Untreated Cavities in the US

Mother Daughter Brushing

With the vast advancements in the dental field this last decade, it may be surprising to learn that untreated cavities are still a prevalent and persistent issue for many people in the United States. More than one in five Americans has untreated cavities and periodontitis, according to Dr. Bruce Dye, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “It appears that we haven’t been able to make any significant strides during the last decade to reduce untreated cavities” (Dye).  This is in part attributed to economic conditions.  With more Americans relying on Medicaid, most states have eliminated dental benefits in order to ease strain on stressed budgets.

The good news is that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide dental coverage for disadvantaged children, reducing the rates of children needing urgent dental care. Some studies have even suggested that American children are getting the same general level of dental care, regardless of income. The report found that rates of cavities were similar across all age groups, with teens having the lowest rates. Among children aged 5-11, 20% had untreated cavities, compared to 13% of those aged 12-19. Among children and teens, 27% had at least one dental sealant.  (Everyday Health)

shutterstock_14313997While comprehensive dental coverage is an undeniably large factor in the prevention and treatment of gum disease and cavities, you can lower your odds of developing dental issues through healthy lifestyle choices. Practicing good dental hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing is essential. Cutting back on sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks that feed the bacteria that lead to tooth decay is another controllable element in cavity prevention.  Regular dental visits are also paramount. When problems are identified and treated early, it prevents the necessity for more costly and invasive procedures.  If you are experiencing sensitivity or pain, schedule an appointment today.

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

What Causes Bad Breath?

demons-bad-breathWe’ve probably all known someone with bad breath. It can be uncomfortable to engage in discussion with someone whose breath smells downright foul. It’s also a sensitive topic to broach, as well as being a very common concern – after all, each year Americans spend an estimated $3 billion dollars on breath freshening products. Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, is clearly a concern well felt amongst adults – but what is the cause?

Symptoms and Sources of Bad Breath

There are several sources of bad breath, including diet and dry mouth – both boil down to the presence of bacteria. The most common odor-causing bacteria are located on the tongue, particularly toward the back where they tend to be undisturbed. If neglected during cleaning, it’s a prime breeding ground for bacteria to feed on leftover food particles, dead skin cells, and mucus. In addition to the tongue, less common offenders include build-up between the teeth and below the gum line, increasing the bad odor. In addition to inconsistent oral care, there are other common reasons for mild cases of bad breath.

Most of us are familiar with the term ‘morning breath’ – a common reference to oral odor experienced in the early hours after waking up. Morning breath can be attributed to a dry mouth, as the result of inactivity during the night fueling bacteria production. Saliva is a natural defense against these offenders, and saliva production slows down the longer the mouth is inactive. If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, the same principles apply whether it’s morning or not. Additionally, food particles (especially sugars) remaining in the mouth encourage bacteria growth. All of this adds up to an increasingly unpleasant and embarrassing odor when you are speaking and breathing.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

dentist-1468457_1920When it comes to solutions, anything not addressing the presence of bacteria is a purely cosmetic fix. This includes gum, mints, and similar – sorry! The solutions very much depend on the specific source, and may be as easy as improving your general oral hygiene routine, or it could require a deep cleaning by a dental professional. A more serious cause, and subsequent solution, may be decay present in the mouth that requires removal. No matter the case, vigilant oral care will always be helpful in terms of avoiding unpleasant breath!

Bad breath, while harmless, can be an indicator your oral care habits are insufficient. If you are concerned about your breath, try brushing and flossing more thoroughly to remove any lingering bacteria. If the problem persists, contact us for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan!

 

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

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!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

Keep Calm and Floss On

 

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 overrated.”
• “…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 as gingivitis.”
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.

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

Dental Deep Cleaning for Healthy Gums

What is scaling and root planing? When is it recommended?

As with many aspects of general dentistry, scaling and root planing is a treatment related to keeping your mouth free of gum disease. Your routine appointments and your home care are preventative measures to maintain your oral health; but as nice as it would be to keep your oral health in perfect condition all the time, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. When we identify the onset of gum disease, we work quickly to reverse the condition and get you back on a healthy track. This is where scaling and root planing treatments play a critical role.

Often referred to as periodontal cleaning or deep cleaning, they are all the same form of treatment. The procedure removes dental plaque and tartar, specifically below the visible gum line. The spaces between your gums and teeth are prime breeding ground for bacteria and infection, so without treatment they can deepen and compromise your oral health. There are a variety of tools and methods available for periodontal cleaning, and each is designed to finely clean the dental pockets the gum disease is attacking and deepening. Successfully completed, the build-up collected around the teeth and gums will be removed, and the gums will heal tightly around the teeth for a secure and healthy fit.

Post-Treatment Follow-Up

Scaling and root planing are advantageous procedures if gum disease is present, but what about the importance of following up after you’ve been treated? Despite the fact healing and improvements will be seen immediately following treatment, the actual procedure is only the first step in arresting the periodontal disease. The true efficacy of scaling and root planing is contingent upon a number of variables, including patient compliance.

It is imperative the patient and our office collaborate to prevent the infection from recurring. Infection is often the result of negligent oral care, which will need to be excellent and diligently preformed following treatment. As it takes a significant period of time for the infection and bacteria to build-up, the remedial steps taken after scaling and root planing will not be an overnight solution – time and consistency will be necessary for a full recovery.

Subsequent appointments are often necessary in order to monitor and track the healing progress, and we will discuss the frequency and importance of these with you to ensure your understanding and comfort. Our office will be there to help through each and every step of this process with respect to your unique needs, as well as offer any resources or information necessary to restore your smile to a happy and healthy state.

 

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

Preventing Dry Socket After Tooth Extraction

DrySocket Blog Title

What is Dry Socket?

After a tooth is extracted a blood clot forms to protect the underlying bone and nerves – in some cases this clot loosens, exposing the extraction site causing the pain and discomfort of a ‘dry socket’.  When the extraction site is exposed, air and liquids and food come into contact with the bone and nerves, making dry socket uncomfortable. The steps for prevention are straight-forward and minimize the likelihood of it occurring.

How Can I Prevent It?

The first five days following your tooth extraction are when you are at the highest risk for dry socket; after that, caution should continue to be exercised but the risk is much lower. Fortunately, dry socket is uncommon and your risk is greatly reduced by following our aftercare instructions. The most important way to avoid dry socket is preventing a suction from forming in your mouth and disrupting the site. Avoid using straws, vaping, and smoking as they often cause the clot to dislodge. Nicotine also decreases blood supply, preventing the clot from forming effectively, so cigarette or smokeless tobacco users should be especially vigilant. Another cause can be force to mouth or face – any situations where you could sustain injury around the site of extraction should be avoided. Lastly, infection can also cause dry socket in rare cases, so use any antibacterial mouthwashes prescribed.

Dry Socket Treatment Is Easy

If you find yourself with dry socket, there are a few ways we can help. The best medicine is simply a few days’ rest to allow for healing, but it is possible to aid the healing process by gently irrigating the socket to clear it of any debris. We may also provide an anesthetizing dressing to help cover the exposed bone and tissue; it will need to be replaced every few days and helps alleviate the pain.

Dry Socket Home Remedies

Here are a few tips for home to help relieve any of the accompanying pain you may be experiencing:

  • First and foremost: ice, ice, baby! Ice can greatly relieve pain by placing a pack on the face above the dry socket area.
  • Clove oil is also a natural numbing agent that can be soaked into gauze and placed on the site to relieve pain, though it will need to be changed regularly.
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen can also be helpful pain relievers, although depending on their efficacy, the area may be anesthetized to ease severe discomfort. OTC pain medications will be your best bet, and some can lessen inflammation to help expedite healing.

Good News Everyone!

Dry socket is generally short-lived and there are rarely any long-term consequences. However, it does mean a few days of discomfort before you are back to normal. If you have an upcoming extraction, be sure to follow all aftercare instructions to promote quick and comfortable healing!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

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, also known as 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 called 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.

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

Effects of Osteoporosis on your Oral Health

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis isn’t a new discovery, or a disease unheard of by many. That being said, many people don’t realize how closely tied to your oral health it can actually be.

In short, osteoporosis is caused by an insufficient consumption of calcium and vitamin D. It affects the bones, making them less dense and thus more likely to break. Osteoporosis is directly tied to your long-term dental health as this weakening of the bones may heavily compromise the jaw bone.  A weakened jawbone can have a host of detrimental consequences for your teeth, including increased tooth mobility, or complete tooth loss.

The best cure for the degradation of the jawbone is avoiding it all together with a balanced diet high in vitamin D and calcium, and getting a sufficient amount of exercise. Barring that, be sure to attend your dental appointments regularly so that way the structure and health of your mouth can be monitored, and any problems that may develop are addressed immediately and not permitted to deteriorate.

As it is, due to hormone imbalances and changes over life, women are most at risk to developing osteoporosis, but it can absolutely develop in either gender depending on a host of lifestyle variables, not limited to diet and exercise.

Symptoms to pay attention to that may be indicative of osteoporosis affecting the jaw include: pain and/or swelling in the gums or jaw, as well as infection; injured gums not healing in a timely fashion; teeth that become loose for no reason or after only minor strain; numbness or discomfort in the jaw; or at worst, exposed bone. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate contacting your dentist to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388