How the Holidays Affect Your Teeth

general-1st-paragraph-imageThe holidays are infamous for being diet-breakers, but let’s not forget the effect excessive sweets can have on your oral health! Don’t worry, we aren’t going to convince you to pass on pecan pie or skip the cider; however, it is important to continue practicing healthy habits, even with some well-deserved indulgences peppered into your seasonal celebrations. Sugar affects everyone’s teeth, no matter how old. Younger children’s smiles are still in the process of development, which means they need added care throughout the growing stages.

The Start of Gum Disease and Cavities

To better understand why it’s important to monitor sugar consumption, we must first address the development of gum disease and cavities. When you eat normally throughout the day, food particles and bacteria collect in your mouth and on your teeth. As you brush and floss, these particles and bacteria are removed with no harm done. However, the presence of sugar fuels the bacteria, which creates enamel-destroying acid; left untreated, the acids corrode a hole in the tooth that deepens over time. Additionally, infection can occur in the gum tissues and lead to swelling, bleeding, and pain. It’s important to limit the bacteria’s opportunity to spread by practicing consistent oral care, and keep your mouth free of disease and infection.

Dental Decay in Children

general-3rd-paragraph-mageWhen teeth are still in development, the story can be a bit different. The above still applies, but the stakes are higher during the formative years of cutting teeth. It isn’t uncommon to hear “oh, they’re just baby teeth”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Child tooth decay is a rampant condition and, although completely preventable, is five times as common as asthma. It’s entirely possible for the infection to spread beneath the gum line, and compromise the healthy adult teeth growing below. Until children are a certain age, it’s imperative for parents to teach sustainable healthy habits. Fortunately, we have a tip or two for the whole family!

When it comes to limiting sugar intake, but also being practical enough to live a little (especially during the holidays!) we stress that it’s actually the timing of sugar consumption that affects dental health more than the quantity consumed. That means less sweets eaten throughout longer periods of the day can actually harm your teeth more than a large serving of dessert eaten at once. Additionally, serving sweets along with the meal can also prevent over-exposure, as they are less likely to sit on the teeth for extended periods of time. Bearing these facts in mind, we suggest instead of leaving sweets all over the house, limit consumption until meal time, and then allow yourselves and the kids to enjoy your share of holiday confections!

Financial District Dental Care – Dr. Raymond Hahn
financialdistrictdental.com
133 Kearny St #204
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 433-1970

Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

Dr.Hahn
http://www.financialdistrictdental.com
133 Kearny St #204, San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 433-1970

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a ‘periodontal probe’ to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

 

Dr.Hahn
http://www.financialdistrictdental.com
133 Kearny St #204, San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 433-1970