4 Risk Factors of Gum Disease to Discuss with Your Dentist

Have you ever had something caught in your teeth for days? It’s likely because it was lodged deep between a tooth and your gums. That gum tissue is what keeps our chompers in place. There are three stages of gum disease and all are treatable.

gingivitis_2The mild form of gum disease is Gingivitis. This is where plaque and other byproducts irritate the gums. It makes them swollen, tender, and more likely to bleed. Periodontitis is stage two. The gum tissue starts deteriorating as it detaches from the teeth forming pockets around the roots. This leaves teeth exposed and more susceptible to decay. Finally, Advanced Periodontitis can set in. Tooth pockets get deeper as the severe gum recession leads to bone loss causing loose teeth.

Common Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease

  • Genetics – it’s hereditary and some of us are just unlucky! While you may be more susceptible to periodontitis, having a good oral hygiene routine with regular dental visits can help your smile stay healthy. Talk to us about finding the right balance for your needs.
  • Health – underlying medical conditions like diabetes and Crohn’s disease, as well as lowered immunity from illnesses and treatments often affect gum tissue. Medications, hormonal changes and obesity are also culprits and should be discussed.
  • Bad Habits – chewing on ice, not brushing or flossing daily and using tobacco are the most common behavior changes we encourage you to ditch. However, substance abuse and a diet lacking in vitamin C will also impact your smile.
  • Stress – it’s inevitable. But keep an eye on exactly how much it’s weighing you down. High levels or chronic stress can lead to poor hygiene habits. Anxiety can also lower your immune system from effectively fighting off bacteria that causes gingivitis (stage 1).

When to Seek Help

Common red flags of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums look bright red
  • Teeth wiggle

There’s no home remedy to cure gum disease. Only professional treatment can help, so call and schedule an exam today 650-756-0938.

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

650-756-0938

5 Tips for Creating Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits

Family BrushingLead by Example

Kids look to their parents to set standards in all things, including oral hygiene. How you behave is how they will act. Since the best way to teach children is by example, it is important that your child sees you brushing twice a day and flossing. Include your child in the process. Do it together, allowing them to help by putting toothpaste on your brush. Your demeanor in the dentist office will also influence how your little one behaves during their own visit. Remaining calm demonstrates that going to the dentist isn’t scary, and they’ll be much more cooperative during their own chair time.

Make Brushing Fun

Making brushing and flossing a game rather than a chore can be a great way to engage with your kids and get them excited about maintaining their oral health. Pretending the tooth brush is a hiker exploring a cave (their mouth) and the floss is a rope is one idea. Older kids can benefit from a reward system. Every time they brush their teeth they receive a gold star to add to a sticker chart. Once they get a certain number they’re rewarded with something like staying up an extra half hour past bedtime or an extra 15-minutes of electronics time.

Make a Visual Statement

plaqueDisclosingFind plaque disclosing products. These usually come in tablet form or mouthwash that turns plaque buildup bright colors. This is a great visual to help kids understand that even though they don’t see the plaque, it’s certainly there!

Teach Responsibility

Older kids get excited about the idea of having more responsibility. Provide them with the necessary tools to structure their oral hygiene routine. Have them set an alarm to alert them when it’s time to brush for bed and in the morning. They can even keep a brushing and flossing log to track the times and duration of their sessions.

Start Dental Visits Early

Teaching kids proper dental practices wouldn’t be complete without bi-annual exams. By visiting us regularly, you instill the importance of consistent exams. We love working with children, and we work hard to make the experience stress free and fun for the whole family.

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

650-756-0938

Untreated Cavities in the US

Mother Daughter BrushingWith the vast advancements in the dental field this last decade, it may be surprising to learn that untreated cavities are still a prevalent and persistent issue for many people in the United States. More than one in five Americans has untreated cavities and periodontitis, according to Dr. Bruce Dye, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “It appears that we haven’t been able to make any significant strides during the last decade to reduce untreated cavities” (Dye).  This is in part attributed to economic conditions.  With more Americans relying on Medicaid, most states have eliminated dental benefits in order to ease strain on stressed budgets.

The good news is that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide dental coverage for disadvantaged children, reducing the rates of children needing urgent dental care. Some studies have even suggested that American children are getting the same general level of dental care, regardless of income. The report found that rates of cavities were similar across all age groups, with teens having the lowest rates. Among children aged 5-11, 20% had untreated cavities, compared to 13% of those aged 12-19. Among children and teens, 27% had at least one dental sealant.  (Everyday Health)

shutterstock_14313997While comprehensive dental coverage is an undeniably large factor in the prevention and treatment of gum disease and cavities, you can lower your odds of developing dental issues through healthy lifestyle choices. Practicing good dental hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing is essential. Cutting back on sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks that feed the bacteria that lead to tooth decay is another controllable element in cavity prevention.  Regular dental visits are also paramount. When problems are identified and treated early, it prevents the necessity for more costly and invasive procedures.  If you are experiencing sensitivity or pain, schedule an appointment today.

 

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

650-756-0938

Holidays & Your Teeth

christmas-table-1909796_1920The holidays are infamous for being diet-breakers, but let’s not forget the effect excessive sweets can have on your oral health! Don’t worry, we aren’t going to convince you to pass on pecan pie or skip the cider; however, it is important to continue practicing healthy habits, even with some well-deserved indulgences peppered into your seasonal celebrations. Sugar affects everyone’s teeth, no matter how old. Younger children’s smiles are still in the process of development, which means they need added care throughout the growing stages.

The Start of Gum Disease and Cavities

To better understand why it’s important to monitor sugar consumption, we must first address the development of gum disease and cavities. When you eat normally throughout the day, food particles and bacteria collect in your mouth and on your teeth. As you brush and floss, these particles and bacteria are removed with no harm done. However, the presence of sugar fuels the bacteria, which creates enamel-destroying acid; left untreated, the acids corrode a hole in the tooth that deepens over time. Additionally, infection can occur in the gum tissues and lead to swelling, bleeding, and pain. It’s important to limit the bacteria’s opportunity to spread by practicing consistent oral care, and keep your mouth free of disease and infection.

Dental Decay in Children

christmas-1078274_1920When teeth are still in development, the story can be a bit different. The above still applies, but the stakes are higher during the formative years of cutting teeth. It isn’t uncommon to hear “oh, they’re just baby teeth”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Child tooth decay is a rampant condition and, although completely preventable, is five times as common as asthma. It’s entirely possible for the infection to spread beneath the gum line, and compromise the healthy adult teeth growing below. Until children are a certain age, it’s imperative for parents to teach sustainable healthy habits. Fortunately, we have a tip or two for the whole family!

When it comes to limiting sugar intake, but also being practical enough to live a little (especially during the holidays!) we stress that it’s actually the timing of sugar consumption that affects dental health more than the quantity consumed. That means less sweets eaten throughout longer periods of the day can actually harm your teeth more than a large serving of dessert eaten at once. Additionally, serving sweets along with the meal can also prevent over-exposure, as they are less likely to sit on the teeth for extended periods of time. Bearing these facts in mind, we suggest instead of leaving sweets all over the house, limit consumption until meal time, and then allow yourselves and the kids to enjoy your share of holiday confections!

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

SF Office

450 Sutter St., #1836
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: 650-756-0938

When is it a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies are not like other emergencies. It can be hard to know the difference between harassing your dentist or getting in contact because there is a serious time-sensitive issue at hand – particularly if you’re not even sure what the problem is.

The rule of thumb is this: “If it hurts – it’s an emergency.” additional-img-for-general

If you chipped a tooth, but there’s no pain, it can likely wait until the office’s normal operating hours. Just be sure to take care when chewing as to not worsen the injury. But if it’s fractured or you’re in pain, you may have damaged the soft tissue inside your tooth or “pulp” and that needs to be looked at immediately lest the tooth be compromised.

A knocked out or loose tooth should be immediately brought to a dental professional to attempt to save. The more time that passes between the initial trauma and attempted dental restoration, the less viable the tooth will be. In cases like this, if the tooth is loose please try to keep it in place by either keeping a finger there or gently biting to minimize movement. If it’s completely knocked out, avoid touching the root and either place it back in the socket (if you can comfortably do so), or store it in a small container or submerged in milk if it’s available. Get to our office immediately to minimize the likelihood of permanent tooth loss.

(Did You Know! Milk can help maintain the correct fluid balance of the root, preserving it longer; water, on the other hand, can cause the cells to swell and die.)

Mouth Trauma

If you have any kind of mouth injury including: punctures, lacerations, tears, or similar to the cheeks/tongue/mouth – this is an emergency. Be careful not to take any pain killers which may be blood thinners, like aspirin or ibuprofen, as this can increase the severity of the injury. Abscesses or infections of the mouth are serious and can be life threatening in some cases. If you are experiencing any of these, it is certainly an emergency. If you are bleeding, dealing with a loose/missing tooth, in severe pain, have been dealt trauma to the mouth, or have swelling – this is a dental emergency. Call a medical professional immediately.

Dental emergencies are not a black and white issue, as is the case with injuries like broken bones. But when it comes to your oral health, pain is never normal, and severe pain means a severe issue. Fortunately, dental emergencies rarely pop up for no reason at all, and as long as you take care of yourself and avoid dangerous situations, they are mostly preventable. If you find yourself at a sport outing and take a rogue ball to the mouth, definitely give us a call. Until then, just keep to your usual oral hygiene routine and don’t worry – if the worst happens, you always have us to set things straight (:

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

SF Office

450 Sutter St., #1836
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: 650-756-0938

How To Pick A Toothbrush & Floss

 

We all know to brush our teeth. Check. We all know to floss our teeth. Check (okay, we know some of us skip this step but we’ll let it slide this time). But do we know which type of toothbrush and which dental floss is the best to keep our pearly whites, well, pearly and white? Today we clear the air on this important topic.

Toothbrushes & Brushing

Before getting into all your purchasing options, let’s do a quick brush up (pun intended) on proper brushing techniques to ensure your dental labors are as effective as possible.

brush-ones-to-keepWhen brushing, you don’t want to apply a lot of pressure; plaque is removed with gentle and thorough cleaning. By being too aggressive you are more likely to damage your gum tissue than clean properly. To start, place the head of the brush at a 45-degree angle and point the bristles just into the gum line. This helps disrupt buildup gathering at the base of the tooth. Avoid brushing all your teeth at once; rather, target a group of 3-4 and gently clear the surfaces before moving on to the next set. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the tooth: fronts, backs, chewing surfaces, and the sides of those hard-to-reach molars. Perfect!

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

Electronic toothbrushes are a fantastic option and do a lot to help agitate food particles and really cleanse your teeth. Manual toothbrushes also work well provided they are used effectively with our above tips. For bristles, many make the mistake of purchasing them too tough. The flexibility and gentleness of soft bristles is precisely what you want to clean without damaging. For toothbrush size, just ensure it isn’t too large that it prevents access to those back molars that can be tricky to reach. There is no single toothbrush that is perfect for everyone, so be sure you’re using the one that feels the best to you and will encourage regular use – if you have any questions, we are always here!

Dental Floss & Flossing

Onto floss – but first, the brush up:

When it comes to flossing, you make a C-shape to curve around each tooth as you bring the floss down. The point is not to drag the line straight up and down, which can irritate the gums, but rather to hug the surface of each tooth and clean from the top to the root with a gentle motion. Use about 18” of floss for a fresh portion each pass. Remember to clean both neighboring teeth each time you bring the floss down, and don’t miss any teeth!

Which Floss Is Best?

There are a few variables to keep in mind when finding your ideal floss. First is the thickness of the floss – some people have larger gaps between teeth, and others have very tight spaces that can make it hard to floss. The ideal thickness is one that is comfortable to use, but still thoroughly cleans between each tooth – for tight spaces, try a flat, ribbon-like floss. There are also options like the material the floss is made of, and then waxed versus unwaxed floss. Some suggest waxed floss may be slightly more effective, but whichever choice is most comfortable for you is the choice we recommend. Yes, a lot of our advice is related to your preferences, but if you find a dental product you like with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can be sure you’ve found a winner!

In fact, that is our biggest suggestion for when it comes to both brushes and floss: the right option for you is the one you will actually use. If you have more questions, give us a call – we are always happy to ensure our patients feel confident with their oral health and have all the facts.

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

SF Office

450 Sutter St., #1836
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: 650-756-0938

Keep Calm and Floss On

General - Title

On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

 

Serramonte Dental Group

1500 Southgate Ave., Suite 210
Daly City, CA 94015

SF Office

450 Sutter St., #1836
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: 650-756-0938