Posts for category: Oral Health

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
September 25, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
StayAlerttoYourOralHealthDuringCancerTreatment

The weapons in the war against cancer are stronger and more effective than ever. But as in real war, those weapons can inflict harm on innocent bystanders — in the case of cancer treatment, other cells in your body. Your mouth in particular may develop side effects from these treatments.

The basic purpose of common cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation is to destroy and inhibit future growth of cancer cells. They're very effective to that end, but they can also destroy healthy cells caught in the “crossfire” with malignant cells or have an adverse effect on the body's immune system and its response to infection. Chemotherapy in particular negatively affects blood cells developing within bone marrow, which leads to lower resistance to infection.

These can have secondary effects on the mouth. Patients undergoing cancer treatment can develop painful ulcers and sores within the mouth cavity, and reduced immunity makes them more susceptible to tooth decay or gum disease (especially if risk factors were present before cancer treatment). Certain treatments may also cause dry mouth in some patients.

If you are being treated for cancer, or about to begin treatment, we can help mitigate these effects on your oral health. The first step is to perform a complete dental examination to identify any issues that may affect or be affected by the cancer treatment. We would then treat those conditions (if possible before cancer treatment begins).

We would also monitor your oral health during the treatment period and treat any complications that arise. Such treatments might include applications of high-potency fluoride to strengthen teeth against decay, anti-bacterial rinses to reduce the risk of bacterial growth, and medications to stimulate saliva if you should encounter dry mouth.

Fighting cancer will be your main priority. You should, however, remain aware of how cancer treatment may affect other aspects of your health. As your dentist, we will partner with you in seeing that your teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible during this process.

If you would like more information on caring for oral health during cancer treatment, 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 “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
September 09, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   pregnancy  
TakingCareofyourTeethDuringPregnancyHelpsBothyouandyourBaby

During pregnancy, a mother has many health concerns for both her baby and herself. Though it may not seem as important, dental health and development should be on that list of concerns, for both you and your baby. In fact, your baby's tooth development is already well underway just a few weeks after conception. Pregnancy can also present challenges to your own dental health that definitely deserves your attention and care.

Taking care of your own dietary needs and dental health is also the best thing you can do for your baby. The baby growing within you needs calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and other minerals for the healthy development of teeth and bones. That can only come from you eating a balanced diet rich in these nutrients.

During pregnancy, you are also more susceptible to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other gum diseases because of the normal increase in the level of the hormone progesterone. In fact, some studies seem to indicate that severe gum disease might even raise the risk for premature birth and a low birth weight. It's important then to practice good dental hygiene during your pregnancy: brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an American Dental Association (ADA) approved fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and using an ADA approved mouth rinse that deters the buildup of plaque and the occurrence of gingivitis. Our office is also happy to provide you instruction on proper brushing and flossing technique to help you gain the most benefit from your daily hygiene.

By paying close attention to your own dental health and diet, you are actually doing the very best you can to provide your baby a solid foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.

If you would like more information on protecting your and your baby's 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 “Expectant Mothers: Dental facts you need to know.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
September 06, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   mouthguards  
WhoNeedsaMouthguard
  1. What is a mouthguard? A mouthguard or mouth protector is a protective appliance that covers the teeth and gums to prevent or reduce injury to the teeth, gums, jaws, and lips during sports or other activities prone to injuries.
  2. Who should use a mouthguard? Children, adolescents or even adults who participate in contact or injury prone sports should use a mouthguard.
  3. What do you mean by contact sports? Mouthguards are used most commonly in sports such as boxing, football, hockey and lacrosse. The American Dental Association recommends protection for 27 different sports, including basketball, soccer, water polo, rugby and more. The governing bodies of football, boxing, ice hockey, men's lacrosse and women's field hockey require mouth protection. It's a good idea to use a mouthguard during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.
  4. What does the mouthguard protect against? A mouthguard protects against breaking or dislodging teeth or injuring jaws, gums, lips, or tongue, all injuries that can happen when you engage in contact or injury prone sports.
  5. What are my choices for mouthguards? The best choice is a custom-made mouthguard fitted and made by a dentist. Stock mouthguards that are one size fits all can be bought off-the-shelf in stores, but there is no guarantee of fit or protection. A third type is a “boil and bite” guard, in which the guard material is heated and then shaped by biting down on the softened material. This offers some attempt at fitting that is better than off-the-shelf, but not as good as a mouthguard that is designed specifically for you.
  6. Why is it better to get a mouthguard from our office than to buy one at a store? Studies have shown that store-bought stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards do not offer the same protection as a custom-made mouthguard. In our office we will make a mold of your mouth and design your mouthguard to fit your individual characteristics. It will be comfortable and easy to clean and will not restrict your speech or breathing. It will be made of resilient and tear-resistant materials, properly adapted for maximum protection, comfort and injury protection.

Wearing a properly fitted and properly used mouthguard prevents injuries to teeth, jaws, gums, lips, or tongue when you or your child participates in contact sports. Make an appointment with us to discuss your custom fitted mouthguard. To learn more read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Mouthguards.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
August 29, 2013
Category: Oral Health
DiabetesandGumDiseaseWhatstheConnection

The increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in Americans have been getting a lot of attention lately. Most people know that the two are clearly linked. But did you know there's also strong evidence of a link between diabetes and gum disease?

Both diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease are chronic inflammatory conditions. That means they are disorders that develop over time (chronic), and are characterized by problems with a function of the immune system (inflammation). In diabetes, problems with the hormone insulin lead to abnormal levels of sugar in the blood. This can bring about a number of complications which, if not treated, may result in kidney failure, coma and even death. In many people, however, it's a condition that can be managed with drugs and lifestyle changes.

You may not think of gum disease (periodontitis) as a serious illness. But here's something you should know: If you have diabetes, having gum disease is a risk factor for worsening control of blood glucose levels, and may also increase the risk of complications. Likewise, having diabetes puts you at greater risk for developing more severe forms of periodontal disease.

What is gum disease? It's actually a group of diseases caused by many types of bacteria in the mouth, which affect the tissues around the teeth. Initially, it often causes swelling and redness of the gum tissue. Left untreated, it may result in bone loss, abscess formation, and ultimately the loss of teeth. But its ill effects aren't limited to your mouth.

Periodontal inflammation is associated with a higher systemic (whole-body) inflammatory state. That means it may increase your risk for cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, and adverse pregnancy outcomes — as well as complicating the management of blood-sugar levels in diabetics.

Now, here's the good news: Treatment of periodontal disease which reduces inflammation has a beneficial impact on the inflammatory status of the whole body. For people who have both diabetes and periodontal disease, that means that periodontal therapy can lead to improved blood sugar control.

How do you know if you have periodontal disease? Bleeding gums and bad breath are both possible symptoms, as are redness and soreness of the gum tissues. But these warning signs may be masked by any number of other factors — or may not be noticed at all.

The sure-fire way to diagnose and treat periodontal disease is by getting regular dental checkups, followed by specialized periodontal treatment when necessary. If you presently have diabetes, or may be at risk for developing the disease, those check-ups and treatments are even more important.

If you have concerns about diabetes and gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease” and “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
August 14, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   brushing   flossing  
BrushingandFlossing-TwoKeyElementstoAvoidingDentalDisease

We humans have been cleaning our teeth for millennia. While the tools and substances have changed (we don't use twigs or pumice anymore), the reasons haven't: we want a nice, fresh smile and a clean-feeling mouth.

Objectively, though, oral hygiene has one primary purpose — to remove dental plaque, the whitish film of bacteria that grows on unclean tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Removing this decay-causing film can drastically reduce your risk of dental disease.

Effective oral hygiene depends on two primary tasks: brushing and flossing. You should perform these tasks at least once (flossing) or twice (brushing) in a 24-hour period. Brushing involves a simple technique. You hold your toothbrush (a well-designed, multi-tufted brush) in your fingertips with the same pressure as you would a pen or pencil. You then gently scrub all of the tooth surfaces starting at the gum line, holding the brush at a 45-degree. “Gently” is the key word here: it's possible to damage your tooth and gum surfaces by brushing too vigorously.

While brushing seems easier for people to fit into their daily routine, flossing seems to be harder. It's just as important, though, because over half of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth, in areas where brushing can miss. Like brushing, flossing isn't difficult to do. Holding a strip of floss taut by your fingers between both hands, and gently slipping the floss between your teeth you form a “C” shape around each tooth surface as you apply pressure onto the one surface you are cleaning. Gently move the floss up and down for three or four strokes or until you hear a squeaky clean sound (that's when you know the surface is clean). Then you go to the other tooth surface by lifting the floss above the gum line so that you don't damage the gum tissue in between the teeth.

You should also schedule regular checkups and cleanings with our office to supplement your daily routine. Professional cleanings remove any hidden plaque that brushing and flossing may have missed. A checkup also gives us a chance to evaluate how well your hygiene program is progressing. Our partnership in proper oral hygiene can make all the difference in you avoiding tooth decay and other dental diseases.

If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, 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 “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”


















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