Friday, March 29, 2013

My Gums Bleed When I Brush. What Does It Mean?

If you've noticed some bleeding after you brush or floss your teeth, it's most likely an early sign of gingivitis - a condition that causes your gums to swell due to the accumulation of plaque. Gingivitis is not a serious health risk in and of itself; however, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious issues like periodontitis and bone loss.

A patient with gingivitis will usually have red, puffy gums, especially after brushing or flossing. Fortunately, proper oral hygiene will usually resolve gingivitis. In other words, if you can improve your dental care routine, you may be able to cure gingivitis on your own, without having to make a trip to the dentist's office. Some patients find that using an antiseptic mouthwash along with proper brushing and flossing helps prevent gingivitis.

It should be noted that not every case of gingivitis is caused by plaque. Sometimes, gingivitis is the result of a specific virus, bacteria or fungus. Other cases may be caused by trauma, reaction to foreign bodies or even genetic factors. If you find that your gingivitis is not going away, even with improved oral hygiene, it may be that your condition is a non-plaque induced gingival disease. Talk to your dentist about the possible causes for your condition and the necessary treatment.

If you're not sure whether you have gingivitis or not, here are a few common symptoms to be mindful of:
  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Gums are tender, uncomfortable
  • Gums are painful to the touch
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Gums appear puffy and swollen
  • Gums have receded
If you have noticed any of the above symptoms, don't hesitate to contact Dr. Melcher. These may not be serious risks to your health at first, but if left untreated it could lead to significant problems in the future. Implant and General Dentistry is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. Call us at 919-782-0548 or visit us online to schedule an appointment.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What is Root Planing and Why is it Done?

Root planing is a technique dentists use to stop the adverse effects of periodontal disease. It involves a procedure in which the dentist will thoroughly clean below the patient's gum line (known as scaling), then smooth the roots or the tooth (or teeth). The purpose of smoothing the roots is to help facilitate gum reattachment and prevent bacteria from spreading. When the roots are smooth, the gum tissue is more prone to reattach itself and is less vulnerable to the accumulation of bacteria.

This technique is also known as "conventional periodontal therapy" or "non-surgical periodontal therapy." It is effective against fighting mild cases of periodontitis, sometimes only requiring one session to achieve the desired results. However, for moderate to severe periodontal patients, root planing and scaling may be the initial therapy prior to surgery.

If your dentist has suggested a root planing procedure for your dental health, you may be a little nervous but rest assured, the procedure is not as uncomfortable as it sounds. Your dentist will most likely use a local anesthetic to numb your gums and the roots of your teeth. Most patients experience little to no discomfort during the process.

Like many dental and medical procedures, there are a few risks involved. Root planing and scaling can introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. Dr. Melcher may prescribe antibiotics for you to take before and after the procedure. Be sure to let us know if you have a condition that makes you vulnerable to infection, such as an immune deficiency or recent surgery. If you have any questions about this procedure, schedule an appointment with Dr. Simon Melcher, D.D.S of Implant & General Dentistry by visiting us online or calling 919-782-0548.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Do Water Irrigation Systems Replace the Need for Flossing?

Oral irrigation products like Waterpik systems or water jets can be very useful in removing retained food particles from hard-to-reach areas between your teeth. However, using these systems should not replace your daily flossing routine. These devices help dislodge bits of food that can sometimes get stuck between teeth, but they do not help in removing plaque. Only regular brushing and flossing (along with regular dentist check-ups) can keep plaque buildup at bay and maintain a truly healthy smile.

Of course, if your dentist has recommended you use a water irrigation system for your teeth, you should follow your dentist's advice. These products can be very effective for people whose traditional manual oral hygiene is less than ideal. In some cases, a dentist will recommend an oral irrigation system along with antibacterial solutions to help maintain the health of periodontal patients. Patients who may benefit from oral irrigation the most include those with orthodontic appliances, implants, crown and bridge work, diabetes, or gingivitis.

Like any other self-care dental device, oral irrigation systems are most effective when used on a daily basis - unless your dentist instructs you to do otherwise. These devices should be a complementary action to a patient's daily dental care routine - it should NOT be a substitute for it.

For more information on water irrigation devices for your dental health, talk to Dr. Simon Melcher. He can help you determine if using these devices is right for you and your lifestyle. Contact Implant & General Dentistry at our website or call us at 919-782-0548 to schedule an appointment.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria builds up along the gum line. This buildup, when left untreated, will start to irritate the gum line, eventually leading to an inflammation reaction. When a person's gums become irritated and inflamed, swelling and bleeding can occur. This further exacerbates the situation, allowing more bacteria to irritate the gum tissue and the existing bacteria to travel deeper below the gum line.

If this condition is left untreated, the bacteria may even travel all the way to the mouth and jaw bone, resulting in demineralization. When demineralization occurs, the bone can actually break down and dissolve, which then leads to bone loss and eventually tooth loss. Once the bone material surrounding a tooth breaks down, the tooth has nothing to support it. Even if the tooth is relatively healthy, it could still fall out due to improper gum care.

As you can see, gum disease is something that starts out as a minor problem, but it can quickly escalate into a major health issue. Almost like a domino effect, where one thing leads to another and so on, untreated periodontal disease can cause significant damage to a person's gums, bone and teeth - usually in that order. To prevent periodontal disease, make a habit of brushing and flossing regularly, as well as visiting your dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups every six months.

If you feel you may have periodontal disease, feel free to call our office at 919-782-0548 to schedule an appointment. We can help put you on the right track to treatment while offering helpful advice for future prevention. Our full service dental office is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Call or visit us online to schedule an appointment.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mouthguards for Children While Playing Sports

Should my child wear a mouthguard while playing sports? The answer is yes and so should you! Please don’t think that mouthguards are just for kids who play football and hockey. The American Dental Association’s website cites several studies that have shown the benefit of mouthguard protection, even for noncontact sports such as gymnastics and skateboarding. In fact, the research conducted by those in the field of sports dentistry reveals that, “everyone, from children to adults, should wear a mouthguard during any recreational activity that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth, including practice and training sessions.”

Since the use of mouthguards has been shown to reduce the risk of injury significantly, as a parent, you must make it your job to see that your child’s teeth are protected. Injuries that cause severe damage to the dental structure can be very painful, potentially disfiguring, and often require months of corrective therapy. This is why the ADA endorses the preventive value of orofacial protectors. According to the ADA’s site, those include helmets, faceguards, and mouth protectors. They should be used by anyone participating in activities where there are any levels of injury risk.

Mouthguards are essential for anyone with braces or bridgework. They can act as a cushion between the soft tissue of your lips, tongue, gums, and cheeks. They can also serve as a shock absorber and limit the damage caused by an injury. Mouthguards are made of a very flexible material and come in several different models.
  • One size fits all-inexpensive ones
  • Boil and custom fit models
  • Custom made mouthguards from your dentist, which will have the best fit
All mouthguards should:
  • Be odorless and tasteless
  • Be tear resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Stay firmly in place
  • Not limit talking or breathing
  • Be replaced with any signs of wear
Usually mouthguards are just for the upper teeth. However, for those with braces, bridges, or retainers on the lower teeth, having your dentist make a custom mouthguard is advised.

Give us Dr. Simon Melcher of Implant and General Dentistry a call if you have any questions: 919-782-0548.