Chinook Mall Family Dental Clinic Answers Your Questions
Educating our patients is an integral part to our practice. Caring for your teeth and then sending you on your way is not enough. Common questions we get are usually about flossing, how often you need to come in and the basic upkeep of teeth and gums. The following questions delve a bit deeper into why you should be thoughtful and aware of your oral health.
Is There a Connection Between Oral Health and Other Health Conditions?
Oral health can no longer be separated from overall health. Unless you are free of dental disease, particularly gum disease – and the other oral health issues that harm overall health – you can never be truly healthy.
Gum disease can increase the risk and severity of many more serious health problems, including heart disease. Thus, you must be clear about this; the effect of dental disease on overall health is far more serious than its relationship to teeth and gums. In fact, moderate to severe gum disease can
- Severely stress the immune system
- Lower resistance to other infections
- Increase the severity of diabetes
- Contribute to respiratory disease
- Contribute to low preterm birth weights
- Interfere with proper digestion
- Actually reduce life expectancy
If gum disease is not acknowledged as an obstacle to achieving overall health, any efforts to treat other existing diseases, improve health, and extend life will not be effective and will fall short of desired goals. Every person who cares about his or her health and every health practitioner who wants to successfully treat patients must understand this important relationship
Which Oral Symptoms Should Never Be Ignored?
Given that a symptom is often a warning of something, no symptom should be ignored. Listen to your body, that is your mouth included, no symptom is too small to talk about at your thorough check up. Take a look at the following symptoms to see what they are telling you about your health.
Bleeding and sore gums –
Gums that ache or bleed may be the result of gum disease that is getting worse. Gum disease is often more severe in people with underlying conditions such as diabetes which reduces the body’s resistance to infection. This puts your gums at risk for inflammation due to the bacteria that live in plaque. Other oral signs of diabetes include:
- Fruity smelling breath
- Oral fungal infections
- Dry mouth
Mouth and jaw pain –
Several things cause jaw pain
- Injury to the jaw joint
- Excess stimulation of the jaw joint
- A displaced disc that usually helps cushion the movements of the jaw
- Arthritis of the protective disc that cushions the jaw joint
There are also less common causes of jaw pain, such a as stress, cluster headaches, sinus problems and toothaches.
Loose or lost teeth-
Teeth that move or fall out unexpectedly are a sign of advanced gum disease. Tooth loss can also be one of the early signs of osteoporosis which decreases bone density and weakens your bones
Throbbing pain –
If you are experiencing intense, throbbing pain localized to one of your teeth, it is a possible sign of damage to your tooth’s nerve. The danger is that naturally occurring bacteria can infect the tooth’s nerve and cause serious damage. If you address these dental problems early, you might only need a filling. However, once the nerve is infected, your tooth might require a root canal, crown, or even more to fix the problem.
What Causes Receding Gums and What Can Be Done About Them?
There are a few main causes:
Tooth grinding (a.k.a. bruxism). Some people grind so hard that the pressure accelerates gum erosion. In many cases, your dentist can shave down a tooth that is causing your bite to hit against another tooth. In other cases, you may need to get a customized mouth guard to wear at night (when most grinding and clenching occurs) to prevent further damage.
Gum disease. This is an infection of the gums that occurs when bacteria become lodged between the tooth and the gum. The bacteria eventually eat away at the bone and the supporting tissues at the base of the tooth. As the bone recedes, so does the surrounding gum tissue.
What to do: Depending on the cause and the severity of the problem, a dentist may recommend anything from a deep cleaning of the teeth and gums to a gum graft, a procedure in which tissue is taken from the top of the mouth and grafted onto the gums, where it takes hold over the course of four to six weeks.
Overzealous toothbrushing. Brushing too hard around the gum line, or just brushing with bristles that are too hard, can erode gums.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Sensitivity occurs when the microscopic tubes in the dentin layer, which is right under the enamel, become exposed as a result of receding gums or the wearing away of enamel. The tubes lead to the innermost layer of the tooth, where the nerves are located.
How can I avoid sensitivity?
Some toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that may be too harsh for people who have sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpastes that lighten and/or remove certain stains from enamel and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpaste, may increase tooth sensitivity.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Tooth sensitivity can be reduced by using a desensitizing toothpaste; having your dentist apply sealants and other desensitizing and filling materials, including fluoride; and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods. Using tartar-control toothpaste will sometimes cause teeth to be sensitive as well as drinking soft drinks throughout the day, so these habits should be avoided.
Avoid using hard-bristled toothbrushes and brushing your teeth too hard, which can wear down the tooth’s surface and expose sensitive spots. The way to find out if you’re brushing your teeth too hard is to take a good look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are pointing in multiple directions, you’re brushing too hard.
How do I know when it’s time to see a dentist?
If a tooth is highly sensitive for more than three or four days and reacts to hot and cold temperatures, it’s best to get a diagnostic evaluation from your dentist to determine the extent of the problem. Before taking the situation into your own hands, an accurate diagnosis of tooth sensitivity is essential for effective treatment to eliminate pain. Because pain symptoms can be similar, some people might think that a tooth is sensitive, when instead, they actually have a cavity or abscess that’s not yet visible.
Dr. Charchuk loves talking about oral health and the things you can be doing to improve your smile. At Chinook Mall Family Dental Clinic, like our doctor, our dental hygienists, dental assistants, and administrative team are all highly trained and accomplished in providing an exceptional dental experience. Our hygienists and assistants are very knowledgeable on all phases of dentistry. We always look forward to providing you with optimal care and cultivating our relationship with you.