Strategies to Prevent and Treat Periodontal Disease


 Having periodontal disease is not a death sentence. It can be treated successfully. As a matter of fact, periodontal (gum) disease has many forms and a variety of harm levels. It could be as simple as a mild case of gum irritation or as drastic as serious bone disease and tooth loss. Most people experience some form of it during their lifetime and the progression or stopping of it depends on how well you take care of your teeth before, during and after the appearance of periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque and Tartar

Our mouths are full of thick, sticky, colorless, fats, bacteria, mucus, and food particles that make up plaque which covers the teeth and causes decay. Brushing, flossing and professional cleaning can all remove plaque from the teeth. If plaque is not removed it becomes hardened on the teeth and is called tartar. Brushing and flossing does not remove tartar. Tartar must be removed by professionally cleaning. If it is not removed, it causes periodontal (gum) disease.

As the time goes by, tartar causes more and more damage to the teeth, gums and bones of the mouth. Gingivitis is the first sign that trouble is afoot. When tartar causes gingivitis the gums become red, swollen and painful. They may also bleed. When caught at this stage, brushing, flossing and a simple professional cleaning can stop it in its tracks before there is any bone damage or tooth loss.

If gingivitis is not caught it, most often progresses to periodontitis. During this phase of the disease the gums pull away from the teeth and leave a pocket that fills with infection. The infectious bacteria then delves below the gum line and intrudes into bone. The body’s own response to infection and the toxins in the bacterial begin to break down the bone and connective tissue eventually causing tooth loss and bone destruction.

Gum disease doesn’t usually manifest until age 30 – 40. Men are more prone to periodontal (gum) disease. There are now some new ideas on the horizon for stopping this disease by targeting the molecular receptor that periodontal bacteria use to start the disease. In tests it has shown to stop and prevent periodontal (gum) disease in mice.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that can increase the chances of periodontal (gum) disease developing. Smoking is one of the most common risk factors. It also lowers the chances of treatments being successful. Some hormonal changes in women and girls can also make gums sensitive and more susceptible to gingivitis. Diabetes is another risk factor. People with this disease are at a higher risk for developing infections anywhere in the body, including the gums. Certain medications can also make a person more susceptible as well as some predisposition by genetics.

The best way to prevent periodontal (gum) disease is to simply brush, floss and take care of your teeth as we have always been taught to do. Visit a dentist regularly to keep gum disease in check and your mouth healthy and happy.

The History of Teeth Whitening


Besides pain and cavities, improving the look of your smile is one of the top reasons people visit a dentist and whiter teeth play a big part in this. Teeth whitening is also on the less expensive end of the spectrum, which makes the treatment available to more patients. People have been attempting to whiten and brighten their smiles since ancient times using a variety of techniques that are both frightening and genius. The techniques have come a long way but still consist of the basic ingredients first discovered in the early 19th century.

Ancient attempts

Ancient tooth whitening attempts were as primitive as you’d expect. Early man used frayed sticks and thorns from bushes to clean and scrape their teeth. Once civilization began to emerge, white teeth were a sign of nobility and wealth. Romans used a paste of urine and goats milk. Egyptians used pumice and a wine vinegar. 12th century physicians recommended that patients use a sage and salt rub to whiten their teeth or that they scrub them with the Elecampane flower. The public turned to barbers for their dental needs in the 17th century, who would use a metal file to make the teeth abrasive and then paint them with nitric acid. The late 18th century brought about the use of bleaching with oxalic acid by some physicians. While all these techniques probably worked to an extent, they also caused immeasurable damage to the teeth.


The birth of modern whitening

With the dawn of the 19th century, dental professionals were concerned with healing the gums from disease and infection, especially in conjunction with braces and corrective orthodontic wear. They had discovered the positive restorative effects of hydrogen peroxide and were constantly developing ways to enable patients to keep their gums exposed to it for longer periods of time. In 1918, it was discovered that a heated lamp in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide would lighten teeth. A dentist in the late 1960’s discovered that after prescribing an overnight soak in carbamide peroxide using an orthodontic positioner for gum irritation, the teeth were significantly whiter.

The idea was tossed around the dental convention circuit for 20 years before it really took off. A thick whitening gel, Opalescence carbamide peroxide (Ultradent Products), was patented in 1989 and is still the basic technique used today. Dentists offices began offering tray whitening services and strip whitening also began to take off. Another technique used in offices today is to visit the dentist several times consecutively to have highly concentrated bleaching solution applied in conjunction with an LED light. Tooth bleaching trays are custom made to fit the exact mold of the patients teeth.

At-home products

The popularity of teeth whitening procedures led to an influx of at-home varieties. They vary in cost and effectiveness but many rival office procedures and are cost effective. There are also a wide variety of whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Dental offices have had to make concessions for the huge amount of at-home products for good quality teeth whitening as people continue to search for the perfect smile.

Halloween Dental Tips


Halloween has got to be a dentist’s least favorite holiday. Just the thought of all that chocolate, caramel and sugar resting on the teeth and between the cracks makes them cringe. There’s no doubt about it, Halloween is not a holiday that does teeth any good. Everything about it screams sticky, gooey treats and candies of all sorts. It’s a nightmare of scary costumes, horror movies and fattening, teeth rotting foods. Thankfully, there are some dental hints and tips that carry us through the holiday with as little damage as possible.

Don’t Deny Halloween Fun

One tip dentists recommend is not to deny the Halloween fun. It’s a tradition and all the kids are doing it. Keeping your kids out of the fun just because of all the candy makes it even more irresistible. You may find them sneaking candy or binging. Instead try portioning out the candy. Each night after Halloween, have them choose 10 pieces of candy. Put the rest away for the next night or the next week.

Set a Time

You can also set a treat time when children are allowed to sit and eat their treats for a specific amount of time. This encourages healthy thinking about eating sugary snacks at specific times as opposed to all day long. They also look forward to this time and will keep good behavior in mind if no treat time is a punishment.

Parental Tricks and Treats

Eat a big dinner before going out trick or treating. Having a full belly will deter over-eating when you get home with full bags of candy. Another parental trick is making sure kids drink plenty of water after their candy eating. This is a big help, especially if you can’t get to a toothbrush right away. As soon as the candy extravaganza is complete, make sure the kids brush extra well, use floss and mouthwash.

Dentists recommend choosing candies that melt or dissolve quickly. Even the sticks of pure powdered sugar aren’t as bad as you’d think. Sure, its pure sugar but it dissolves quickly and residue rinses away with a drink of water. Of course, sugar free candy and gum are the best choices but aren’t always what the neighbors give out or what children want. Chewy and hard candies are the hardest on teeth. They stick around in the mouth longer, getting hinged between teeth and embedded in molars. They take a bit of extra brushing to be fully get rid of.

Visiting your dentist before Halloween can put some tricks in the parent’s bag. Have some sealants put on your children’s teeth prior to the candy eating. You can also ask for tablets that children can eat prior to brushing their teeth that show the places plaque and tartar have built up the most. This will help make sure their teeth end up really clean.

Halloween can be fun no matter what your personal philosophy on candy eating may be, by using a few of these tips everyone can have a great time and a great smile. Protect your teeth during this frightfully sweet holiday.

The Oral-Systemic Link: Monsters in Your Mouth

By, Jamie Toop, DDS, with Rebecca Sorci

After presenting about the link between oral and systemic health at a recent meeting in Chicago, a woman thanked me for my presentation. She told me that her husband died 2 years prior from infective endocarditis following a root canal. He was a healthy football player in his 20s. When he was sick, everyone said infective endocarditis was not possible in someone like him. She thanked me for spreading the word on how oral bacteria can lead to systemic disease and bodily harm.

Educating our patients and other health care professionals about the systemic effects of oral bacteria can help lead to greater overall wellness in others, decreased medical bills, and extended years of life. To assist in the mission of educating others, this article explores available data on the oral-systemic link. These studies provide evidence to support the correlation between diseases of the oral cavity and chronic systemic diseases. While this correlation does not necessarily imply causation, it is hard to dispute the oral-systemic connection.

The Leading Causes of Death

According to the most recent data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In 2010, the United States spent $108.9 billion on coronary disease alone,1which is higher than any other condition. The second highest total US health care spend in 2010 was on oral health conditions ($102 billion), which demonstrates the impact of both heart and oral health on the health care system.

Following heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stoke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes are the leading causes of death in the United States.2 With the exception of accidents, each of these causes of death can be linked to proteins, enzymes, and bacteria in the oral cavity in some way. Thus, six of the seven leading causes of death in the United States represent chronic diseases that have been associated with conditions in the oral cavity. The CDC also reported that chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on US health care. If improvements in oral health can have any benefit in reducing chronic disease, there would be a major impact in both the financial and human costs of these conditions.

Heart Disease

Inflammation in the mouth may be correlated to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that patients with periodontal disease are up to 35% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than patients with healthy gums.3

In 2010, the British Medical Journal reported that patients who brush less than twice a day are at a higher risk of suffering a cardiac episode than those who brush more than twice a day.4 Poor oral hygiene is associated with higher levels of cardiovascular disease risk and low-grade inflammation, which is measured by increased levels of C-reactive protein (a protein found in the blood that rises in response to inflammation).

A recent study in mice was able to show that chronic oral infection directly accelerates atherosclerotic vascular disease.5The results of this study provide evidence of a causal relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. Periodontal treatment can also reduce systemic inflammation. A recent study in a random population-based sample of men and women demonstrated that improvement in periodontal health is associated with less progression in atherosclerotic vascular disease.6 Studies have also shown a reduction of C-reactive protein and improvement of heart and blood vesicle function following periodontal treatment with the dentist.7


Correlations have also been shown between pancreatic cancer and the condition of the oral cavity. In 2014, researchers at San Diego State University found that patients with pancreatic cancer have significantly higher levels of leptotrichia and campylobacter bacteria in their saliva.8 They believe this is because both the pancreas and saliva produce amylase. A test currently in development may be able to detect early changes in saliva. This test is easily conducted in the dental office and would provide the ability to detect pancreatic cancer sooner than any other method to date.

According to the American Cancer Society, the overall 5-year survival rate for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined is only 6% because it is difficult to detect, and the disease is typically already in the untreatable late stages when diagnosed.9It’s also notable that men are at higher risk of the associations between periodontal disease and cancer than women. Men with periodontal disease are 30% more likely to develop cancers of the blood.10 They also have an increased risk for prostate cancer. Recent data has shown that men with both periodontal disease and prostate cancer have higher levels of prostate-specific antigen secretion, an enzyme that is only normally secreted in very small amounts in healthy men.10

Lower Respiratory Disease

The third leading cause of death in America is chronic lower respiratory disease. Bacteria originating in the oral cavity can cause lung infections.11 Bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium, and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, can be aspirated into the lower airways and cause pneumonia, which can present in chronic forms.12

Although smoking is believed to be the leading cause of lower respiratory infections such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, periodontal disease may be a contributing factor that can worsen the condition. Since individuals with respiratory infections are known to have compromised immune systems, it is easier for the bacteria and inflammation to spread from the oral cavity to the lungs.

The greater the periodontal disease, the greater loss of lung function is observed.13 This happens by way of aspiration. As oral bacteria are inhaled into the respiratory epithelium, an infection occurs when the bacteria multiply and begin to destroy tissue if the host is unable to clear them.14

Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack

The incidence of cerebral ischemia, or the condition where blood flow through the brain is insufficient, is typically greater in patients with periodontal disease. Those with severe periodontal disease are 4.5 times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than those with healthy gums.15 The greater the periodontal disease, the greater the risk is for cerebral ischemia.

Some of these leading causes of death are interrelated systemic diseases. Stroke and heart disease have many of the same risk factors, including high blood pressure and high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. Those with coronary heart disease have more than twice the risk of stroke than those who do not.16Periodontal disease may be another contributing risk factor.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A case study of Alzheimer’s disease in Japan found that the loss of more than half of adult teeth by age 50 to 60 years may correlate with a 2.6-fold increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.17 For participants in this study, the most common cause of tooth loss was periodontal disease occurring 20 to 30 years prior to the onset of dementia. Another study of 144 participants having few or no teeth showed that the risk of dementia increased 4.3-fold.18

Alzheimer’s is a non-reversible condition with no cure. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s tend to decline in their oral hygiene.19 This creates a vicious cycle of periodontal disease, which leads to dementia, declines in oral hygiene, and worsened periodontal disease.20


The seventh leading cause of death in America is diabetes. Studies have shown that diabetic patients with severe periodontal disease are at a 3.2-fold increased risk of diabetic nephropathy and ischemic heart disease.20 Studies also demonstrated improvements in glycemic control resulting from the use of non-surgical periodontal treatment. Advanced periodontal treatment can also reduce health complications for patients with type II diabetes, which can reduce annual health care costs by approximately 40%.21 The integration of advanced periodontal treatment into diabetes management can reduce the costs and complications of individuals with elevated A1C.

Evidence of a Correlative Relationship

Researchers at the University of Indiana are studying the oral-systemic link in a different way. Instead of determining the systemic impact of periodontal disease, their focus is to “harness a controlled model of oral infection,” which they call the “Experimental Gingivitis Model.” This model permits investigator control of induced infection and resolution of gingivitis, and determines a range of systemic microbial and host outcomes. These researchers are the first to demonstrate that a systemic inflammatory response under the conditions of a 21-day model and the accumulation of dental plaque in systemically healthy young adults results in endotoxemia, a known driver of atherogenesis.

In a groundbreaking study by United Concordia, 1.7 million insurance records were reviewed from 2005 to 2009.21 Members who completed treatment for gum disease plus follow-up visits were compared to those who did not. The annual medical cost savings per patient was $5,681 for members with cerebral vascular disease (stroke), $1,090 for members with coronary artery disease, $2,840 for members with diabetes ($1,477 for diabetes outpatient drug costs alone), and $2,433 for women who were pregnant (decrease in preterm birth rate). Those who had persistent oral inflammation and systemic disease, and did not treat their periodontal disease had a greater amount of medical costs. Those who did treat their gum disease saw a decrease in health care costs.

This study also found a correlation with the reduction in hospitalizations. There was a significant savings in annual medical costs and a significant reduction in annual hospitalizations in those who underwent treatment for periodontal disease versus those who did not. The annual hospitalizations were reduced by 21.2% for members with strokes, 28.6% for members with heart diseases, and 39.4% for members with diabetes. The researchers present oral health as the “key missing piece to overall health.” Periodontal therapies, including scaling and root planing, regular visits to the dentist, and impeccable oral hygiene instruction should be strongly encouraged, and are necessary to provide more complete care and overall wellness for our patients.19

What We Can Do

The concept that oral health may be the “key missing piece to overall health” has moved the author to implement three programs to improve overall patient wellness. First, it is important to do a pre-connection with the patient prior to taking them into the operatory for an exam, which includes a thorough assessment of the patient’s health history. This helps the patient recognize that their health care providers are invested in their overall health and wellness and can encourage the patient to open up about their dental wants and needs.

If this assessment reveals that the patient has any of the aforementioned chronic conditions, the author sends a letter to the patient’s physician explaining the oral-systemic link and sometimes attaches a copy of the United Concordia study listed above. A sample letter is available as a downloadable PDF at

This communication with physicians has several benefits. First, it helps physicians start viewing dentists as referral sources. If dentists are able to screen patients for certain illnesses, it can strengthen their practices by referring patients. After educating physicians in your area about the systemic effects of periodontal disease and what to look for during diagnosis, they will refer for periodontal consultations and subsequent therapies.

The other aspect involves educating the patient on this connection. Once educated, most patients are willing to do what it takes to keep their periodontal disease under control to prevent and possibly even lessen the health care costs and complications related to their systemic conditions.

Next Steps

A great way to take action is to initiate an open dialogue with your hygienists and associate dentists about putting together a program that will work for the practice. It may be best to start small. What do you have to lose? Periodontal disease is treated in dental offices each day anyway. The tools, staff, and education to put effective programs in place are already available. It shows patients that providers care about their overall wellness, which in turn can also increase patient retention and referrals.


The connection between the mouth and body is undeniable. In the past, most of the evidence supporting the oral-systemic link was based on retrospective studies. Over the past year and a half, studies emerged that provide further evidence to support the oral-systemic link from different angles. Dentists can educate patients and other health care professionals about this connection and hopefully prevent more stories like the woman who lost her young husband to infective endocarditis.

About the authors

Jamie Toop, DDS, graduated from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in 2010. She now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is the PDS®-supported owner dentist of Rocksprings Dental Group. She is a faculty member of the PDS Institute® as a subject matter expert for the oral-systemic link. Her life motto is, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Rebecca Sorci is the dental education manager for Pacific Dental Services®.

What to do when you have a broken tooth?

You may have bitten down on a hard food or object, or perhaps you had a cavity that weakened your tooth. Either way, your tooth is now broken, and the steps you take to care for it will determine whether you get to keep your natural tooth or not. Millions of people suffer from broken teeth every year, so you are not alone. However, that does not mean your newly cracked tooth does not need immediate attention.

What is a Broken Tooth?

A broken tooth is one that has been fractured, chipped, cracked, broken apart, or completely knocked out of the mouth. You may or may not feel your tooth break, depending on the extent of the break and whether your tooth was decaying prior to the break. It is usually very easy to diagnose a broken tooth, because the evidence will be visible. In the case of hairline cracks in the teeth, you may start to note a sensitivity to hot or cold in the neighborhood of the fracture.

The Right Way to Handle a Broken Tooth

As soon as you know your tooth is broken, chipped, or fractured, make an appointment to visit our emergency dental office. Even the tiniest fractures require attention: bacteria can infect the fractured area, which could cause you to lose the tooth altogether.

Until you are in our office, you can manage your pain using over-the-counter pain medication, such as Tylenol, or you can apply a cold compress to prevent swelling and inflammation. Be sure to rinse your mouth with warm salt water after every meal until you are able to visit us.

Keep in mind that while pain medication is an effective way to manage a broken tooth at home, it is only a temporary fix. Broken teeth should not be treated solely at home, and over-the-counter solutions are not substitutions for professional dental care. Failing to make an appointment with Dr. Villalobos after breaking or chipping a tooth can place your health at risk.


Treating your broken tooth will depend on the type of break you have and how much of the tooth is affected. According to the American Dental Association, a minor chip or tiny fracture line may be repaired with bonding. On the other hand, a more serious break that exposes the tooth’s pulp may require a root canal or extraction to prevent infection. Ultimately, our team here at Dr. Villalobos office will explain to you the best treatment plan based upon our evaluation of the condition and extent of your break.

If you have broken, cracked, chipped, or fractured one or more of your teeth, don’t hesitate to contact our office immediately. We specialize in emergency dental care and are available to serve you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Good Dental Hygiene Impacts Overall General Health

There are many ways in which your oral health has an impact on your overall general health. There are naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. Some of those bacteria, including strep and staph, are harmful, while other bacteria are essential for the balance of intestinal flora. The healthier your mouth is, the less likely it is the harmful bacteria will travel to other parts of your body to infect it and make you sick. There is much more to good dental hygiene than brushing and flossing.

Historical Methods of Maintaining Oral Health

Ancient civilizations relied on natural remedies for maintaining oral health. Around 250 AD, the Kemetic Egyptians used myrrh and other herbs as antiseptics for treating infected gums. Two centuries later, the Nubians, who lived in the Nile River valley, drank beer to ease the pain of infected teeth. That probably sounds crazy, but their beer was effective because they used grains that were contaminated with the same bacteria that produce the antibiotic tetracycline.

Today’s Biggest Dental Hygiene Challenge

In the past, tooth decay was more of an issue because there was no routine dental care, and problems that are routinely treated today went untreated. Thanks to fluoridated water, and toothpastes containing fluoride, tooth decay is far less problematic than it was a century or more ago. Gum disease has replaced tooth decay as the most serious dental problem facing people today. According to the American Dental Association, a staggering 80 percent of Americans over age 65 suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

Ironically, if that infection attacked any other part of your body, especially in a place where it was clearly visible, you would head to your doctor for treatment immediately. People tend to ignore gum tenderness and bleeding. When the tenderness and bleeding aren’t treated, the inflammation can turn into periodontitis. The longer you allow the inflammation to go untreated, the greater the likelihood that it will affect other body parts. Make sure to visit Dr. Al Villalobos and Patty, regularly to be proactive about dental health!

Researchers are now discovering that untreated inflammation in the mouth acts as a driving force for multiple chronic illnesses, including clogged arteries, heart attacks, arthritis, and even cancer. That inflammation is one of many hypotheses that may explain how chronic infections can trigger systemic diseases — and even intensify existing ones. Bacterial overgrowth in the inflamed gum tissue can enter the bloodstream through the food you eat, and from daily brushing.

Caring for your mouth at home influences your health as much as your twice-a-year dental exams and professional teeth cleanings do!


Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?

While celebrities and models may sport pearly white teeth, the smiles of most people are a tad duller. But this shouldn’t be too surprising: A number of different things can affect the color of your teeth and turn them that dreaded yellow hue.

Most causes of tooth discoloration fall into two broad categories: extrinsic and intrinsic stains.

You’ll find extrinsic stains on the surface of the enamel, the hard, outermost layer of your teeth. These stains typically develop because of your diet.

Not surprisingly, dark-colored foods and beverages — including coffee, red wine, black tea, colas, dark sauces and various fruits, such as grapes, blueberries and pomegranates — have the greatest potential to stain teeth. These items are high in chromogens, pigment-producing substances with a penchant for sticking to tooth enamel.

Acidic foods and beverages can worsen matters by eroding tooth enamel and making it easier for chromogens to latch onto the teeth. Tannin, a bitter compound found in wine and tea, also helps chromogens attach to tooth enamel.

Additionally, smoking and chewing tobacco are well-known culprits behind extrinsic stains, as is poor dental hygiene, which allows dental plaque to accumulate on the teeth.

Intrinsic stains occur within the tooth, when various factors alter the light-transmitting properties of the enamel and the underlying dentin.

Numerous medications  can cause intrinsic stains. If children take the antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline while their teeth are still developing (before the age of 8), their teeth may turn brownish-yellow.

During adulthood, chlorhexidine, an antiseptic used in prescription-strength mouthwash to treat gingivitis, can cause discolorations. Likewise, the acne-fighting drug minocycline, a derivative of tetracycline, stains teeth. Even relatively common drugs, such as antihistamines and blood pressure medications, can sometimes yellow teeth.

Excessive fluoride ingestion and chemotherapy directed at the head and neck also result in intrinsic stains.

Aside from extrinsic and intrinsic stains, two other factors can contribute to yellow teeth: genetics and aging.

Similar to your complexion or the color of your eyes, you may simply be born with teeth that appear more yellow (or more white) than other people’s teeth. Part of this has to do with the thickness of your enamel, which is semi-translucent. That is, if you have thin enamel, the true color of your naturally yellowish dentin will shine through.

Similarly, your enamel thins as you age, making your teeth appear more yellow.

By Joseph Castro on Twitter. Follow him @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the very back of your mouth and are the final set of teeth to emerge. Their arrival is one that is often associated with pain and dismay since these teeth can be a source of problems for many people and are routinely removed.

Also known as the third molars, wisdom teeth usually come in during young adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 25. Problems with the molars are frequent since most jaws do not allow room for these four extra teeth to grow in. According to anthropologists, these teeth were a necessity for our prehistoric ancestors who relied on the teeth to help devour tough food when other teeth became worn down or fell out. At that time, humans had smaller heads and bigger jaws, which accommodated the third set of molars.

While our heads and jaws have changed and evolved over time and our need for wisdom teeth has diminished, the teeth continue to emerge, creating a real pain for modern man. About 35 percent of people will never grow their third set of molars, and some scientists predict that humans will eventually stop growing them. In the meantime, though, for those who do have wisdom teeth, it may help to know how problems with the teeth could arise and whether it may be necessary to have the teeth extracted.

If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are starting to emerge or if you detect pain and swelling around a wisdom tooth, schedule a visit with your dentist. Your dentist will take x-rays to see if you have an infection or if your teeth are impacted due to little or no space for growth. Your dentist will probably recommend that your wisdom teeth be removed if:

  • They are partially emerged through the gums. This makes cleaning extremely difficult and could cause a bacterial infection called pericoronitis.
  • They have not erupted, which could mean that they are growing crooked and could damage other teeth.
  • A cyst, or fluid-filled sac, develops around your unerupted wisdom tooth, which can damage surrounding tissue or bone.

If your dentist does not detect any problems with your wisdom teeth, he may still discuss the option of having them removed early on. Some dentists believe that the third molars are linked to a higher rate of chronic bacterial infection in the gums and should be removed even if no problems are present. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends having the teeth removed when you are younger and the jawbone is less dense and the root of wisdom teeth is not yet fully developed.

If you are concerned about the health of your wisdom teeth, check with your dentist to determine if they should be removed. Because the decision to remove wisdom teeth isn’t always clear, it is important to talk to your dentist or an oral surgeon about the position and health of your wisdom teeth and decide what is best for you.

Is brushing your teeth ruining your teeth?

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The toothbrush. The most essential and basic dental health tool. Most of us have been brushing our teeth since we were small, but did you ever stop to think that the toothbrush you use could be damaging your teeth even as you scrub away the plaque?

How to damage your teeth by brushing

Believe it or not, you can actually do some serious damage to your teeth simply by brushing improperly or using the wrong kind of toothbrush.

Stiff Bristle

Most dentists recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush even if it feels like you’re not able to scrub very well with it. Stiff-bristled brushes can scratch your teeth and eventually scrub away the enamel! Some people have even cracked their teeth simply from brushing with a stiff toothbrush for so long that it continued to wear down the tooth even after wearing away the enamel layer. It can also cause the gums to recede or pull away from the teeth. This damage is easily preventable simply by using a soft one.

Too Much Force

Another way to damage your teeth by brushing is to always brush the same direction or apply too much force, which could scratch your teeth. For example, if you always scrub your teeth side-to-side, your dentist will probably be able to tell by a horizontal roughness on the surface of your teeth. Proper technique is more important than all the bells and whistles of the tool with which you do it.

Toothbrushes: What’s the Difference?

Walk down any oral health care aisle in the store, and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the products claiming to whiten your teeth, give you fresh breath, blast away plaque and do the BEST job of taking care of your mouth. They can’t all be the BEST, but are there really significant differences between any of them?

Electric or manual? Stiff-bristled or soft? Plain handle or squishy gel support grip? Many dentists give their patients a free toothbrush whenever they get a cleaning. Should we avoid the toothbrush because it’s a cheap giveaway, or should we use it because the dentist knows what toothbrush would be best?

The abundance of options might cause you to not care at all and use whatever toothbrush you happen to grab on the shelf, or it might send you into a frantic search for the perfect toothbrush. With a few quick tips, however, you don’t have to settle for either of these options.

The Best Toothbrush

Rather than going for the toothbrush with the most sparkly packaging or the longest list of extra features, here are a few simple guidelines for choosing the best toothbrush.

  • Soft bristles – You don’t want to scrape off the enamel along with the plaque!
  • Fun handles – For children (or adults!), this could help encourage good dental habits by making it fun. The same goes for grown-ups: If a contoured gel handle in your favorite color will help you brush more often, you don’t have to settle for the plain gray plastic! But if you don’t want to shell out an extra $2 for a fancy handle, the plain plastic is just as effective.
  • Brush head – Some people like to use a large toothbrush head because they feel like they can cover more surface with each swipe, but some people with a sensitive gag reflex or who want to reach every crevice may prefer smaller heads. This is entirely up to personal preference.
  • Electric toothbrushes don’t necessarily do a better job of cleaning your teeth, they simply make it easier to brush. It’s up to you if you prefer to move the brush around yourself or let a couple of batteries do it for you.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months so germs don’t build up and the brush doesn’t become worn out and ineffective. If you don’t like your current toothbrush, you can switch to a new one.

Keep these tips in mind, and next time you’re in the market for a toothbrush,  you’ll be able to discern what is important and what is simply a matter of preference.

Should My Child have Dental Sealants?

The answer is YES! Dental sealants are a critical but underutilized component of preventive dentistry according to Delta Dental. The one-two punch of sealants and fluoride (in toothpaste and water) along with a proper diet can almost totally prevent new tooth decay.

National surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that only 38 percent of children and teenagers ages 12 to 19 have dental sealants.


Dental sealants can save families time, money and the discomfort of dental fillings. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the pits and grooves of teeth to protect them from the bacteria and foods that lead to tooth decay. They only take minutes to apply and are usually covered by insurance. First and second permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants, so it’s best if the sealant is applied soon after those teeth appear, before they have a chance to decay (usually ages 6 and 12).

A sealant is virtually 100 percent effective if fully retained on the tooth, and studies have shown they remain intact 92 to 96 percent of the time after one year and 67 to 82 percent after five years. Sealants should be checked at each regular dental appointment and can be reapplied if they are no longer in place.  Sealants are one of the easiest and effective measures of cavity prevention available. If you have any questions about sealants for your child(ren) contact our office.