Posts for category: Oral Health
Learning you're pregnant can change your life in a heartbeat—or now two. Suddenly, what was important to you just seconds before the news takes a back seat to the reality of a new life growing within you.
But although many of your priorities will change, there's one in particular that shouldn't—taking care of your dental health. In fact, because of the hormonal changes that will begin to occur in your body, your risk of dental disease may increase during pregnancy.
Because of these hormonal variations, you may find you have increased cravings for certain foods. If that includes eating more carbohydrates (especially sugar), bacteria can begin to multiply in your mouth and make you more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
The hormones in themselves can also increase your risk of gum disease in particular. There's even a name for a very common form of gum infection—pregnancy gingivitis—which affects around two-fifths of pregnant women. If not treated, it could aggressively spread deeper within the gums and endanger both your teeth and supporting jaw bone.
The key to minimizing both tooth decay and gum disease is to keep your mouth clean of dental plaque, a thin bacterial biofilm most responsible for these diseases. You can do this by keeping up daily brushing and flossing and maintaining regular dental cleanings and checkups. Professional dental care is especially important during pregnancy.
You may, though, have some reservations about some aspects of dental care, especially if they involve undergoing local anesthesia. But many medical organizations including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association recommend dental treatment during pregnancy. Even procedures involving local anesthesia won't increase the risk of harm to you or your baby.
That said, though, elective dental work such as cosmetic enhancements, might be better postponed until after the baby is born. It's best to discuss with your dentist which treatments are essential and should be performed without delay, and which are not. In general, though, there's nothing to fear for you or your baby continuing your regular dental care—in fact, it's more important than ever.
If you would like more information on dental care during pregnancy, 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 “Dental Care During Pregnancy.”
If you think periodontal (gum) disease is something that only happens to the other guy (or gal), you might want to reconsider. Roughly half of adults over age 30—and nearly three-quarters over 65—have had some form of gum disease.
Gum disease isn't some minor inconvenience: If not treated early, a gum infection could lead to bone and tooth loss. Because it's inflammatory in nature, it may also impact the rest of your health, making you more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Gum disease mainly begins with dental plaque, a thin film of food particles on tooth surfaces. Plaque's most notable feature, though, is as a haven for oral bacteria that can infect the gums. These bacteria use plaque as a food source, which in turn fuels their multiplication. So, the greater the plaque buildup, the higher your risk for a gum infection.
The best way to lower that risk is to reduce the population of bacteria that cause gum disease. You can do this by keeping plaque from building up by brushing and flossing every day. It's important for this to be a daily habit—missing a few days of brushing and flossing is enough for an infection to occur.
You can further reduce your disease risk by having us clean your teeth regularly. Even if you're highly proficient with daily hygiene, it's still possible to miss some plaque deposits, which can calcify over time and turn into a hardened form called tartar (or calculus). Tartar is nearly impossible to remove with brushing and flossing, but can be with special dental tools and techniques.
Even with the most diligent care, there's still a minimal risk for gum disease, especially as you get older. So, always be on the lookout for red, swollen or bleeding gums. If you see anything abnormal like this, see us as soon as possible. The sooner we diagnose and begin treating a gum infection, the better your chances it won't ultimately harm your dental health.
If you would like more information on the prevention and treatment of gum disease, 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 “How Gum Disease Gets Started.”
How your dentists in West Hartford, CT can help if you have gum disease
Gum disease is a common problem, and it can sneak up on you with little to no symptoms. All you may notice is redness in your gums, or maybe slight bleeding when you brush, floss, or eat.
You will be glad to know gum disease is completely reversible, but you need to act fast. You need to start an excellent program of oral hygiene and visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for a dental exam and professional cleaning.
The dentists at Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford, CT offer a wide range of dental services, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental treatments to help you enjoy a healthy smile.
You may have gum disease if you experience:
- Gums that are red and bleeding
- Swelling, puffiness, or pain in your gums
- Gum pain when you brush, floss, or chew
- Chronic bad breath
- Receding gums resulting in root exposure
You can do a lot to prevent gum disease, including:
- Brushing after meals and before you go to bed; a sonic or electric toothbrush is often helpful to flush out bacteria and food debris.
- Flossing at least once each day; flossing cleans in between your teeth, in areas that can’t be reached with a toothbrush. For more thorough cleaning, try wrapping the floss around the widest part of your tooth as you go down in between your teeth.
- Visit your dentist at least every six to twelve months for a dental examination, including x-rays. Your dentist will examine your gums for any signs of disease and look at your x-rays for signs of bone loss, one of the key indicators of periodontal disease.
- Visit your dental hygienist at least every six to twelve months, or as directed by your dentist. Your dental hygienist will remove any soft and hard deposits on your teeth, which reduces the number of harmful bacteria causing gum and periodontal disease.
Keeping excellent oral hygiene habits along with regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist are the best ways to prevent gum disease. To find out more about gum and periodontal disease causes, prevention, and treatment, call the dentists of Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford, CT at (860) 233-7514. Call today!
Hollywood superstar Jennifer Lawrence is a highly paid actress, Oscar winner, successful producer and…merry prankster. She's the latter, at least with co-star Liam Hemsworth: It seems Lawrence deliberately ate tuna fish, garlic or other malodorous foods right before their kissing scenes while filming The Hunger Games.
It was all in good fun, of course—and her punked co-star seemed to take it in good humor. In most situations, though, our mouth breath isn't something we take lightly. It can definitely be an unpleasant experience being on the receiving end of halitosis (bad breath). And when we're worried about our own breath, it can cause us to be timid and self-conscious around others.
So, here's what you can do if you're concerned about bad breath (unless you're trying to prank your co-star!).
Brush and floss daily. Bad breath often stems from leftover food particles that form a film on teeth called dental plaque. Add in bacteria, which thrive in plaque, and you have the makings for smelly breath. Thorough brushing and flossing can clear away plaque and the potential breath smell. You should also clean your dentures daily if you wear them to avoid similar breath issues.
Scrape your tongue. Some people can build up a bacterial coating on the back surface of the tongue. This coating may then emit volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that give breath that distinct rotten egg smell. You can remove this coating by brushing the tongue surface with your toothbrush or using a tongue scraper (we can show you how).
See your dentist. Some cases of chronic bad breath could be related to oral problems like tooth decay, gum disease or broken dental work. Treating these could help curb your bad breath, as can removing the third molars (wisdom teeth) that are prone to trapped food debris. It's also possible for bad breath to be a symptom of a systemic condition like diabetes that may require medical treatment.
Quit smoking. Tobacco can leave your breath smelly all on its own. But a smoking habit could also dry your mouth, creating the optimum conditions for bacteria to multiply. Besides increasing your disease risk, this can also contribute to chronic bad breath. Better breath is just one of the many benefits of quitting the habit.
We didn't mention mouthrinses, mints or other popular ways to freshen breath. While these can help out in a pinch, they may cover up the real causes of halitosis. Following the above suggestions, especially dental visits to uncover and treat dental problems, could solve your breath problem for good.
If you would like more information about ways to treat bad breath, please contact us or schedule an appointment. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”
Scheduling professional teeth cleanings with your family dentist regularly is an excellent way to maintain better oral health. Professional cleanings are needed to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup. Additionally, dental professionals have access to tools and techniques for achieving a more thorough cleaning than is possible at home. The family dentists at Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford can help you enjoy better oral health with professional cleanings and regular dental checkups.
Enjoy Better Oral Health
Professional teeth cleanings can help you achieve better oral health and are the only way to completely remove tartar buildup on teeth. Brushing and flossing at home are not enough. When left on teeth, tartar continues to build up and can contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar buildup can also stain teeth and cause them to appear yellow.
The reason tartar is so difficult to remove is that it bonds with tooth enamel. Once bonded, tartar cannot be brushed away. Dental professionals have the tools and equipment needed to scrape away stubborn tartar and clean hard-to-reach places where plaque and cavity-causing bacteria could be hiding. Scheduling periodic dental checkups and professional cleanings with one of the skilled family dentists at our office in West Hartford can play an essential role in helping you enjoy optimal oral health.
Link to Overall Health
Prioritizing your oral health could have a positive impact on your overall health. Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk for developing a wide range of health problems, including stroke and heart disease. Poor oral health or inconsistent oral hygiene habits can leave lingering bacteria in the mouth, which could potentially travel to other areas of the body and cause inflammation or infection. Professional teeth cleanings are a highly effective means of clearing away this bacterial before it causes health problems.
Having your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every six months will help you maintain better oral health and could reduce your risk of developing certain health problems. To schedule a dental checkup and teeth cleaning with one of our family dentists, call Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford at (860) 233-7514.