Can Teenagers get Gum Disease?

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.

This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.

Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.

But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.

You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Is Oral Piercings Safe?

Oral piercing is a form of body art and self-expression that’s all the rage among teenagers and young adults. While piercings of the tongue, lip or cheek might seem safe because “everyone has them,” that’s not entirely true. The mouth is a moist place, which means it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. And the primary danger of oral piercing is increased risk of infection. There are other risks, too. Oral piercings can also chip or crack teeth, cause nerve damage and produce an allergic reaction to metal. Some people also notice that it’s more difficult to speak, chew and swallow after piercings.
Do the smart thing and have your teenager see a dentist before piercing. Learning about the potential risks will make for a happier, healthier loved one.
And if your teen decides to go ahead with a piercing, make sure he or she keeps it clean! This is the single most effective way to fight off infection. And if your teen notices any of the following symptoms, schedule a dentist appointment right away:
·        Pain, soreness or swelling
·        Chipped or cracked teeth
·        Damage to fillings
·        Sensitivity to metals
·        Numbness

Nitrous Oxide: A Quick Fix for Dental Fear

Sometimes it’s not enough to have a great dentist, caring dental staff and soothing office environment – you or your children may still feel anxious about dental visits. That’s why many dentists use nitrous oxide; it helps calm patients of all ages – from timid tykes to anxious adults. Nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) has been used by U.S. dentists since the late 1800s. Its benefits are many, and the risks are few.
Nitrous oxide is safe for all ages. Nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest anesthetics available. It is well tolerated by patients of all ages, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic.
It reduces pain and anxiety. The effect of nitrous oxide is often remarkable, for both kids and adults. It’s typical for an adult or child to be relaxed and calm just minutes after receiving nitrous oxide. And when you’re calm, that means a faster, more comfortable dental visit.
You remain conscious. With nitrous oxide, you remain completely conscious and in control of your reflexes. You can talk and respond to your dentist. The point of nitrous oxide is to help you relax.
Comfort comes fast. Nitrous oxide takes effect within minutes and lasts for as long as you’re inhaling. After treatment, oxygen is used to flush the nitrous from your system just as quickly as it entered.

Xylitol: The Tooth Friendly Sweetener

Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and taste like sugar. It is found naturally and can be extracted from birch, raspberries, plums, corn and mushrooms. Technically it is not a sugar but a sugar alcohol that is sometimes called wood sugar or birch sugar. Our bodies produce up to 15mg everyday as part of normal metabolism.

The great benefit of Xylitol in preventing tooth decay was “discovered” in Finland in the early 1970’s. Streptococcus Mutans, bacteria found in the mouth, produces toxins and acids that can dissolve teeth when foods with refined sugar [sucrose] are eaten.

Xylitol is not fermented by oral bacterial, so it cannot cause cavities [caries]. It works its magic on many levels.

 It inhibits the growth of cavity-producing bacteria S. Mutans and lactobacilli. The number of these acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%

 It prevents the transmission of S. Mutans from mother to child

 It reduces the adhesion of plaque to your teeth

 It stimulates salivary flow creating a greater buffer capacity against acids and aiding remineralization of your teeth

 

Therapeutically, Xylitol is added to chewing gum or candy. The dosage is critical. To receive tooth decay prevention benefits, you must receive 6-10 grams of Xylitol per day. When reading the label of a Xylitol containing product, Xylitol should be the first sugar listed and, ideally, the only sugar component. To be effective, the Xylitol gum must be utilized several times a day over long periods – 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.

Xylitol is also to added to some oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss, fluoride supplements.

Chewing Xylitol gum after meals is a great alternative when brushing or flossing is not an option. Anybody who is at high risk for dental decay such as people with dry mouths or those with exposed tooth root surfaces should consider this decay prevention therapy.

On a precautionary note – excessive chewing could lead to headaches and/or pain in the TMJ joint near your ear. Don’t over do it!

Call our office for product recommendations.

It’s No Laughing Matter Or Is It?

Dentists often hear, “Don’t take this personally, but I don’t want to be here.” Or, “I’d rather give birth than go to the dentist.” Dental visits are anxiety producing for some individuals and result in uncomfortable stressful situations. The good news is that we have the “cure.” It’s been used safely for over 100 years and goes by many names such as Nitrous Oxide, Tranquilizing Air and Laughing Gas. The bottom line is that this sweet smelling blend of nitrous oxide and oxygen reduces anxiety, minimizes an overactive gag reflex, raises your pain threshold and helps make your dental visit pleasant and comfortable with its calming effect.

Nitrous Oxide is non-addictive, predictable, and reliable and is, perhaps, the safest sedative in dentistry. During the treatment, you remain fully conscious and have all your natural reflexes. Both adults and children can use it. In fact, 85% off all pediatric dentists use “laughing gas” with their patients. You quickly recover in about 5 minutes after the nitrous oxide is turned off, and you are switched to pure oxygen to breathe. It is safe to drive and return to your normal activities after the visit.

The nitrous oxide is administered through a “mask” or nosepiece that fits snugly over your nose. The amount you receive can be individually adjusted to satisfy your personal needs. A euphoric effect is produced that may be accompanied by a tingling in the hands and feet. Some report feeling giddy – thus the name laughing gas. The most common response we hear is “I’m aware of what is happening, but it doesn’t bother me.”

Contraindications to the use of nitrous oxide are pregnancy, if you are uncomfortable with something around your nose or if your have a respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult. It is recommended to refrain from eating for about 2 hours before treatment. Nitrous oxide is excellent for patients with a history of heart problems because it reduces tension and provides 2-3 times more oxygen than breathing normal air.

Nitrous oxide does not numb teeth, so most patients use it in combination with a local dental anesthetic. However, after being placed on nitrous oxide for several minutes, many patients report, ” I hardly felt the injection.”

Call our office to find out how nitrous oxide can dramatically help you.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants offer people an alternative to the traditional ways of replacing missing teeth. The actual implant is an artificial root [anchor] made from synthetic material, usually titanium metal. There are three phases to the implant process.

First, the dental implant is surgically placed into the jawbone. It takes 3-6 months to fuse with the bone [called osseointegration]. An abutment [post] is attached to the implant and protrudes above the gum tissue. A replacement restoration is cemented or screwed to the implant abutment. Depending on the situation, dental implants can support a fixed crown or bridge or act as a stabilizing base for a full denture. The procedure can take up to 9-12 months for completion and has a high degree of success.

Some individuals have had so much bone resorption [loss] that the remaining bony ridge is too thin to hold an implant. In many cases, synthetic or natural bone can be grafted [added] or grown to allow for dental implants as an alternative treatment.

Implants have a great advantage for people already wearing full dentures since they can support and stabilize the denture while minimizing further bone loss of the denture ridge.

Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. There are certain risk factors that may limit success including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic bruxism [grinding teeth], systemic problems such as diabetes and individuals with poor oral hygiene.

Dental implants offer a “second chance” to those who have lost all of their teeth. For people missing only one or several teeth, dental implants provide benefits as an alternative way to restore your mouth. To determine if implants are for you, a clinical examination, x-rays, study casts and other appropriate records and measurements will be necessary. Call our office if you have questions or would like to schedule an implant exam.

X-Rays: Yes or No?

While we share your concerns about potential risks from too much exposure to radiation, x-rays [radiographs] are a necessary part of the dental health process.

Our philosophy is that x-rays should not be routine but utilized when they will contribute to diagnosis or treatment of oral disease. Of course, we will cover you with appropriate body shielding prior to taking any x-rays.

Radiographs allow us to see and interpret signs of disease or potential problems that are not visible through direct observation. X-rays can be used to discover abscesses [pus-pocket], cysts, and/or tumors. They help us locate impacted, unerupted or extra teeth or determine congenitally missing teeth. Radiographs can demonstrate the presence or degree of periodontal [gum] disease. They can pinpoint the location and severity of cavities that are not visible to the naked eye. Basically, radiographs provide us with a view of the underlying structure and condition of your teeth, soft tissue and bone. Foregoing x-rays could result in an inaccurate diagnosis or incomplete treatment.

Usually, new adult patients will be given a full series of x-rays that will serve as a frame of reference for future changes or problems. The time frame between [6-18 months], type and number of follow-up x-rays will be determined by our assessment of your individual needs and the condition of your mouth. Growth and development are additional factors taken into account with young children. Certain situations such as root canal treatment necessitate several x-rays as part of the procedure. Patient with periodontal disease or implants will require radiographs at specific intervals to monitor their condition. As we are sensitive to your concerns, our office continues to keep abreast of ongoing radiological advances, and we utilize techniques and x-ray films that will minimize your exposure and maximize your excellent oral health.

Snoring: Can you do Anything about it?

Snoring is a widespread problem, affecting 30-45% of the population. When you take into account those that are disturbed by it, spouses and children, that number will double. It can have social consequences, disrupting marriages and roommate relationships. Snoring can also have medical consequences, preventing “a good night’s sleep” so individuals wake up fatigued, or more seriously, as a byproduct of obstructive sleep apnea, wherein the snorer momentarily stops breathing during sleep. To objectively identify the problem, an overnight sleep study [polysomnogram] needs to be administered by a medical doctor. The sound of snoring results from the uvula [tissue hanging from roof of soft palate] and the back of the soft palate vibrating. It is caused by a narrowing of the air passages in the throat due to a variety of factors – long uvula or soft palate, large tonsils, excess fat deposits, blocked nasal passages from cold or allergies and/or the relaxation [collapse] of the musculature of the throat and mouth during sleep. Presently, there are several methods that are reasonably predictable and will offer snorers relief. The most common utilizes a device called CPAP [continuous positive air pressure]. A stream of air is pushed through a tube connected to a mask that covers the nose. The continuous air pressure forces the airway to stay open during sleep. There are a large variety of dental appliances, similar to a mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, which are worn while sleeping. Some reposition the lower jaw [mandible] forward while others retain the tongue in a forward position. Essentially, they maintain an open, unobstructed airway in the throat. These appliances may be contraindicated in bruxers [people who grind their teeth]. Why suffer any longer? Any of these treatments can reduce or stop snoring. Call our office for more information.

Smoking And Your Mouth

It would be paradoxical to use the word “smoking” and the phrase “good oral health” in the same sentence. They just don’t go together. Not only does smoking leave brown stains and sticky tar deposits on your teeth or dentures, but it contributes to halitosis [bad breath]. It’s not uncommon to see red inflammation on the palate [roof of the mouth] from the high temperatures generated by cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor in periodontal [gum] disease. As shown by 20 years of research, smokers are 2-3 times more likely to develop periodontitis [bone loss]. Tooth loss is much more prevalent than in non-smokers. Studies have shown a higher rate of dental implant failures for those who smoke. Smoking leaves little room for error when it comes to oral cancer. There are 9,000 deaths a year in the U.S. from oral cancer and tobacco use accounts for 75% of them. Even second-hand smoke poses danger, especially for children. Smoke breathed in by children can affect the development and eruption of their permanent teeth. This process usually begins between ages 3-6 years old. The good news is that “kicking the habit” greatly reduces the risk of developing oral cancer. After 10 years of cessation, the risk is similar to a non-smoker. There are a number of ways to stop without experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms including the nicotine patch, nicotine gum and nicotine spray or inhaler.

The Headache Question

Chronic symptoms of the head and neck can often be attributed to:

 Headache — the temporalis muscle (it closes and clenches the jaw)

 Sinus pressure and pain — the lateral pterygoid muscles (it moves the jaw side to side and/or forward)

 Neck stiffness and pain — trapezius muscle (it stabilizes the skull during jaw clenching and grinding)

Dental offices have treated and helped more and more people with their headache problems. For years, we assigned all of these names to headaches, like muscle tension headaches, neuralgia, migraine and so on, and it seems that many headache patients share one very common trait- They clench or grind their teeth at night!

Most medical research has shown that headaches, even people with classical migraine headaches, have no physical reason, no vascular problems and no neurological problems; in fact their physician’s exam will give no physical reason for the pain. Many patients have had CAT scans and MRI’s that were negative, and find that drugs really don’t help their problem; instead the medication makes them groggy and “drugged out.”

What we have discovered is that people who can control their nighttime clenching and grinding will get tremendous relief for their headaches and neck aches. Many people do so much unconscious clenching of their jaw muscles that when they wake up, their teeth are sore, their muscles are already tired, and they are set up for the beginning of a headache from the start of the day, if they don’t wake up with one.

One effective treatment utilizes an NTI appliance (short for nocioceptive trigeminal inhibition), a dental device that fits between the upper and lower front teeth. (Detailed information can be gotten from the website at http://www.headacheprevention.com/ ) The simple fact is that this device reduces the intensity of nighttime parafunction by 70 percent immediately, which can explain why so many patients wake up feeling better very quickly.

A traditional dental mouthpiece, or splint, reduces the resistance to side-to-side movement, thereby, reducing the effort and resultant strain to the jaw joint and sinuses (so long as clenching intensity isn’t too intense). However, the same splint also provides an ideal clenching surface, where maximum clenching intensity may increase and/or allow jaw joint problems to perpetuate.

Many patients run the gamut of the medical world’s attempts to control their headaches- with multiple drugs, injections and so on, without ever thinking that the pain might be muscular in origin. But just like back pain is often muscle spasm, the pain we call TMJ, as well as headaches of many sorts are very much caused by overuse of the muscles of closing the jaws.

We would recommend that if you or a loved one has chronic headache problems, that you go to the web site, or give us a call and let us take a look. It can do no harm, and it might very well make a huge difference in