Posts for: March, 2018
March is national nutrition month—a good time to look at the connection between diet and oral health. You probably know that sugar is a major culprit in dental problems. This is because bacteria feed on sugars and create acid that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks as much as possible is a good rule of thumb, but there are some food choices that actually benefit your oral health. Here are nutrition tips that will help keep your smile healthy for life:
Say cheese. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium and phosphorus to build teeth and strengthen the supporting bone. And cheese neutralizes acid in the mouth to help fight cavities and gum disease.
Choose lean proteins. Lean meats, poultry, fish, milk and eggs help strengthen teeth. They are rich in protein and phosphorous, which is essential for building strong bones and teeth.
Eat a rainbow. Fruits and vegetables provide many key nutrients, including vitamins necessary for healing, bone strength, and healthy gums. Besides being nutritious, fruits and veggies scrub your teeth while you chew and stimulate the production of saliva, which is necessary for neutralizing acid and rebuilding enamel.
Nibble on nuts. Nuts contain protein, fiber and healthy fats. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals to keep teeth strong and gums healthy. Further, chewing nuts stimulates saliva production, lowering the risk of tooth decay.
Go for the grains. Studies have shown that eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sweet bakery items can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a factor in gum disease, heart disease, stroke and other conditions. In contrast, eating complex carbohydrates such as whole grains may reduce inflammation in the body.
What you put in your body can play a big role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, so choose foods that provide the right building blocks for optimal dental and overall health.
Your smile isn’t the same without healthy gums—neither are your teeth, for that matter. So, maintaining your gums by protecting them from periodontal (gum) disease is a top priority.
Gum disease is caused by bacterial plaque, a thin biofilm that collects on teeth and is not removed due to poor oral hygiene practices. Infected gums become chronically inflamed and begin to weaken, ultimately losing their firm attachment to the teeth. This can result in increasing voids called periodontal pockets that fill with infection. The gums can also shrink back (recede), exposing the tooth roots to further infection.
Although gum disease treatment techniques vary, the overall goal is the same: remove the bacterial plaque fueling the infection. This most often involves a procedure called scaling with special hand instruments to manually remove plaque and calculus (tartar). If the infection has spread below the gum line we may need to use a procedure called root planing in which we scrape or “plane” plaque and calculus from the root surfaces.
As we remove plaque, the gums become less inflamed. As the inflammation subsides we often discover more plaque and calculus, requiring more treatment sessions. Hopefully, our efforts bring the disease under control and restorative healing to the gums.
But while gum tissue can regenerate on its own, it may need some assistance if the recession was severe. This assistance can be provided through surgical procedures that graft donor tissues to the recession site. There are a number of microsurgical approaches that are all quite intricate to perform, and will usually require a periodontist (a specialist in gum structures) to achieve the most functional and attractive result.
While we have the advanced techniques and equipment to treat and repair gum disease damage, the best approach is to try to prevent the disease from occurring at all. Prevention begins with daily brushing and flossing, and continues with regular dental cleanings and checkups.
And if you do notice potential signs of gum disease like swollen, reddened or bleeding gums, call us promptly for an examination. The sooner we diagnose and begin treatment the less damage this progressive disease can do to your gums—and your smile.
If you would like more information on protecting your gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
One of the most important and helpful treatments in general dentistry is professional tooth cleanings. Before any other treatments are suggested, a thorough dental cleaning will likely be the first administered by your dentist. Understand why teeth cleanings are so important and set aside time to see a dentist at Corley Family Dental in Decatur, IL for a checkup.
What Happens at Teeth Cleanings?
Your dentist will first do a visual check of your teeth and gums to see if there are any problems that need to be discussed. The teeth are then cleaned and polished with special dental tools that thoroughly remove dental film, traces of food, and plaque. If you have tartar or calculus around your teeth, your dentist may have to do a deeper cleaning with a scaling and root planing tool. The best case scenario is that you only have to go the dentist for a standard checkup and cleaning twice per year.
Why Dental Cleanings Are So Important
As carefully and regularly as you may brush your teeth, you can't always do as thorough a job as a dentist. Even flossing can't always remove hardened tartar buildup below the gumline. Some patients have very clean, strong teeth, but their gums are inflamed due to gingivitis. Some may have cavities in their back teeth that could be the beginning of tooth decay. These are issues that only your Decatur dentist can properly diagnose and address at dental cleanings.
More Reasons to See a Dentist
There are additional benefits to going to a general dentistry for regular checkups besides having your teeth cleaned properly. Your dentist will also screen the oral cavity for soft tissue damage and sores. Dentists can also check the alignment of your teeth and jaw to suggest treatments for TMJ disorder and to prevent enamel erosion due to tooth grinding. Patients who have sleep apnea can also get help at the dentist's office.
Now Is Always a Good Time to Resume Dental Visits
Even if it's been a while since you saw a dentist, now is always a good time to resume visits. Call 217-330-6217 today to schedule a teeth cleaning with Drs. Chad and Natalie Corley at their general dentistry in Decatur, IL.