Dentist - Bozeman
1226 Stoneridge Drive
Bozeman, MT 59715
Research has shown that periodontal (gum) disease can affect the health of your whole body. Evidence suggests a relationship between severe gum disease and cardiovascular disease (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel), conditions that lead to heart attacks and strokes. There is also a relationship between gum disease and pregnancy; mothers with severe gum disease have a higher incidence of pre-term delivery and low birth-weight babies. To understand gum disease, you may find the following facts helpful. How many are you aware of?
Important Tip — Bleeding Gums when brushing teeth or flossing is not normal. It is a warning sign of early gum disease that you should bring to the attention of our office.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about periodontal disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”
Did you know that tooth decay (dental caries) is the second most frequently occurring disease — surpassed only by the common cold? It can start as soon as toddlers sprout their first teeth and by middle age, more than 90% of adults are affected by the problem! Fortunately, you can significantly lower your risk for decay. The key is to nurture health-promoting (protective) factors in your mouth while discouraging those that are disease causing (pathologic).
The top two traditional steps can't be stressed enough:
Good Oral Hygiene. Diligent brushing and flossing, along with routine professional cleanings, help limit a buildup of bacterial plaque (biofilm). This whitish film is attractive to decay-producing bacteria (among the many types of bacteria — including beneficial ones — that normally live in the mouth). These microbes like to snack on sugars and carbohydrates (perhaps part of that bagel you had for breakfast or the midafternoon candy bar), and in the process they produce acid. A healthy oral environment has a neutral pH — a perfect balance between acids and bases. But in a more acidic environment, minerals in the protective enamel of your teeth start to dissolve, exposing the dentin and root surfaces underneath that are even more vulnerable.
Sensible Diet. Keep decay-producing bacteria in check by limiting your intake of sugars and carbohydrates; the bacteria need these nutrients to grow and reproduce. Choose products containing natural sugars, such as those in fruits and vegetables, over those containing added sugars, such as sodas and candy. Be aware that Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, can actually help reduce pathogenic bacteria. And don't forget that frequent consumption of acidic foods and beverages, such as sipping coffee during the day, can create an acidic environment in your mouth that can contribute to decay by eroding tooth enamel and weakening its defenses.
You also may have individual risk factors as well that our office can help you identify and address. For example, the shape of everyone's teeth varies and some of us have more valleys, tiny grooves and pits than others. These likely places for bacteria to congregate can be the most difficult to reach with a toothbrush, but invisible sealants can be applied to prevent bacteria from reaching those areas.
If you would like more information about tooth decay and prevention, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay” and “Tooth Decay — How To Assess Your Risk.”
Are you ready to suit up for sports? Mouthguards have been called the most important part of an athlete's uniform. Designed to absorb and distribute the forces of impact received while you participate in athletic activities, your mouthguard is a protective appliance that covers and cushions your teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to your teeth, jaws, lips and gums. A properly fitted protective mouthguard is comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, not bulky, fits well, and has sufficient thickness where needed. If you wear it when engaging in contact sports it can prevent injury, pain, suffering and years of expensive dental treatment.
Here's why athletes need mouthguards:
The American Dental Association recommends the use of custom mouthguards in 27 sports/exercise activities. Make an appointment to consult with us to find out more about mouthguards. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards: One of the most important parts of any uniform!”
How good of a job are you doing with brushing and flossing your teeth? This is an important question, because a healthy mouth depends on regularly removing dental plaque (a whitish, sticky film of bacteria that grows near your gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth).
Daily Plaque Removal
Most people need to brush and floss at least once a day to remove plaque. Twice a day may be ideal, as plaque forms every 12 to 24 hours on your teeth, and it will also make your mouth feel fresher. Be thorough but gentle with your teeth — excessive brushing or flossing can cause damage.
The use of an antibacterial mouthrinse to help reduce the plaque you may have missed as well as to reduce bacteria that are clinging to soft tissues or membranes in your mouth, should be included in your daily hygiene routine.
When you run your tongue around your mouth after a professional dental cleaning, you sense a smooth, slippery feeling. This is the way your teeth should feel after you brush your own teeth every day. The tooth surfaces should feel smooth and slick throughout your mouth and at the gum line.
After running floss up and down a tooth surface, notice whether there is blood on the floss or whether the floss has an odor. If the floss squeaks when you run it up and down a tooth surface, that indicates that the tooth is squeaky clean.
Check for Bleeding
Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation, called gingivitis, in the gum tissue. Healthy gums do not bleed. If you have recently begun using more effective brushing and flossing methods, your gums may bleed at first but then stop as your gums become healthier.
Use Disclosing Solutions
Disclosing solutions are harmless dyes that can stain plaque and make it visible. Rinsing with these solutions may surprise you by revealing the plaque on your teeth you had no idea you missed.
Visit Our Office
We can check your mouth and tell you how well you are doing in your program of daily plaque removal. As a bonus, we will give you a toothbrush so that while you're here we can check your technique to make sure you are brushing correctly.
If you see blood when you brush or floss your teeth, it generally indicates a problem with your oral health. You may think you are brushing too hard, but this is not usually why gums bleed. The usual culprit is dental plaque.
Plaque is the sticky, whitish film of bacteria that forms on your teeth every day. If you brush regularly, you probably remove most of it — but some may remain behind and accumulate where your teeth meet your gums, particularly between your teeth. As the bacteria build up, along with by-products of their metabolism (the chemical reactions that maintain their lives), they cause inflammation, called gingivitis, in the adjacent gums.
Bleeding gums are an early symptom of gingivitis. Continuing contact with plaque at the gum line can cause your gum tissue to separate from nearby teeth, creating pockets in which the inflammation becomes even worse. The process leads to periodontal disease (“peri” – meaning around, “odont” – tooth). The increasing infection can eat away the bone that anchors the teeth, leading to possible tooth loss. Periodontal disease is not an uncommon problem. About 90% of the population has bleeding gums at some time or another, and approximately 10% go on to develop periodontal disease.
When you lose bone around your teeth, the gums separate from the tooth and “pockets” form between your teeth and gums. The inflammation and infection may continue within the pockets even if your gums have stopped bleeding when you brush. That's why it is important to have regular dental exams — to check up on and stop periodontal disease before it has a chance to cause serious damage.
There may also be other reasons for bleeding gums that have to do with your general state of health. Women who have elevated levels of hormones caused by birth control pills or pregnancy may experience an increased response to plaque that makes their gums bleed more easily. Increased bleeding in your gums can also be caused by some diseases or as a side effect of some medications.
The most important way to prevent bleeding gums is to learn proper brushing and flossing techniques so that you effectively remove plaque from your teeth on a daily basis. If you are not sure you are using the right techniques, make an appointment and have us demonstrate at your next dental visit.
With all the best intentions, some plaque may remain. Plaque that is allowed to stay on your teeth hardens into a substance called tartar or calculus. This must be removed periodically with a professional cleaning by me or by our hygienist.
With not too much effort, you can ensure that your teeth are clean and plaque free, and your healthy gums no longer bleed.