What you need to know about Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a severe problem, in which the gums have actually pulled away from the teeth. Pockets then form at the base of the teeth. These pockets fill with debris, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Once they get infected, the body begins to fight the infection. The bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place get caught in the crossfire, and begin to be destroyed. If left untreated, a person will begin to lose their teeth.

Luckily, this isn’t an overnight process. Periodontal disease is actually the second stage of gum disease, the first being gingivitis. No bone loss or irreversible damage happens until the late stages of periodontitis, so as long as it is caught and diagnosed early, it can be reversed.

Symptoms of periodontal disease:

  • Swollen, tender, reddened gums
  • Gums that bleed easily when teeth are brushed
  • Gums pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • If your bite feels different
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain while chewing
  • Smelly breath that doesn’t go away after brushing

Can periodontal gums be corrected?

Yes they can. You have to discover it early and be diligent. Complex periodontal gum conditions can also be treated, but they need a special cleaning, which your dentist can provide.

Green mouthwashAdopting an intense oral hygiene routine can go a long way to improve periodontal gums. Brush thoroughly once you get up each morning and prior to going to bed every night. Brushing, or at the very least, rinsing with drinking water after meals and snacks may also help remove germs trapped between teeth, assisting in slowing down periodontitis. Rinse the mouth with an excellent antibacterial mouthwash for a complete thirty second cycle, twice every day. This can help reach germs trapped in pockets below your gum collection, aiding in reversing periodontal gum illness. Floss each day, and pay special focus on flossing just underneath the gum line for reversing periodontal gum illness.

While a diligent dental hygiene program can go quite the distance in assisting the treatment of periodontal gum disease, sometimes that’s not enough, and it’s time for professional help.

Your dentist can perform periodontal cleaning, if x-rays show heavy pockets of germs surrounding all of your teeth below the gums. There are several treatment options, but they are all focused on removing bacteria from below the gum line. You may be prescribed a special antibacterial mouthwash, or have to have a very in depth cleaning.

If necessary, he might perform actual periodontal medical procedures. These involve lifting the flaps of the gum, making it possible for heavy cleaning, and then suturing them back in place. Following the procedure, you should have several appointments to be sure of the achievement of the cleaning. This type of treatment is very successful, and most regain normal use of their teeth when everything has healed.

The important thing is to seek help once you notice any signs of trouble with your gums. Periodontal gum illness can be absolutely corrected when it’s found early. If you need to get your gums checked out, give us a call!

ancient dental tools

The History of Dentistry

Dentistry is not a new profession. In fact, it’s probably much older than you think it is. It wasn’t a Renaissance idea, or even a Roman idea. Dentistry can trace its roots all the way back to 5000 BC! There is a Sumerian text that says that dental decay is caused by “tooth worms”. Gross! Fortunately they were wrong.

Flash forward about 2400 years, to 2600 BC, to the death of the first dentist. An Egyptian scribe named Hesy-Re had the following inscribed on his tomb: “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the first recorded instance of a person identifying as a dentist. Also in Egypt, between 1700 and 1550 BC, a text was found that refers to toothache remedies and tooth disease. This document was called the Ebers Papyrus.

A thousand years later, two of the most famous philosophers ever documented, Hippocrates and Aristotle, wrote about dentistry. They got into great detail! Discussing how teeth erupt, how to remove teeth, how to treat gum disease and tooth decay, and how to stabilize damaged teeth and jaws with wire.

The next thousand years see three major dental developments:

  • 100 BC: A medical writer from Rome, named Celsus, wrote about oral hygiene, how to treat toothaches, jaw fractures, teething pain, and how to stabilize loose teeth.
  • 166-201 AD: Dental prosthetics, including fixed bridges and gold crowns, are developed and used by the Etruscans.
  • 700 AD: Silver paste, an amalgam used for fillings, is mentioned in a Chinese medical text.

ancient dental toolsThe Guild of Barbers is created in 1210 in France. These were not all the “shave and a haircut” barbers we know today. There were two groups that emerged. The traditional barber, or “lay barber”, who performed haircuts, but some of their duties also included teeth extraction and bleeding! The second group were called surgeons, and were trained to perform complex surgery. Could you imagine going to get a haircut and a tooth pulled all by the same person?

The Guild of Barbers ran into trouble in 1400. Royals in France decreed that lay barbers must cease all surgical procedures, except for extracting teeth, leeching, bleeding, and cupping.

Between 1500 and 1600, two books are published. They both contain information on oral hygiene, the drilling of teeth, how to perform fillings and tooth extractions, and how to treat tooth decay.

By the 1700s, dentistry had become a well known profession.  In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon referred to as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published his influential book, The Surgeon Dentista Treatise on Teeth, defining a comprehensive system for oral hygiene and treatment of teeth.  He also presented the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.

In 1840, the first dental college (Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) opened.  In the United States, Alabama led the way by enacting the first dental practice act in 1841 to regulate dentistry in the U.S. Nearly 20 years later, the American Dental Association (ADA) was formed. The first university-affiliated dental institution, the Harvard University Dental School, was founded in 1867.

By 1873, Colgate had mass produced the first toothpaste, and mass-produced toothbrushes followed a few years later.

What may come as a surprise is that the first African American to earn a dental degree dates all the way back to 1869, and the first female dental assistant, Malvina Cueria,  was employed in New Orleans in 1885. What might be most surprising of all is that most Americans did not adopt good brushing habits until after World War II, when soldiers stationed abroad brought the concept of good oral health back to the United States!

If you want to learn more about the history of dentistry, click here. If you have questions about your dental care, give us a call! We’ll be happy to answer your questions!

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic procedure that dentists perform.

That’s because everyone wants a bright, white, attention-grabbing smile.  An estimated 10 million Americans will spend over 1.7 billion dollars this year alone on whitening services and products.  Before we can get into the details of how teeth whitening works it’s important to understand why you might need this in the first place.  Stains.

 

How teeth get discolored

Your teeth are made up of an inner layer called dentin and an outer layer enamel.  Enamel is hard and shiny but is easily stained.   Food, and other substances build up on your teeth in the form of a tiny particle layer call a “pellicle film.”   Brushing your teeth can take some of it off  and whitening toothpastes are designed to work even harder on enamel.  Beyond good oral hygiene a dentist can clean away this film, through teeth cleanings.

The pellicle layer gradually gives way to discoloration in the enamel layer, discoloring it slightly. Over the years, that adds up, and that’s why many adults eventually seek out teeth whitening treatments.

Common causes for stains

  • Foods/Drinks: Coffee, tea, soda, wines and certain foods ( potatoes, cherries, blueberries)
  • Chewing tobacco and smoking
  • Poor Dental Hygiene
  • Medicine: Antihistamines, antidepressants and high blood pressure pills.
  • Dental Work: silver amalgam restorations can produce a grayish-black color on the teeth.
  • Age: As you get older, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth wears away, revealing the dentin’s natural, yellow color.
  • Genetics: Some people have whiter, healthier teeth
  • Location: Excessive fluoride from environmental sources, such as high fluoride levels in drinking water.
  • Medical Treatments: Certain treatments can adversely affect the color of enamel and dentin layers. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation are two examples.

 

So how does teeth whitening work?

teeth-whitening

Over the counter teeth whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction that breaks apart the staining compounds.  Most tooth whiteners use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (the same stuff that will bleach your hair). When used in the mouth, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active whitening ingredient.  Its also important to point out that you should have your teeth professionally cleaned and checked before going with this method.

In-office treatments will use more powerful controlled concentration of the peroxide, and a special high-intensity light that accelerates the bleaching, each being tailored to a particular patient.  Before the tooth whitening treatment, the dentist will clean the teeth, fill cavities, and make sure your gums are healthy.  They then place a hydrogen peroxide paste on the teeth for several minutes, rinses it off, and can apply it several more times. The procedure can achieve about four to six shades of whitening after only one 40-minute treatment.

In-home treatments are another option. The dentist will take a mold of your mouth and make custom mouth trays.  The patient will put a thin layer of whitening gel into the tray and wear it for about 2 hours a day or while sleeping. Most whitening occurs in one to two weeks.

Looking for professional teeth whitening in Lafayette, La?  Give us a call! 

 

Q and A with Dr. Chauvin

14944-org-RSKnowing the basics of oral hygiene can keep you healthy, and save you money in the long run. It’s very important to take good care of your teeth. Need a refresher course? Take our quiz!

How often should I brush my teeth?

The correct answer is at least twice a day, according to the American Dental Association. It is important not to brush too often, as you can damage your teeth and gums. And if you have eaten an acidic food or drink, wait 30 minutes before brushing, as the combination of the acid and the brushing can damage your enamel.

How long should I brush my teeth?

Most dentists agree that two minutes is the recommended length of time. The important thing to ensure is that all surfaces are clean. Make sure that you clean all tooth surfaces, including hard to reach areas. Use short, up and down motions, and hold your brush at a 45 degree angle. Broad side to side strokes can scrape your gumline.

How often should I floss?

It is very important to floss daily, as bacteria and plaque will accumulate in-between your teeth every time you eat. These surfaces are impossible to reach with a toothbrush, and if left unattended, can be a hotbed for cavities.

Should I use mouthwash?

While mouthwash can be helpful, it’s generally not required. As long as you’re brushing and flossing properly, you’re doing what you should be for healthy teeth. If your goal is to have fresher breath, remember that you should be brushing your tongue as well as your teeth. There is an area at the back of your tongue where most of the “bad breath bacteria” live, and brushing here is more effective at removing them than mouthwash. Some mouthwashes have fluoride added, and some are recommended by the ADA. The best thing to do in this case is ask your dentist what they prefer you use.

How do I know if I have a cavity?

Cavities are difficult to detect at first, as they haven’t really done much damage yet. If left untreated, you can experience:

  • Tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweets
  • Discoloration of the tooth (darkened or black spots)
  • Visible damage to the tooth (a hole or crack)

The best way to prevent a cavity is to make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly.

What kind of foods can I eat to improve my oral hygiene?

There are some foods that will improve your mouth health. They may surprise you, as dark chocolate and strawberries make the list! You can read more about that here. ((NOTE: Double check this link – it may have been changed for SEO purposes.))

5 Surprising Foods That Promote Healthy Teeth

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Throughout our lives (especially as children), we are told what type of foods to avoid to make sure we have healthy teeth. What we don’t usually hear about are the foods that are good for our teeth! Sure we know to drink milk for the calcium for strong teeth and bones, but there has to be something else, right? What if you don’t like, or can’t drink milk? The good news is there are other foods that can improve your mouth health. Some of them may surprise you!

 

The five foods that contribute to having healthy teeth are:

  • Strawberries – this delicious red fruit has a rather unexpected effect on your teeth. Even though it is red, it can actually whiten your teeth! How? It contains malic acid, which is a natural teeth whitener.
  • Dark chocolate – chocolate is not usually considered a healthy food. However, there are different types of chocolate. Milk and white chocolate are full of sugar. If it is by itself, cocoa is actually bitter! Adding minimal amounts of sweetener to cocoa will create dark chocolate. Containing tannins and antioxidants – dark chocolate can actually prevent the growth of bacteria. It also has a chemical called theobromine that can harden tooth enamel. Dark chocolate also has health benefits for your heart!
  • Artificial sweetener – we’ve talked before about how certain artificial sweeteners can benefit your mouth health. The chemical is called xylitol, and not all artificial sweeteners contain it, so it’s important to read the ingredients. Xylitol can actually inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, more specifically, the bacteria that causes cavities. The way to get the most benefits from this artificial sweetener is from sugar free gums. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production which can loosen food particles, neutralize acids, and remineralize your teeth.
  • Cheese – we all know that milk is good for your teeth. And cheese is a byproduct of milk! Loaded with calcium, cheese is a great food to eat for your mouth health. It also normalizes the ph, or acidity, of your mouth, by neutralizing acid.
  • Kale – like cheese, kale is a great source of calcium. What is unique about kale is that you have to chew it a lot! This has the same bonus for your teeth that sugar free gums do! The excess saliva production loosens food particles and neutralizes acid in your mouth.

 

Having healthy teeth is one of the best things you can do for your health. Because gum disease can contribute to heart disease, it’s important to take very good care of your teeth and mouth. Brushing and flossing daily, and having regular dental check-ups are the best things you can do for your teeth. Give us a call if you want to schedule a cleaning with Dr. Chauvin!

How often do I need to get a teeth cleaning?

One of the best things a person can do for their health is take care of their mouth.  If you have good oral hygiene habits and a healthy mouth, your dentist and dental hygienist will probably suggest professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year.  For patients with gum disease it can be every three months.

Tartar and plaque form in the mouth at different rates and can lead to periodontal disease that can cause inflammation of the tissues or gums (gingivitis) or the bones (periodontitis) that surround and support the teeth. Once these conditions have developed, they can be challenging to treat. The best protection is prevention, with regular teeth cleanings, avoiding smoking and practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly at home.

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What Can I Expect During a Teeth Cleaning?

During a teeth cleaning, the dentist or hygienist will evaluate your overall health and oral hygiene.  They will check for any tooth decay, root decay, and gum or bone disease.   Any stains or deposits on your teeth are removed with tools including a tooth polisher and a scaler. Tooth polishers buff teeth and eliminate tiny pieces of plaque. Scalers look a bit like metal hooks and are used to remove hard plaque, especially between teeth. 

 

What you can do to prevent bad news:

There several things you can do to improve your mouth’s health and decrease your chances of dental problems.

  • Regular teeth cleaning
  • Brushing 2-3 times a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Using mouthwash once a day
  • Not brushing too hard
  • Using the correct type of toothbrush

Every day, your mouth has to battle the forces of tooth decay. As you eat, food particles are smashed in-between your teeth, and are immediately food for any harmful bacteria hanging out in your mouth. Acidic drinks such as orange juice or sodas can wear away enamel over time. Brushing too much can damage your enamel, and brushing too little can allow plaque to build up. Every person’s mouth is different, so it’s important to see your dentist regularly. Need a teeth cleaning but don’t have a regular dentist? Give us a call, we’re taking new patients!

Why Flossing Is So Important

Raise your hand if you have been to the dentist and lied when he or she asked – “Have you been flossing regularly?”  Even though we feel the need to say ‘Yes,’ that still doesn’t give us the kick we need to go home and floss everyday as the American Dental Association recommends. [source: ADA]. While brushing your teeth twice a day will go a long way toward maintaining oral health, you’re not getting the optimal cleaning if you leave the floss unused in the back of your medicine cabinet.

While the toothbrush works by physically removing plaque with its bristles and the toothpaste enhances the effect of the toothbrush by reducing the amount of bacteria in your mouth –  there is a big drawback: A toothbrush’s bristles can’t adequately clean between the teeth or under the gums [source: ADA].

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What does flossing do?

Flossing helps remove debris between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque.  Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar and can only be removed through a professional cleaning by a dental professional. When this happens, brushing and cleaning between teeth become more difficult, and gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This condition is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and if left unchecked, the bacteria-laden tartar and plaque can spread even deeper below the gum line, causing periodontitis.

  This expensive snowball effect can be avoided by flossing.

When is the best time to floss?

According to the American Dental Association, you can floss either before or after brushing.  However, if you use dental floss before you brush, the fluoride from the toothpaste has a better chance of reaching between teeth. Unlike brushing, you only need to floss once a day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too.

 

How to choose the right floss

When picking a floss it’s easy to get overwhelmed with how many varieties there are.  All floss types work well when used daily but it is important to know the differences in teeth and what works best for your type. There is waxed, unwaxed, tape, ultra floss and flossing picks – just to name a few. 

A few helpful tips when choosing:

  • Large gaps? Try dental tape 
  • Not much space between your teeth? Try waxed floss to slide into those tight spaces.
  • Want less mess? Look for disposable flossers 
  • Braces or bridges? A spongy floss is a good option

 

It is important to remember to floss everyday and if you need a reason there are plenty to choose from!  Maybe you want fresher breath or whiter teeth  – whatever your reason just START FLOSSING!

 

Dental Bridge or Implant?

Dental bridges and implants are some of the more common options for most people who are looking for an effective way to restoring their pearly white smile without the need to use dentures. This is an excellent choice for you to restore your teeth, and even eating and talking will feel just like normal.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are considered the easiest solution to bridge the gap that is created by missing one or more teeth. It actually contains a bridge that connects the adjacent teeth to provide a natural look. The connecting tooth is called as false tooth or pontic that can be made of alloys, porcelain or gold. Dental bridges can be supported by either the natural teeth or a dental implant. This is an easy and inexpensive procedure to select if you need to restore your smile right away. Setting up dental bridges is  easy and will not require an enormous amount of time.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are another option to restore your smile. This is a more in-depth dental procedure wherein a titanium post is implanted within the jawbone. As the jawbone grows, it effectively fuses with the titanium post, which makes this a permanent option. The temporary crown will be then attached to the post as it fuses and heals. The healing from this procedure takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months, all depending on the implant’s location. Dental implants can be used also to secure dentures or bridges.

Considerations

Dental implants can be less noticeable which will offer a more natural look. The dental implants also give you the chance to chew food better as compared to bridges wherein the artificial tooth may slip. The bridges also require vigorous care to effectively place them. If one of the teeth wherein the attached bridge is affected, it can require replacement of the entire bridge to correct the problem. The only issue of dental implants is they are very expensive.

Time Frame

The life span of dental bridge can reach up to 10 or more years, which will depend on the proper care and hygiene. Dental implants are permanent, but for bridges and crowns that are attached to this will require for replacement as time goes by. In general, proper oral care is very imperative to have long-lasting benefits of these dental procedures.

If you are planning to get either of these dental procedures, it is very important for you to do your research first to determine which the best one is. You have to consider the pros and cons of each of these options. If you are on a budget then dental bridge is the best choice, but if you want to have a more permanent solution then a dental implant is the best choice.

In conclusion, dental bridges or dental implants are both an effective way to help to reinstate your smile. You just have to consider several aspects that can influence your decision on the best type of dental procedure that is applicable to your needs.

Avoid Halloween Cavities with Sugar Free Gum

October is approaching, and with it comes a slew of Halloween candies! Trick-or-treating is a time-honored tradition and is enjoyed by children and adults alike. In Lafayette, the official trick-or-treat hours are from 6 to 8 pm on October 31st.

All of that candy can have negative side effects on your dental health. Lafayette, Louisiana Dentist Dr. Timothy Chauvin can tell you, candy consumed in large amounts can contribute to cavities. Luckily, research has found a candy that will not contribute to cavities. In fact, this candy can prevent cavities!

Dr. Chauvin states that Xylitol, a chemical used as a sugar substitute in sugar-free gums and candies, can inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth. The chemical is incredibly effective at preventing the bacteria that causes cavities, Streptococcus mutans.  Best consumed after a meal or drink, the candy will stimulate saliva production, dislodge food particles still in the mouth, neutralize any remaining acids, and remineralize teeth. While all of that is going on, the xylitol prevents bacteria from spreading further. Regular use of sugar-free candies containing xylitol can actually provide long-term protection against cavities as well.

The difference between sugar-free and regular gum is, while producing extra saliva and dislodging food particles, the sugar provides a food source for bacteria, and should be avoided.

It is important to note that not all of these gums and candies have xylitol in them, so make sure to check the ingredients. Sugar-free gums produced by Trident, Orbit and Ice Breakers contain xylitol.