Posts for: December, 2015
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.
People who’ve lost all their teeth (a condition known as edentulism) face a decision on how to restore their lost function and appearance. And there are a number of options to consider.
A fixed bridge supported by dental implants, for example, is a good choice for patients who still have sufficient bone structure in their jaw. It’s not a good choice, however, for those with the opposite situation — who’ve experienced significant bone loss which has also affected their facial structure. For them, there’s a better alternative that also uses implants for support — the overdenture.
An overdenture is similar to a traditional denture, in that it’s made of life-like crowns permanently set in denture plastic, and may either partially or fully cover the roof of the mouth. The main difference, though, is that unlike traditional dentures which rest for support on the gum ridges, an overdenture is supported by strategically placed implants that the denture fits over and connects to — hence the name “overdenture.”
There are a number of advantages for an overdenture, especially for patients with bone loss. A removable, implant-supported denture can be designed to replace lost tissues that have altered facial appearance — to “fill in” the face and restore aesthetic harmony. Patients who’ve previously worn dentures will also often find their speech better improved than with fixed bridgework.
Because it’s removable, an overdenture and the underlying gums are easier to clean, which helps inhibit disease and lessen further bone loss. It also allows you to properly care for the denture, which can extend its longevity and reduce future potential maintenance and replacement costs.
If you would like to consider removable overdentures as an option, you should begin first with a thorough oral exam that includes evaluating the status of your bone, jaw and facial structure. From there we can advise you if overdentures are the best choice for you.
If you would like more information on overdentures and other restoration options, 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 “Fixed vs. Removable.”
My tooth is infected. Do I Need a Root Canal?
The short answer is, only your dentist can tell you. That’s why it’s important to stop in and see Dr. Joseph Zaky, your dentist in Yorktown Heights, New York. He specializes in implants and cosmetic dentistry, and can discover if your tooth really needs a root canal.
Teeth can become infected from many things including decay and dental trauma. Root canal therapy, called endodontics, can be used to treat infected teeth. At your appointment, Dr. Zaky will take some x-rays and discuss your symptoms with you and provide you with his expertise on what options are available.
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you need a root canal. A tooth needing a root canal can be very painful, or you may feel no pain at all. Typically, you need a root canal if any of the following are present:
- A dark area showing on the x-ray (radiolucency) at the tip of the root of the tooth
- Extreme sensitivity to heat or cold
- Pain that does not go away, especially after treatment with a filling or crown
Root canals are usually needed when there has been some bruising to the inner part (the pulp) of the tooth, causing pain. The pulp chamber containing nerves and blood supply is cleaned out so that you will no longer feel pain. This is called a first-step appointment.
You will return for a second appointment, usually after a week or so, when the tooth has “calmed down” and you no longer feel pain. The root canal will be completed by replacing the pulp with a rubbery material called gutta percha, and the tooth will be sealed up either with a permanent filling or crown.
The result is a stable, strong, non-painful tooth. You can rely on Dr. Zaky to complete your root canal treatment with a minimum of discomfort. He can even use sedation techniques if you wish. So, if your tooth hurts, and you are not sure you need a root canal, stop in for a consultation with Dr. Joseph Zaky, your dentist in Yorktown Heights, New York, and he will help take away your pain.