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Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Do You Mean I Have Gum Disease?

It's one of the hardest things I have to tell patients. Many patients have gone to the same provider for years who have never mentioned periodontal (gum) disease to the patient and continued to do a prophylaxis (healthy gum cleaning), when in reality the patient's gums are inflamed, have pockets (space between the gum and tooth), even mobility (loose) due to loss of bone.  There are many reasons why a provider may not diagnose a patient with periodontal disease, non of them ethical.  It is my main priority to be truthful with patients about the current state of their  oral condition no matter how unfavorable it may be.  My goal is to save them time and money, while reducing the chance of pain and tooth loss.

Worse yet, some patient's are aware of their gum disease, have had periodontal therapy (scaling and root planing) performed yet never kept up on their periodontal maintenance's (more frequent "cleanings" below the gum line) for one reason or another.  Whether it was loss of insurance, out of pocket expense or lack of concern, one thing is certain, tooth loss is almost inevitable.

I see it more often than I should.  Patients invest a large sum of time and money to treat periodontal
disease through a process called scaling and root planing.  However, without the more frequent maintenance program (every 3-4 months following the therapy), all the efforts, time and investment will have been in vain.
Is gum disease a hopeless cause?  Absolutely not, but you have to own the disease because in reality you'll never be free from it.  Much like Diabetes, you're never cured, but it can definitely be managed. 
A recent CDC (Center for Disease Control) study provides the following data related to prevalence of periodontitis (a more advanced form of periodontal disease) in the U.S.:
  • 47.2% of of adults age 30 years and older have some sort of periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal Disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults aged 65 and older have periodontal disease. (Center for Disease Control)

How do you get periodontal disease?  It's caused by plaque, a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth.  Plaque contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins.  If teeth are not cleaned well, the toxins can irritate and inflame the gums.  Most of know that some inflammation in the body can be good, signaling the bodies response to try and repair itself.  Excessive inflammation is bad and can cause major damage. I often tell patients that the bacteria poop acid on your teeth, simply put.  The acid produced by bacteria eat away at the enamel on your teeth, inflames the gums causing pockets, and eventually eats away at the bone structure that houses your teeth.

Symptoms.  Some people with periodontal disease have few or no warning signs.  Here are few:
  • gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • bad breath that doesn't go away
  • pus between your teeth and gums
  • loose or separating teeth
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bit
  • a change in the fit of partial dentures
Treatment.  Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease.  The gum tissue is read and swollen and may bleed when brushing or flossing.  The good news is it can be reversed!  Better home care and getting regular professional cleanings will reduce the inflammation and could eliminate it.

The more advanced form is called periodontitis.  Increased swelling and redness of the tissue around the teeth that causes the tissue and bone to break down creating pockets between the gum and teeth.  The recommended treatment is called scaling and root planing.  This is a treatment that gets below the surface of the gums to remove plaque and tarter that bacteria feed on.  By cleaning out the pockets, the gum tissue has a better chance to reattach to the tooth structure.

Once scaling and root planing is completed, patients need to be seen for a periodontal maintenance every 3 to 4 months depending on the severity of the periodontal disease.  Without these maintenance, the infection will continue and scaling a root planing may be needed more often. 

Periodontal disease will not go away on its own.  Catch it early to keep a healthy smile and avoid tooth loss.

Links for additional information:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dental Benefits of Xylitol

What is all this Xlyitol hype about?  Is it just another marketing ploy?  Are there really any dental benefits to using Xylitol?

We understand there are a lot of questions regarding Xylitol and why we at Gilmore Dental believe that it's an important factor in reducing decay in the oral cavity.  Stick with us for just a minute.

Xylitol was first discovered by a German chemist in 1891, Emil Fischer.  It was initially used in the sugar shortages of WWII in the 1930's in Finland.  It was approved by the FDA here in the US in 1963 as a food additive.  Finland was the first county to implement a national campaign to promote Xylitol to reduce decay in children.  Those Europeans seem to have it all together!

What is it you ask?  A natural sweetener found in Birch trees.  It does not break down like regular sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth.  The real kicker: it also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth!  Sugars sitting in the mouth allow bacteria to feed for at least a half hour, which in turn causes decay.  Xylitol stops the bacteria in it's tracks!

Benefits of Xylitol include:
  • Saliva - Saliva has bacteria fighting properties on its own, however, because of over sugar consumption, it just can't keep up.
  • Reduction in acids that cause decay.
  • Neutralize pH.
  • It's safe and convenient.
Gilmore Dental is one of the Northwest's leading distributors of Xylitol products from Xlear.  From gum to toothpaste and mouthwash, nasal spray and oral mist, we've got what you need.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Not So Wise Wisdom Teeth

To remove or not to remove, that is the question.  Many of our patients function normally with wisdom teeth and others have issues.  We treat wisdom teeth on a case by case basis at Gilmore Dental.

  • Pain or jaw stiffness near an impacted tooth.
  • Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at an awkward angle rubbing against the cheek, tongue or top or bottom of your mouth.
  • An infected swelling  in the flap of gum tissue that has formed on top of an impacted tooth that has broken partway through the gum.
  • Crowding of other teeth.
  • Tooth decay or gum disease if there isn't enough room to properly clean your wisdom tooth or nearby teeth. 

Some patient may not even know they have issues regarding their wisdom, as there are silent symptoms.  A patient came to see us, 50 years old.  The panoramic x-ray revealed a cyst that had eaten away the jaw bone surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth.

Should you remove your wisdom teeth?  If you are having symptoms you should investigate removal.  At any rate, getting regular cleanings and x-rays are the best ways to ward off most wisdom teeth issues.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Isolite Difference, Saving Patients Time and Money While Improving Comfort

Better Isolation = Better Dentistry

The technological world of dentistry is constantly improving the standards of patient care.  At Gilmore Dental, Dr. Gilmore researches materials and technology that will provide the best end product with the best longevity, while improving patient comfort. 

Isolite is one of those technologies.  When doing restorations on patients some of the challenges include: 1) controlling moisture 2) retraction of the tongue and cheek and 3) suctioning particles.

1) Controlling Moisture: With Isolite, Dr. Gilmore is able to significantly reduce the amount of moisture in the oral cavity.  Excessive moisture can cause voids in the restoration material or improper bonding of the restoration to the tooth.  Reducing the amount of moisture in the oral cavity greatly impacts the integrity and longevity of the restoration.

2) Retraction:  Often times the tongue or cheek can block visibility of teeth Dr. Gilmore is working on and can get in the way of the drill causing cuts in the tongue or cheek.  With Isolite, the tongue and cheek are completely isolated providing Dr. Gilmore with great visibility while protecting the patient.

3) Suctioning:  One of the main concerns when working on patients is aspiration of materials, whether removing old amalgam fillings or whole crowns.  Isolite suctions all of the small particles and blocks the throat ensuring no large particles are aspirated, again protecting the patient.

What does all of this mean for patients?  Greater comfort during procedures, shorter appointment times and a better end product.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's The True Cost of Dental Care

At Gilmore Dental, I see it all too often.  Patients coming to the office, haven't been seen in a dental office in years.  Of course they are apprehensive, embarrassed, worried about what I might find or that I might judge them for the state of their oral condition.

This is what I know: it's never too late to get on a path of oral health.  I am just happy they are here and ready to jump onto that path!  The worst possible thing for patients to do is neglect going to the dentist.  It never costs less or hurts less than it does today.  I promise!

Just imagine not changing the oil in your car, not getting your regular tune-ups, not cleaning the dry lint out of your dryer, not paying your power bill!!!  Not good right?  Staying away from the dentist can be just as costly and very painful.

I had a discussion with my staff the other day about the value of teeth.  If you consider the minimum base cost of replacing all your teeth with implants (the most natural option for replacement), you are looking at $7500 per tooth x 28 teeth (not including wisdom teeth) = $210,000!!!  You could buy a Lamborghini for that!

Don't delay, make an appointment to get your oral health back on track!