Pregnancy and Gingivitis


Will Pregnancy affect my oral health?

Expectant mothers (and women who take some oral contraceptives) experience elevated levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque, and in many cases can cause a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Symptoms include swollen, red gums and bleeding of the gums when you brush. Remember that the bacteria in plaque (not hormones) is what causes gingivitis. Brush twice a day and floss before you go to bed to help avoid plaque buildup.

What are pregnancy tumors?

Pregnancy tumors (pyogenic granuloma) are rare, usually painless lesions that may develop on your gums in response to plaque. Although they are not cancerous, they should be treated. Pregnancy tumors usually subside shortly after childbirth.

Could gingivitis affect my baby’s health?

New research suggests a link between pre-term, low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria, which causes gingivitis, can enter the bloodstream through your mouth (gums). If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called “prostaglandins,”which are suspected to induce premature labor.

Should I receive dental treatment while I am pregnant?

Good oral health care is vital during your pregnancy. Continue with your regular dental cleaning and check-ups to avoid oral infections that can affect the fetus such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. We recommend that major dental treatments that aren’t urgent be postponed until after your child is born. The first trimester, the stage of pregnancy in which most of the baby’s organs are formed, is the most crucial to your baby’s development, so it is best to have procedures performed during the second trimester to minimize any potential risk.

Dental work is not recommended during the third trimester because the dental chair tends to be too uncomfortable to the mother. If you lie back, the chair may cut of circulation by placing pressure on the vein that returns blood to the heart from the lower part of your body.

If I do need treatment, what drugs are safe?

Be extremely cautious of all drugs during pregnancy. If you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, your dentist may want to treat you more often to achieve healthy gums and a healthy baby. Although dental anesthetics such as novocaine or lidocaine can enter the placenta, which filters out most drugs, the doses used in most dental procedures are considered safe. If you need to have dental work done during your pregnancy, research has shown that some acceptable antibiotics include penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, but avoid tetracycline, which can cause discoloration of your child’s baby and permanent teeth. Products containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are approved, but you should be wary of over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Avoid using narcotics for dental pain until you child is carried to term.

If you have any concerns about treatment or medications, make sure to ask your dentist or physcian before receiving treatment. Most dental procedures are safe during pregnancy. Remember, the healthier your mouth is, the healthier and happier your pregnancy and baby will be.

What are mouth rinses?


Mouth rinses or mouthwash is a product used for oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claims to kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. Anti-cavity mouth rinse uses fluoride to protect against tooth decay. Mouth rinses are generally classified either as cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of the two. Cosmetic rinses are over-the-counter products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. Therapeutic rinses have all of the benefits of cosmetic rinses but also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases. We prescribe special rinses for patients with more severe oral problems, such as cavities, periodontal disease, gum inflammation and dry mouth. Therapeutic rinses are also strongly recommended for those who can’t brush due to physical impairments or medical reasons.

Should I use a mouth rinse ?

We consider the use of fluoride toothpaste to be more than adequate protection against cavities. Anti-cavity rinses are beneficial, they have been clinically proven to fight up to 50% more of the bacteria that causes cavities. Initial studies have shown that most over-the-counter anti-plaque rinses and antiseptics are not much more effective against plaque and gum disease than rinsing with water. Mouth rinses can cause harm by masking the symptoms of an oral health disease or condition.

How should I use a mouth rinse?

Brush and floss your teeth well prior to using the mouth rinse. Then, measure the proper amout of rinse as specified on the container. With your lips closed and your teeth slightly apart, swish the liquid around with as much force as possible. Many rinses suggest swishing for at least 30 seconds. Finally, thoroughly spit the liquid from your mouth.

Teeth should be as clean as possible before applying an anti-cavity rinse to reap the full preventative benefits. You should not rinse, eat or smoke for 30 minutes after using an anti-cavity rinse.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, and they can vary depending on the type of rinse. Habitual use of antideptic mouthwashes that contain high levels of alcohol ( 18 – 26%) may produce a burning sensation in the cheeks, teeth, and gums. Many rinses with more concentrated formulas can lead to mouth ulcers, sodium retention, root sensitivity, stains, soreness, numbness, changes in tasteand painful mouth erosions. Most anti-cavity rinses contain fluoride toxicity if taken excessively or swallowed. Because children tend to accidentally shallow mouthwash, they should only use rinses under adult supervision. If you experience any irritating or adverse reactions to a mouth rinses, discontinue its use immediately and talk to your dentist.

What Is Tooth Decay, And What Causes It?


Tooth decay is the disease known as caries. Caries is highly preventable and it affects most people to some degree during their lifetime.

Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars) like soda pop, candy, ice cream, milk, cake and even fruits, vegetables and juices. Natural bacteria live in your mouth and form plaque. The plaque interacts with deposits left on your teeth from sugary and starchy foods to produce acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving, or demineralizing, the mineral structure of teeth, producing tooth decay and weakening the teeth.

How are Cavities Prevented?

The acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by saliva in your mouth, which acts as a buffer and remineralizing agent. Dentists often recommend chewing sugarless gum to stimulate your flow of saliva. However saliva alone is not sufficient to combat tooth decay. The best way to prevent caries is to brush and floss regularly. To rebuild the early damage caused by plaque bacteria, we use fluoride (a natural substance) to help remineralize the tooth structure. Flouride is added to toothpaste to fight cavities and clean teeth. The most common source of fluoride is in the water we drink. Fluoride is added to most community water supplies and to many bottled beverages. Your dentist may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or fluoride supplements if you have a high risk for cavities.

Who Is At Risk For Cavities?

Because we all carry bacteria in our mouths, everyone is at risk for cavities. Those with a diet high in carbohydrates and those who live in areas without fluoridated water are likely candidates for cavities. People with a lot of old fillings have a higher chance of developing tooth decay because the area around the old fillings are good breeding grounds for bacteria. Children and senior citizens are the two groups at highest risk for cavities.

See your dentist at least every 6 months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because cavities can be difficult to detect a thorough dental examination is very important.

Periodontal Disease


Periodontal disease is caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line. Periodontal disease can cause inflammation on destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums, bone and fibers which hold the gums to the teeth. A number of factors increase the probability of developing periodontal disease, including diabetes, smoking , poor oral hygiene, diet, and genetic factors. It is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.

How are periodontal disease and diabetes related?

It is estimated that one-third of the population, have diabetes, but only half of these people are diagnosed. Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to oral infections and periodontal disease than those who do not have diabetes. Oral infections tend to be more severe in diabetics verses non-diabetics.

What types of problems to diabetics experience?

Diabetics may experience diminished salivary flow and burning sensations of the mouth or tongue. Dry mouth also may develop, causing an increased incidence of decay. Gum recession has been found to occur more frequently in poorly controlled diabetics. Due to the increased susceptibility to periodontal disease and oral infections your dentist may prescribe medicated mouth rinses or more frequent cleanings.

How can diabetics stay healthy?

Make sure to take extra good care of your mouth and have dental infections treated immediately. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control have a better chance of avoiding periodontal disease. Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve the quality of their life and oral health. Diabetics should be sure both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status. To keep teeth and gums strong, diabetic patients should be aware of their blood sugar levels in addition to having their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. These may have a direct correlation on your chances of obtaining periodontal disease.

When should I take my child to the dentist?


Taking your child to the dentist at a young age is the best way to prevent problems such as tooth decay, and can help parents learn how to clean their child’s teeth and identify his or her fluoride needs. After all, decay can occur as soon as teeth appear. Bringing your child to the dentist early often leads to a lifetime of good oral care habits and acclimates your child to the dental office, thereby reducing anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future.

What is Bruxism?


Bruxism is a term for grinding and clenching that abrades teeth and may cause facial pain. People who grind and clench unintentionally bite down to hard at inappropriate times, such as in their sleep. These people also tend to bite their fingernails and their cheeks. Many people are completely unaware that they have the habit.

What are the signs?

When a person has bruxism, the tips of the teeth look flat. Sometimes the teeth are worn down so much that the enamel is rubbed off and the inner layer of the tooth is exposed. Many times these teeth become sensitive. Bruxers may experience TMJ (jaw joint) pain which may lead to popping and clicking as well as headaches and neck pain. Tongue indentations are another sign of clenching. Stress and certain personality types are prime candidates for bruxism. People who are aggressive, competitive and hurried also may be at a greater risk for bruxism.

What can be done about it?

During regular visits, the dentist automatically checks for physical signs of bruxism. If the dentist or patient notices signs of bruxism, the condition may be observed over several visits to be sure of the problem before recommending and starting therapy. Research has shown that there are 3 root causes of bruxism. 1) Central Nervous System reflex   2) Bad bite (unbalanced or over closed bite) 3) Habit.   Peoples whose root cause is due to a bad bite may benefit from neuromuscular TMD treatment. This involves having a computer assited bite splint fabricated. Patients with a unbalanced or over closed bite usually report having headaches or painful jaw joints. Those patients that have CNS reflex or habits are usually best treated with a custom fabricated nightguard made by a dentist. This protects the teeth from losing further tooth structure. It is very important that the night guard fits very snug and is very rigid. This is so that the forces generated by the clenching and grinding are dispersed over the surface of the night guard. Over the counter night guards do not meet this criteria and are therefore potentially harmful.

If you think you may be a bruxer make sure you discuss it with your dentist.

What Can I Do To Help Protect My Teeth?


The best way to combat cavities is to follow these 3 steps:

  1. Cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it’s these sugary and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk for cavities.
  2. Brush after every meal and floss daily. Cavities most often begin in hard-to-clean places between teeth and in the grooves and pits, edges around a crowned tooth and gaps between the teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth and on top of your tongue. Replace your toothbrush about every 2 months or sooner if the bristles become bent. Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after brushing. Try to brush for at least 3 minutes. Only buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride. Children under 6 should only use a small pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush and should spit out as much as possible because swallowing toothpaste can result in a stomach ache. Finally, because the bacteria that causes caries is transmittable, toothbrushes should never be shared, especially with your children.
  3. See your dentist at least every 6 months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because cavities can be difficult to detect a thorough dental examination is very important. If you get a painful toothache, if your teeth are very sensitive to hot or cold foods, or if you notice signs of decay like white spots, tooth discolorations or cavities, make an appointment right away. The longer you wait to treat infected teeth the more intensive and lengthy the treatment will be. Left neglected, cavities can lead to root canal infection, permanent deterioration of decayed tooth substance and even loss of the tooth itself.

Burning Mouth Syndrome


Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a common, but complex problem that causes people to experience a burning or scalding pain on the lips and tongue (and sometimes throughout the mouth). There are often no visible signs of irritation, and the cause of the syndrome may be caused by the onset of menopause to vitamin deficiencies. Though members of both sexes are susceptible to BMS, it occurs more frequently in older women. BMS is not a form of nor can cause cancer.

There are many symptoms associated with BMS. The main symptom is a burning sensation , ranging from moderate to severe, in your mouth, throat, lips and tongue. Other symptoms include dry mouth, bitter or metallic tastes and other taste alterations. People with BMS often say the pain is gradual and spontaneous, intensifying as the day moves along. The discomfort and restlessness associated with BMS may cause mood changes, irritability, anxiety and depression.

The exact cause of BMS is difficult to determine. In 30% of the cases it is caused by existing conditions that affect the oral and systemic health. Some conditions include the onset of menopause, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies and complications to cancer therapy.

In a majority of cases, no specific diagnosis for the symptoms can be made. BMS symptoms may occur from dry mouth, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding, irritating or ill-fitting dentures, and thrush (a common fungal infection). Some research points to nerve disorders and damage; psychological factors, particularly depression and anxiety; allergies; acid reflux; and medications that cause dry mouth. It’s not unusual for a person suffering with BMS to have more than one cause attributed to the ailment or to have health care providers fail to find any cause at all.

Your dentist will begin by reviewing your medical history and asking you to describe the symptoms. Your dentist may look for oral causes by taking an oral swab or biopsy to check for thrush. But because BMS is caused by so many conditions, your dentist may refer you to a physician or specialist for other blood, allergy, liver or thyroid tests.

Treatment for BMS depends on the patient and the cause. For dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe a medicine that promotes the flow of saliva. Thrush may be treated with oral anti-fungal medications. If dentures are the culprit, your dentist can make adjustments sot they won’t irritate the mouth, or replace them with better fitting dentures. If your dentist determines that there are no oral conditions causing BMS he or she may refer you to your family physician or specialist.

Problems Solved by Porcelain Veneers


Porcelain veneers can solve numerous cosmetic dental problems in the same treatment, so you have fewer visits to the dentist’s office to get the results you want. You may be able to avoid undergoing a series of treatments, and have all of your problems solved in two office visits. Porcelain veneers can also be used in addition other procedures if you need work more extensive than what veneers alone can accomplish.

Stubborn Discoloration

Porcelain veneers can cover discoloration that is resistant to whitening, so anyone can have a bright beautiful smile. Even deep discoloration can be corrected. If you have always wanted a bright, white smile, but have been told that your discoloration cannot be treated with teeth whitening, porcelain veneers may be the answer.

Minor Crookedness

Often referred to as “instant orthodontics” porcelain veneers can be used to correct the appearance of minor crookedness and twisted teeth without the need for braces and the lengthy process of gradually moving your teeth into the right position.

If you have already gone the traditional orthodontics route, only to have your teeth shift out of place later, porcelain veneers can restore the look of all your hard work without the need to repeat the process.

Correcting Tooth Size

If your teeth are too short, it can create a gummy appearance. Teeth that are unevenly sized can appear crooked and unhealthy. Porcelain veneers can be used to give your teeth a more uniform size and shape, and they can be slightly longer than your natural teeth if your teeth are too short.

Chips, Cracks, and Holes

Chips, cracks, and small holes in your teeth can be covered and sealed with veneers. This puts an end to pain and sensitivity, stops damage from progressing, and corrects the appearance of small but serious dental flaws.

Gaps between Your Teeth

The appearance of small gaps can be corrected when the teeth on each side of the gap are covered with veneers that are slightly wider than the teeth, to close the gap.

What are Porcelain Veneers?


Porcelain veneers are a very popular choice in cosmetic dentistry because they are so versatile and can accomplish so much with so little time and effort. The concept is simple. A veneer is just a very thin shell of porcelain that is bonded to the front surface of your tooth. Because it is made of porcelain, it looks like real tooth enamel. Because it is bonded to your tooth, it is very strong and durable. Typically, veneers are used to cover anywhere from two or three to a group eight teeth.

Solving Multiple Issues in One Minimally Invasive Treatment

By choosing porcelain veneers, you may be able to avoid undergoing multiple procedures. Porcelain veneers can correct the appearance of chipped teeth, cracks, gaps, minor crookedness, unevenly sized teeth, and more. The procedure itself is minimally invasive, requiring only that the enamel be prepared to receive the veneers before they are placed. It is all done in just two office visits.

Beautiful Porcelain

Dental porcelain is the material most like natural tooth enamel that is available. It reacts with light in the same way as natural teeth, so you don’t get the flat that was common with older dental materials. It can be color-matched to your teeth, so it blends in perfectly with the surrounding teeth. We can whiten your teeth first so that your veneers are matched to your optimal shade. The veneers are stain resistant.

When you have porcelain veneers, you care for them just like your natural teeth. Because they are very thin, they will feel and function like your natural teeth, too.