Posts for: July, 2016
After several treatment sessions your periodontal (gum) disease is under control. But, while we may have won this battle, the war rages on. To keep an infection from re-occurring we'll have to remain on guard.
Gum disease begins and thrives on a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces called plaque. The infection usually begins as gingivitis, which causes the gums to become red and swollen (inflamed). Untreated it can develop into periodontitis, a more advanced form that progresses deeper into the gum tissues resulting in bone loss.
To treat the disease, we must remove all the plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) we can find no matter how deeply they've penetrated below the gum line. Since the deeper it extends the more likely surgical techniques may be necessary to consider, it's better to catch the disease in its earliest stages when plaque can be removed with hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment.
The appropriate treatment technique can effectively stop and even reverse gum disease's effects — but it won't change your susceptibility. Constant vigilance is the best way to significantly reduce your risk of another episode. In this case, our prevention goal is the same as in treatment: remove plaque.
It begins with you learning and applying effective brushing and flossing techniques, and being consistent with these habits every day. As your dentist, we play a role too: we may need to see you as often as every few weeks or quarter to perform meticulous cleaning above and below the gum line. We may also perform procedures on your gums to make it easier to maintain them and your teeth, including correcting root surface irregularities that can accumulate plaque.
Our aim is to reduce the chances of another infection as much as possible. "Fighting the good fight" calls for attention, diligence and effort — but the reward is continuing good health for your teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on continuing dental care after 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 “Periodontal Cleanings.”
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.
Have you ever woken up with a stiff, painful jaw and wondered what happened during the night? Although occasional jaw pain isn't unusual, persistent jaw pain can be a sign of an oral health problem, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Rick Rubin, D.M.D. and Brett Dunnill, D.D.S., your Williamsburg,VA, dentists, are here to share several common causes of jaw pain.
An abscessed tooth
Gum disease, injuries and tooth decay can cause a bacterial infection in or around a tooth called an abscess. Pain from the abscess may extend from your tooth to your jaw. If your jaw pain is accompanied by facial swelling, a fever, and swollen lymph nodes, you may have an abscess. Because the infection in your mouth can spread to other parts of your body, abscesses require prompt treatment
If your teeth don't meet together perfectly or you're stressed, you may grind or clench your teeth. Grinding or clenching puts significant pressure on your jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. Since this happens during sleep, you may not be aware that you have the problem. Waking up with jaw pain and a headache can be signs of the problem.
TMJ causes pain in the bones and muscles in your jaw joint. The disorder can occur if you've experienced a blow or injury to your jaw, arthritis or bite problems. In many cases, the cause is unknown. If you have TMJ, you may experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain in your jaw that radiates to your face or neck
- Pain around your ears and temples
- Jaw stiffness
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Pain when you bite, chew or yawn
- A change in way your teeth fit together
- Temporary or permanent locking of your jaw
How can my dentist help?
Treatment of your jaw pain depends on the cause. If you have an abscess, you'll need antibiotics to kill the bacteria and additional treatments to address tooth decay or gum disease. A custom-made nightguard offers a simple way to prevent grinding and clenching.
Ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain medications are often helpful in relieving TMJ pain at home. If these remedies don't work, your dentist can offer several treatments that may help you feel better. Prescription pain medications, muscle relaxants, and cortisone injections can help ease the pain. If your dentist suspects that bite issues are the cause of your problem, braces may be recommended to correct alignment problems. In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you wear a bite guard at night. The guard reduces pressure on the jaw joints while you sleep.
Contact your Williamsburg Dentist About TMJ
Are you concerned about your jaw pain? Visit Rick Rubin, D.M.D. and Brett Dunnill, D.D.S., your Williamsburg,VA, dentists, for a complete dental evaluation. Call them at (757) 345-5500 to schedule an appointment. End your jaw or TMJ pain with a visit to your Williamsburg dentists!