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What is a Periodontal Screening?

Does your smile pass the Test?

No doubt, you have heard how important it is to take care of your gums for the health of your teeth, but it can also affect your overall health. Gums, also known as gingiva, is a barrier tissue that covers and protects your teeth and the bone that surround and support your teeth.

When gums become tender, swollen and begin to bleed, it is usually a sign that the body’s immune system has been triggered.

Our mouth is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms. While much of the bacteria is our mouth are beneficial in preventing disease, there are some that are harmful if allowed to take over. The proper balance of these germs is critical for a healthy mouth. Certain processes take place everyday to keep this balance from being disrupted so that a response from our immune system is not triggered.

Some patients become aware that something is going on when they begin to notice bleeding when they brush their teeth. Others have had progressive gum disease for a long time and are surprised to learn of it.

Periodontal Screening

Watchful Eyes

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained to not only help you maintain healthy mouth and teeth, but they are always monitoring your mouth for signs of the onset of gum disease. By routine – usually once a year – they will perform a gum evaluation called a periodontal screening.

During this screening, they are assessing the health of your supporting gum and bone structures and evaluating the look of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and firm. Unhealthy gums are red, swollen, spongy-looking and may bleed. They also look for signs of gum loss (recession) and use a tiny instrument called a probe to measure the depths of the pockets between the teeth and gums. The pocket is a free space located around each tooth. In between each tooth it is where your floss enters for cleaning.

In a healthy mouth, this free space becomes attached gum about 2-3 mm of the way down. When bacteria is allowed to accumulate in this space inflammation occurs that triggers the immune system to send white blood cells. Unfortunately, the WBC not only destroys bacteria but gum tissue also. When the attachment portion of the gum tissue gets destroyed, the pocket become deeper and more bacteria, dental plaque and food can accumulate.

If left untreated or unnoticed, this pocketing will lead to bone loss. Eventually, enough bone is lost that the tooth becomes loose and cannot be saved.

Early detection is key

This is why it is important to identify this pocketing early in order to prevent further gum and bone loss. There are various treatment options available for gum disease and your dentist may refer you to see a gum specialist (Periodontist) for ongoing care.

Unfortunately, gum disease is called a “silent disease” that often goes unnoticed until a significant amount of damage occurs. This is usually the case for people who do not see a dentist routinely where the health of their teeth and gums can be monitored on a regular basis.

Periodontal disease has long been the leading cause of tooth loss in adults which is why every patient should have a periodontal screening performed annually. Early detection is key and can make all the difference.

The good news is that gum disease is an easily preventable disease. By simply brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and attending to regular dental check-ups and cleanings you are already helping your mouth and teeth.

To keep them in tip-top shape you need to start looking at your other habits:

  1. Meal frequency – Reduce snacking in between meals to allow your saliva to repair damage done by acid attacks. Read here
  1. Do not sip on sugary drinks or coffee/tea with milk, cream and/or sugar frequently or all day long.
  1. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse once a day
  1. Ensure that other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease is monitored by your physician regularly and is under control.
  1. Consider a smoking cessation program as smokers are almost three times as likely as nonsmokers to have periodontitis
  1. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that  helps to control inflammation.

Suggestions:

  • green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • nuts and legumes
  • olive oil
  1. If you suspect gum disease, never ignore the signs and see a dentist.

Signs:

  • red, swollen gums
  • tender and/or bleeding gums
  • loose gums that have pulled away from your tooth
  • sensitive teeth
  • pain when eating
  • receding gums; tooth appears longer
  • spaces between tooth and increased food impaction
  • loose fitting partial dentures
  • persistent bad breath

 

Keeping your gums healthy and strong is the simplest way to maintain your overall health and help to ensure you keep your teeth for life. If it has been a while since you have been to the dentist for a check-up or suspect you may be having problems with your gums please contact our office today at 905 – 5SMILES (905.576.4537). You’ll be glad you did!

Your in better dental health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com


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Signs of a Healthy Mouth

Do you know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy mouth?

Our patients at Your Smile Dental Care look to us to keep them up to date on all the advances in modern dentistry and to educate them on how to get their mouths and teeth as healthy as possible. Today, people know that they CAN keep their teeth for a lifetime and want to be aware of the first signs of trouble.

 

Gums

20-10-2014 1-32-21 PMHealthy gums are pale pink and firm. They are not white, red and puffy nor do they bleed when you brush or floss. Healthy gums also are not tender or sore and do not have pus filled pimples on them which may be signs of infection. One way we help patients gain a new perspective on the idea of bleeding gums, is to ask them if they would be concerned if they had persistent bleeding elsewhere on their body? Chances are they would answer yes and bring it to the attention of their physician immediately for a diagnosis and treatment.

There is also a triangular portion of gum tissue that should extend between adjacent teeth that ends in a point and has a free space (depth) of about 2-3 mm where your floss would slide for cleaning. As the gums recede due to unhealthy conditions, this triangular shape becomes more blunt and the space becomes deep, forming a pocket into which more bacteria, plaque and tartar can accumulate. Your dentist or hygienist monitors the health of your gum and will routinely measure the depth of these pockets.


Teeth

04-04-2016 3-08-02 PMObviously, healthy teeth should be cavity free, but when your dentist or hygienist checks your teeth, they are looking for many others signs of health also. They examine for any erosion, staining, chips or cracks, disease, failing dental work, looseness, missing teeth, crookedness, sensitivity, etc.

If teeth have had repair work done on them in the past such as fillings, crowns, or root canal treatments, they are checked to ensure that these restorations are holding up under the wear and tear that the chemical and mechanical forces of the mouth and jaws can place on them. Intact restorations have a good fit/seal against the tooth to prevent bacteria from getting in underneath and causing tooth decay. We look for signs of leakage, cracks, chips, movement and tooth decay.

Healthy teeth also do not appear longer as you age. When gums recede due to disease, the crown portion of the teeth will begin to look longer.

Case Scenerio

A patient comes into the dental office because their cap has fallen off of one of their teeth. The dentist notices immediately that not only has the cap come off the tooth, but the crown of the tooth has broken off at the gumline and is still inside the cap. Upon closer examination, they can see and feel with their instruments that both the part of the tooth that is in the cap and the portion that is still in the jawbone have rotted  from tooth decay. Bacteria has gotten in underneath the cap and diseased the hard tooth structure to the point that it crumbled enough for the tooth to break in half. It had been almost 7 years since their last exam. Maintaining regular dental checkups would have allowed the dental staff to monitor the marginal integrity of the cap and periodic x-rays would have detected signs of tooth decay when the cavity was small enough to be repaired.

 

Fresh Breath

Hidden Smile - CopyA healthy mouth does not have persistent or significant bad breath (halitosis). Early morning breath can have an odour after a long night of  bacterial action and growth when there is very little saliva production.

Most often, bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria and their odours and sulphur smelling gases. It is also one of the first signs of gingivitis that can lead to gum disease, worsening mouth odour, the loss of teeth and other complications for the body. Smoking, dieting, dehydration, illnesses, diseases, unclean denture and appliances, tonsil stones, nutritional deficiencies and foods all can cause bad breath.

Wonder if you have bad breath? If you can’t already taste or smell it yourself then you can smell your floss after use or scrape some plaque off your teeth or tongue to smell. Alternatively, you can ask someone to smell your breath and give an honest answer. Most importantly, do not ignore bad breath or just try to mask it with gums, mints or mouthwash. Your physician or dentist can usually help you get to the underlying cause when good oral hygiene does not solve the problem.


Pink, Clean Tongue

You may not realize this, but we also examine your tongue for signs of health. A healthy tongue is pink and covered with tiny nodules we call papillae that help you perceive taste. The overall surface should be flat, smooth and clean looking. The surface papillae can and do harbour bacteria that, if left to accumulate, can grow to unhealthy levels. Keep your tongue clean with a tongue scraper as part of your regular oral hygiene.
Tongue Scraper

A discoloured or painful tongue can be an indicator of trauma, smoking or canker sores, but can also be signs of more serious conditions including a nutritional deficiency, auto immune disease, allergic reaction, Kawasaki syndrome, anemia, diabetes or even cancer. White coatings, lines, or patchy areas should not go ignored.

There is a condition known as “geographic tongue” whereby the top surface of the tongue presents with a map-like pattern of reddish spots that sometimes have a white border on them. It is usually a benign and harmless condition that requires no treatment except topical medications if it becomes sore or uncomfortable.

Medications and menopause can also cause the tongue to become painful or even drier than normal. Always consult your physician if you notice something unusual about your tongue, especially any lumps or sores that do not go away.

 

Proper Bite

25-04-2016 11-19-29 AMIdeally, in a healthy mouth, your upper and lower teeth fit together in an even manner so that the forces of chewing are equally distributed and shared amongst all teeth throughout the jaw.

Teeth rely on one another for support and uneven bites, open spaces or teeth that are crooked, crowded, displaced or missing can hinder the performance, appearance and health of the teeth and can impact breathing, speaking, digestion and oral hygiene. Misaligned and crowded teeth can make teeth more difficult to clean and keep healthy and can cause jaw problems leading to clenching, grinding, head/neck/ear/sinus aches and TMJ disorder.

Pain Free

A healthy mouth is not painful, dry nor sensitive. Yes, we may temporarily cause it trauma through injury or hot foods or have the periodic canker sore show up, but overall, a healthy mouth is pain free. There are products and treatments to help with minor sensitivities and the source of dry mouth situations can be investigated. However, you should be aware and not ignore any changes, pain or afflictions in the mouth and it’s tissues that can be a sign of breakdown or disease. The rule of thumb is to have anything that lasts more than 7-10 days examined.

Lastly

Just because you may brush and floss everyday, does not mean that your mouth is healthy. The phrase, “Your mouth is the window to your overall health” is a reminder that caring for your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

30-03-2015 1-04-02 PM

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
http://www.yoursmiledentalcare.com/


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Extreme Bad Breath

Are you “Nose Blind?”

Bad BreathI heard that phrase on a television commercial today . I can’t remember what the ad was about, but these words stuck with me and made me think of imperceptible breath odour. We’ve had some of our patients tell us over the years that they’ve had close family members tell them that they had really bad breath, something they had not been aware of. They came to us looking for solutions and we were happy to offer them our professional advice.

Interestingly enough, many people do not know that they suffer from bad breath until someone tells them which is why the phrase Nose Blind would be an appropriate description of most people’s perception of their breath.

Why are we usually the last person to know that we have a mouth odor problem? And more embarrassing, is the thought that it has probably been occurring for a long time and we are just finding out now.

This will sound blunt, but how many situations have you been in where you have offended others with your bad breath and they have just been too polite or uncomfortable to tell you? It is certainly a horrific thought, but knowledge is power and recognizing that you have a problem is the first step in finding a solution.

There is something more horrible than your average bad breath.

Although poor hygiene is the #1 cause of bad breath, sometimes it can be more complicated than just that. Medications, illnesses, substance abuse, bulima and other habits can leave your mouth smelling anything but fresh, however, there is a mouth malodour that is so severe that it actually permeates throughout a room and nauseates bystanders causing them to cover their own noses.

Perio Breath

Perio breath is one such breath odour. It is used to describe the foul mouth odour that develops as a result of gum disease. Periodontal disease is a dental disease affects the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth. As the disease advances pocketing and destruction of surrounding gum tissue and bone occurs. The bacteria involved produce a sulphorus, gaseous smell similar to rotting tissue or rotten eggs. It is very distinct in its odour and usually a person can identify a distaste in their mouth, but may not be able to detect what others are smelling.

This is another reason why it  is often referred to a “Silent” disease. It is very important that you see your dentist as soon as possible since this level of bad breath is a good indication that you have been suffering from this condition longer than you may think. Dental treatment with accompanying home care can help you get control of bacterial buildup and their destructive actions and odours. It is important to understand however, that untreated gum disease will advance causing more than chronic bad breath… it can be life-threatening.

Tonsil Stones

Tonsil StonesHave you ever heard of tonsil stones? It is a less known, but not uncommon condition called tonsilloliths. Tonsil stones are small, white deposits of bacterial plaque and food that builds up in the craters of your tonsils and are usually dislodged during eating and coughing.

Tonsils are made up of folds of lymphatic tissue and some people have deeper folds and pockets than others making it difficult to remove this accumulation. Just like facial pores, these crevices can develop into deep openings where buildup continues to collect. The only way that they can be cleaned out is with medical assistance. An ENT physician can extract the deposits and teach you how to eliminate this buildup yourself at home.

For the brave of heart you can search for tonsil stones online. Just a warning though – The extraction of this material can be visually disturbing, but it can be a very seriously embarassing social problem for those suffering from the foul odour it causes.

The Social Implications of Chronic Bad Breath

Nobody wants to hear the hard reality of how people judge one another, but the social consequences of bad breath can be far reaching. The irony is that most people are too polite and would find it awkward to tell you that there’s a odour coming from your mouth. Unfortunately however, it can affect your image and sadly, your opportunities. If you are lucky enough to at least suspect that you have more than just the occasional bad breath ask a close loved one – they’ll tell you the truth. Review your oral hygiene habits and if the problem persists, see your physician or dentist for diagnosis. We’re here to help!

Yours in Better Health,

The Your Smile Dental Team
09-08-2014 9-12-36 AM