People often come into our office for a routine dental check-up and are surprised to hear that they need a treatment such as a filling, root canal or crown. They are surprised because they haven’t felt any pain. “Why do I need this treatment when I feel fine?” The answer is simple. By the time you feel pain, the decay has usually progressed to a more serious level, often causing more damage to the tooth and surrounding tissues and requiring a more involved and expensive procedure.
Credit ~Emil M. Verban, Jr. DDS, Mclean County Dental
This why it is soo important to come in for your routine exam and cleaning. X-rays show us the decay in between your teeth and any infection that may be present.
Tooth decay actually results when bacteria in your mouth feed on food debris and produce acid as a byproduct. Starchy,sweet and sticky foods are a primary culprit. This mix of food, acid, saliva and germs cling to your teeth as a filmy substance called plaque, which can erode tooth enamel and causes cavities to form. No matter what you eat, cavities will not form without the help of such bacteria. These germs can spread from mouth to mouth via shared food, utensils, kissing or even sneezing. Children are more susceptible of catching the bacteria from parents that have a history of decay because children have not built up their immunity yet. The bacteria is less likely to spread from adults because they have built up an immunity. Brushing morning and before bed as well as flossing will help fight tooth decay. Regular cleanings, recommended every six months, can help prevent decay and reduce the levels of cavity causing bacteria in your mouth.
Like cigars and cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus.
Smokeless tobacco can irritate our gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed creating an increased risk of tooth decay. Exposed roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.
In addition, sugars, which often are added to enhance flavor of smokeless tobacco, can increase your risk of tooth decay. Studies have shown that chewing tobacco users were four times more likely than nonusers to develop tooth decay.
Oil Pulling is an ancient practice dating back well over 3000 yrs. It was traditional Ayurvedic Medicine. It is claimed that oil pulling can cure about 30 systemic diseases, including chronic headaches, migraines, diabetes and several skin conditions. Several types of oils can be used such as Sesame oil, Sunflower oil, but the most commonly recommended is Coconut oil for a few reasons. Half the fat in coconut oil is composed of Lauric Acid, which has strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can inhibit the growth of the primary bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
How does it work?
This technique can reduce bacteria levels in the mouth which can reduce tooth decay, freshen breath, and help cure gingivitis caused by plaque build up. It is recommended to do this on an empty stomach, which is ideal for morning time. Place a Tablespoon of coconut oil, or oil of your choosing mentioned earlier, and start swishing around in your mouth and through your teeth. The oil will become cloudy, white and becomes a thinner consistency as it mixes with saliva. This will rid your mouth of toxins and bacteria. Continue swishing around in your mouth and through your teeth for 20 min. With any type of regimen, it can take a couple of months of daily swishing before
you begin to see or feel improvements.
Gingival recession (receding gums) is the exposure of the roots due to the loss of gum tissue and is a condition that occurs gradually over the years. Gum recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but it may also occur starting from the teens. It may exist with or without concomitant decrease in crown-to-root ratio (recession of alveolar bone). It may remain unnoticed until the condition starts to cause symptoms.
What are the causes for recession?
There are many possible causes for gingival recession. The most common is gum disease or periodontal disease because the bacteria build up and tartar between the teeth due to inadequate brushing and flossing causes a chronic, painless inflammation leading to gradual recession and increased tooth mobility as the supporting bone is lost. Other causes are overaggressive brushing which wears the enamel at the gum line, improper flossing which can cut the gums, hereditary thin or insufficient gingival tissue, and self inflicted trauma such as using toothpicks to get something out between your teeth or mouth piercings that rub the gums. When teeth are misaligned/crowded or if you are clenching or grinding (bruxism) then these forces can put a lot of pressure on your gums allowing the gums to recede.
Some symptoms are over-sensitive teeth (short, sharp pain triggered by hot, cold, sweet, sour or spicy food and drink), tooth mobility, visible roots, the tooth feels notched at the gum line (abfraction), black spaces between the teeth where the gums use to fill in and the teeth appear longer than normal.
How do we treat and prevent further recession?
So, how do we treat recession? If overly aggressive brushing techniques are eroding the gums, a softer toothbrush and a gentler brushing technique should be used. If poor oral hygiene is a problem, prophylaxis (professional dental cleaning) will be recommended to rid the gum pockets of debris and bacteria. If bruxism is occurring, then we will recommend a night guard. In the case of periodontal disease and severe calculus (tartar) build up, scaling and root planning will be recommended to heal the gingival inflammation and clean the teeth.
Once you lose the gum tissue the only way to get is back is with surgery. Gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting are two excellent ways to restore natural symmetry to the gums and make the smile look more aesthetically pleasing.