, it’s a good idea to clean it while you wait to see your emergency dentist. Start by rinsing your dislodged tooth with water. Remember hold it by the crown and avoid using soap to clean your tooth, and don’t dry it off when you’re done cleaning it either. If you replace your tooth quickly, you might be able to salvage it by inserting it into its original socket. Although, inserting it is not always successful, it is recommended to try and place it. If this is not possible, you’ll have to store it safely.
Storing and Visiting the Dentist
When you find yourself in need of emergency dental care but you cannot immediately see your dentist, you should store your tooth in milk or inside your mouth. Call one of our Signature Dental offices to get scheduled with the Dentist as soon as you can to maintain your oral health.
9/10/2017 3:00:44 PM
Arianna Marsden, RDH
Has your hygienist ever recommended that you brush twice daily? I made this recommendation to a patient recently, and he informed me that because he brushed his teeth at night, he did not need to brush his teeth in the morning. This patient asked me, “why would I need to brush my teeth in the morning? I didn’t eat anything while I was sleeping, so my teeth are still clean.”
It became apparent to me that this patient had a misunderstanding of how plaque develops on his teeth, and I think that other people may have the same misconception about how plaque forms. This patient and I were able to have an educational conversation about how plaque develops, and my patient was surprised to learn something new at the dentist.
So, first of all, what is plaque? Plaque is the white, fuzzy stuff you feel on your teeth after not cleaning your teeth for a while. This plaque is filled with bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. Seconds after a cleaning, whether from your hygienist or from brushing your own teeth, the plaque starts to come back. It begins as a protein layer of slime that our mouths produce naturally, called the acquired pellicle. Bacteria that are always present in our mouths bind to this pellicle and begin to colonize. When bacteria colonize, they bind together into a film that you can see and feel on our teeth; the white fuzzy stuff we call plaque. This plaque will form whether or not food is eaten. It’s important to remove plaque about once every 12 hours, or twice per day, to help reduce the amount of bacteria present in our mouths, and to prevent cavities and gum disease.
During my conversation with my patient about how plaque is formed, we speculated about why he might have had a misunderstanding about plaque. He asked me, “I thought you were supposed to brush after eating, because the food makes the plaque and the plaque gives you cavities.” Part of this is true; brushing after meals does help to prevent cavities, but not for the reasons he initially thought. The plaque that is already present uses the sugars in the foods we eat, and produces an acid, which is what causes the cavities. By brushing after we eat, we remove the plaque so it doesn’t have the opportunity to produce acid; we also neutralize any acid that may have already been produced, thus preventing cavities. We also discussed that removing, or disrupting plaque about once every twelve hours prevents the colonized plaque from mineralizing into calculus. Calculus is the hard stuff that gets stuck on your teeth that you can’t brush off; it most commonly develops on the tongue side of lower front teeth. This calculus, and the embedded bacteria, are one of the main causes of gum disease. Calculus can’t be removed with a toothbrush, so it’s important to see your hygienist regularly for professional cleanings to remove the calculus deposits which have formed.
When my patient understood why brushing more than once per day would benefit his oral health, he expressed that he would consider brushing twice daily, and we would observe the results of his efforts at his next cleaning appointment. Often times understanding why we do something is half the battle.
8/27/2017 3:00:13 PM
Wendy Parker, RDH
Your Gag Reflex
Gag reflexes are just not fun. There is no other way to put it. We all know they are designed to protect our airway from foreign objects, but why do they have to be so pronounced, especially at the dentist office! Well, here’s a little more about gag reflexes and maybe a few suggestions that will help next time you feel it starting to act up!
The gag reflex is a pharyngeal reflex by the back of your throat which is triggered any time an object touches the roof of your mouth, back of your tongue, tonsils, or back of your throat. It helps us prevent choking and is especially important in infant as they are transitioning from liquid foods to solids, until they’re about 6-7 months old. Some people have have a hypersensitive gag reflex that is triggered quickly anytime something touches the back of the throat or mouth. No one totally understands why some gag reflexes are more than others, but it is believed that people who did not have solid foods introduced to them until after 7 months of age tend to have a more sensitive gag reflex.
If you are one of the lucky few that have a hypersensitive gag reflex try these few tactics next time at the dentist:
- Numbing sprays or gels
- Squeeze your thumb during the procedure. This applies pressure to your palm of your hand that controls the gag reflex.
- Desensitize your tongue by brusing it every day
- Apply salt to the center of your tongue
- Meditation or hum
- Raise one leg slightly – this keeps your mind off what is happening to trigger your reflex
- Listen to music
8/20/2017 10:48:04 AM
Andra Mahoney, BS RDH
Why Do I Need to go to the Dentist?
How often should I get a dental checkup?
Dental health varies from person to person, but if you have a healthy mouth, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a visit to a Dentist one to two times a year. This enables you to get your teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis and ensure that any potential problems are identified early.
If you have a history of periodontal disease, then your Hygienist and Dentist will determine the right recall schedule for you. Based on the measurements of your gums, the Hygienist and Dentist will decide if your mouth’s health best fits a 3 month, 4 month, or 6 month visit.
There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs when it comes to keeping your smile healthy.
Why are regular visits important?
Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.
I’m not in any pain, do I still have to see a Dentist?
Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a Dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan, and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your Dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.
What do I do if something feels different?
In addition to your regular visit(s) throughout the year, you should schedule an appointment when you notice changes to your dental health, particularly when it involves pain. Chipped teeth, sensitivity to hot or cold, swollen or bleeding gums and persistent tooth pain are all issues to discuss with your Dentist as soon as you notice them. After all, when it comes to dental pain, letting the issue fester often makes the problem worse.
Remember, by seeing your Dentist and Hygienist on a regular basis and following daily good oral hygiene practices at home, you are more likely to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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8/13/2017 4:35:47 PM
Lindsay Olsen, RDH
WHAT IS LAUGHING GAS?
Nitrous oxide (N2O), commonly referred to as laughing gas, is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax. Nitrous oxide is effective as a sedative because it relaxes patients with the pleasurable feelings it emits. Nitrous oxide’s common use in dentistry is due to how quickly it works and that its effects are reversible. For those and other reasons, nitrous oxide is widely considered to be a safe sedation method, even for children!
NITROUS OXIDE FOR CHILDREN
Not only is it safe for children, but laughing gas is a preferred sedation method for children who are nervous or anxious about a pending procedure. Discuss with your child’s dentist ahead of time to determine the appropriate sedation method. Some children may suffer from nausea or have difficulty wearing the mask needed to breathe it in.
The CDA reports that only a minority of patients experience any negative side effects. They can occur if the nitrous level is too high or if the amount being inhaled quickly changes. Potential side effects are as follows:
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Once the nitrous oxide has been turned off, a patient needs to receive oxygen for at least five minutes to avoid a headache. The oxygen removes any remaining gas from the lungs while aiding the patient in becoming alert and awake. As soon and the patient is feeling alert, the dental professional can release the patient to drive oneself home.
Meals are another focus point when receiving nitrous oxide. It’s a good idea to eat lightly prior to your procedure and avoid a big meal for three hours afterward.
Contraindications for Nitrous Oxide
While it’s an effective sedative to ease your dental anxiety, nitrous oxide might not be the right choice for you. Tell your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any of the following conditions: first trimester of pregnancy, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, or a cobalamin deficiency. Additionally, if you are receiving treatment using bleomycin sulfate or have a history of emotional issues or drug addiction, laughing gas may not be recommended.
Talk to your dentist about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for you.
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8/6/2017 3:00:35 PM
Becky Larson, RDH
What is a crown?
Sitting in the dental chair can lead to confusion sometimes. After all, dental professionals speak in an entirely different language! Most patients have had a least a few fillings in their life and know what to expect. However, not everyone has experienced the placement of a dental crown. So what is a crown?
It’s exactly as it sounds. A dental crown in similar to a king’s crown that has a rim the whole way around. Crowns are often referred to as “caps” and are made in the exact shape of the tooth they are covering. Crowns are restorations used to help improve a tooth’s size, shape, strength, and/or appearance. When permanently cemented, they cover the entire tooth to the gumline.
Crowns are indicated for many reasons including:
- To restore a decayed or broken tooth with less than 50% of tooth structure remaining
- To replace large fillings
- To stabilize a tooth that is beginning to fracture
- To hold a dental bridge
- Cosmetic reasons including tooth shape and color
- To cover a dental implant
Crowns are usually placed in two visits. The first visit consists of preparing the tooth (removing decay and building up the tooth if necessary) and placing a temporary crown. Permanent crowns are fabricated in a lab and usually take a few weeks for completion. The second visit consists of placing the permanent crown and taking an xray to ensure proper placement.
There are several different materials that can be used to make a dental crown including porcelain fused to metal, stainless steel or base metals, ceramic or porcelain, and gold. Please talk to your dentist to see which material he/she would recommend for you.
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7/25/2017 5:11:54 AM
Lora Cook, RDH
How to Care for Your Infant’s Teeth
When to start cleaning your baby’s teeth
You can start before your baby even has teeth, it is best to incorporate mouth cleaning at bath time. This routine will help your baby get used to you cleaning their mouth, which can allow a smoother transition when you do begin to brushing their teeth. This will also help you to know when your babies teeth first start to push through their gum tissue.
The bacteria that lives in the mouth is not harmful to the gum tissue, but can be harmful to the teeth. The enamel on baby teeth are 50% thinner than adult teeth. Therefore baby teeth are more susceptible to the bacteria that causes cavities.
How to clean your infants teeth
To clean your babies mouth before tooth eruption use a clean wet wash cloth. Wrap wash cloth around your finger then rub it gently around your babies gums.
When to transition to a tooth brush
When the teeth have started to erupt, this will be time to transition from a wash cloth to a baby tooth brush. Look for a tooth brush specifically made for infants. This will usually start around six months old. This will also be the time to change from bath time mouth cleaning to brushing two times daily.
It is fine to just dry brush with just tap water, or a fluoridated tooth paste can be used. When using toothpaste, use the tiniest smear. It is never too early to help create a good brushing routine for your child.
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7/16/2017 4:11:48 PM
Amanda Orvis, RDH
It’s that time of year again; our children are starting back to school and getting back into sports. Does your child play sports? Does your child wear an athletic mouthguard? Can you picture your child with a missing permanent tooth? It is very possible that if your child is in a contact sport or activity, that one or more of their teeth could become loose, become fractured, or even be knocked out from a direct impact to their mouth. A hit to the jaw can put a tremendous amount of pressure on our teeth which can cause traumatic damage to our smiles. Maybe we can help answer questions you may have about the pros and cons of athletic mouthguards.
A mouthguard is like a shock absorber, it takes away the brunt of the force upon impact. If you can diffuse the blow and evenly distribute the pressure through use of the mouthguard, then you can reduce the chances of injury and/or tooth loss.
Boil-and-Bite mouthguards can be bought through your local pharmacy or sporting goods store. These mouthguards can be formed to your teeth simply by boiling the plastic and biting down into the mouthguard while it is still warm.
Pros: Affordable, easy to use, and easily replaceable if your teeth are changing in position or shape (due to orthodontics or dental work).
Cons: Bulky, can become loose over time and need to be replaced, hard to speak while wearing it, and hard to disinfect as heat can distort the fit of the mouthguard.
Custom fit mouthguards can be made through your dental office. Dental impressions are taken to form models of your teeth, which are then used to fabricate the mouthguard specifically fit to your teeth.
Pros: Slimmer fit, fits very snuggly around your teeth and does not generally loosen with repeated use, easier to speak with, easily disinfected, and lasts significantly longer than other mouthguards.
Cons: More expensive than a boil-and-bite mouthguard, and they can take some time to receive the mouthguard due to the fabrication process.
There are several types, brands, custom and non-custom mouthguards to choose from, but no matter what type you choose always remember to remind your athlete to wear it. It cannot protect them if it is not being worn. Broken teeth or jaw damage can have lasting effects. Please call our office if you have any questions regarding mouthguards.
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