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Hadley Family Dentistry

                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Table of Contents

  1. Steve & Shari's Dental Updates
  2. Back to School Checkups
  3. Ask the Doctors
  4. Not Flossing Regularly?
  5. Flossing Through the Years
  6. Don't be so Sensitive

Steve & Shari's Dental Updates

 

Fall 2008

 

 

 

Why do I need an Oral Exam?

Your dentist performs a dental exam to gather information about your oral health. The extent of the exam youíll receive depends on a number of factors, including whether you are a new or returning patient; the length of time since your last dental visit; and whether you are returning to have a specific dental condition checked.

 

YOUR TEETH

Your dentist will check for signs of decay, which can occur at any stage of life and can appear on many surfaces of a tooth. Decay frequently occurs around the edges, or margins of fillings. Your dentist will determine if your fillings or crowns have weakened or fractured over time. Tooth roots that have become exposed due to gum recession are also susceptible to decay. Detecting tooth decay early can save time, money and your teeth!

 

CANCER SCREENING

During a dental examination, your dentist checks your oral tissues for lumps, masses, growths, red or white patches or recurring sore areas. Early screening for precancerous changes in the oral tissues can help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated. If oral cancer is not found early, tumors may grow deep into local tissues and spread to lymph glands in the neck, making effective treatment more difficult.

 

SYSTEMIC HEALTH

Oral health is integrally connected with your general health. Regular check-ups are important because some diseases or medical conditions have signs that can appear in the mouth. Diabetes, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies and hormonal irregularities are some examples. In addition, recent research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal (gum) disease and other health problems including cardiovascular problems, heart disease, and stroke.

 

PERIODONTAL DISEASE

Periodontal disease affects three out of four adults at some time in their lives. It doesnít necessarily hurt and you may not even be aware that you have it until an advanced stage. Tell your dentist if you have noticed any changes in the appearance or feel of the soft tissues of your mouth or the way your teeth fit together when you bite. Regular dental visits are essential for detecting periodontal disease at an early stage, when it can often be reversed before the gums and the supporting bone are irreversibly damaged. 

 

CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH

Be sure to let your dentist know if you have any illnesses or medical conditions, and if your health status has changed since your last visit. Tell your dentist what medications you are taking (both prescription and over-the-counter products); if you have any problems with medications; or if you have any drug allergies or dependencies. This is important because there may be interactions between these medications and those that your dentist may need to administer or prescribe.  

 

Smoke Signals

Using tobacco can harm your mouth, including your teeth and gums, in a number of ways. There is no safe form of tobacco. Using it produces many problems and risk factors, from tooth discoloration and gum disease to throat, lung, oral cancer, and ultimately, even death. Itís important to understand what happens to your mouth when you use any form of tobacco and to discuss those effects, along with how to quit, with your dentist and physician.

 

What happens to my mouth when I smoke?

Smoking reduces blood flow and the supply of vital nutrients to your gums, including vitamin C. Without the proper nutrients, you can develop gum disease, bone loss, and even tooth loss. This is because smoking triggers the accumulation of bacteria in plaque. Smoking also reduces the amount of saliva that flows through your mouth. Saliva is important for cleaning your mouth and preventing tooth decay. In addition, when you smoke, the temperature in your mouth increases and the heat kills important cells in your mouth.

 

You can also see the effects of tobacco use. Nicotine and tar, the major ingredients of cigarettes, discolor your teeth. Yellow and brown stains will appear and the sticky tar deposits will adhere to crevices. The roof of your mouth will become inflamed and turn red. You also will lose a lot of your sense of taste, and the smell of your breath may become offensive.  Using smokeless tobacco and cigars are just as bad and in some cases, worse. The most obvious way to stop the effects of smoking and tobacco use on your mouth and body, is by quitting

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Back to School Checkups

Millions of children soon will head off to a new school year. Routine physical examinations, including hearing and vision tests, help ensure that students are in good health before school begins. When scheduling health care appointments, donít overlook a dental checkup for your child. A dental examination should be a regular part of back-to-school preparations. Some states may require dental checkups at periodic intervals; other states have no requirements. Nebraska law currently requires all elementary students to have an annual dental screening and requires children to have a full dental exam before entering kindergarten. However, children need to see their dentist at intervals recommended by their dentist. When necessary, radiographs (x-rays) are taken to see how the teeth are developing and to spot hidden decay.

More than one-half of all children aged 5 to 9 years have at least one cavity or filling. A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and concentrating. Children with chronic dental pain may not always voice their problem, instead they may appear anxious, depressed or tired. Often parents do not recognize these symptoms as possible signs of dental pain.

Regular dental checkups and preventive dental care, such as cleanings and fluoride treatment, provide children with "smile" insurance. Routine dental examinations uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. This helps prevent painful, chronic conditions and saves money.

Dental sealants are a very effective method of keeping teeth healthy. A sealant is a plastic material that the dentist applies to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (the premolars and molars). Sealants form barriers that protect teeth from plaque, a sticky film of acid-producing bacteria. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last years before a reapplication is needed.

In addition to a dental checkup, your child may be due for a new toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes ever three to four months, or sooner if bristles are worn. A worn toothbrush canít do a thorough job of cleaning teeth. Look for products that display the American Dental Associationís Seal of Acceptance and select a child-sized toothbrush for ease of use. 

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Ask the Doctors

Q: I recently found out that I am pregnant. Do the foods I eat affect my unborn childís teeth?
A:
Yes, the foods you eat during pregnancy are extremely important. An infantís primary teeth begin forming at the 7th week in utero -- much of the enamel formation is complete before the child is born (the rest of the enamel forms within one year after birth).
    While the unborn infantís teeth are developing, calcium, phosphorous, and other minerals and vitamins are needed. When you eat a balanced diet, adequate amounts of these nutrients nourish both you and your child. Contrary to popular folklore, the baby does not derive its calcium from the motherís teeth. When the baby needs calcium, it is supplied by the motherís diet, not by her teeth.
    Follow your physicianís recommendations about diet during pregnancy, since he or she is familiar with your specific needs. Remember, deficiencies in the motherís diet may cause abnormalities in the babyís tooth formation.

Q: Is it true that pregnancy endangers a motherís teeth?
A:
Thereís no truth to the old wivesí tale that a tooth is lost for every pregnancy. If youíre experiencing more tooth decay, it could be because youíre neglecting oral hygiene at this busy time or snacking too often on sweet or starchy foods. Try to eat these foods at mealtimes, when theyíre less harmful to the teeth. If starches and sweets are eaten too often and if plaque is not removed from the teeth, decay will result.

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Not Flossing Regularly?

Despite advice, recommendations and warnings from dentists about the importance of regular flossing, many people admit they still donít do it, and countless more do it only in the days and weeks before or after their semi-annual cleanings and checkups.

It is recommended that patients floss once a day to control tartar build-up on their teeth. Plaque is continually developing on your teeth, causing cavities and gum disease. Some people get discouraged and give up flossing because they donít do it every day. However, flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits, and itís far better than not flossing at all.

The reasons patients cite for not flossing are many, but lack of time is the most common excuse. Flossing doesnít have to be a 20-minute routine in front of the mirror. Once you are familiar with flossing, floss when and where you have time. Try flossing earlier in the evening or during a break at work.

Some patients report that they stopped flossing because they noticed that their gums bleed when they floss. This means that there is inflammation, the bleeding will usually stop within a week or two of continued flossing. Those who donít floss due to arthritis or lack of dexterity can try specially designed plastic holders for dental floss.

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Flossing Through The Years

B.C. Ė Anthropologists investigating a site in Krapina, of the former Yugoslavia, discovered teeth marked by regular, symmetrical channels. They theorized that the markings were the result of regular flossing with bone splinters, or perhaps animal sinews or tendons.

Early 1800s Ė Flossing was recommended by some for the same reasons dental professionals advocate it today Ė for the prevention of tooth and gum disease.

1819 Ė Levi S. Parmley wrote this about the benefits of flossing, "... the third part is the waxed silken thread, though simple, is the most important. It is to be passed through the interstices of the teeth, between their necks and the arches of the gums, to dislodge that irrative matter which no brush can remove, and which is the real source of disease. With this apparatus thus regularly and daily used, the teeth and gums will be preserved free of disease..."

1948 Ė C.C. Bass, a physician studying oral microbiology and preventive dentistry, also began to advocate the use of floss. He recommended that nylon, the material still used today, be substituted for the silken thread.

1970s Ė For decades, flossing was thought to be too difficult for patients to practice on themselves, and there was little scientific evidence supporting the need for home flossing. The incidence of periodontal disease began to climb, the use of fluoride began to reduce the incidence of caries, and aging patients began retaining their teeth longer. In addition, patients with periodontal disease were shown to benefit from flossing after surgery.

Mid 1970s Ė Dental professionals began introducing dental floss to their patients for use at home.

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Don't be so Sensitive

Nearly 40 million Americans have teeth that are sensitive to heat and cold, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Sensitivity is typically caused when the dentin of your tooth (which lies under the hard, protective enamel) is exposed. The dentin contains tiny tubules that transmit sensations to the nerve endings inside the tooth, causing pain.

Many dental problems begin when the hard enamel covering the tooth wears down. Although thereís not much you can do to stop the pain once itís started, an American Dental Association approved toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help protect the exposed nerves and prevent future aches. Be sure to avoid stiff toothbrushes, which only make your teeth wear more.

Any change in sensitivity should be taken seriously; itís a sign that your teeth are wearing abnormally. Since aches could be the result of several things Ė a crack, a loose filling, decay, or nighttime teeth-grinding Ė your dentist needs to examine you.

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