Dupont Dental - Your Washington DC Dentist

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Archive for September 2015

Tips for healthy gums

Maintaining Healthy Gums

When most people think about dental health, they may focus mostly on preventing decay and cavities in their teeth, but having healthy gums is just as important as having healthy teeth. Healthy gums are vital for your overall well-being and dental health and quite often give early indications of a problem in your mouth. Bleeding and swollen gums are often a sign of gum disease, but other issues that require attention and treatment can also cause such irritation. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize the discomfort and potential damage to sore, painful gums.

Brushing correctly

Brushing your teeth too vigorously can damage the delicate tissue of your gums, so it’s important that you brush properly. Always choose a soft toothbrush with blunt end nylon bristles because the medium or hard bristled toothbrushes can damage enamel and lead to swollen, red gums. Whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush, move the brush with gentle, circular motions that massage the gums and clean teeth without furious scrubbing. Avoid back and forth motion as this can damage and irritate gums causing gum recession, soreness, and bleeding.

Flossing correctly

Flossing is an essential part of proper oral hygiene, and a step many people avoid or do incorrectly. Flossing removes plaque where your toothbrush can’t reach, and this is vital because built-up plaque can irritate gums and lead to more severe issues. When you floss, work gently to avoid causing bleeding swollen gums. Don’t force the floss between teeth, but slide it carefully up and down along the curve of each tooth.

Signs of unhealthy gums

Without practicing proper oral hygiene, you increase the risk of having gum disease. Gum disease has different severities from mild gingivitis to the most serious type called periodontitis. One of the main causes of gum disease is improper oral hygiene, which leads to the formation of plaque on the teeth from built up bacteria. The bacteria can lead to inflamed gums that are swollen, red and may bleed. Gingivitis isn’t always painful, but that doesn’t make it harmless. Early treatment of gingivitis helps reverse it and can restore good oral health. Without treatment, gingivitis can get worse, progress to periodontitis and even lead to tooth loss. There are several signs of unhealthy gums including:

  • Bleeding gums during and after brushing
  • Tender, swollen or red gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Deep pockets between gums and teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Shifted or loose teeth
  • Changes in bite or alignment of teeth
  • Change in fit of partial dentures or bridge

Tobacco use and gum health

It isn’t just smoking that’s bad for your gums and oral health; any tobacco use has detrimental effects on your dental and overall health. Smokers are at a higher risk to develop gum disease, and tobacco use can lead to bleeding, sensitive gums, and mouth sores.

Prevent gum issues

To prevent gum issues such as bleeding, swelling or soreness, maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Eating a well-balanced diet with ample calcium and Vitamin C can help minimize the potential for gum issues. Drink adequate water, especially after meals to help wash food particles from your teeth and prevent the development of bacteria that leads to plaque. If you’re a smoker or use other tobacco products, look into ways to quit to improve your oral and overall health. Relax and try to keep your stress levels low because high stress raises the hormone cortisol in your body, which can cause inflammation in your entire body, including your gums.

If you experience any swelling, bleeding or soreness in your gums, contact Dupont Dental to set up a professional dental exam and cleaning to help improve and protect your oral health.

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Prevent gum disease

Preventing and Reversing Gingivitis

Keeping your regular six-month cleaning and dental exam appointments is an essential part of good oral health as dental professionals remove plaque and tartar at each visit. However, without an effective oral health routine at home that includes twice daily brushing and daily flossing, there’s a higher risk of developing gum disease. Symptoms of gum disease, including the first level of gingivitis, can develop quickly—even between six-month cleanings.

Gingivitis explained

When bacteria in the mouth develop to the point of revealing obvious damage to oral tissues, this is known as gingivitis. Signs of damage include bad breath and tender and bleeding gums during brushing. If the oral bacteria are allowed to continue reproducing, gingivitis develops into periodontal/gum disease. During periodontal disease, oral bacteria reproduce so quickly; they damage gum tissues at a destructive level higher than seen during gingivitis.

Reversing gingivitis

Fortunately, it’s possible to reverse gingivitis before it develops into gum disease and doing so prevents the need for more expensive and time-consuming dental treatments. At the first sign of gingivitis, patients who haven’t been following a good oral health routine need to start doing so immediately. By brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, flossing daily, using an oral rinse and brushing the tongue, patients remove embedded bacteria and improve their oral health. Additional ways to reverse gingivitis is to increase water intake as a moist mouth supports the cleaning properties of saliva. Limiting snacks and minimizing intake of sugary foods and drink can also stop and reverse gingivitis.

Maintaining an oral health regimen

When patients start and maintain a regular oral health regimen, the symptoms of gingivitis should diminish within a week. Even when symptoms subside, it’s vital to continue to maintain oral health as it controls bacterial buildup and prevents gingivitis from returning. Regular dental visits and cleanings give patients a clean slate twice a year that they can take advantage of with continued daily brushing and floss to prevent problems.

Once patients have established an oral hygiene routine and commit themselves to following it, they discover that it’s worth the effort with the numerous benefits it provides their oral health. Early treatment and reversal of gingivitis prevent the development of gum disease that doesn’t go away on its own. If you’re experiencing any of the signs of gingivitis, contact Dupont Dental to schedule an appointment to help restore and maintain the health of your teeth and gums.

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Composite Filling Material

Advantages of Composite Fillings Over Amalgam Fillings

Dental fillings are a valuable treatment for tooth decay. For centuries, there wasn’t much change in the procedure of fillings as dentists removed decay and replaced it with a metal alloy. Although these metal alloy or amalgam fillings have proven highly effective, they’re not very aesthetically pleasing and have other disadvantages. Thankfully, today’s dentists have a more cosmetically appropriate treatment for treating tooth decay with composite, tooth-colored fillings that have the potential to leave older, amalgam style fillings in the past.

Amalgam filling disadvantages

While dentists still use amalgam fillings because of their lower cost compared to other materials, many patients are opting for composite fillings instead. Amalgam fillings don’t look like a natural tooth and over time can darken and stain the surrounding tooth structure. Unlike other decay treatment materials, amalgam doesn’t form a natural bond with tooth tissue, which means dentists have to remove more of the natural tooth to shape the surface and ensure adequate adhesion. Removing natural tooth material is especially detrimental in teeth that don’t have much remaining due to decay. Teeth treated with amalgam fillings can be more sensitive to temperature changes as the material responds to heat and cold more than other materials. This characteristic of amalgam means that the fillings can expand eventually and crack the tooth, which may require the placement of a dental crown.

Advantages of composite, tooth-colored fillings

Composite, tooth-colored fillings have none of the problems of amalgam fillings and have several advantages over metal fillings including:

  • Natural looking – Composite fillings blend in with surrounding tooth tissue and are inconspicuous even on front teeth.
  • Improved texture – Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings are easier for a cosmetic dentist to shape and sculpt into a realistic tooth surface appearance.
  • Better adhesion – Composite materials adhere naturally to tooth tissue, which means the dentist doesn’t have to remove as much existing tooth material during preparation.
  • Restored strength – Teeth treated with composite fillings receive restoration to almost their natural strength.
  • Potentially safer – Some patients have an allergic reaction to amalgam, while there have been no known allergic reactions to composite materials.
  • Affordable option – Compared to other tooth-colored filling materials such as porcelain, composite fillings are more affordable and offer a large improvement over metal fillings.

The only major disadvantage of composite fillings is that they may not last as long as amalgam fillings, but with the continuing improvements and innovations in composite materials, these tooth-colored fillings have the potential to last longer than past versions.

Dupont Dental is proud to offer composite fillings as part of our restorative dental services. With composite fillings, we restore the health of your teeth while preserving the pleasing appearance of your smile.

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eCigs and Oral Health

Are eCigarettes Better than Regular Cigarettes for your Oral Health?

Although eCigarettes have become a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes, their lack of smoke doesn’t mean that they’re any better for your teeth and gums than normal cigarettes. If you’re trying to improve your oral health, the best thing to do is to quit any nicotine or tobacco use, but if you’re using eCigarettes, there are some important facts you should know.

Unhealthy even without smoke

ECs or e-Cigarettes don’t give off traditional cigarette smoke. Instead, they deliver a mix of chemicals to users and an additional blend of aerosols. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has started conducting research on ECs due to their rapid growth and popularity. The purpose of the research and study is to discover the physiological and biological effects of the chemical components in ECs. Until this research is complete, it’s not entirely understood how ECs specifically affect oral health.

How eCigarettess work

With a more technical name for electronic nicotine delivery systems, ECs heat a metal element using a battery charge. The metal element vaporizes a chemical mix of nicotine, formaldehyde and other unhealthy chemicals through water vapor that the gum tissues absorb easily.

Nicotine’s effect on oral health

Nicotine is extremely drying to oral tissues, which depletes saliva. Saliva is the oral cleanser in your mouth that removes bacteria and food particles and without enough of it, bacteria growth increases. A dry mouth without sufficient saliva increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. No matter how people introduce nicotine into their system, it constricts blood vessels in the mouth, which inhibits the oral tissues ability to heal properly. This is why dentists advise patients considering dental implants stop tobacco use or decrease usage significantly.

Further research required

With the current limited scientific evidence regarding ECs, there’s a strong concern that they could be detrimental to the health of smokers and nonsmokers. Further research into the effects of the ECs aerosol mixtures on tissues, cells, and the oral cavity will give better insight and evidence on the potentially harmful effects of these devices. Research is set to begin by February 2016 and will focus on the effects of the aerosol mixture instead of the effects of nicotine because researchers already know that information. By gauging the impact of the vaporized chemical delivery to oral tissues, lung tissues, and airway structures, researchers can gain a better understanding of the effects of long-term exposure to ECs.

No type of cigarette or tobacco use comes without risks, and the misconceptions that eCigarettes are somehow healthier can ruin your smile and overall health. If you’re a smoker, we want to make sure we help with your specific oral care needs so you can have a healthy mouth and improved smile. Contact Dupont Dental for information about our dental treatments and to learn more about the benefits of quitting tobacco and nicotine use.

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