Do You Have Gum Disease? What To Know If You’re Pregnant

Dental care is important for everyone. But if you are pregnant, a healthy mouth takes on a whole new meaning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gingivitis affects 60 to 75 percent of pregnancies. If you already have red, swollen, or irritated gums, look at the top pregnancy-periodontal disease questions answered.

What’s the Pregnancy-Periodontal Disease Link?

Pregnancy hormones are change-makers in your body. Along with mood swings, thicker hair, and dewy skin, hormones can increase blood flow to the gums. This can result in inflammation, irritation, sensitivity, and easy-to-bleed gums.

The hormonal changes of pregnancy can also change the body’s response to infections. Gum disease happens when bacteria overrun the mouth and cause an infection. Decreased ability to fight off bacteria can increase the risk of periodontal disease.

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?

Do you have pregnancy-related gum disease? While some of the symptoms are noticeable, others may give you pause — but not complete concern. If your gums bleed once after you eat something sharp (such as a tortilla chip), you likely have an injury.

Even though this type of injury should heal on its own, you should pay extra attention to the area and call a medical provider at the first sign of infection. The increased blood flow to the gums and decreased ability to fight off bacteria may increase the chances that a simple scratch on your gums turns into something more serious.

Gum disease signs can range from minor beginning symptoms to severe red flags. Many periodontal disease patients experience redness, swelling, discomfort, and bleeding. If you notice blood when you brush, inflammation, or a foul taste in your mouth (with no other known cause) you may have gum disease.

When Should a Pregnant Women Visit the Dentist for Gum Disease?

A healthy mouth is part of a healthy pregnancy. This makes early detection and treatment of gum disease important. Pregnant women should continue to see their dentist on a regular visit schedule. If you don’t have a visit scheduled during your pregnancy, make an appointment as soon as possible — especially if you have bleeding, irritation, or any other periodontal symptom.

Why Shouldn’t Pregnant Women Ignore Gum Disease?

No one should ignore periodontal disease symptoms. Gingivitis can progress into a serious infection that leads to tissue or bone loss. Without an adequate amount of healthy tissue or the proper bone support, you could lose a tooth. Likewise, tissue and bone loss/infection may make extraction necessary.

In pregnancy, gum disease can cause problems beyond oral issues. The infection increases the risk of pre-term birth or a low birth-weight baby.

How Can You Stop Gum Disease?

If you already have the symptoms of gum disease, you can make changes — and now. A 2018 study in the journal Advances in Preventative Medicine found that pregnant women who brushed less often had a higher likelihood of having poor birth outcomes than those who brushed more.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Make sure to brush all areas of the mouth, and floss to get the in-between spaces. Brush after meals, if possible, too.

Again, a visit to the dentist is necessary. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment. If you have concerns about caring for your gums before the appointment day, ask the dental office staff for recommendations. Gum disease patients may need to visit the dentist more often for professional cleanings or check-ups during pregnancy.

Are you pregnant? Are your gums inflamed, red, or irritated? Contact the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for more information.

3 Ways You Naturally Fight Cavity Formation

Your oral health depends a lot on what you eat and how well you keep up with oral hygiene. But did you know that your body also has quite a variety of natural defenses against cavities? Here are some of the ways your mouth works on a daily basis to fight against cavities forming in your teeth.

1. Producing Saliva

You’ve probably heard about saliva’s role in food digestion. It contains enzymes to help start to break down food even before you swallow. But did you know that saliva is also one of the biggest factors in protecting your teeth from cavities and repairing the daily wear and tear they experience?
For example, your saliva is full of minerals, which are carried to your tooth surfaces to help repair any softened enamel that occurs after you eat acidic, sugary, or high-carb foods. The bad bacteria in your mouth produce acids that leach the minerals out of your teeth. This process can lead to decay unless your saliva manages to reverse it by adding minerals back.
So how can you help? The first step is to drink lots of water on a daily basis so your body has plenty of moisture for producing saliva. The next step is to chew gum after meals, which helps your mouth release more saliva and helps swish the saliva all around your mouth.

2. Using Dentinal Fluid

You may have heard that your teeth have tiny dentinal tubules, which become exposed and cause sensitivity when your enamel wears thin. But did you know that these tubules actually have a great cavity-fighting function? They carry needed dentinal fluid containing substances such as nutrients to each tooth’s dentin layer.
However, this function only works properly if your diet is in good shape. That’s because a high-sugar diet can reduce the amount of parotid hormone produced and thus cause the fluid to stop flowing outwards. Then, bacteria and contaminants can invade the tubules, and the fluid with nutrients isn’t carried outward to all parts of the tooth.
So one of the best ways you can help out with this cavity-fighting function is to simply reduce the sugar and empty carbs in your diet. You may also need to work on stress management and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

3. Fostering Beneficial Microbes

Your mouth is such a great place for bacteria to grow that you’ll never get rid of all the bacteria. Instead, your mouth makes use of beneficial bacteria to help reduce the effects of the bad ones. The more beneficial bacteria are living in your mouth, the fewer acid-producing bacteria will be able to find homes there.

You can help your mouth with this by using a mouthwash that only discourages the bad bacteria rather than carpet-bombing all the microbes in your mouth. For example, you can use an alkaline mouthwash, since bad bacteria love to grow in an acidic environment, and good bacteria tend to prefer a less acidic environment.

And if you want to take it a step further, you can work on getting more probiotic foods (foods that contain beneficial microbes) into your diet. Probiotic foods are foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut that have live active cultures in them.

If you don’t want to eat more of these types of foods (or can’t for medical reasons), you may consider looking into an oral probiotic supplement formulated to deliver beneficial bacteria to your mouth. Beneficial bacteria can help with a variety of issues, including gum disease and bad breath, and may even kill some of the bad bacteria.

These are just three methodologies that can help naturally fight against cavity formation. Aiding your body in keeping up these three natural processes, while simultaneously keeping up with your great oral hygiene, could lessen your chances of contracting tooth decay.
Whether you’re in need of fillings or looking for more advanced restorative work, call the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA today to schedule an appointment.

10 Things to Know About Your Teeth and Tartar

Dental tartar is a bacterial residue left behind on the teeth that can lead to stains and decay. Tartar can become very hard and bonded to your teeth, making it impossible to remove without the specialized skills and tools of a dentist in the area. Once tartar is formed on your teeth, it is even easier for additional tartar and advanced tartar, called calculus, to also adhere to your teeth.

Learn these ten things you should know about tartar.

1. Tartar Lurks Near the Gumline

Tooth tartar is also called dental calculus, and it typically forms in the nooks and crannies of your teeth, particularly around the gumline. Wherever your toothbrush or floss can’t reach is where tartar likes to grow.

2. Tartar Makes It Tricky to Brush and Floss

Tartar turns hard and sticky, making it more difficult to get a toothbrush where it needs to be. It also can make it very challenging, even painful, to floss between teeth and around the gums. This begins a vicious cycle; the discomfort and difficulty contribute to the formation of more tartar and eventual tooth decay.

3. Bad Breath Is an Early Sign of Problems

Have you noticed that you’ve had bad breath lately? Foul breath is an early sign of tartar and the need to increase flossing between teeth. If you fail to act, the tartar around the gumline will become harder and darker. This plaque is the beginning of gum disease and tooth decay. Prompt intervention from your dentist and vigilant dental hygiene may help control and reverse the condition, but it won’t restore any teeth that have decayed or been lost.

4. Tartar Is Stubborn

The process of removing tartar from teeth is often called descaling. Tartar is rough and raised on the smooth surface of your teeth; it must be removed with special instruments by your dental provider.

5. Tartar Can Get Worse

Things can get worse quickly with tartar. The bacteria growing in your gums and teeth can become infected, which is considered periodontitis. You may need antibiotics to recover from the infection, but it can cause permanent bone and tissue damage in your mouth.

6. Smoking Contributes to Tartar

Smoking contributes to the formation of tartar, so don’t smoke. Reports indicate that those who smoke or use tobacco products are more likely to have tartar buildup on their teeth.

7. Tartar Can Harm Your Heart

For years, studies have reported a link between plaque caused by bacterial tartar and heart disease. When plaque is not removed from the teeth, it can break free and be released into the bloodstream, where it could cause clogs or other complications.

8. Tartar Presents Serious Health Risks

Tartar impacts overall health and wellness; individuals suffering from tooth decay and disease caused by tartar may struggle with confidence or self-esteem. Many may experience depression. Furthermore, the physical inflammation and bacterial growth caused by poor dental hygiene can contribute to dementia.

9. Flossing Is Your First Defense

The most effective way that you can prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque between your teeth and around your gumline is to floss. Floss after every meal, and rinse with a tartar-preventing mouthwash each day.

10. You Need to See Your Provider Every 6 Months

Visiting your dental provider every six months is the best way to stay on top of tartar. Your dentist will descale your teeth to prevent the calculus from causing decay, discomfort, and tooth loss.

There are various other factors involved in whether you are susceptible to dental tartar or not, including age, diet, and genetics.

Is tartar compromising your dental health? Restore your smile with Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA. Choose to restore your teeth and regain your confidence.

What To Know About Peri-Implantitis

If you’re missing a tooth, you are probably considering options to replace the missing tooth, such as a dental implant. While dental implants are the most durable tooth-replacement option, they still can have complications, such as peri-implantitits. If you are considering getting an implant or you already have an implant, use this guide to learn more about this potential complication.

What Is Peri-Implantitis?

After you get an implant, the crown and titanium root will be invulnerable to decay, but your gums and jawbone can still be negatively impacted. When infection attacks the gums around the implant, they become inflamed, causing peri-implant mucositis. At this stage, only the gums are affected. Treatment is usually successful if caught at this stage.

If the problem continues, however, the inflammation reaches the bone supporting the dental implant’s titanium root. This causes the implant to lose stability and be more likely to fail. At this point, the symptoms will not reverse on their own because your body will not naturally regrow gum tissue or bone tissue.

What Causes It to Occur?

As with many conditions, there is no single cause for peri-implantitits, but there are many risk factors, which may increase your chances. In fact, peri-implantitis is so common that more than 28 percent of patients with dental implants develop this inflammation.

You can help avoid it by continuing good oral hygiene to avoid gum disease. If you smoke, quit now. The chemicals in tobacco restrict blood flow, and the area around the implant needs lots of fresh, healthy oxygenated blood. Certain medical conditions that affect healing and blood flow can also increase your risk. Unfortunately, some patients are simply genetically sensitive to the condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

Advanced peri-implantitis presents with severe symptoms, but at first, you may hardly notice any. Look for bleeding, tender, and red gums around the implant. In some cases, you may not notice the tenderness or bleeding unless you apply pressure to the gums such as from flossing or brushing. Some patients may even see, taste, or smell pus inside the mouth from the infection.

As the condition worsens, you may notice your implant begins to move a little, which can also cause pain. If the condition causes the gums to recede, you may begin to see the titanium root or bone loss. If the symptoms are still minimal, they may reverse on their own, but most likely, you’ll need professional treatments to reverse the effects.

What Treatments Are Available?

The first step is to fight the infection and inflammation. Your dentist will help with this by performing deep cleanings and providing special antibiotics. If you have any condition that affects your oral health, such as diabetes, you will also need to seek treatment for those. However, if you already have peri-implantitis, more advanced treatments are needed.

While non-surgical treatments like laser and air abrasive systems are available, they don’t seem to work well. This leaves surgery as the only choice for many patients. If bone and gum tissue has been lost, you may need grafts, and depending on the extent of the damage, the implant may need to be removed and replaced.

Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace missing teeth because they are so durable and may even last for the rest of your life. However, unless you take great care of your teeth and gums after treatment, problems can arise.

Peri-implantitis causes a lot of pain and wasted money. If you would like to know more about peri-implantitits or dental implants in general, contact us at Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA today.

Finding The Right Flossing Option For You

Some dentists tend to treat flossing as a one-size-fits-all option. While flossing may do a great job of keeping your teeth clean, some people have adverse reactions to flossing or need to use a brand free of substances that create problems for them. And many people have trouble remembering to floss or finding the motivation to do so every day. You may need an approach specific to you and your mouth.

Here are some steps to take to find the right flossing option for you.

Try Sensitive Floss

Some dental floss styles are simply are harsher on your gums and teeth than others. Trying a gentle dental floss that’s designed not to make your gums bleed is the first line of attack when you’re wondering why flossing doesn’t work for you.

If you have the manual dexterity needed for flossing but find that your gums don’t react well, a sensitive floss may be what you need.

Consider Allergies

Many dental flosses are made of nylon, but some are made of silk or bamboo or even other plant fibers. And coatings may contain bee products, flavor additives, or other substances that may cause allergic reactions in some. If you suspect this is happening to you, talk to your dentist or doctor about the possibility of an allergic reaction.

You can also try switching to an uncoated floss or using interdental brushes for a couple of months to see if that helps.

Start With Water Flossing

If you’ve never built up a regular flossing habit because it always turns into a bloodbath from which your gums don’t recover before the next day, perhaps your gums are irritated. Keeping them clean will help them become less sensitive. However, this advice may seem like catch-22 because flossing itself can help you keep your teeth clean.

One solution is using a water flosser to help clean along the gumline. Water flossers have been shown to reduce gum sensitivity and bleeding, which means that after you’ve used the water flosser for a while, your gums may not mind the flossing as much. So try working up to actual floss after you’ve gotten into the habit of water flossing every day.

Look Into Flossing Tools

In addition to interdental brushes and water flossers, several other types of flossing tools are on the market to help you clean between your teeth if dexterity is an issue. Floss picks are considered slightly inferior to string floss because they don’t allow the floss to hug the side of your tooth as well, but they’re still better than nothing. Or you could try a floss holder.

Use an Electric Toothbrush

It takes much less effort on your part to clean your teeth with an electric toothbrush because you don’t have to use a back-and-forth brushing motion. This may help to conserve your energy and time so that you can manage to floss more often now that you’re not putting all that energy into brushing.

Another benefit is that some electric toothbrushes are designed to clean along your gumline and in the cracks between your teeth better, so there’s not as much plaque left for your floss to clean out. This innovation could mean less time spent on flossing, or it could mean that you can make do with just a floss pick.

These steps can help you work up to a flossing habit, eliminate products that you could be sensitive to, or find alternatives to assist you with dexterity issues. Remember, daily oral hygiene habits are your first line of defense against cavities and gum disease. And professional dental visits are only periodic, rather than daily, but they’re just as important.

To schedule a professional dental cleaning or other dental services, contact the office of Kenneth Schweizer, DDS, PA, today.

Impacted Cuspids: Causes And Treatment For This Common Issue

Teeth come in many different varieties, including the incisors, premolars, and cuspids. The latter type is the second most common to impact when a child develops their adult teeth. Understand this problem — and its treatment options — to avoid complications with a child’s oral health.

Importance of Cuspids

The cuspids — or canine teeth — provide many benefits that make them critical for oral health. First of all, cuspids tear into tough food, like meat, to make these foods more manageable to eat. Second, they help you to speak. And third, they support the surrounding teeth.

The development of cuspid teeth typically occurs when a child is between 11 and 13 years old. Before that age, a child’s teeth don’t have the same kind of sharp edge provided by the cuspids. However, cuspid growth may be complicated by impaction in the jaw.

Consequences of Impacted Cuspids

As adult teeth grow into a child’s mouth, the risk of impaction grows. This problem occurs when the tooth is blocked and unable to erupt from the jaw properly. For example, a cuspid may grow underneath of another tooth and threaten to damage that tooth with its growth.

Other issues include eruption behind other teeth or in front of them. Improper cuspid eruption affects not only a child’s overall dental health but their physical appearance as well. Therefore, treating erupted cuspids is critical to perform as early as possible.

Reasons Cuspids Impact

Impacted cuspids occur for a multitude of reasons. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition for this problem. As a result, parents who suffered from impacted cuspids need to track their child’s teeth growth to ensure that this issue doesn’t affect them as well.

The late development cycle of cuspids may also contribute to a higher risk for impaction. Typically, an impacted tooth occurs when little room is left in the mouth for its growth. As the mature cuspid may develop or grow after most of a child’s adult teeth have grown in the mouth, the risk for impaction is higher than with other teeth.

Treatment for Impacted Cuspids

Parents concerned about their child’s impacted cuspids have many treatment options. First of all, early detection is critical. X-rays and other schematic examinations of oral health provide parents and dentists with a better understanding of how a child’s teeth are growing.

If the dentist notices problems with the cuspids, they can relocate the tooth and avoid impaction problems. For example, autotransplantation carefully repositions the tooth in a way that avoids impact and keeps the canine straight and strong in the mouth. Another possibility is to use braces to move the teeth interfering with the cuspid’s growth.

These two treatment options help prevent the need for a dental implant or prosthesis to replace the extracted cuspid. Dentists only recommend extraction if the impaction is too severe to manage or if the root of the tooth is severely damaged.

After these treatments finish, parents should regularly take their child to the dentist to track potential complications. For example, the tooth may still try to grow improperly in the mouth after some surgeries or may suffer rejection from the gums. If these issues develop, other surgical methods may be necessary for correction.

Dentists Help Manage Cuspid Development

If your child’s cuspid teeth appear to be coming in improperly or trigger severe pain in their mouth, please don’t hesitate to contact or visit us at Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, right away to learn more about this issue. Our dental professionals will examine your child’s mouth, find out why their cuspids are impacting, and work hard to manage this problem as effectively as possible.

E-Cigarettes And Dental Health

E-cigarettes have grown in popularity. Even though vaping may seem like a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, these aerosol-producing pens, mods, and systems can still cause serious oral health issues. Whether you or a loved one vapes, look at what you need to know about e-cigarettes and how they can affect your mouth.

E-Cigarette Research

What does science have to say about vaping and oral health? As a newer form of smoking, research on the subject is still ongoing. Unlike the effects of tobacco-containing cigarettes, which have decades’ worth of research to back them up, the results of e-cigarette use are still somewhat unknown.

Even though research on vaping is still in its infancy, medical experts do agree that using any nicotine-containing product is unhealthy and dangerous. Current research into vaping does show that while it doesn’t have quite the same impact of using traditional tobacco-containing products, vaping comes with dental health risks. Read on to learn more about the potential problems that vaping can cause.

Oral Cancer Risk

Mouth cancers (cancers that occur on the lips or mostly anywhere in the mouth) have many different causes. Risk factors have traditionally included smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, using pipes or cigars, drinking large amounts of alcohol, exposing the body to the sun for large amounts of time, and getting the human papillomavirus.

However, along with regular cigarettes, smoking e-cigarettes can also put the user at an increased risk for oral cancers. The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health found that smokers who used non-cigarette products (including e-cigarettes) also had exposure to carcinogens.

Not only were non-cigarette users at risk, but the levels of carcinogens they had exposure to were often comparable to those of exclusive cigarette smokers. Exposure to carcinogens, such as those in cigarettes and e-cigarettes, can lead to cancers of the mouth.

Gum Damage

Along with raising the risk of developing oral cancer, e-cigarette use can lead to serious gum problems. Research published in Oncotarget found that e-cigarette use can contribute to gum tissue cell damage.

If you think that this type of damage is less than what a tobacco-containing cigarette would cause, think again. Nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapors have comparable gum-damaging properties as the traditional type of cigarette.

The gum cell damage that vaping can cause puts the user at an increased risk for periodontal infections. Periodontitis — a serious infection of the gum — destroys the soft tissue, potentially causing gum recession, tooth loss, or systemic infections.

Catching periodontal disease early is essential. A dentist’s diagnosis is necessary, as well as professional-level treatment. While stopping e-smoking can prevent future damage, this won’t reverse existing effects.

In some cases, depending on the extent of the gum damage, routine cleanings and care may promote gingival healing. Extensive damage may require root planning and scaling, gum flap surgery, or other similar treatments.

Oral Infections

While vaping itself doesn’t cause oral infections, it can reduce blood flow to the mouth area. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes also contain nicotine. Even though nicotine doesn’t contain teeth-staining tobacco, the nicotine ingredient can negatively impact the user’s body.

Nicotine’s effects on blood vessels can cause problems throughout the body. Along with potentially causing cardiac issues, the restricted blood flow to the mouth can make the area more susceptible to infections.

If the user isn’t willing to stop smoking e-cigarettes, the increased risk for infection requires proper routine dental care — including at-home care and regular dental visits. While this won’t eliminate the risk, this can help to reduce the likelihood of a bacterial invasion.

Do you vape? Does your teen, spouse, or loved one use e-cigarettes? If you or someone you love vapes, you need professional dental care to prevent or reverse damage. Contact Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for more information.

Are Your Teeth Appearing To Shrink?

While some patients feel that their permanent teeth are too large or too long, others are concerned about their smile falling on the other side of the size spectrum. You may grow in a relatively small set of teeth as a teen, which is apparently a natural step in our evolution, or you may notice your teeth seem to get smaller as you’re getting older.

The appearance of shrinking teeth may be caused by actual loss of tooth material or other changes in your mouth that simply make them look smaller. Your dentist is the only one who can determine what’s affecting your teeth.

Wear and Grinding

If the individual teeth are actually smaller than they once were, the problem is most likely physical wear. Jaw clenching and tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the most common culprit, but extremely weak teeth can slowly wear away just from normal chewing and brushing.

A diet high in acids and poor brushing and rinsing habits also accelerate wear on the teeth. Your dentist will take measurements over a course of time to understand the amount of damage you’ve experienced. Crowns and sealants can prevent further damage but only after the original bruxism or other cause of wear is addressed.

Natural Aging

Years and decades of chewing and repetitive forces change the appearance of the front teeth. By the time a person is in their 70s or 80s, the front teeth tend to look significantly shorter through either wear or a frontward tilt that makes an intact tooth appear smaller.

Many people lose some or all of their teeth by this age, so tooth loss isn’t a major concern as long as it’s primarily cosmetic. If a person’s ability to eat or speak is impaired, your dentist can remove the teeth and add implants to replace the most worn or tilted teeth and restore function quickly.

Gum Overgrowth

In younger patients and menopausal women alike, gum spreading and overgrowth is a common cause of teeth that suddenly look smaller and shorter without any wear or tear on the edges. Teeth turn translucent around the worn surfaces, so the problem may be the gums swelling or spreading and covering some of the tooth surface is signs of wear are missing.

Gum overgrowth is often triggered by an underlying infection or hormonal change. When gum growth has no distinct underlying cause, the dentist can remove the unnecessary gum tissue to restore the usual appearance of your teeth.

Orthodontic Treatment

Some people think that their teeth look smaller after having braces removed or other orthodontic treatments completed. In most cases, this is simply due to the patient getting used to the appearance of the extra hardware and forgetting the true size of their original teeth.

Removing parts of the braces, such as the wire attachment points, does require some minor abrasion and polishing of the teeth. The orthodontist may also need to polish some corners or edges to help teeth fit together properly in the end. All of these treatments leave you with slightly smaller teeth, although few patients can truly tell a difference in the end.

Tooth Reshaping

Finally, if you asked your dentist to shave down or reshape teeth you feel are too large, the result will definitely cause the appearance of shrinking. Your dentist has to add a veneer or crown to make teeth look bigger, so you and your dentist should make the right decisions before committing to any dental reshaping.

Schedule an appointment with our team here at Kenneth Schweizer, DDS, PA, to figure out if your teeth are shrinking or just look smaller. Regardless of the problem, we’ll help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful.

Dental Problems And Care In Old Age

As you age, you are likely to suffer more dental challenges than the younger generation. Your body weakens and becomes more susceptible to diseases and injuries. With proper care, however, you can maintain strong and healthy teeth into your sunset years. Here are some of the dental problems you may face in old age and how to manage the challenges.

Tooth Discoloration

As you get older, your teeth are likely to discolor due to a variety of issues. For one, you have exposed your teeth to a variety of colored foods over the years, and their accumulated effect is bound to show up in old age. Secondly, the increase in diseases in old age, and their medications, may also discolor your teeth. Lastly, teeth enamel naturally thins with age and loses its effectiveness.

Here are the tips to deal with age-related dental discoloration:

  • Limit discoloring foods since your teeth are highly susceptible to staining at this time.
  • Whiten your teeth with approved bleaching products.
  • Get dental veneers to cover up the discolored spots.

Talk to your dentist for advice on what is best for you.

Xerostomia

The salivary glands, which produce saliva to moisten the mouth and wash away food remains, reduce their productivity in old age. The decrease is partly due to aging and partly due to the diseases and medications you get exposed to in old age. Unfortunately, xerostomia (dry mouth syndrome) increases your risk of dental problems, such as decay and bad breath.

To deal with xerostomia, avoid habits that dry up your mouth. For example, limit the use of caffeine products, don’t smoke, and avoid mouthwashes with alcohol. Also, sip water regularly to hydrate your body and mouth. Lastly, chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary gland to produce more saliva.

Gum Disease

A lifetime of bad oral habits, for example, may catch up with you and trigger gum disease in your old age. Some of the diseases that tend to strike people in old age, such as diabetes and anemia, also increase the risk of gum disease.

Gum disease is a serious dental condition that requires treatment from a dentist. Maintain a good oral hygiene routine to reduce your risk of gum disease, but if you do develop the condition, consult your dentist as soon as possible to prevent tooth loss and other complications.

Root Decay

One of the effects of gum disease is that it exposes the root of your teeth. The teeth roots get exposed when the gums pool away from the teeth. Unfortunately, the teeth roots are not as strong as the rest of the tooth, which means the roots are also more susceptible to decay.

The best way to prevent root decay is to prevent gum disease and maintain a good oral hygiene routine (brush and floss daily). Treatment for root decay is roughly similar to treatment for tooth decay. However, root decay can easily make you lose your teeth so you should treat root decay as soon as the decay starts.

Bone Deterioration

Your bones become thin, lose their density, and become fragile as you get older. Bone deterioration affects your dental health because the jawbone anchors your teeth. With a deteriorated jawbone, your teeth may lose some of their alignment, dental implants may take longer to heal, and dental devices may not fit you properly.

Apart from a good diet and regular exercise, there isn’t much you can do to prevent bone deterioration in old age. Fortunately, your dentist has enough skills to treat your dental ailments despite your weak bones.

You don’t have to suffer the above dental problems in your old age. At Kenneth M. Schweizer DDS, PA, we have experienced professionals who will work with you to ensure you maintain healthy teeth in your senior years. Contact us for all your dental health needs and we will give you compassionate dental care.

What Is Enamel Erosion?

Plaque and the bacteria that feed on it are the culprits behind cavities. But, the microbes in your mouth aren’t responsible for enamel erosion. If the pearly white outer layer of your teeth is wearing away, take a look at the what’s, how’s, and why’s of this all too common dental dilemma.

What Is Enamel?

Before we answer the question, “What is enamel erosion?” you need to know what enamel is. Enamel is the white part of your teeth that acts as a hard outer coating and is visible when you open your mouth or smile. In a healthy mouth, enamel covers the softer dentin and pulp layers. The enamel protects your teeth during normal daily use.

Erosion happens when enamel wears away. Unlike your skin, which also serves a protective function, enamel doesn’t regenerate, meaning it won’t repair itself or come back.

How Does Erosion Happen?

There are several different causes for enamel erosion, like mechanical processes of the mouth, which can result in this type of dental damage. The mechanical or physical activities that can result in enamel erosion include:

  • Brushing: Even though brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes can lead to a healthy mouth, overdoing it or brushing too forcefully can lead to erosion.
  • Grinding: Stress and anxiety can cause some people to grind their teeth. This motion wears away the outer surface of the teeth involved.
  • Biting: If you bite your nails, chew hard items (such as ice), or use your teeth to open bottle caps, you run the risk of removing the enamel.

Along with physical erosion, enamel can wear away by chemical methods. These methods typically include acidic wear on teeth and can come from sources such as:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD): Stomach acid that rises up through the esophagus and into the mouth can wear away enamel. This situation is often the result of GERD, a digestive disorder that happens after eating.
  • Vomiting: Vomiting every once in a while, like during a stomach virus, won’t erode the enamel of your teeth. But, constant vomiting can bathe the teeth in enamel eroding stomach acid. People with the eating disorder bulimia are at an increased risk for this process and the resulting erosion.
  • Alcoholism: Like with vomiting, an infrequent alcoholic drink won’t ruin your teeth. But chronic alcoholism can result in enamel erosion. According to one study of 1,064 teeth from the North Alcoholic Regional Centre, almost 50 percent of the teeth (belonging to alcoholics) had enamel erosion.
  • Soft drinks: The high levels of citric and phosphoric acids in soft drinks can lead to enamel erosion. Like some of the other causes, you need to consistently drink sizable quantities of soft drinks to see this undesirable result.
  • Fruit drinks: Along with the decay-causing sugar in juices, fruit-based drinks are often highly acidic. Drinks such as grapefruit, cranberry, or orange juice can cause enamel erosion over time when ingested in large quantities.

Even though physical and acidic causes are major culprits behind enamel erosion, some dental patients experience this issue as a result of medication use (especially with prolonged aspirin use), as a genetic condition, or from dry mouth (low saliva).

Why is Enamel Erosion Important?

Without the protective layer the dentin is left exposed. This exposure may cause discomfort or sensitivity. Along with sensitive teeth, exposed dentin shows through as a yellow color. If you’re looking for a celebrity-white smile, exposed dentin will ruin your pearly white look.

Reducing acidic intake, increasing dairy product intake (especially at the ends of meals), and visiting the dentist regularly can help to reduce the risks of enamel erosion.

Do you have existing erosion? Contact the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA for more information.