Is Flossing Really That Important

Is Flossing Really That Important?

Let’s talk about flossing.

We know.  No one wants to floss.  Recent statistics show that Americans can be roughly divided into thirds when it comes to flossing habits.  Just under 1/3 of the population floss every day.  Just over 1/3 of the population floss sometimes.  And the rest admit to never flossing.  Never.  That hurts our dentist-hearts.

Many of our patients have shared that they feel guilty when we ask about flossing.  We do not ever want to make anyone feel guilty.  We simply want to know where you stand on the flossing issue so that we can point you in the right direction.  Our goal is to encourage you to have great oral hygiene habits so that your visits to see us consist of maintenance only, not repair.

What does flossing accomplish?

A toothbrush mechanically removes soft buildup on the exposed surfaces of teeth.  The bristles have to touch the tooth to be effective.  Many areas of tooth structure are not accessible with a toothbrush, namely in between the teeth.  A toothbrush can effectively clean the cheek side, the tongue side, and the biting surface of teeth.  It simply cannot reach the side of a tooth that faces an adjacent tooth (called the interproximal surface). 

Flossing removes plaque and food debris that your toothbrush leaves behind.  By physically touching the interproximal surfaces of the teeth, floss does the job that a toothbrush cannot.

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Benefits:

Increased life expectancy – Some studies claim an increase of 6.4 years for people who floss daily over those who do not.  This is likely an assumed benefit based on the reduced risk of other diseases, which itself is another benefit of flossing.

Reduces risk of heart disease, cavities, gum disease – It is no surprise that flossing reduces the risk of dental disease.  Anything that keeps the teeth and gums free from harmful bacteria will lower the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Over the last 20 years, new research has shown a significant link between oral health and systemic health.  Patients with periodontal disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease.  People who suffer from severe dental disease are more likely to develop oral cancer.  There is a proven connection between diabetes and gum disease.  All of these associations make it clear that keeping your mouth healthy is beneficial for the whole body.

Improves bad breath – Bad breath is the product of bacteria and food debris that is left in the warm, moist environment of the mouth.  A good, but gross, analogy is that the mouth is like a kitchen trash can.  Flossing is like taking out the trash.  When you neglect it, it starts to stink.

Gives gums healthy pink appearance – A beautiful smile involves more than just the teeth.  Straight, white teeth surrounded by swollen, red, or receding gums cannot be considered beautiful or healthy.  Flossing removes the source of gum inflammation (called gingivitis), which keeps them healthy.  Healthy gum tissue is light pink in color, flat (not swollen, bulbous, or rounded), and does not bleed when brushed or flossed. 

Proper technique:

Not just any old flossing will do.  In order for the floss to actually remove buildup from the teeth, it must touch the teeth.  Simply snapping floss in between each tooth contact and hitting the gums can miss a large portion of the tooth.  For effective flossing, envision the following diagram with a triangle between each tooth.

 

  1. Holding an end of the floss in each hand, first press back with both hands to wrap the floss around the rear tooth.  Using an up and down motion, rub the floss against the side of the tooth labeled on the diagram as side #1 of the yellow triangle.
  2. Then pull forward with both hands to wrap it around the forward tooth.  Using the same up and down motion, clean side #2 of the yellow triangle.
  3. Before pulling the floss out, use a gentle sweeping motion along the bottom of the triangle (side #3 on the yellow triangle) if there is any open space between the teeth to remove large pieces of debris that may have become lodged there.  This step is necessary when the gum tissue does not completely fill in the triangular area.  If you do not have gum recession or areas between the teeth called black triangles (described below), you may omit this step.

 

Adjuncts:

In some cases of overlapped teeth or teeth with large gaps, it is necessary to use additional tools to properly clean between the teeth. 

Waterpik – A Waterpik is a tool that uses water or mouthwash at high pressure to flush out the areas between the teeth.  This is a great tool for patients with braces, large areas of “black triangles”, or problems with handling floss (such as arthritis).  Black triangles develop when the gums no longer completely fill the space between two teeth, as shown in the diagram.  This open space allows food and bacteria to collect and presents an additional cleaning challenge.  A Waterpik creates a power wash for these hard-to-clean areas.  It is not a replacement for flossing.

Interproximal brushes – Another great tool for black triangles is a small angled brush called an interproximal brush.  Brand names include Proxabrush, Go-Betweens, and Interdental brushes.  They look like tiny pipe cleaners or bottle brushes and are made to fit between the teeth and gently scrub the side of each tooth.  Please use caution with these tools.  Aggressive use of an interproximal brush could create black triangles and gum recession.  Only a light, gentle touch is necessary to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.

Do you have more questions about flossing?

If you have questions this blog did not answer or would like an in-person demonstration of the proper flossing technique, please call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell and our dental hygienists.  They will create a customized hygiene plan for you to keep your teeth as clean as possible.

 

Interdisciplinary Dentistry

Interdisciplinary Dentistry

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades”; maybe you didn’t know that the rest of that phrase is “ . . . master of none”.  The theory behind this phrase is that a person can be competent in many tasks, but is usually limited to excellence in just a few.  At our dental centers in Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg, we believe that this phrase applies to dentistry.  Because our goal is for each patient to receive excellent care in every realm, we cooperate with medical and dental specialists to accomplish interdisciplinary dentistry. 

We understand that, as a patient, it is more convenient to have all of your dental care performed in one location.  However, when it comes to a choice between convenience and excellence, we will always choose excellence.  When Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena create a customized treatment plan for their patients, they considers what type of practitioner will best perform each individual procedure.  These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, much like a primary care physician may treat a case of high blood pressure in his or her office, but refer out a complicated cardiovascular issue to a cardiologist.

Dental Specialties

The American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties in dentistry.  These specialties are characterized by residency programs, which add several years to their education, and certifying boards, which recognize their limitation of practice to a specific specialty.  The nine recognized dental specialties are:

  1. Dental Public Health – promotion of oral health and disease prevention

  2. Endodontics – root canals and surgeries related to infections originating within the tooth

  3. Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology – diagnosis of abnormal lesions and diseases of the oral cavity

  4. Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology – interpretation of images of the head & neck complex, including x-rays and cone beam computed tomography

  5. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery – surgical intervention ranging from simple extraction of teeth to complex realignment of the upper and lower jaws

  6. Orthodontics – realignment of teeth and bite relationships

  7. Pediatric Dentistry – dentistry for children

  8. Periodontics – treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting structures of the teeth: bones, ligaments, and gum tissue

  9. Prosthodontics – restoration of missing tooth and jaw structures

Many people are surprised to learn that there are currently no recognized specialties for TMJ, cosmetic dentistry, and dental implants.  Advertising claims can be misleading in these areas. 

Why Do Some Dentists Pull Wisdom Teeth, Place Implants or Do Root Canals?

Many general dentists have practiced long enough to determine which procedures they are able to perform with excellence, rather than just being competent.  They will spend more time in continuing education learning the procedures that they love, and will consistently improve their skill in specific techniques.  This is why some general dentists are able to provide excellent treatment in areas another general dentist would refer to a specialist.

On the other hand, you may find that a dentist who used to do root canals in his office no longer does.  It is likely that this dentist has found he is not able to efficiently provide the very best root canal for his patients, and they will receive a more positive long-term success rate by seeing an endodontist for that specific procedure. 

Medical Specialists

As we discussed in a previous blog on how oral health affects your overall health, there are many connections between the mouth and the rest of the body.  As we continue to gather more information about your head & neck with the 3D imaging and continued learning in dentistry, we are better able to recognize these connections and advise you to see the appropriate medical specialist.

The Importance of the General Dentist

In cases where interdisciplinary dentistry is necessary, the general dentist plays an important role.  In addition to performing certain procedures in the care of the patient, the general dentist is instrumental in organizing and coordinating the flow of communication and treatment among the various specialists.  

If you have a complicated dental history and think you need interdisciplinary dentistry, call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! Their commitment to excellent care will ensure you see the proper doctor for each individual procedure your treatment requires.

New Year, New Smile

New Year, New Smile

 

It is that time of year when people around the world are resolving to make changes for the better.  A common theme in many New Year’s resolutions is improved health.  One of the great perks of improving your health is that it usually involves improving your appearance, too!  If you are exercising to enhance your health, you may also be losing weight or toning muscles.  If you resolve to get more sleep, you will lose those dark circles under your eyes.

The same applies to taking care of your teeth.  The steps you take to make your mouth healthier will make your smile prettier.  Here are a few ways you can improve the health and appearance of your smile.

Brush Up on Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

 

Keeping your teeth free from plaque reduces your risk of unsightly cavities and gum disease.  Here is the most effective way to keep your pearly whites pearly and white.

Brush twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bed.  Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the gums.  Make sure you touch every surface of every tooth.  This should include the cheek side, tongue side, and biting surface.  The most commonly missed area is the inside (tongue side) of the lower teeth.  Do not go to bed without brushing!

Floss nightly!  Brushing alone is not enough to ensure proper plaque removal.  The toothbrush bristles cannot reach in between the teeth; therefore, they leave harmful plaque, bacteria, and food debris on the teeth.  Flossing is absolutely mandatory to keep your teeth and gums healthy and beautiful.

Use a mouthwash.  Swishing mouthwash is a great way to flush out unhealthy bacteria from the various nooks and crannies of the oral cavity.  If you are cavity prone, use a mouthwash containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel and fight cavities.  If you have a dry mouth, stay away from mouthrinses containing alcohol.  For someone with red, swollen gums, a whitening mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for reducing gum inflammation.

Treat Yourself to Teeth Whitening

There are many ways to improving your smile.  Whitening your teeth is one of the quickest ways to give your smile a boost.  At the dental centers in Freeman, Viborg and Parkston, we are proud to offer KöR professional teeth whitening.  With both in-office and at-home whitening products, we can help you find the type of whitening that most easily and quickly meets your needs. 

Another way you can achieve a brighter smile is by using an electric toothbrush and whitening toothpaste.  This works to polish off surface stains accumulated by years of drinking coffee or tea and using tobacco products.  Ask our dental hygienists about the other benefits of an electric toothbrush.  Most patients find that once they begin using an electric toothbrush, they cannot return to a manual toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes truly give a cleaner, smoother, shinier appearance to the teeth.

Straight Teeth are Healthy Teeth

Many people consider crooked teeth to be a cosmetic issue.  In addition to an improved appearance, straightening your teeth actually creates a healthier oral environment.  A research experiment was conducted in which plaque was collected from both patients with straight teeth and those with crowded teeth.  This study concluded that not only do crooked and crowded teeth harbor a greater quantity of plaque; they actually harbor more dangerous bacteria than straight teeth.

Closing gaps between the teeth helps prevent food impaction, which leads to cavities and periodontal disease.  Aligning crooked teeth makes brushing flossing easier to accomplish.  Ask us how Invisalign® can make your mouth healthier!

Full Smile Makeover

Perhaps you have always wanted a full smile makeover, and 2018 is your year.  Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.  Broken teeth can be restored crowns.  Cavities can be repaired with cosmetic tooth-colored fillings.  

You can even get a beautiful, straight, white smile with veneers.  A veneer is a covering of at least one full surface of the tooth.  Veneers are made from porcelain or composite (an in-office dental restoration).  They can be contact lens thin for minor corrections and refinements.  Or they can be several millimeters thick to correct misalignments and dark discolorations.

The possibilities are almost endless!  To get started on your full smile makeover, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena.  They will evaluate your current situation and discuss the treatment options available to meet your cosmetic goals.

Happy New Year!

Whether 2018 is the year for minor improvements or major life changes for you, there are two things that will always be a great idea: 1) Make healthy choices.  2) Smile! 

If you’d like help improving that smile, we are here for you. Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Is Your Mouth Making You Sick?

Is your mouth making you sick?

How Oral Health Impacts Systemic Health

At our Dental Centers in Freeman, Parkston and Viborg, we take healthcare seriously.  While we are specifically concerned with our patients’ oral health, we acknowledge its role in a person’s overall health.  Unfortunately, the mouth has always been treated by a realm of healthcare (dentistry), which has historically been kept separate from general medicine.  For this reason, some people are under the impression that the mouth is therefore independent and unrelated to the rest of the body. 

This is a dangerous myth!

What systemic issues are connected with the mouth?

In 2000, the surgeon general released a report called “Oral Health in America”.  The purpose of this report was to inform and educate the nation about oral health, its prevalence in our nation, and how it affects a person’s overall health.  This report was based on a review of published scientific literature and is still considered the authority on the link between oral health and systemic health.

There are many links between the mouth and the rest of the body.  In this article, we will limit the discussion to the most harmful health conditions that are affected by the health of your mouth.

  • Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone density and often brings to mind a picture of a frail old lady whose bones break easily.  Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, even the jawbones.  This is especially important in patients who have lost teeth and wear dentures.  The jawbones in a patient with osteoporosis will diminish much more rapidly than in a patient with healthy bones, causing the denture to become loose and uncomfortable.  
  • In a patient with all of their teeth, osteoporosis causes an increased risk for periodontal bone loss.  It has even been suggested that bone loss around the teeth could be a warning sign of osteoporosis.
  • Immunosuppression – There are many different diseases, disorders, and conditions that suppress the immune system, including HIV, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants and cancer treatments.  A suppressed immune system makes any type of infection worse because your body cannot fight it naturally.  This puts a person at higher risk for periodontal disease and dental abscesses.  Because these infections also affect other areas of the body, the impact on the overall health is much greater in an immunocompromised patient.  
  • Anyone who has a problem with their immune system should keep to a strict oral hygiene routine and continuing care schedule with their  dentist.
  • Some people with a weakened immune system will suffer from persistent mouth sores and ulcers that do not heal.  Often a dentist is the first  person to catch these signs of a suppressed immune system.
  • Pulmonary Disease – Because the bacteria in the mouth have a quick pathway to the lungs, there is a link between oral disease and pulmonary disease.  COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is associated with poor oral health, and patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.
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  • Diabetes – The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is considered a two-way connection: meaning diabetes makes periodontal disease worse, and periodontal disease makes diabetes worse.  Diabetes worsens periodontal disease through its affect on blood flow, inflammation and healing ability.  Periodontal disease worsens diabetes by contributing to hyperglycemia and complicated metabolic controls.  This association is thought to be true of diabetes with any chronic infection in the body
  • Heart Disease – The bacteria present in the mouth of a patient with periodontal disease can contribute to heart disease through a few different mechanisms of action: 1) small localized infections of blood vessel walls, which leads to plaque formation, atherosclerosis, and in severe cases, a heart attack,  2) an influence on platelets causing them to aggregate and form clots in the bloodstream, which could block a coronary artery, leading to heart attack.  People with periodontal disease have a 25% higher risk of heart disease than people with healthy gums.

 

  • Stroke – The increased risk of a stroke in patients with periodontal disease is based on the same mechanism of action noted above: increased risk for clot formation, which can travel to the brain and occlude a cerebral artery, blocking blood flow to brain tissues.
  • Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes – There is a correlation between periodontal disease and low birth weight infants.  The mechanism is in need of more scientific research.  At this time, it is thought to arise from two possible consequences of periodontal disease:  1) The bacteria present in periodontal disease produce toxins that could enter the blood stream, cross the placenta, and cause damage to the fetus.  2) The maternal inflammatory response to these toxins could interfere with fetal growth.

 

How do I reduce my risk of health problems?

All people should be aware of the health risks associated with dental diseases.  Because most oral health problems are preventable, you can be instrumental in lowering your risk for systemic health problems.

 

  1. See your dentist and dental hygienist at their recommended intervals for cleanings and oral evaluations.
  2. Practice good oral home care with regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with the proper mouthwash.
  3. Treat dental problems as they arise.  Do not wait until something hurts!  Periodontal disease is often called a “silent” disease because it rarely causes pain.
  4. See your medical doctor to be as preventive as possible with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

 

I am concerned that my mouth is affecting my overall health.  What now?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!They will discuss your medical history with you and outline how it can affect your oral health and vice versa.  

Caring for Your Teeth While in Braces

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Caring for Your Teeth While in Braces

Best Day Ever

The day you get your braces off should be the best day ever. After months, maybe even years, of hiding your metal mouth and constantly digging food out of the brackets and wires, you will feel a newfound sense of freedom and won’t be able to pass a mirror without smiling at yourself. The end result of orthodontics is always worth the time, money, and effort you put into it. Not only are straight teeth beautiful; they are actually healthier than crooked teeth.

There are two reasons straight teeth are healthy teeth: 1) Many people understand that crowded and crooked teeth allow more plaque accumulation because of the various nooks and crannies created by overlapping and rotated teeth. 2) Research studies have shown that the types of bacteria collecting on crooked teeth are different than the bacteria typically found on straight teeth. They are more periodontopathogenic - more likely to cause periodontal disease!

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How the Best Day can become the Worst Day

If the braces come off, and instead of exposing a beautiful, straight smile, a mouth full of discolored and decayed teeth is revealed, the Best Day has now become the Worst Day. Braces create a dental hygiene challenge that many people, especially preteens and teenagers are not aware of or prepared for. The extra apparatuses on the teeth are havens for plaque, bacteria, and food debris, causing a person’s risk for gum disease and cavities to sky-rocket.  The most common problem we see after braces is a phenomenon called "white spot lesions" that outline where the bracket was.  The white spots are areas of demineralization or weakening of the surface enamel where plaque was allowed to linger for too long and damaged the tooth structure surrounding the bracket.

 

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How to Lower Your Risk for Cavities & Gingivitis

  • Don’t miss a single dental visit! While you are busy seeing your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks, it is easy to forget your need for dental cleanings and checkups while in braces. Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will be able to reassess your risk for both gum disease and cavities and make recommendations to help you lower your risk. This may include more frequent dental cleanings, a prescription toothpaste, a professional fluoride application, and adjunctive oral hygiene tools for you to use at home.

  • Additional oral hygiene tools - Braces take cleaning your teeth to a whole new dimension. A manual toothbrush usually will not adequately do the job, and traditional floss is virtually impossible to use alone.

    • Brushing - An electric toothbrush is a must because it can remove more plaque and bacteria around the brackets more effectively than a manual toothbrush.

    • Flossing - Using traditional floss requires the addition of something called a floss-threader, which is like a large plastic needle that can be inserted underneath the wire in order to floss between the teeth. An alternative to this is using small pre-threaded floss picks that will fit underneath the wires, called Platypus flossers.

    • Waterpik - Some people choose to add a Waterpik tool to their oral hygiene regimen. It is an effective way to remove food debris from underneath the orthodontic wires.

  • Additional oral hygiene products - The specific type of oral hygiene products you use matters when you have orthodontic appliances. There are many products available that can strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to damage from plaque and bacteria.

  • A prescription fluoride toothpaste or gel - Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will give you recommendations based on your specific risk levels. If they determine that you are high risk for cavities, you may be given a prescription for a special toothpaste or gel to use on your teeth. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions and store any of these products out of the reach of small children.

  • Mouthwash - A mouthwash is a great way to flush out food debris from around the brackets and wires before you begin the flossing and brushing process. Any alcohol-free mouthwash is appropriate for pre-brush rinsing. Before bed and after brushing and flossing, you should swish with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Do not rinse your mouth after using this one because the fluoride should stay in contact with your teeth for as long as possible. Our favorite fluoride mouthwash for patients in braces is Phos-Flur.

Questions about Your Risk (or Your Child’s Risk) While in Braces?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They will assess your risk for gingivitis and cavities while in braces and make the appropriate recommendations for your specific risk.

Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

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What is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is a commonly used term to describe the nausea and vomiting that affects many women during pregnancy.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, as most women who experience this phenomenon say it actually happens throughout the entire day and not just in the mornings.  Morning sickness affects between 70-85 percent of pregnant women!  While most women experience morning sickness in the first 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, some of the unlucky ones have symptoms throughout the entire pregnancy. 

Morning sickness affects a person’s ability to work, perform necessary tasks around the home, and/or care for children or other dependents in the household.  Many women state that morning sickness forced them to reveal their pregnancy earlier than they would have preferred. 

How Does Morning Sickness Affect My Teeth?

The reason morning sickness is damaging to teeth is that the nausea and vomiting brings acid from the stomach up into the mouth.  Healthy stomachs are filled with acid, which breaks down food as an important part of the digestion process.  However, that acid is supposed to stay in the stomach.  Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-3.5. 

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In contrast, a healthy mouth has a pH that is slightly above neutral, in the range of 7.1-7.5.  Teeth can stay strong at this pH.  The enamel covering our teeth begins to weaken when the pH drops to 5.5 or below.

 

When someone vomits, the acid in the stomach is pulled up the esophagus and into the mouth.  This stomach acid is far below the pH threshold for enamel damage.  When the mouth is subjected to this strong acid with such a low pH repeatedly, the enamel is weakened and may begin to erode. 

Enamel erosion is the gradual degradation of the enamel surface of teeth caused by exposure to acids.  This includes any acid, like sodas, lemon juice, and any carbonated drink.  Because stomach acid is more acidic than these things, it can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time.  The photos below show examples of severe enamel erosion.  The enamel becomes thinner and is even missing in some areas.  On front teeth, this can cause the teeth to appear translucent or “see-through”.  On back teeth, the enamel can erode away from a filling, leaving the filling taller than the tooth surface. 

Because enamel is a tooth’s defense against decay, anything that weakens enamel makes a tooth more likely to get a cavity.  Loss of enamel also causes tooth sensitivity. 

  

How Do I Protect My Teeth From Morning Sickness?

There are several steps you can take to protect your teeth if you are suffering from morning sickness.

 

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  1. After vomiting, do not immediately brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water, wait 30 minutes and then brush.

  2. Use an over-the-counter mouthrinse that contains fluoride before bed each night. Fluoride can strengthen the enamel and protect it against acid.

  3. Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day. This stimulates your natural saliva production, which raises the pH in your mouth.

  4. See your dentist. If you are suffering from morning sickness, let Dr. Aanenson and Dr. Kuiper know. They can assess your risk for enamel erosion and make specific recommendations for you.

 

What Else Can Cause Acid Erosion of Teeth?

GERD – Severe acid reflux can keep the pH in the mouth much lower than normal.

Bulimia – As with morning sickness, consistent vomiting causes enamel erosion.

Lemon juice cleanses – Lemon juice is as acidic as stomach acid and should never touch the teeth.

Are You Suffering With Morning Sickness?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They can help you manage the risks associated with morning sickness and help you protect your teeth.

Hormone-Induced Gingivitis

Hormone-Induced Gingivitis

What is hormone-induced gingivitis?

Hormone-induced gingivitis is a type of gingivitis that occurs specifically during changes in hormonal levels .  It is a very common condition that we see frequently in our office.  Hormone-induced gingivitis causes a patient to have gums that are swollen, red, tender, and bleed easily.   The tenderness and bleeding often make oral hygiene routines uncomfortable, and patients sometimes avoid proper brushing and flossing techniques because it hurts.  Healthy, natural gum tissues are light pink, relatively flat and tightly adhered to the teeth.  The appearance of bright red, puffy gums is unsightly, giving a diseased look to the mouth, and may cause embarrassment. 

What causes hormone-induced gingivitis?  

The name says it all: it is induced by hormones.  Rapid swings in hormone levels (most notably estrogen, progesterone, and chorionic gonadotropin) can have a profound effect on gum tissues.  Research has shown that these hormone levels cause two important changes to occur:

  1. Hormone changes affect the tiny blood vessels in the gum tissue, increasing the blood flow in this area (which can cause swelling) and changing the permeability of the blood vessels (which makes the tissue bleed more easily).

  2. Hormone changes also affect the types of bacteria present in gum tissues. Research shows that gum tissues in patients with hormone changes such as pregnancy or taking birth control pills have more dangerous bacteria than patients without hormone changes. By “more dangerous”, we mean stronger and more likely to cause gum disease.


Who is at risk for hormone-induced gingivitis?  

Hormone-induced gingivitis is common in children going through puberty, both girls and boys.  It is also prevalent in women at various stages of hormone changes, including menstrual cycles, the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause.  This higher risk for gum disease makes oral hygiene even more important than it already is.  People with poor oral hygiene are more likely to experience hormone-induced gingivitis than those with good plaque control and consistent oral hygiene habits.  People who have infrequent and inconsistent dental cleanings are also at an increased risk.

 

What can you do about hormone-induced gingivitis?

 

  • Practice perfect oral hygiene. Do not miss a single day of flossing! Use an electric toothbrush; they are shown to effectively remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush.

  • Add a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine, and use it twice daily. In addition to an over-the-counter alcohol-free mouthwash, you can swish with warm salt water throughout the day. Some patients require a prescription mouthwash to get the inflammation under control.

  • Stay on schedule with professional dental cleanings. Your dental hygienist is able to remove bacterial buildup from areas you might be missing, even with good oral hygiene.

  • Consider increasing the frequency of professional dental cleanings. Many of our patients with severe gingivitis during puberty or pregnancy have their teeth cleaned every 3 months, instead of every 6 months. This reduces the severity of gingivitis by reducing the amount of bacterial buildup accumulated between cleanings.

  • Talk to Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena about other recommendations they may have to improve your gingivitis. There are many additional oral hygiene products available to help reduce gum inflammation. They will determine which one will be most beneficial for your unique situation.

 

Think you or your child may have hormone-induced gingivitis?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Back To School

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Back to School

For many people, this time of year is more than just back to school.  It is back to daily and weekly routines, back to bedtimes and alarm clocks, and back to good habits that may have gone by the wayside in the easygoing days of summer.  Add this to your list of daily activities as you get back into the swing of things: taking great care of your teeth!  There are many things involved in pursuing a healthy mouth.  Here are some tips to getting that oral hygiene routine back on track.

 Brushing

  • In order to properly remove plaque (the soft, sticky substance that causes cavities and gum disease), it is necessary to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush.

  • The most commonly missed area in brushing is at the gumline, so make sure the bristles of your toothbrush are gently touching the gums as you brush.

  • Check the bristles of your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months or sooner if bristles are splayed and worn (like the photo shows). A worn toothbrush cannot do a thorough job of cleaning teeth.

  • Please remember: never share a toothbrush with anyone, especially your child.

  • If you or your child is sick with any type of infection, replace your toothbrush or run it through your dishwasher’s “Sanitize” cycle.

  • Supervise your children’s brushing. They should only be brushing their own teeth if they can tie their shoelaces or write their name in cursive. Otherwise, you should still be brushing their teeth for them.

 Flossing

Brushing alone cannot quite get the job done when it comes to removing all of the plaque from your teeth.  The nooks and crannies between your teeth are havens for clumps of bacteria where even the best brusher is not able to reach.  Flossing removes this plaque and reduces your risk for cavities and gum disease.  When you skip flossing, you miss over 35% of the surface of a tooth.  Studies have shown that flossing every day can prolong your life by six years.  

Because flossing is a more difficult skill to master, you should floss your children’s teeth until they show they can properly do it on their own.  The easiest way to floss your child’s teeth is to sit on a bed or the floor, and have the child lay down with his head in your lap.  Have the child tilt his head up so that you can look straight down into his mouth.  This gives you the simplest access for flossing (also good for brushing).  The earlier you start this process, the easier it is to accomplish. 

 Preventive Dental Care

  • Professional cleanings – So let’s say you’re not a perfect brusher and flosser; no one is. We all have areas that we may miss with our toothbrush or floss. What happens when sticky, soft plaque is not removed from our teeth? In 24 hours, it begins to harden into tartar (also called calculus). Once it has hardened, it cannot be cleaned off with a toothbrush or floss. It has to be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist. Tartar buildup that is not removed on a regular basis leads to painful, chronic conditions that require more extensive and more expensive dental treatment.

  • Dental evaluation and x-rays – A dental evaluation by your dentist can uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. Dental x-rays show how the teeth are developing and hidden decay that develops between the teeth. X-rays also allow us to monitor the jawbones for any changes, including cancer or abnormal growths. These important steps, taken on a regular basis, can help prevent painful, chronic conditions and save money. Untreated tooth decay is a serious infectious disease for which there is no immunization.

  • Fluoride application – Cavities used to be a fact of life. Over the past few decades, one thing has been responsible for a dramatic reduction in the prevalence of cavities: fluoride. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that water fluoridation is “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century”. Fluoride in your water supply is integrated into children’s teeth as they are forming, adding strength and cavity resistance to their enamel. Teeth can also be strengthened and protected with topical fluoride. Topical fluoride includes many products you may already use at home (toothpaste, mouthwash and gel), and it can be professionally applied in your dentist’s office. Your need for professional fluoride treatment should be assessed by your dentist and is based on your cavity risk level.

  • Sealants – Another common area that toothbrush bristles miss is the deep pits and grooves on the biting surfaces of your back teeth. These types of cavities can be prevented by applying dental sealants over the pits and grooves. A dental sealant is a thin coating that goes on in a liquid form, flowing into the pits and grooves and then hardening to form a smooth, flat surface that prevents the accumulation of bacteria and food particles. Sealants are most effective when applied as soon as a back tooth enters the mouth.

 

If you missed getting in to our office this summer for your preventive care, take a look at your school calendar.  School holidays are busy in our office, and appointments go quickly! Pick the next school holiday for your dental visits and call us today to get on the books for the day you want!  

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!