Posts for category: Oral Health
Most people associate bacteria with disease and ill health. But the real story about the trillions of microscopic organisms now living in and on your body is a bit more complicated. With recent advances in genetic code research scientists are learning that many of these microorganisms you’re hosting are actually beneficial for you — including your teeth and gums.
Beginning at birth and throughout your lifetime you are continually developing a distinct microbiome — actual communities of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit your body. As your microbiome develops it helps train your immune system to distinguish between “good” bacteria that help with digestion and other bodily processes and “bad” bacteria that cause disease.Â And it continually adapts to changes in what we eat, the pets we acquire or the drugs we take.
But lifestyle choices like diet can also have a detrimental effect, causing harmful bacteria to become dominant. This seems to be the case with Streptococcus mutans, the bacterial strain most associated with tooth decay. Scientists have analyzed biofilm (plaque deposits on teeth) from the pre-industrial era before 1900 and compared it with modern biofilm samples. They’ve found Streptococcus mutans levels to be much higher in modern biofilm, which they directly attribute to the modern Western diet.
As we gain a better understanding of these findings and of the role of bacteria in our lives, it could change many health recommendations not only about diet but about medications too. In the fight against disease, for example, we’ve used antibiotics to eradicate infection-causing microorganisms, but with a broad destructive ability that can also kill many beneficial strains of bacteria. It’s hoped as our knowledge grows we’ll be able to create newer drugs that more narrowly target harmful microorganisms while not affecting beneficial ones.
There’s a new appreciation emerging for bacteria’s role in our lives. As a result efforts to rebalance a person’s microbiome when they become sick may eventually become a critical element in healthcare treatment strategies. The benefits of this strategy for health, including for our teeth and gums, could be quite impressive.
If you would like more information on the role of bacteria in oral health, 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 “New Research Shows Bacteria Essential to Health.”
Is your toothbrush pink after you brush? The problem could be caused by periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Dr. Mehul Patel and Dr. Heba Abuhussein at South Shore Dental in Trenton, MI, and serving the Riverview, Woodhaven and Brownstown areas, share information on signs of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis, the first and mildest stage of gum disease, occurs when your gums become inflamed or swollen. Poor oral hygiene is a common cause of gingivitis. If you don't brush or floss regularly or don't do a good job, plaque builds up on your teeth and eventually turns into tartar, a hard deposit that can damage your gums. Gingivitis symptoms include:
- Red, puffy, sore gums
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
Severe gum disease signs
If gingivitis isn't treated, you may develop periodontitis, a gum infection. In addition to all of the symptoms of gingivitis, you may also develop deep spaces around your teeth called pockets. Pockets form when your gums start to pull away from your teeth. Your gums help hold your teeth in place. If receding gums and pockets develop, your teeth may start to loosen. Loose teeth may also occur if bacteria begins to weaken your jawbone. You'll eventually lose teeth if your periodontal disease isn't treated.
If you notice pain when you eat, or it seems as if your teeth don't fit together the way they once did, an infection in your gums may be the cause. Visible pus around your teeth and very bad breath are other signs that you have severe gum disease.
How is gum disease treated?
If Dr. Patel or Dr. Abuhussein notice that your have gingivitis when you visit our office, they may recommend a deep cleaning, a procedure that removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. After your deep cleaning, it's important to brush and floss regularly to prevent a recurrence. If you have severe gum disease, you may need surgery to remove diseased gum tissue and close the pockets around your teeth. In some cases, gum grafts may also be used to replace lost gum tissue.
Do you have any of these periodontal disease signs? If you do, schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel and Dr. Abuhussein at South Shore Dental in Trenton, MI, and serving the Riverview, Woodhaven and Brownstown areas, at (734) 219-6754 to make an appointment.
When it's time for your child to visit the dentist (we recommend around their first birthday), you may want them to see your family dentist. But you might also want to consider another option: a pediatric dentist.
The difference between the two is much the same as between a pediatrician and a family practitioner. Both can treat juvenile patients — but a family provider sees patients of all ages while a pediatrician or pediatric dentist specializes in patients who haven't reached adulthood.
Recognized as a specialty by the American Dental Association, pediatric dentists undergo about three more years of additional post-dental school training and must be licensed in the state where they practice. They're uniquely focused on dental care during the childhood stages of jaw and facial structure development.
Pediatric dentists also gear their practices toward children in an effort to reduce anxiety. The reception area and treatment rooms are usually decorated in bright, primary colors, with toys and child-sized furniture to make their young patients feel more at ease. Dentists and staff also have training and experience interacting with children and their parents to help them relax during exams and procedures.
While a pediatric practice is a good choice for any child, it can be especially beneficial for children with special needs. The “child-friendly” environment is especially soothing for children with autism, ADHD or other behavioral/developmental disorders. And pediatric dentists are especially adept in treating children at higher risk for tooth decay, especially an aggressive form called early childhood caries (ECC).
Your family dentist, of course, can presumably provide the same quality care and have an equally welcome environment for children. And unlike a pediatric dentist who will typically stop seeing patients when they reach adulthood, care from your family dentist can continue as your child gets older.
In the end it's a personal choice, depending on the needs of your family. Just be sure your child does see a dental provider regularly during their developing years: doing so will help ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on visiting a pediatric dentist for your child's dental needs, 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 “Why See a Pediatric Dentist?”
Sleep apnea is more than an annoyance. This chronic condition not only interferes with your alertness during the day, it may also contribute long-term to serious issues like cardiovascular disease.
Sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes temporarily blocked during sleep. Of the possible causes, one of the most common is the tongue, which as it relaxes may cover and block the back of the throat. This lowers the body's oxygen level, which in turn alerts the brain to wake you to clear the airway. You usually go immediately back to sleep, unaware you've wakened. This can happen several times a night.
Although older people are at higher risk, anyone can have sleep apnea, even children with enlarged tonsils or adenoids. If you or a loved one regularly experiences fatigue, brain fog, irritability or loud snoring, sleep apnea could be the culprit. You'll need a complete medical examination to properly diagnose it.
If you do indeed have sleep apnea, there are a number of ways to treat it depending on its severity. One prominent way is with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that produces a higher air pressure in the mouth to force the tongue forward and keep the airway open.
While CPAP is effective, the pump, hose and face mask you must wear may become uncomfortable while you sleep. We may, however, be able to supply you with a less cumbersome device: a custom-made oral appliance you wear while you sleep. Similar to a retainer, this appliance mechanically pulls and holds the lower jaw forward, which in turn moves the tongue away from the airway opening.
This oral appliance won't work with all forms of sleep apnea, so you'll need an examination to see if you're a candidate. With more advanced conditions, you may even need surgery to reshape the airway or remove soft tissue obstructions around the opening.
Whichever treatment is best for your situation, it's well worth reducing your sleep apnea. Not enduring these nightly incidences of airway blockage will help ensure you're getting a good night's sleep — and enjoying a higher quality of health and life.
If you would like more information on treating sleep apnea, 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 “If You Snore, You Must Read More!”
If you aren’t using mouthwash regularly find out if this little habit is something you should start doing.
Do you love the way swishing around that blue mouthwash makes your mouth feel? Do you just feel cleaner afterward? Perhaps you don’t use mouthwash at all but you are wondering if you should start. Dr. Mehul Patel and Dr. Heba Abuhussein at South Shore Dental in Trenton, MI, and serving the Riverview, Woodhaven and Brownstown areas provide a little insight into the world of using mouthwash.
If you feel like your teeth get a better clean because of mouthwash, you might be correct. By using mouthwash around you can dislodge food and plaque from between teeth and other areas of the mouth that you might not get when brushing or flossing. Mouthwash can be a great complement to your current oral routine, but remember that mouthwash should never take the place of brushing and flossing. You’ll also still need to visit your Riverview, Trenton, Woodhaven, & Brownstown MI, general dentist for bi-annual cleanings to keep teeth and gums looking and feeling their best.
Of course, there are some prescription mouthwashes that might actually be a better option for you if you are dealing with gum disease, have dry mouth or are prone to cavities. Our dentist can prescribe these special antibacterial rinses, which can be a benefit to your oral health.
If you are an otherwise healthy individual who isn’t dealing with gum disease or other dental issues, you can probably get away with choosing an alcohol-free mouthwash to keep teeth clean and your breath fresh. And remember: you don’t have to feel that burn from using mouthwash for it to be effective. Whether you choose to add mouthwash to your daily routine or not is solely up to you and your needs, but if it keeps you feeling confident about the freshness and state of your mouth, then, by all means, use it!
The next time you come into our office for your routine cleaning make sure to ask us whether prescription mouthwash could be a good option for you. Call Southshore Dental in Trenton, MI, and serving the Riverview, Woodhaven and Brownstown areas, today to schedule your next visit with us.