Top Five Dental Problems For People 50 +

Many of our patients have been visiting us for well over 20 years. As these patients reach 50 years of age and above, we see a significant shift in the risk factors whichj affect them from a dental standpoint.  There have been several instances of patients who have suddenly developed rather severe decay, gum disease, and general tooth attrition resulting from bite problems. These are patients who for years required only minimal and basic preventive and restorative care.

As a result, I decided to list and describe the top five dental problems which those of us who have reached age 50 and beyond are experiencing. In our next blog article, we will present the top treatments which have been successful at addressing these issues. As always, the best treatment and care which every dental patient needs is preventive care. Preventive care includes proper homecare and routine dental exams and cleanings. Those who are seen regularly in our office are much less likely to develop the major problems which some 50+ year olds experience.

The top five dental concerns are:

1. Dental decay especially around the gumline.

features-teeth-1Often, as we get older, our gums recede leaving root surfaces exposed and gaps between the teeth.   As the root surface is less smooth and softer than enamel, decay in these areas is quite common here. And between the teeth where spaces have developed, food and plaque become trapped and lead to decay as well.

 

 2. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.

The amount of saliva in our mouths can decrease as we age. In addition, many medications can cause a reduction in saliva production leading to dry mouth. The importance of saliva in protecting our teeth and gums cannot be overstated. Saliva acts as a buffer to help neutralize the acids which are the main cause of dental decay and gum disease. Acids are formed in our mouths when the bacteria in plaque ingest carbohydrates like sugars which we eat.

3.   Gum disease (periodontal disease)

periodontal-disease

It is not uncommon to see patients who have had mild to moderate cases of gingivitis in the past begin to develop more serious periodontal disease. Gingivitis is inflammation which is limited to the gums and results in redness, swelling and bleeding gums. If this problem progresses, the underlying bone may become involved and the attachments of the teeth becomes increasingly jeopardized. In its most severe form, teeth will become loosened and may eventually literally fall out.

4. Oral cancer

Traditionally, the use of tobacco and alcohol has been associated with oral cancer.   Today HPV  (Human papilloma virus) which is sexually transmitted has become the number one cause of oral cancer. In this case, the best offense is a good defense meaning regular dental checkups which include a proper oral cancer screening.

5. Crowded teeth

We have seen numerous examples of patients whose teeth have been slowly shifting over the years resulting in marked overlapping of especially the upper and lower front teeth. Teeth which are crowded tend to collect more debris and plaque than those which are straight. In addition, overlapping teeth are more difficult to keep clean. As a result, such teeth are more prone to both dental decay and gum disease. In addition, because crowded teeth do not meet the teeth in the opposing arch evenly, such teeth exhibit increased wear and chipping as they become more and more thin.

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We will address possible solutions to each of these problems in our next blog. In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of these issues please feel free to contact us by telephone at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

 

Which Is Worse –Bad Gums Or Teeth?

This may sound like a trick question, but really it’s not. The “correct” answer, of course, is that both are equally important. But, I have a different view and will share it later in this article.

Both gums and teeth require good to excellent daily hygiene to remain healthy.   Prevention of both periodontal disease and dental decay is accomplished using the same techniques and products.  Both gum disease and dental decay are caused by the attack of bacteria which produce acid.  This acid causes damage to both hard and soft oral tissues including gums, enamel, dentin and bone. Both conditions if not properly and promptly addressed will result in the eventual loss of teeth as well as the inability to properly chew food.   And, both problems are a source of embarrassment and self consciousness due to missing teeth, bad breath, swollen and red gums, black holes, etc., etc.

Both teeth and gums are checked at every dental re-care appointment.   Commonly, both june3of these dental diseases go unnoticed by patients until more involved and expensive treatments are required. In the case of cavities, decay which has advanced to the point when a patient feels pain will generally require root canal therapy. And, in the case of gum disease, by the time a patient realizes that there is a problem, the solution often involves the services of a periodontist, possible gum surgery and / or loss of teeth.   Unrecognized and untreated periodontal disease will eventually lead to loose teeth as a result of the loss of bone and the attachment of the teeth.

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Finally, both gum disease and tooth decay result in the existence of chronic infection and inflammation which has detrimental affects on the overall health of the body. A chronic infection which becomes acute, can result in serious illness which may require hospitalization. The hidden impact of such diseases, however, is that these chronic inflammations increase the risk of other health issues including heart disease, cancer, complicated births, etc.

As promised, my view whenever planning the treatment for patients and explaining its need is that once acute infection and pain are under control, the health of the gums is the number one priority.  Consider the gums and bone to be the foundation which supports the teeth.   Without a solid foundation, even the healthiest teeth can be lost. Once the periodontal condition is stable and healthy, then the teeth can be addressed as needed.

If you have any questions about gum disease or dental decay, please feel free to contact us by telephone @ 908.359.6655 or via our website www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Don’t Like Flossing? Here are Some Helpful Ideas

We know that some of you don’t like flossing. You may be surprised to hear us say, we understand!” Flossing each day can be difficult. Perhaps you have sensitive gums, your mouth is small, or you feel like floss wrapped around your fingers cuts off your circulation. There are lots of seemingly good reasons not to floss, and as you can imagine, we’ve heard them all.

What if we told you that there are several options available that can make flossing easier?

Many, Many Varieties Of Floss

flossingTry ribbon-style floss instead of thread-style. Try waxed versus unwaxed. Try one that’s specially designed to glide easily. Try a different thickness, or a different flavor. The type of floss you use doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact you’re doing it!  Take a look at our post from October 3- These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things to see what our favorite floss is!

Consider Tools Like Flossers And Flossing Sticks

After trying several of the various options suggested above, if no brand or particular type of floss seems to be doing the trick for you, look into other tools that are designed to help.

flossingFlossers and floss sticks eliminate the need to wrap floss around your fingers. These tools can also make it easier to reach back teeth without having to stick your hands in your mouth. They can also help you more easily maneuver the floss for better coverage.

 

The are many different tools and many different brands available to try. The most important thing is that you floss!  Watch these two videos to show two different tools that can be used for flossing; one for everyone and one for kids!

For Everyone

 

For Kids

Never Underestimate The Value Of Flossing!

Flossing is an essential part of effective, daily oral hygiene care. Flossing helps guard against gum disease, the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. In addition to the woes of gum disease, studies suggest that gum health is linked to systemic health issues including diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Make Flossing A Daily Priority

If you have questions about how to make flossing easier, please let us know at your next appointment. We want to help you maintain and improve your dental health!

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

Originally published on http://designsfordentalhealthblog.com/dont-like-to-floss-here-are-some-helpful-ideas/

Is Invisalign a Reasonable Option to Straighten Adult Teeth?

Invisalign is a system for straightening teeth and improving the bite which is an alternative to conventional metal orthodontic “braces”.  This system utilizes a series of clear plastic aligners, each of which is worn 22 hours per day for a period of 2 weeks. The company began in 1997 and has gone through a series of improvements which have made this method increasingly utilized and accepted by the dental community as well as patients.

There is no question that our practice is seeing more and more adult patients who  request Invisalign to improve their bite and appearance, as well as to help turn back the clock.

There are a number of conditions which can be addressed using this system:

  1. Those who had orthodontics as a child but have seen significant relapse over the years.
  2. Patients who are concerned about the shifting or increasing misalignment of their teeth.
  3. Those who have teeth which are wearing down unevenly.
  4. Patients with teeth that appear crowded or misaligned.
  5. Those who have an underbite, overbite or open bite.
  6. In some cases, those who have gaps between their teeth.
  7. Increasingly, those who desire to improve their appearance and look younger.
Invisalign

Click this image for a concise video on Invisalign.

There are significant benefits of Invisalign as compared to conventional metal orthodontics:

  1. InvisalignThere are no dietary restrictions because the aligners are removed before eating.
  2. There are no special dental hygiene requirements because the liners can be removed to brush and floss the teeth.
  3. Because the aligners are made from a clear plastic material, they are practically invisible.

As the system begins with a virtual treatment plan called a “ClinCheck”, both the dentist and the patient are provided a digital preview of the treatment.   This preview, if used properly, helps to determine how well the treatment will result.  In our experience, patients truly enjoy this preview and its use to track the progress of their case.  It’s important to note that In some severe cases, the use of Invisalign may not offer the best solution. Some cases may still require either surgical intervention, conventional metal braces or a combination of the two.

There are several long-term benefits of having straight teeth and a good bite:

  1. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and food particles and plaque are not trapped in uneven spaces.  The result is a decreased likelihood of both dental decay and gum disease.
  2. Healthier teeth and gums contribute to a person’s overall systematic well-being and health.
  3. Uneven wear due to misaligned teeth is alleviated.
  4. Patients enjoy a more confident smile and an improved, more youthful appearance.

 If you have any questions about Invisalign, please feel free to call us at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Invisalign

The Best Way To Fill Your Tooth

Can You Just Fill It?

One question that dentists are asked all the time is: “Can you just fill it?” My goal with this particular article is to answer just that question.   And the answer is: That depends on several factors. First and foremost are the needs and desires of the particular patient.  Equally important is the condition of the tooth or teeth in question.

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First, let me begin by explaining that nearly all of today’s tooth restorations are made of ceramic. Ceramic encompasses the materials most commonly used to restore teeth today. This includes porcelain in various forms as well as composite, commonly known as “plastic” fillings.  In our practice, metal is rarely used except in specific cases where achieving a quality bond is impossible (deep under the gum) or the strength of metal is mandatory.  Ceramic materials offer a beautiful, lifelike appearance and can be bonded to tooth structure for strength and longevity.

The choice of whether to use a composite filling or some type of porcelain restoration is dependent upon the following five conditions:

1. The size of the cavity

Composite fillings makes sense when the cavity – whether caused by decay or fracture – is less than one third the width of the tooth and takes up less than 50% of the biting surface. Larger cavities with inadequate tooth to support a filling are best restored using porcelain.

2. A cracked tooth

If the tooth is cracked, a porcelain restoration is needed to protect the tooth from fracturing.  We commonly see cracked teeth when silver fillings, especially large ones, have been in place for many years.

3. Worn teeth

Teeth which are worn can be restored with either material depending upon the extent and location of wear.   Surfaces which receive heavy biting forces require the strength of porcelain to last a reasonable length of time.

4. Root canal

Teeth which have had root canal therapy generally require porcelain crowns to protect them from breakage, as these teeth are brittle and somewhat hollow as a result of the root canal.

5. Tooth Modifications

Sometimes teeth are restored to alter their shape and or appearance. Examples are gaps between teeth, poorly aligned teeth and teeth which are restored to improve the bite.  Larger modifications require the use of porcelain.

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Today’s porcelains are much different from those that were used only 10 to 15 years ago. Newer technology has produced ceramic materials with exceptional strength as well as a lifelike appearance.  In addition, these materials can be used to make crowns, commonly known as  “caps”, which cover the entire tooth.

fillThey can also be used as onlays or “partial caps” to preserve solid healthy tooth structure. These onlays are beautiful and long-lasting restorations which can be less costly than full crowns.

If you have any questions about which fillings are appropriate for you, please do not hesitate to call our office at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Celebrating 30 Years- Thank You Technology

Before I begin today’s topic, I must correct a glaring omission from the thank you letter I wrote to April and all of our dental assistants. There is a woman who was our second dental assistant after Liz back in the mid 80’s and describing this person provides a perfect segue into today’s subject. The person to whom I refer is Remi, a very attractive young woman, who would come to the office dressed in popular clothing of the time, which were stretch pants and high heels with the top of her choice. Naturally, Remi was very popular among my male patients as well as being a top-notch dental assistant.  I had the pleasure of working with her for a couple of years until her family moved to North Carolina  but Remi and I stayed in touch.  Then, during the 90’s, we became quite good friends socially. When April began her first maternity leave, Remi stepped in to help us and remained on a part-time basis until she left for a new full-time position.  Remi is owed a big thank you for both her friendship and her contributions to our dental practice.  Remi, please forgive me for not having included you in the first article!!

But what does Remi have to do with today’s topic?  Today, I will express thanks for the amazing progress that we have made in dentistry owing to the development of various technological advancements. At the same time, I’ll have an opportunity to describe how the practice of dentistry has changed in the last thirty years. So, if you can picture Remi wearing stretch pants and high heels, you will realize that what we wear today is far different from the “uniform” of thirty years ago.  Better yet, if you can picture what Remi was not wearing at the time, you will understand the first major change that occurred in dentistry in the last thirty years.

Thank you technologyWhat Remi was not wearing back then was gloves, a mask and all the other outer protective garments, which are mandatory today. What changed was the AIDS epidemic had begun and the use of all  protective clothing and shields became mandated.  After having practiced “wet fingered” dentistry for several years, wearing gloves was initially quite a challenge due to the loss of tactile sensation that resulted.  But we all adapted and have since incorporated a multitude of protocols and protective items to protect not only those who work in the dental office but also every patient.

Thank you technologyThe next major change for dental practices was the use of computers which began in the mid to late 1980’s. I remember buying my first computer, an IBM with a whopping 50 MB of memory! Bear in mind that is megabytes and I’m not referring to RAM. This computer took some getting used to, but relieved us of hours upon hours of paperwork every day as all appointments and transactions had been done by hand up to that time. As you can imagine, the computers kept getting bigger and doing more for us every year.  Now, the practice of dentistry and the use of computers are totally integrated and amazing.

Thank You technologyToday, the world of dentistry is becoming more and more digital. By now, most of my patients have seen the digital x-rays which we employ.  These x-rays are so large and easy to read that patients can easily see what we see with minimum coaching. These x-rays can be manipulated in terms of contrast, size and various other features.  Similarly, in the future, impressions will be taken digitally using a small intraoral camera rather than all of that impression gook which many patients are not fond of.

If you’ve been in our office for the last dozen years or so, you’ll note that we also use a digital camera to record photos of your teeth.  In addition, we have an intraoral camera which takes close-up images of the teeth.    The use of these photographs helps us to better diagnose what is going on in a given patient’s mouth as well as the ability to easily explain conditions and options to patients.

Thank you technologyOne of my favorite newer pieces of equipment is called the K7.  We have been using this system for the past five years or so to help us better diagnose and treat patients who have Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.   This piece of equipment allows us to evaluate the jaw muscles, jaw movement and joint sounds. Using this piece of equipment, we can determine in an objective way the best position for an individual patient’s jaw.  Since using the K7, we have been able to help many patients who were suffering with a variety of TMD symptoms.   If you have any interest in the subject, you may find additional information on the website  www.myotronics.com  .

Other technological advances which assist us in our day to day treatment of patients include the use of the diode laser, the Wave One root canal system, and the Diagnodent cavity detection device.

Thank you technologyThe diode laser has a multitude of uses including preparing teeth for impressions, cosmetic re-contouring of the gums, the treatment of periodontal or gum disease and the speed healing of canker sores and fever blisters just to name a few. This is a marvelous piece of equipment which is kind to patients for its healing properties, its gentleness not requiring the need for anesthesia in many cases, as well as its ability to work without creating bleeding.

The Wave One root canal system is an equally wonderful system which helps us to perform root canal therapy for patients in less time than in the past while being more thorough at the same time.

Thank you technologyThe Diagnodent cavity detection device uses a laser to detect the presence of decay in an extremely accurate manner. We had even seen that it finds decay which is not visible either on x-ray or in the mouth but serves to help patients avoid more extensive treatment due to lack of prompt care.

The descriptions provided above of the technological advances which we have seen the last 30 years is by no means a complete list. Suffice it to say, the practice of dentistry is far more enjoyable, accurate and just plain better than it was in the 80’s.

Thank you to all the pioneers who helped to develop the technology that we use today. It will be fascinating to watch dentistry continue to evolve in the next thirty years!

These Are a Few Of Our Favorite Things

In this article, we would like to share with you seven of our favorite products and technologies. These are all items or services which we as a team use on a regular basis and recommend to our patients. We feel that each of these is the leader in its field and offers solid benefits. So, without further ado, here is the list:

Number 1: Sonicare Toothbrush

Favorite ThingsThrough the years, we have recommended a variety of toothbrushes ranging from the Rotadent to Oral-B and finally to Sonicare. In our estimation, the Sonicare electric toothbrush is simply the most effective tooth cleaning product on the market. End of story. Having used and Oral-B electric tooth brush for many years and having avoided the Sonicare because I found it to be uncomfortable initially, I began using it regularly and discovered that it was far superior at removing stains and plaque and maintaining gum health. What more is there to say?

Number 2: Closys Toothpaste

Favorite ThingsWe have been recommending Closys toothpaste for the last 10 years or so. It contains chlorine dioxide which kills germs. It does not contain abrasives, extra chemicals or other unnecessary ingredients which would make it a lesser choice for effective oral health. Closys II toothpaste effectively kills germs, helps maintain gingival and dental health as well as providing clean fresh breath.

Number 3: Inter Dental Cleaners

Favorite ThingsThere are a variety of ways to clean between the teeth which we recommend for different patients and for different reasons. I will lump these together as being the third most important thing we love. For those with regular spaces between our teeth, we love Reach Total Care floss by Johnson and Johnson. This is great floss which is effective, tastes good, and is well-designed.

Favorite Things

If you have bridges and are unable to use regular dental floss, then Superfloss by OralB is the choice for you. This product allows you to easily thread the floss underneath your bridges and thoroughly clean them with a minimum of fuss.

 

 

Favorite ThingsFor those who have very wide spaces between their teeth, pipe cleaners are an excellent choice to quickly and effectively clean between your teeth. For those with moderate spaces between their teeth and for those who have had gum surgery ProxaBrushes are the weapon of choice. They are easy to hold and manipulate and are effective at cleaning larger spaces between your teeth. Finally for those people who hate to floss, there is a product by Sonicare called the AirFloss are which is very effective especially at removing debris which gets caught between your teeth.

Number 4: NeoStrata Skincare

Favorite ThingsWe have offered the line of NeoStrata skin care / antiaging products in our office for the past few years. Though it has not been very popular amongst our patients, it is very popular with our dental team. This line of products is meant to care for your skin and these products do what they say they will do. If you have any interest, feel free to ask us for samples and I think that you will be surprised at how effective they are. For your information, this little-known company provides products to various larger corporations whose names you may well know.

 Number 5: Zoom! Teeth Whitening

Favorite ThingsFor many years, we used the BriteSmile system for teeth whitening.  Zoom! Whitening became the standard for tooth bleaching when the show Extreme Makeover was so popular. Some years ago Zoom! Purchased BriteSmile and their newest system offers improvements which make the procedure both more effective and comfortable. For those people who desire whiter teeth, the in-office Zoom!bleaching system is the best.

Number 6: Invisalign

Favorite ThingsInvisalign orthodontics has been available for more than a dozen years. This company continually up grades their techniques and products to offer an excellent alternative to metal braces. There are various bite problems which can now be addressed using Invisalign, and more and more adults are taking advantage of this excellent service to help turn back the clock. FYI, the Invisalign system aligns and levels the teeth using a series of clear aligners which are changed by the patient every two weeks. The results we have achieved with this system have been very impressive.

Number 7: The K7 and TMD Orthotics

Favorite ThingsWe purchased the K7 technology many years ago to assist us in treating patients with head, neck and facial pain. This system has proven to be a wonderful way to help diagnose our patients’ problems and to determine the best way to treat them. Using this system, we are able to have orthotics custom fabricated for patients to wear over their lower teeth. These orthotics have been very effective at eliminating various symptoms of TMD pain and associated symptoms. If you suffer from chronic pain, I recommend that you ask us about how the K7 system and an orthotic may be a blessing for you.  Check out this technology at www.myotronics.com.

It is our hope that you find these seven of our favorite things to be useful for you. If you have any questions about any of these items, please do not hesitate to ask. You may contact us by phone at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com.

 

Smile Enhancements for Healthy Aging

Earlier this month, we discussed common dental problems which affect us as we grow older and how to address them.  In this installment, we will describe three popular methods to improve both the appearance and the function of your teeth. At the end of this article, we will reinforce what we believe to be the best ways to improve the health and beauty of your smile.

smile enhancementsYou may be surprised to hear about the first popular procedure which has increased in frequency over the past several years.  Once considered only appropriate for adolescents and teenagers, orthodontics has become an excellent means for adults (even those well into their 60s) to improve their smile, take years off their facial appearance, and improve their self-esteem.  This, in turn, improves their overall outlook on life. Alternatives to the metal braces commonly seen in the past have grown in popularity as they have become more comfortable, effective and invisible.  In our office, Invisalign™ orthodontics has proven to be a discrete and successful method for adults to address bite issues and crooked teeth.  Even patients who had braces as a teenager find the system an excellent way to realign teeth which have relapsed over the years.

invisalign, smile enhancements

Invisalign™orthodontic treatment, combined with either tooth bleaching and/or bonding, can help you to achieve your dream smile, improve your appearance, help you look younger, and feel a renewed sense of self confidence.  In addition, a properly aligned bite serves to preserve your overall health and well-being.  Teeth which are not aligned and bites which are not properly balanced are much more at risk for a variety of dental issues.  These issues include tooth fractures, tooth wear, loosening teeth, gum recession, ineffective chewing ability as well as a variety of jaw, neck, and shoulder pain and headaches.

The second popular dental enhancement which has steadily gained in popularity over the last twenty-five plus years is implants. Titanium implants have evolved and become a staple in the replacement of missing teeth for those who wish for comfort, convenience, and excellent appearance. Implants can be used in a number of different ways to replace missing teeth. The simplest way, of course, is for replacing a single missing tooth. But implants can also be used to replace a series of missing teeth or even an entire arch of missing teeth. Contrary to popular opinion, the placement of implants does not involve significant discomfort and their success rate is very high.

implant, smile enhancements

There are many patients who have struggled with dentures for years. Such patients have had as few as two implants placed to stabilize their existing dentures. The benefits of such procedures are astounding for those who have struggled to eat and speak with loose plates for years. We even see patients who are about to lose all their remaining teeth in one or both arches. Such patients can have their hopeless teeth removed, four implants placed, and a set of teeth mounted on those implants all in a single appointment. That procedure is called “All-On-Four” and requires collaboration between a prosthetic dentist, an implant surgeon and a laboratory technician.  The results in these cases are life changing.

The third popular smile enhancement involves bonding or porcelain to restore worn, broken, or otherwise damaged teeth. “Bonding” utilizes tooth-colored filling material which is placed on one or a group of teeth to restore natural appearance, shape, and color. Similarly, porcelain is used in more advanced cases for those patients who wish to have the most long-lasting and cosmetic solution to their dental problems. Porcelain can be used to cover the entire tooth or limited areas of the tooth as needed in any given situation. The porcelain is bonded to the teeth which results in a very strong, cosmetic, and natural result.

Bonding and porcelain can be used to enhance smiles in a number of different ways. Teeth which have mild misalignment can be made to look perfectly aligned instantly using these materials. Similarly, problems with symmetry, proportion, color and shape can all be addressed using these materials. The next time that you are in our office, make sure to look at some of the photographs on our walls which exhibit the results gained by using these materials.

Finally, let us reiterate the best ways to ensure healthy aging at least as far as oral health is concerned.  As we grow older, we are all more prone to have decay which can sometimes develop very quickly.  It is not uncommon for adult patients to have some gum recession which results in the exposure of root surfaces.  Such surfaces are very prone to decay and must be carefully monitored both at home and in the dental office.  In addition, as our gums recede, food is more likely to lodge between the teeth creating another cause for decay developing.  Increased use of medications and other medical issues may lead to a condition of dry mouth.  Without the buffering effects of saliva, the likelihood for increased dental decay as well as gum disease is highly likely.

dental care, smile enhancements

So what is one to do to prevent an increase in gum disease and dental decay? Here are our favorite as well as most effective recommendations:

  1. Use an electric toothbrush and brush where the teeth and gums meet.
  2. Clean between your teeth with an appropriate sized tool. Large spaces require a proxy brush and smaller spaces require fluffy floss.
  3. Brush before bed!
  4. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash especially before bed.  During this month we have been handing out Listerine Zero which is a good product found in the grocery store but any similar product which includes no alcohol can be used.
  5. Have regular checkups! This is the best way to make sure that small problems do not become big ones! In the past few years, we have seen more and more patients who have returned after extended periods with more severe problems. Regular checkups will save you money and give you more peace of mind.

In closing, cosmetic dentistry may be key to a person’s health in later life.  Here is a quote from a cosmetic dentist in Texas:

“We often hear older patients just wanting things patched up as opposed to getting something aesthetic. They may have the idea that they are not worth it, or their families have the idea that they are too old for cosmetic dentistry. This may lead to an attitude that things are ending.

“Improving an older person’s mouth can bring them more happiness and joy, not only by improving chewing efficiency, but also bringing joy back. They will want to smile more.”

If you have any questions concerning this article or any other dental questions, please call our office at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.designsfordentalhealth.com.

 

 

A Healthy Mouth and Healthy Aging

For over 20 years, September has been designated healthy aging month. This is an annual celebration of the positive side to growing older. During this month, a variety of sources provide Inspiration and ideas for baby boomers and adults aged 45 and above to help them to improve their physical, mental, social, as well as financial well-being.  It is our hope that we at Designs For Dental Health can provide some pertinent information to contribute to our fellow baby boomers.

healthy-aging-logo

It is interesting to note that there are over 76 million baby boomers today over the age of fifty and the first of the 82 million Generation X-ers are about to reach that milestone in 2015.  Why not use September as a time to look back on where you’ve been and consider what you might truly like to do with the rest of your life.  If you’re happy and fulfilled with what you’re currently doing, keep on keeping on!  If not, this is definitely the time to make a change.  From my point of view, I’m happy to keep on doing what we, as your dental care providers, love to do most.  Help to keep you healthy! dreamstime_l_21764121

So, with that in mind, here’s our question for you today: How’s your smile? 

  

First of all, research supports the idea that those who smile more are just plain happier.  Secondly, those with a healthy mouth are much less likely to develop a myriad of diseases commonly suffered by those of us in the 60+ population. So ask yourself- when is the last time that you had a comprehensive dental examination to determine your overall oral health and the best methods used to maintain it?  I promise to provide such a comprehensive examination free of charge for anyone over age 55 who has been a patient in our practice for more than 5 years and who requests it.  That’s right!  All you have to do is ask! I’ll sit down with you for as long as it takes to discuss your concerns and desires.  Then, we’ll do a comprehensive examination including an oral cancer screening, evaluation of your teeth, gums, and bite. Together, we’ll discuss any options that might be available to you to improve your dental health and from that discussion we will arrive at the best treatment plan for you.

 

Consider this – a mere 60 years ago, it was assumed that we would lose all of our natural teeth as we aged.  Now we know that a healthy mouth and teeth will help you to not only look good, but to eat delicious and nutritious foods, to speak clearly and to be confident.  An excellent quality of life demands a vibrantly healthy mouth.  Just consider the fact that those whose oral health is subpar are at risk for various serious medical conditions including: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, cancer, and various other diseases which are common in older adults.

 

What are some common oral health problems?

 

  1. Dry mouth.   Reduced salivary flow is most commonly the result of cancer treatments, the use of certain medications, and certain diseases. Dry mouth is a significant cause of decay and gum disease in older patients because saliva serves to buffer acids that are produced as we eat.  Without the protection of these buffers, rapidly advancing problems occur. 

  2. Darkened teeth.   Our teeth tend to darken with time as the pulp in our teeth recedes and the outer layer of enamel becomes thinner, thus allowing the darker dentin to show through. There are various methods available to whiten the teeth for a more youthful appearance.  These techniques do not harm teeth and most patients are extremely happy with their whiter, more beautiful smiles. 

  3. Root decay. As the gums recede, exposure of the tooth roots result. Exposed root surfaces are less resistant to decay than enamel and decay here is quite common. Good brushing and plaque removing habits go a long way to protect these surfaces. In addition, the judicious use of fluoride rinses can be most helpful to protect these exposed surfaces. 

  4. Gum disease. Inflammation of the gums and resulting bone loss in more advanced cases is quite common in adults over the age of 50.  Gum disease is worsened by poorly fitting tooth restorations, less than ideal dietary choices, and certain diseases like anemia, cancer, and diabetes.  The best way to fight gum disease is to practice excellent oral hygiene and have regular dental exams and cleanings as recommended in your particular case. 

  5. Tooth loss. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss; however, teeth which have broken due to old, large silver fillings or simple attrition require prompt attention to avoid unnecessary loss of teeth!  Restoring a broken tooth is always better and less expensive than losing a tooth and later trying to replace it. 

  6. Uneven jawbone. This common problem is a result of premature tooth loss.  Once a tooth is lost, the bone previously around that root vanishes and teeth adjacent to and opposing the missing tooth will shift.  This causes an uneven bite and places for food and bacteria to become trapped. 

  7. Oral cancer. Routine examinations are essential to identify possible cancerous conditions in the mouth. Always report unusual lumps or bumps or discolorations to your dentist or hygienists promptly! 

So what is the best way to maintain your good oral health?  It’s the same regardless of your age!    

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  1. Brush at least twice a day with good quality toothpaste as recommended by your dentist or hygienist. The most important time to brush is just before bed!! 

  1. Floss or otherwise thoroughly clean between your teeth at least one time each day. 

  1. Visit your dentist or hygienist on a regular basis as recommended by them for regular cleanings and oral examinations.  

  1. Use appropriate rinses or fluorides or other such adjuncts as recommended by your dental professionals. 

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If you have any questions about healthy aging month or would like a complementary comprehensive examination please call us at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Alzheimer’s Disease And The Oral-Systemic Connection

Infections in the mouth are now considered as potential risk factors for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that inflammation – like that which results from dental disease like periodontitis (gum disease) – has a role in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation caused by specific bacteria in the mouth cause an inflammatory cascade throughout  the body which impacts our systemic health.

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A dental infection can cause severe illness requiring hospitalization.  Such infections are more common than most people might think. Some months ago, one of our patients postponed an appointment during which a tooth infection was to have been treated.   This infection was found on an x-ray, and this patient had no pain or other obvious symptoms of a problem.  Several days after the original appointment we received a call from the patient that she had developed severe swelling over her eye.  This infection ultimately resulted in this patient’s being hospitalized for four days and requiring IV (intravenous) antibiotics.

Just to be clear, oral diseases which are more chronic in nature than the example above may not only be direct causes of systemic disease. They indirectly cause an increase in severity especially in those diseases which are known to be inflammatory in nature.  It is clear that eliminating oral inflammation reduces the inflammatory impact on many systemic inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Although Alzheimer’s disease is generally not considered to be inflammatory disease, inflammation does have a role in accelerating the progression of this disease.

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CBS News’ 60 Minutes produced a wonderful show about aging                                   which presents interesting information about Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here’s a link to view this show: 

www.CBSnews.com/news/living-to-90-and-beyond/

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Research has identified five specific pathways by which gum disease and oral infections seem to influence the progression of Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Bacteria from the mouth can directly enter the bloodstream.

2. These bacteria cause systemic (whole body) inflammation impacting Alzheimer’s disease.

3. The bacteria P. gingivalis plays a role in the formation of blood clots and thereby cardio vascular disease and strokes which are both risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Germs from the mouth can travel directly to the brain.

5. Some people have a genetic predisposition which can increase the effects of oral inflammation

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To summarize, the ways by which oral infections and periodontal disease affect disease progression is not always direct. However, the link between diseases of the mouth and body is established, and the evidence is clear that maintaining a healthy oral environment is crucial to minimize the progression of various systemic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have any questions about the oral-systemic connection or diseases of the mouth, feel free to call us at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com