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Preventive Solutions

Dental Exam, Cleanings, & Hygiene

Oral health means more than just an attractive smile. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. And in many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. Recent reports indicate a relationship between periodontal (gum) disease and stroke, heart disease and preterm low-birth-weight babies. Likewise, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, meaning your dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem. 

Seeing a dentist every six months can help identify diseases in their earliest stages. It also is important to provide your dentist with a complete medical history and to inform him or her of any recent problems, even if they seem unrelated to your mouth.

A regular exam allows your dentist to keep your mouth in tip-top shape and watch for developments that may point to problems elsewhere in your body. A dental exam also picks up on poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Your dentist can also provide counseling on special oral health care needs, such as tobacco cessation.

Researchers are finding possible links between periodontal (gum) infections and other diseases throughout the body. Current studies suggest that there may be a link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. In fact, some research suggests that gum disease may be a more serious risk factor for heart disease than high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, high cholesterol, gender and age. Studies suggest that people who have gum disease seem to be at a higher risk for heart attacks, although no one is certain how this relationship works. Your oral health affects your overall health, but studies that will find exactly why these problems are linked are still underway.

Keep your mouth healthy! Gum disease is a serious gum infection that should always be taken seriously. Although gum disease can often show few or no symptoms at all, watch for gums that are red and irritated or bleed easily. There are many new treatments available to control and help reverse gum disease.

Remember, gum disease is caused by plaque buildup. Brush and floss regularly to remove plaque that you can't see below the gumline, and remember to schedule regular checkups. If you remove the plaque, you minimize the chance for getting gum disease. If you have any questions about your oral health, ask your dentist.


A questionnaire vs. a needle and drill?

The acronym CAMBRA stands for “CAries Management By Risk Assessment”. CAMBRA is a method of assessing caries (cavity) risk and making specific dental treatment and restoration recommendations.

A simple comparison used to understand CAMBRA methodology is to compare it to a risk assessment for heart disease your physician may perform during a physical examination.

When assessing risk for heart disease a physician will perform tests for blood pressure and cholesterol count. Then they will examine other risk factors such as heredity, age, sex, tobacco usage, alcohol consumption, weight, dietary habits, physical activity level, stress level, and other present disease conditions.

The physician will then make recommendations based on the above risk factors. For example, patients with a low level of risk for heart disease may be good candidates for running a marathon or having cosmetic surgery, whereas patients with a high level of risk for heart disease may not be good candidates for running a marathon or having elective cosmetic surgery and may require medical intervention such as a prescription medication or diet and exercise counseling.

Dentists who perform CAMBRA are performing a similar function. Based on risk factors for caries disease, dentists will perform tests for oral bacteria levels as well as take x-rays. They will then examine disease indicators and risk factors such as current decay condition, current bacterial challenge, decay history, dietary habits, current prescription medications, saliva flow, medical conditions, and oral hygiene habits.

The dentist can then make recommendations based on the above risk factors. Patients at high risk may require medical intervention in the form of oral rinses, gels, gums, and sprays. They may also require restoration of any existing tooth decay. High risk patients may also receive recommendations to put off elective cosmetic dental procedures or orthodontics until risk levels can be decreased. Patients at low risk may receive recommendations for oral home care preventive products to keep risk levels low, and will be better candidates for elective cosmetic procedures.

Patients who are assessed as high risk are more likely to have failures of expensive dental work due to recurrent decay. The dentist performing CAMBRA will include treating the cavity-causing bacterial infection in addition to the restoration treatment plan based on the patient's specific risk factors to reduce the risk of restoration or cosmetic failure due to recurrent decay.

Many dental journals have been dedicated to the subject of CAMBRA and CAMBRA methodologies and like heart disease risk analysis, have proven to reduce decay rates.

Oral Cancer Screening

MOST PEOPLE will have a small spot in their mouth at one time or another. Although most are of no cause for 

concern, some oral spots contain unhealthy cells (known as "dysplasia") that are typically still harmless today but can eventually become cancerous if not detected and treated. That is why our office now routinely uses the OralCDx BrushTest to test common oral spots for any unhealthy cells.

Due to recent advances in medicine and computer science, we can now painlessly prevent a disease that kills as many Americans as melanoma, twice as many as cervical cancer and is rising among women, young people and non-smokers. Well over 25% of those found to have oral cancer do not use tobacco or abuse alcohol. Recent studies have shown a link between HPV and an increase in oral cancer.

We use the OralCDx BrushTest because it has been clinically proven to be one of the most accurate minimally-invasive methods. It's use by over 30,000 U.S. dentists has already resulted in the detection and removal of thousands of precancerous spots - years before they could cause any harm.

To learn more about the signs, risk factors and dangers of Oral Cancer and the OralCDx Brushtest click on the logo below.

Gum Disease (Periodontal) Treatment

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease is a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue. It is the major cause of about 70 percent of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four persons at some point in their life. Periodontal diseases include gingivitis and periodontitis. 

What causes gum disease?

Bacterial plaque – a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth – is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. If plaque isn't removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar).Toxins produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper, and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.

Are there other factors?

Yes. Genetics is also a factor, as are lifestyle choices. A diet low in nutrients can diminish the body's ability to fight infection. Smokers and spit tobacco users have more irritation to gum tissues than non-tobacco users, while stress can also affect the ability to ward off disease. Diseases that interfere with the body's immune system, such as leukemia and AIDS, may worsen the condition of the gums. In patients with uncontrolled diabetes, where the body is more prone to infection, gum disease is more severe or harder to control. Pregnant women experience elevated levels of hormones that cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque, and in many cases can cause a condition known as "pregnancy gingivitis."

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

Signs include red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth, pus between the gum and tooth, persistent bad breath, a change in the way teeth fit together when the patient bites and a change in the fit of dentures. While patients are advised to check for the warning signs, there might not be any discomfort until the disease has spread to a point where the tooth is unsalvageable. That's why patients are advised to get frequent dental exams.

What does periodontal treatment involve?

In the early stages of gum disease, most treatment involves a special cleaning called scaling and root planning, which removes plaque and tartar around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. Antibiotics or antimicrobials may be used to supplement the effects of scaling and root planing. In most cases of early gum disease, called gingivitis, scaling and root planing and proper daily cleaning achieve a satisfactory result. More advanced cases may require surgical treatment, which involves cutting the gums – sometimes with the assistance of a laser – and removing the hardened plaque build-up and recontouring the damaged bone. The procedure is also designed to smooth root surfaces and reposition the gum tissue so it will be easier to keep clean.

How do you prevent gum disease?

Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize your risk. Your dentist can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet your needs.

What is the role of the general dentist?

The general dentist usually detects gum disease and treats it in the early stages. Some general dentists have acquired additional expertise to treat more advanced conditions of the disease. If the general dentist believes that the gum disease requires treatment by a specialist, the patient will be referred to a periodontist. The dentist and periodontist will work together to formulate a treatment plan for the patient.

How can I maintain treatment at home?

Sticking to a regular oral hygiene regimen is crucial for patients who want to sustain the results of periodontal therapy. Patients should visit the dentist every three to four months (or more, depending on the patient) for spot scaling and root planing and an overall exam. In between visits, they should brush at least twice a day, floss daily and brush their tongue. Manual soft nylon bristle brushes are the most dependable and least expensive. Electric brushes are also a good option, but don't reach any further into the pocket than manual brushes. Proxy brushes (small, narrow brushes) and other interdental cleaners are the best way to clean between the recesses in the teeth and should be used once a day. Wooden toothpicks and rubber tips should only be used if recommended by your dentist.