3 Things Your Bad Breath Might be Telling You

Halitosis, or bad breath, can be a real embarrassment. The last impression that you want to leave of yourself is as someone with stinky breath, especially if you have to meet with an employer, teacher, or romantic interest. Usually, you can avoid bad breath just by brushing and flossing your teeth conscientiously. But if you find that you still have bad breath even with frequent brushing, it could be a sign of a different problem. Take a look at some of the things that your bad breath may be trying to tell you. 

You May Be Using the Wrong Mouthwash

Mouthwash might be the first thing that you reach for if you think that you have a halitosis problem. But you might be surprised to learn that mouthwash could be contributing to the problem. Many commercial types of mouthwash have antibacterial properties, meaning that they kill bacteria in your mouth. But there are many different kinds of bacteria, and not all of them are bad. You also have good bacteria that help keep the bad bacteria – the kind that cause odors – in check. When you use an antibacterial mouthwash, it kills all the bacteria, both good and bad. The elimination of good bacteria means that the faster-growing, odor-causing bacteria can quickly proliferate, causing bad breath.  Halitosis - bad breath

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t use mouthwash, but you should consult your dentist about what kind of mouthwash you need. Your dentist will let you know whether antibacterial mouthwash is right for you and can suggest alternatives if you’re struggling with bad breath. 

You May Have A Throat Infection 

Have you ever noticed that bad breath seems to go hand-in-hand with a sore throat? That’s because the bacteria causing the throat infection can also give off an odor that’s expelled from your mouth when you breathe. Because the bacteria is in your throat, no amount of toothbrushing can get rid of the odor. You may need an antibiotic to kill the bacteria that’s causing the throat infection. Gargling with warm salt water can help reduce the bacteria in your throat and soothe the soreness as well. 

Intractable bad breath could also be a sign of tonsil stones. These are small calcium deposits that build up and harden in your tonsils. While these stones are usually harmless and often unnoticeable, they can sometimes cause symptoms like bad breath or throat irritation. You may be able to see them – they look like small bumps on your tonsils. If they occur frequently or cause problems, you may want to consider having your tonsils removed. 

You Could Be Developing Gum Disease

You know that bacteria is at the root of your bad breath. But bacteria also causes other problems as well. Problems like gum disease. If you’re battling bad breath that never seems to go away, you may also notice that your gums are inflamed, swollen, or bleed when you brush. These are good signs that you are developing gum disease, a serious dental condition that is caused by bacteria and can lead to tooth loss.

Gum disease is not only bad for your breath and your dental health, it’s also linked to other serious conditions, like heart disease and strokes. In a way, your bad breath could be an early indicator that you’re at risk for heart disease. Taking care of your gums as soon as you notice a problem can stop gum disease in its tracks and help ward off more serious problems as well. 

If you can’t seem to get a handle on your halitosis, a visit to the dentist is in order. Contact us to find an office.

Medications' Impact on Oral Health

Medications.jpgMany of us need to take medications to treat a wide variety of conditions. However, even as those medications treat our illnesses, they could be causing problems for our teeth and gums.

Medicine And Oral Chemistry

Some medications—even some vitamins—can damage our teeth for the brief period that they’re in our mouths. This can pose a particular problem for children. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines. Children’s medicine tends to come in the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins, which feed oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Inhalers for asthma can also cause problems, specifically oral thrush, which is white patches of fungus in the mouth that can be irritating or painful. The best way to avoid this complication of using an inhaler is for you or your child to rinse with water after each use, and the same goes for sugary cough syrups and chewable multivitamins.

Side-Effects For Your Mouth

Plenty of other medications, though they don’t do any damage while you’re ingesting them, can be harmful to your mouth in the long term because of the side-effects. Let’s take a look at some of the more common side-effects.

Inflammation And Excessive Bleeding

If you notice your gums becoming tender and swollen shortly after you start on a new medication, you should talk to a medical professional about it. Several medications can cause gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of the gums), which puts you at increased risk of gum disease.

To learn more about the risks of gum disease, watch this video. 

Altered Taste

Some medications, such as cardiovascular agents, central nervous system stimulants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and smoking-cessation products can leave you with a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth, or even interfere with your overall sense of taste. This isn’t necessarily a serious side-effect, but it can be unpleasant, especially for food-lovers.

Dry Mouth

The most common mouth-related side-effect of medications is dry mouth. A wide range of medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinson’s disease medications, and antidepressants can all cause it.

Aside from feeling uncomfortable, dry mouth is very dangerous to oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense. It contains compounds that remineralize your teeth, neutralize acids, and keep bacteria in check. Without enough saliva, that bacteria runs rampant and there’s nothing to neutralize the acid or add minerals back into your tooth enamel. From there, you can develop mouth sores, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Taking Medications? Let Us Know!

The best thing you can do to ensure your medications aren’t clashing with your oral health is to tell your dentist about your prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications you’re taking. From there, we can formulate a plan for how to counteract the medications’ effects.

Why Do Periodontal Cleanings Happen Every 3 Months?

It is recommended to come in for a periodontal recare appointment every 3 months, because those appointments act as a soft tissue management program, which is a non-surgical approach to prevent and slow Periodontal Disease. 

The bacteria that causes periodontal disease typically re-establishes within 3 months after treatment. A 3 Month Periodontal Cleaning is necessary to disable the destructive process at its critical stage. This critical stage is when the bacteria do the most harm to the supporting structures, including the periodontal attachment.

The Most Common Dental Problems for Patients Over 55

Seniors often face health challenges that they didn’t have to deal with when they were younger. These health challenges affect your whole body, and that includes your teeth and gums. However, you don’t have to have poor dental health just because of your age. Here are some of the most common dental problems for patients over 55, and how you and your dentist can work together to keep those dental problems at bay. 

Cavities and Root Decay

Fluoride rinses can help prevent decay.

A fluoride rinse might be just what you need to prevent decay.

You can get a cavity at any age. However, older adults may experience a new kind of tooth decay: root decay. This occurs due to the root of the tooth becoming more exposed as you get older, thanks to receding gums. 

What’s more, your tooth enamel can get softer as you age, making your teeth more susceptible to decay not just at the root of the tooth, but all over. Often, the surfaces around old fillings will begin to decay, creating a need for new fillings. 

If you’re starting to develop new tooth decay, you may want to ask your dentist about fluoride treatments. A prescription fluoride gel or rinse can help protect your teeth from additional cavities. 

Gum Disease

Remember those receding gums that leave you vulnerable to root decay? If you have them, that could be a sign that you also have gum disease. Other signs include red or swollen gums that bleed easily. Seniors are more vulnerable to gum disease because it can be caused or worsened by conditions that often afflict seniors, like diabetes or anemia. 

The best defense is frequent visits to your dentist. If your dentist sees any signs of early stage gum disease, which is called gingivitis, he can begin treatment right away, while the effects of the disease are mostly reversible. Periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, can be treated as well, but it’s much easier to treat before symptoms worsen. 

Oral Cancer

Gentech Dentist offers oral cancer screenings at regular checkup appointments.

An oral cancer screening from your dentist can be done along with your regular dental checkup.

Oral cancer has several risk factors that you have control over, like tobacco and alcohol use. However, another risk factor is advanced age. The older you get, the greater your risk of developing oral cancer. 

As a particularly destructive disease, it often isn’t diagnosed until its later stages. In the early stages, oral cancer is easier to treat and has a higher survival rate. One of your best defenses is to get regular oral cancer screenings from your dentist. The early symptoms are often painless or easily confused with other conditions, but your dentist will be able to recognize them and recommend testing so that you can be diagnosed quickly. 

Regular dental care doesn’t become any less important as you age. If anything, it becomes more important. Talk to your dentist about new ways to protect your dental health in your senior years.

3 Things You Need to Know about Periodontitis

If you want to avoid serious dental problems in the future, you need to take care to prevent periodontitis now. But what is periodontitis, and how can you make sure that it doesn't happen to you? Here are a few things that you should know about periodontitis, including what it is, how it's treated, and how you can avoid it.

What is Periodontitis?
What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a serious form of gum disease that may require extensive treatment.

You've probably heard of gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease. Periodontitis is what happens when gingivitis is left untreated. It's a more advanced form of gum disease that can cause your gums to separate from your teeth, leaving pockets between the tooth and gum where bacteria can form and cause disease.

Over time, this can lead to painful tooth infections and loose teeth that fall out or need to be removed. Eventually, it will also lead to bone loss in your jaw.

How is Periodontitis Treated?
How is Periodontitis Treated?

Treatment involves cleaning not just the surface of the teeth, but under the gums as well.

The gold standard for periodontitis treatment is scaling and root planing. Scaling is the process of scraping plaque off of both the surface of the tooth and the part of the tooth that lies underneath the gum line. Root planing is a detailed scaling of the tooth root's surface to remove plaque and smooth out the area so that bacteria are less likely to develop. It's harder for bacteria to build up on a smooth surface than it is on a rough, uneven surface.

If you're suffering from gum disease, your gums will be sensitive and this kind of intense cleaning may be painful. Your dentist may administer anesthesia first, and you may still feel some soreness after the procedure. It can take two to four treatments before your dentist is done with the scaling and root planing.

Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to combat gum infections. Sometimes, dentists place antibiotic packs underneath your gums to target specific areas of infection. In some cases, you may also need surgery on your gums to eliminate the pockets between your teeth and gums. If you've lost bone, you may need a bone graft.

How to Prevent Periodontitis
Most people would prefer to avoid the extensive treatments needed for periodontitis. Luckily, the disease is preventable. Good dental hygiene, like brushing after meals, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can help prevent gum disease. Smoking increases your risk, so giving up the cigarettes can also help. Visiting your dentist regularly is important as well. If you're at greater-than-average risk for periodontitis, you may need to see your dentist more often, so be sure to ask your dentist about your risk factors.

Often, gingivitis can be reversed if it's caught and treated early before it turns into periodontitis. Be aware of the signs of gingivitis, like red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Those are signs that you need to see a dentist right away.

If you're concerned about your gum health, a visit to the dentist may be in order. Schedule your appointment online today.

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Are E-Cigarettes Bad for Your Oral Health?

If you're a smoker looking for a way to kick the habit, you've probably at least considered using an e-cigarette. But are e-cigarettes bad for your oral health?

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat up flavored liquid that contains nicotine and allow you to release clouds of vapor - while the vapor looks like smoke, it generally has a mild smell or no smell at all. This is often called "vaping". While it can seem like the perfect alternative to smoking -- you get the feel of hitting a cigarette without the tar or chemicals that are normally found in cigarettes -- questions remain about whether vaping is really better for your health, or whether it comes with its own risks.

What is in E-Juice?

Are e-cigs harmful?
Do you know what's in that vapor?

The truth is that it can be hard to tell exactly what is in the flavored liquid -- called e-juice -- that is found in an e-cigarette. Different manufacturers may put different chemicals in the e-liquid, and because e-cigarettes are still fairly new on the scene, there haven't been all that many in-depth studies about the effects of e-cigarette ingredients on health.

What definitely is found in most types of e-juice is nicotine. And with or without the other chemicals found in either e-cigarettes or tobacco cigarettes, nicotine has a harmful effect on your oral health. No matter how the nicotine is delivered, it can cause gum disease because it's a vasoconstrictor. That means that it reduces blood flow. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to your gums that they need to stay healthy. Without enough blood, gum disease begins to spread. Even more insidious, though, is that nicotine also masks some of the symptoms of gum disease, like bleeding from the gums when brushing. Without those symptoms, neither you nor your dentist may recognize your gum disease in time to catch it early.

Some Flavors May Cause More Damage Than Others

Are E-Cigarettes Bad for Your Oral Health?
Damage to your oral tissues may depend partly on the e-juice flavor that you pick.

Although not enough studies have been done yet to understand exactly what effect e-cigarettes have on health, the studies that have been done do show that e-cigarette vapors release inflammatory proteins that cause cell damage in the mouth, which can lead to oral diseases.

The same studies show that some flavorings cause more damage than others. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, which basically come only in plain or menthol flavorings, e-juice comes in all kinds of flavors -- it can taste like fruit, chocolate, coffee, your favorite alcoholic cocktail, or almost anything else. It takes different chemicals to make each different flavor, and some of those chemicals are more harmful to the mouth than others.

Quitting is Best for Your Oral Health

Is vaping is less harmful to your oral health than smoking? The jury is still out on that question. It's possible that vaping could be a form of harm reduction. But more studies need to be done to verify whether or not vaping is truly a less harmful option.

Either way, your best bet is to kick the nicotine habit entirely. Giving up nicotine, whether it comes in a cigarette, vapor, chewing tobacco, or even gum, is the only sure way to protect your oral health from its negative effects. Talk to your dentist about smoking cessation strategies and assistance. They may be able to help you find a healthier way to quit.

If you're a smoker or vaper that's worried about your dental health, regular checkups and cleanings are important. Make an appointment today to check on the state of your oral health and learn strategies for preventing health problems. 

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How to Stop the Progression of Gum Disease

Gum disease sounds serious...because it is serious! But if you're still in the early stages, there are plenty of things that you can do to stop and even reverse the progression of gum disease, returning your mouth to good health.

Plaque Removal

Brushing and flossing are your first steps of defense against gum disease.
Your first lines of defense against gum disease.

The underlying cause of gum disease is plaque, which forms on your teeth and hardens into tartar. If you're in the beginning stages, it's a good sign that you need to step up your plaque removal, and that means more frequent brushing and flossing. Brushing is the best way to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. Because plaque can harden into tartar in less than 24 hours, it's important to brush several times a day to make sure that you remove as much of it as possible.

Of course, your toothbrush won't fit into the spaces between your teeth -- but food particles and bacteria will, and plaque will form there. This is where flossing comes in. Floss allows you to get into those hard to reach spaces and remove the plaque from those areas as well. Brushing and flossing may not be a revolutionary idea -- you've probably been doing both since childhood -- but they're among the most important things you can do to get your gum disease under control. Your dentist may also recommend using an antibacterial mouthwash that can help reduce bacteria in your mouth and fight plaque.

Professional Cleaning and Scaling

Scaling and Root Planing may be necessary if you have gum disease.
You may need more frequent and in-depth professional cleanings.

In addition to cleaning your teeth at home, your dentist may recommend that you come in for more frequent professional cleanings. You should already be visiting your dentist twice a year for teeth cleanings (and if you aren't doing that, now is the time to start) but if you are showing signs of gum disease, you may need three or more cleanings per year.

Additionally, your dentist may prescribe other in-office treatments, like scaling and root planing. Scaling involves scraping away both plaque and tartar that have accumulated above and below the gumline, and root planing involves smoothing away the rough spots on the roots of your teeth where bacteria can collect and multiply.

Medications

Finally, your dentist may prescribe medications to help control the gum disease. Antibiotics can help reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria in your mouth. Some newer antibiotics are designed to be applied locally to the diseased areas, which can help stop the gum disease without affecting the entire body.

Following your dentist's plan is vital if you want to stop gum disease from progressing. If you have questions, or would like to come in for an evaluation, you can call your local Gentech Dentist office, or schedule an appointment below.

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What You Need to Know about Receding Gums

The first sign of receding gums isn't always looking in the mirror and noticing that your gum line is higher than normal. Recession can happen gradually, so you may not notice it just by looking at first. However, you might notice that your teeth are sensitive to cold, heat, or spicy food. This happens because when your gums recede, the sensitive tooth root becomes more exposed, so it can be more easily irritated by the food and drink in your mouth.

What Can Cause the Recession?

Brushing too hard can cause receding gums.
Are you brushing your teeth too hard? You could be destroying gum tissue.

There are a few reasons why your gums might be receding. One of the major causes of gum recession is gum disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease can destroy your gum tissue, leading to recession. However, it may surprise you to learn that another common reason for gum recession is overly aggressive brushing. That's right -- brushing your teeth too hard can wear away both enamel and gum tissue, leading to receding gums.

Poor dental care can also lead to gum recession. If you don't brush or floss often enough, or don't have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist twice a year, it can lead to plaque buildup that may result in your gums receding. Hormonal changes can also have an effect on your gums.

What Problems Can Receding Gums Cause?

In addition to tooth sensitivity, receding gums can cause other problems for you. When gums begin to recede, they pull away from the tooth's surface, which can create pockets between the gum tissue and the surface of the tooth. Inside of these pockets, food particles and bacteria can accumulate, leading to infections.

If not treated, continued recession can eventually lead to tooth loss, as the tooth becomes looser inside of the socket. And of course, gum recession has a cosmetic effect, causing your teeth to appear longer than normal as the gum line changes.

Treatment for Gum Recession

There are a number of different treatments that can be used to treat gum recession and the symptoms surrounding the condition. Early intervention to identify the underlying cause of recession is the best strategy -- if gum disease, for example, is caught and treated early, before the gum recession is severe, you may not need any treatment to correct a minor gum recession.

Your dentist can prescribe desensitizing agents to help you deal with any tooth sensitivity that occurs as a result of exposed tooth roots. There are several treatments that can help to restore the gum line, from gingival veneers made of acrylic or silicone to surgery or grafting gum tissue over the recession. Your dentist will help you decide which treatment is right for you based on the severity of your gum recession.

If you're concerned about your gum health, there's no time like the present for a check-up. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Tobacco Use and Your Oral Health

As you may have realized from seeing a few burgundy ribbons around, April is the designated month for oral cancer awareness. To commemorate this important month, consider taking the time to learn how to maintain your own oral health. Tobacco use is one factor that can have a major impact on your oral health. Here are some of the many ways tobacco use can affect your gums, mouth, and teeth over time.

Discoloration of Teeth and Mouth

Healthy Smile
Avoid tobacco use for a gorgeous, healthy smile.

A more benign effect of tobacco use on oral health is discoloration. Dentists find that longtime tobacco users are more likely to have yellow teeth. In some cases, tobacco users may also develop a yellow tongue from the staining effects of the nicotine and other chemical substances in the tobacco. This unsightly staining of the teeth and tongue can be permanent and possibly a sign of more serious underlying issues.

Damage to Teeth

Not only does tobacco use make individuals more susceptible to cavities, it also causes major damage to the teeth over time. This is especially true when it comes to smokeless tobacco, which contains particles that are abrasive to the teeth. It can cause or worsen tooth decay. According to Delta Dental, smoking increases an individual's chances of experiencing mouth pain as well.

Gum Disease

Longtime smokers tend to experience a higher incidence of gum disease than nonsmokers. In fact, according to Delta Dental, about 50 percent of adults who smoke have gum disease. The reason for the high incidence of periodontitis in smokers is that smoking weakens the body's immune system. This results in an inability to fight off gum infections, which can ultimately lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Since smoking also reduces the number of blood vessels in the body, damaged gum tissue from infections takes longer to heal in smokers than in non-smokers. Those who use tobacco are twice as likely as nonsmokers to lose their teeth.

Oral Cancer

Gentech Dentist suggests avoiding tobacco for a healthy smile
Avoiding tobacco can help preserve your oral health.

Without a doubt, the most troubling link between oral health and tobacco use is the greater incidence of oral cancer in smokers. Tobacco users are six times more likely to get oral cancer than nonsmokers. It is estimated that in 90 percent of all cases of oral cancer, the patient has used tobacco in some form.

Tobacco users who don't smoke but use smokeless tobacco are also at risk of oral cancer. In fact, the risk for oral cancer is greater in tobacco users who use snuff and chewing tobacco than in those who smoke traditional cigarettes. This is because smokeless tobacco comes into much greater contact with the mouth than the tobacco in traditional cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco users are about 50 times more likely to get oral cancer than those who don't use smokeless tobacco.

In order to prevent oral cancer and other oral health issues, individuals should keep the effects of tobacco use in mind. Without a doubt, the best protection against cancer is awareness. For more information about maintaining your oral health, don't hesitate to contact us.

Oral Cancer: When & Why You Should Get Screened

Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Oral cancer is a serious problem, and it's made all the more serious by the fact that it's often not caught until late in its development. Because of this late detection, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that half the people diagnosed with oral cancer this year will succumb to the disease within five years. You can increase your chances of survival by being screened for oral cancer regularly. Take a look at some things you should know about oral cancer screenings.

What's Involved In An Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is not that different from a regular dental check-up.

Oral cancer screenings are simple examinations that can be done during your regular dental visits. Your dentist will examine the inside of your mouth for sores or red or white patches that may indicate cancer. He or she will also feel your gum tissues, in order to check for lumps or other things that indicate abnormalities.

If your dentist sees anything that may indicate cancer, they may want to perform further tests. You may be asked to use a mouth rinse containing blue dye that adheres to abnormal cells, or the dentist may shine a light in your mouth that makes abnormal tissue appear white while healthy tissue appears dark.

When Should You Be Screened?

Smoking increases risk of oral cancer.
Smoking greatly increases your risk of oral cancer.

You should be getting regular dental check-ups at least twice a year. You will receive a screening during your 6-month check-up. If you have HPV or take drugs that suppress your immune system, you may be at higher risk for oral cancer. Men are at more risk than women, and people over the age of 55 are the most likely to develop the disease. Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer symptoms can be easy to miss, because they can often be mistaken for an ordinary cold or toothache. You may experience a sore throat, pain in the teeth or jaw, mouth sores or red or white patches in your mouth, numbness in your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth, and difficulty chewing or swallowing.

If you experience any of these symptoms for consecutive days or weeks, you should have them checked out, and your dentist or doctor may recommend an oral cancer screening at that point. Because it's easy to miss the symptoms or attribute them to some other cause, it's still better to have a screening if you have risk factors, whether or not you notice symptoms. The earlier oral cancer is caught, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

If you need an oral cancer screening, or if you just happen to be due for a check-up, April is a great month to have it done. Contact us to make an appointment today.