Posts for category: Oral Health
Now, more than ever, it’s important that you are properly caring for your smile.
With everything going on in the world it may be difficult to think about your oral care routine; however, this is actually the best time to think about it. Our Rockville, MD, dentist Dr. Mehr Tucker wants to help you and your family prevent unnecessary emergency dental situations at a moment when you have enough to worry about. Here are some simple everyday tips to follow to make sure you are keeping your smile healthy so you don’t wind up in the dentist’s chair,
Always brush and floss
As your Rockville, MD, family dentist has probably told you, how you care for your smile each and every day has the biggest impact on your smile’s long-term health. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, as well as food and bacteria, to prevent decay and gum disease.
Make sure you are brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes at a time. You should also floss daily to remove plaque and food from between teeth. These habits alone can be major contributors to a healthy, beautiful smile.
While you’re home full time it may be challenging to avoid the kitchen. After all, that’s where all the yummy treats are; however, snacking all day long can increase plaque buildup, which also increases your risk for decay. Therefore, it’s best to limit snacks (two treats a day) and be mindful of your food choices. While snacking on cookies may sound like the ultimate comfort right now, opting for healthier options like hummus and raw veggies is a much safer choice for your teeth and gums.
Replace your toothbrush head
Chances are good it’s time to replace your toothbrush. If the bristles look worn and frayed this is a telltale sign that it needs to go. After all, a toothbrush head is only meant to last about three or four months. Just got over an illness? If so, you also need to replace your toothbrush head immediately. After all, just like everything else, toothbrush bristles can also harbor bacteria, and you don’t want to get sick again.
Wear sports guards
Are your kids about to go outside in the yard and kick a soccer ball around or play hockey? While it might seem like overkill, wearing sports guards will protect them against dental-related injuries. Just as they would wear these mouthguards if they were playing sports at school, they should wear them even if they are playing around in the backyard. This can prevent everyone from having to stress out about a knocked-out tooth or other dental emergency.
Dr. Tucker has been providing dental care to patients living in Rockville, MD, for 20 years. While our offices are no open right now due to the coronavirus, if you or a family member is dealing with a true dental emergency please give us a call right away at (301) 963-8900. Even during these times, it’s important that you have a dentist you can turn to when emergencies happen.
Are your gums are healthy? This question speaks to the importance of periodontal health. At Dr. Mehr Tucker's office in Rockville, the dental team looks for signs of gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Detected early, gingivitis can be reversed. Learn more here.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an infection of the gum tissue. Also called gum disease, gingivitis stems from food residues at and below the gum line. Oral bacteria flourish in this environment, and when untreated, gingivitis progresses like an avalanche, becoming periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Symptoms of periodontitis include puffy, red, and tender gums, loose teeth, and deep gum pockets.
In its earliest stages, gingivitis responds well to good brushing and flossing at home and a thorough cleaning at your dentist's office in Rockville. Your hygienist gently scrapes, or scales, your teeth, removing soft plaque and hard tartar, or calculus. In some cases, antibiotics are placed at the gum line.
For more extensive periodontal problems, Dr. Tucker may recommend a deeper cleaning and root planing. As needed, gums and even bone can be grafted to replace degraded tissue.
What should you do?
As with any dental issue, prevention is best. So, brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush for two minutes. Floss daily with the product of your choice to remove sticky plaque and prevent tartar formation.
Additionally, eat a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate diet. Consume plenty of water daily to increase saliva and its beneficial antimicrobial properties. Stop all tobacco, and limit alcohol. See Dr. Tucker every six months for a cleaning and check-up. If you are prone to gum problems, your dental team may schedule more frequent appointments.
Find out more
Arm yourself against gingivitis and its very dangerous cousin, periodontal disease. Keep your best oral hygiene habits, and come see Dr. Mehr Tucker in Rockville for your preventive care. Phone us for an appointment at (301) 963-8900.
November is National Diabetes Month—a time to focus on a disease that affects more than 400 million people around the world. What does diabetes have to do with oral health? Plenty! Here's a true-or-false quiz to test your knowledge on this important topic.
TRUE OR FALSE:
1. Diabetes and gum disease are connected.
TRUE. Studies have found a clear association between diabetes and gum (periodontal) disease, especially when diabetes is not well controlled. People with poorly controlled diabetes have a more severe inflammatory response to the bacteria that cause gum disease. While inflammation is normally a protective reaction of the body's immune system, too much inflammation can actually make the condition worse. In the case of gum disease, the reverse is also true: Untreated gum disease can worsen blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The good news is that treatment of periodontal disease has been shown to improve blood sugar control.
2. People with diabetes can't have dental implants.
FALSE. Research has shown that dental implants can be a very successful tooth-replacement treatment for people with diabetes. But again, blood sugar control can be a factor. Dental implants are titanium posts that serve as artificial tooth roots. Minor surgery is required to insert an implant into the bone beneath the gums; a realistic-looking dental crown is later attached to it so it can look and function like a natural tooth. Studies have shown that it takes longer for the bone to heal around implants in people with poorly controlled diabetes. That doesn't make implant treatment impossible, but it does mean that it may be managed differently. For example, an implant may be allowed to heal for a longer period of time before a crown is attached to it.
3. People with diabetes can't do anything to improve their oral health.
FALSE. People with diabetes can have a very positive impact on their oral heath, by doing their best to control blood sugar levels with a healthy diet and exercise, and by sticking to an effective daily oral hygiene routine. This includes brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, and flossing at least once each day to remove bacterial plaque between teeth. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are also essential—not just for people with diabetes, but for everyone!
If you have additional questions about diabetes and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about diabetes and oral health by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
Along with thumb sucking, childhood teeth grinding is one of the top concerns anxious parents bring to their dentists. It’s so prevalent, though, many providers consider it normal behavior—the sleep-disturbing sound it can generate is often the worst consequence for the habit.
But that doesn’t mean you should brush aside all concern, especially if the habit continues into late childhood. Long-term teeth grinding could eventually damage the teeth and gums.
Teeth grinding (or clenching) is the involuntary movement of the jaws when not engaged in normal functions like chewing, speaking or swallowing. The action often produces higher than normal chewing forces, which over time can accelerate tooth wear, cause fractures, or contribute to loose teeth, all of which could increase the risk of dental disease. While it can occur at any time it’s most common among children during nighttime sleep.
While stress is the usual trigger for teeth grinding in adults, with young children the causes for the habit are more complex and less understood. Most doctors hold to the theory that most pediatric teeth grinding arises during shifts from lighter to heavier, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. The child’s immature neuromuscular chewing control may engage involuntarily during this shift. Teeth grinding is also prevalent among children who snore or mouth-breathe, or who take anti-depressant medication.
But as mentioned before, there’s usually no cause for concern unless the habit persists beyond about age 11. If the habit isn’t fading, you should speak to your dentist about ways to reduce it or its effects. One way is with a custom-made night guard worn during sleep. The smooth, plastic surface of the appliance prevents teeth from making solid contact with each other during a grinding episode.
You might also seek treatment from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist if your child is having issues with airway obstruction, which could also relieve teeth grinding. And children experiencing stressful situations or events may find relief both emotionally and physically from psychological therapy.
At younger ages, you can safely regard your child’s grinding habit as normal. But if it persists, it’s worth looking for ways to reduce it.
If you would like more information on your child’s teeth grinding habit, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “When Children Grind Their Teeth: Is the Habit of ‘Bruxism’ Harmful?”
Some moviegoers have been known to crunch popcorn, bite their fingers or grab their neighbor’s hands during the intense scenes of a thriller. But for one fan, the on-screen action in the new superhero film Black Panther led to a different reaction.
Sophia Robb, an 18-year-old Californian, had to make an emergency visit to the orthodontic office because she snapped the steel wire on her retainer while watching a battle scene featuring her Hollywood crush, Michael B. Jordan. Her jaw-clenching mishap went viral and even prompted an unexpected reply from the actor himself!
Meanwhile, Sophia got her retainer fixed pronto—which was exactly the right thing to do. The retention phase is a very important part of orthodontic treatment: If you don’t wear a retainer, the beautiful new smile you’re enjoying could become crooked again. That’s because if the teeth are not held in their new positions, they will naturally begin to drift back into their former locations—and you may have to start treatment all over again…
While it’s much more common to lose a removable retainer than to damage one, it is possible for even sturdy retainers to wear out or break. This includes traditional plastic-and-wire types (also called Hawley retainers), clear plastic retainers that are molded to fit your teeth (sometimes called Essix retainers), and bonded retainers: the kind that consists of a wire that’s permanently attached to the back side of your teeth. So whichever kind you use, do what Sophia did if you feel that anything is amiss—have it looked at right away!
When Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan heard about the retainer mishap, he sent a message to the teen: “Since I feel partly responsible for breaking your retainers let me know if I can replace them.” His young fan was grateful for the offer—but even more thrilled to have a celebrity twitter follower.
If you have questions about orthodontic retainers, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Bonded Retainers.”