Posts for: March, 2013

By Steven D. Dunning DDS
March 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
KeepYourGumsinthePink

Being “in the pink” is a good thing; it means you're healthy. Being “in the red” is not so good; it means your health is questionable (financially, anyway). Though they weren't coined for dentistry per se, these colorful expressions are helpful reminders when it comes to taking care of your gums: Pink is their natural, healthy color; that's what you want to see every time you look in the mirror. Red is generally a warning that something's amiss.

If your gums, or “gingiva,” appear slightly swollen and reddened at the margins and/or they bleed when lightly prodded by brushing or flossing, it's likely that you have gingivitis. This is an immune response to the buildup of bacterial plaque (biofilm) at your gum line. It is also an early red flag for periodontal disease (peri – around, odont – tooth), a degenerative process that affects not only the gums, but the periodontal ligament that attaches each tooth in its bony socket, and the underlying supporting bone.

Attentive home dental hygiene practices prevent most plaque buildup from occurring. Brushing correctly at the gum line is a good start. But even a deftly handled brush can't reach everywhere, so it's important to use dental floss or specially designed mini-brushes to get in between teeth and other hard-to-reach areas. Our office can instruct you on optimal home care techniques. We also encourage you to visit at regular intervals for professional cleanings so you are assured of addressing anything home care might miss.

In the absence of good oral hygiene, dental plaque can build and become increasingly difficult to remove as it calcifies, becoming tartar. It becomes a breeding ground for disease-causing microbes that normally wouldn't have the chance to gain a foothold. When caught early, gingivitis can be treated before any harm is done. Sometimes a thorough professional cleaning is sufficient. If the problem is ignored, however, the disease will most certainly progress to destruction of the surrounding, supporting tissues — the periodontal ligament and the underlying bone. If this happens, tooth loss could eventually result.

That said, there can be other causes for bleeding gums. These include:

  • Brushing too rigorously or using a toothbrush with bristles that are too firm
  • Side effect of a medication
  • In women, elevated hormone levels (e.g., birth control pills or pregnancy)
  • A systemic (bodily) disease

Whatever the reason, red is not normal when it comes to your gums. The sooner you discover the underlying reason(s) for inflammation or bleeding and take appropriate action, you and your smile will be back in the pink and you'll have no reason to be blue!

If you would like more information about preventing or treating bleeding gums, 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 “Bleeding Gums.”


By Steven D. Dunning DDS
March 18, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
PlanningYourWeddingDaySmileMakeover

You're planning for one of the most important days in your life — your wedding — and you want everything to be perfect. You've chosen the outfits, the setting, the flowers... but there's one more thing to think about. Is your smile just as bright as your hopes for the future? Do you wish you could improve its appearance in time for the big date?

Here's good news: You can! Depending on how much advance notice you have — and what level of enhancement you need — your wedding day smile makeover can range from a thorough dental cleaning to a full-scale orthodontic treatment program. Let's look at a few options that can help you look and feel your best on this very special day.

Getting your teeth thoroughly, professionally cleaned can help remove some surface stains and tartar in just one appointment! Depending on the level of discoloration, and how long it's been since your last cleaning, more than one session may be needed. You have this basic and effective treatment done every three to six months anyway — right? So, be sure and schedule one before your wedding!

Sometimes your smile needs more than just routine maintenance. If that's the case, there are many other options to help it look its best. Tooth whitening is a safe, effective and economical way to lighten teeth by several shades. In-office treatments are quicker and more predictable, but dentist-supervised at-home bleaching kits are also an option if you have more time.

Porcelain veneers offer a more striking and more permanent solution for discolored teeth. To get the optimum “wow” effect from this treatment, figure from two to four office visits, and a total treatment time of at least three months.

Cosmetic bonding is a great way to hide those little chips in the front teeth, or discolored old fillings in back. Using the newest high-tech materials and a dose of old-fashioned artistry, we can restore the shiny, translucent look of your natural teeth — only with fewer imperfections. After a thorough evaluation, cosmetic bonding can often be performed as a one-visit procedure.

If your smile needs even more help, don't despair — there are still plenty of ways to improve it.

Teeth that are damaged or missing can be restored by crowns or bridgework. When the roots are intact, a crown replaces the visible part of the tooth above the gum line. If the tooth is missing, a bridge is used to secure a false tooth to two abutments on either side. Properly done, these restorations may last a decade or more, and generally require two or more visits.

Dental implants are a great way to restore missing teeth. They offer a permanent, natural-looking tooth replacement with numerous advantages over other restorative treatments. Achieving these results requires careful planning and takes a bit more time. If you need tooth restoration, be sure to ask us whether dental implants might be right for you.

If you would like more information about a wedding-day smile makeover, don't hesitate to contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”


HowMuchDoYouReallyKnowAboutKeepingYourChildrensTeethHealthy

Expectant mothers expect to deal with tooth-related milestones in their child's early years, such as teething and even the eventual shedding of those baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy. But there are many facets of children's oral health that may not be as well known. For example, did you know that using sugary fluids in your baby's bottle too frequently could promote constant acid production in your child's mouth leading to early childhood decay? Did you know that parents and caregivers who have decay transmit the bacteria that cause decay to their children?

Baby or primary teeth serve as guides for permanent teeth and, therefore, their health sets the stage for the health and proper function of their permanent successors. A comprehensive examination during a child's first visit can help uncover any underlying conditions that might be indicative of future problems, like tooth decay that can start as early as the age of six months when their first teeth appear. So the “Age One Visit” is the right time for a first dental visit.

What else do you know or want to know? Take our short quiz to help your child. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

The Quiz

  1. Mounting evidence suggests that a child's oral health is most closely tied to which relative?
    1. Mother
    2. Father
    3. Brother
    4. Sister
  2. Parents should bring their children to see a pediatric dentist:
    1. Once they turn two?
    2. Before they start kindergarten?
    3. Preferably before their first birthday?
    4. When they start to lose their baby teeth?
  3. Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children is referred to as what?
    1. Primary tooth decay
    2. Early Childhood Caries
    3. Diapers to Decay Disease
    4. Pediatric Dental Caries Syndrome
  4. To help diminish the likelihood that your baby/infant will develop a cavity, you should:
    1. Restrict the amount of sugary fluids your child drinks to mealtimes
    2. Maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce harmful bacteria
    3. Use fluoride to make the teeth more resistant to acid attack
    4. All of the above
  5. Infants are most susceptible to tooth decay when:
    1. Breast feeding
    2. Drinking milk from a bottle during meal times
    3. Sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam
    4. Sleeping on their sides

The Answers

1) a = mother 2) c = before their first birthday 3) b = early childhood caries 4) d = all of the above 5) c = sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam

Your baby's first visit to the dentist will cover a lot of ground, including diagnosis, prevention, education, and treatment as we help start him or her on the path to long-lasting oral and dental health. Call our office to schedule an appointment now. You can also learn more about pediatric tooth decay by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit — Why It's Important For Your Baby.”




Belton
561 North Scott Ave. Suite A
Belton, MO 64012
(816) 331-4333
fax: (816) 318-8178

Adrian
20 E. Main St.
Adrian, MO 64720
(816) 297-2297




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