Irritated, Bleeding Gums and Flossing

While Urbandictionary may describe floss as “flaunting expensive merchandise such as iced-out Rollies and Gem-encrusted Pimp goblets” we are talking about the kind of floss that goes between your teeth.

Why is it that every time you go to the dentist the first thing that they ask you about is “How have you been doing with flossing?” Before I worked for a Sacramento Dentist  I used to lie and tell them I did it all the time. But guess what, they know that you are lying. They just knowSacramento Dentist.

Your gums are telling an entirely different story than what you are telling your hygienist. They know because you have deep pockets that are forming in between your gums and teeth.

They know because your bleeding gums aren’t getting any better. They know because your irritated gums are puffy.

Most people do brush their teeth twice a day and think that because they do that then flossing isn’t necessary. But that’s false. Do you notice that you have redness or bleeding gums when brushing, frequent gum swelling, bad breath, or loose teeth? Then you have a gum problem.

The quickest fix to your gum problems is to start flossing immediately. There is a chance that it may be painful and that bleeding will occur, that’s okay. The food and gunk between your gums and teeth has to be cleaned out somehow and it sure isn’t going to happen just from brushing.

However, when you are brushing, angle your tooth brush at a 45 degree angle, that way you can maximize the use of your brushing and you will be able to get under the gum line a little bit. Again, this does not replace brushing.

 

Frequently pondered, but not always asked, questions:

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The probing instruments that hygienists and dentists use to determine pocket depth. Healthy gums measure under 3 mm.

  • What do all the numbers mean? Your teeth are numbered, unless you are a kid in which case they are lettered, and often times they aren’t referred to as “the molar on the top left” but instead as “You need a filling on #14.” In addition to that the hygienist probes, or inspects, the soft gum tissues around the teeth. The hygienist uses a periodontal probe that is used to measure the depths of pockets around the tooth to identify the state of health of your gums. The numbers correlate to how deep the probe goes down into the gums by the millimeter. The smaller the number, the better.
  • What is a pocket? Flossing is the most effective tool for cleaning the tight spaces between your teeth. The floss scrapes up and down each tooth picking up clinging bacteria and food particles. Pockets indicate the presence of abnormal spaces between the tooth and the gums.  When the pockets form a crevice, or space, is created where fluids, food debris, and bacteria float around.  The depth of the pocket is constantly trying to fight off what has gotten trapped in there.

The next steps for you is to begin flossing immediately. There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you how to floss if you aren’t sure if you are doing it properly. Do it twice a day, religiously. And if you aren’t flossing well just tell your hygienist your concerns at your next appointment. She can show you what is going on in your mouth and how it will reduce gum irritation and bleeding gums.

Happy Flossing!

Do You Really Want to Keep your Teeth? Deep Cleaning Explained.

Sacramento DentistOn a recent trip back to visit family I encountered my kooky Great Aunt, let’s just call her Ivy. Ivy is an all-round entertaining lady. She could keep you talking for hours and comes up with some of the most ridiculous things. Upon telling her that I work for a dentist she blurts out, “You don’t work for 1-800-Dentist, do you!?”

Well, no, we are not affiliated with them but I was curious what caused her outburst. Upon further examination she said that recently her and her husband went to the dentist and “would you buh-lieve they wanted $250 for a cleaning, per quadrant!?” I don’t need to tell you the conversation that ensued that ended in Aunt Ivy refuting everything I said with, “I DON’T GET PLAQUE ON MY TEETH!” An odd statement considering that every single person on the planet has plaque on their teeth. Oh, Aunt Ivy.

When plaque gets under the gums where you can’t see it and can’t clean it you start to get irritation and bleeding in your gums. This is the early stages of gingivitis. When you have gingivitis your hygienist will want to give you a deep cleaning. They might also want you to use a wash called Chlorohexidine. Three out of four adults have some form of gum disease.Sacramento Dentist

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Your body is working feverishly to clean your teeth and the interaction between the food and the saliva creates bacteria and acid. If nothing is done about this it can begin to erode your bone structure. The acid begins to drip down your teeth and starts to eat away at the bone that is holding on to your teeth. Acid. Pretty nasty stuff. It eats through everything, including bone.

Here’s the tricky part, until someone’s condition get very bad they have virtually no symptoms. If gum disease is caught in time it can be stopped and steps can be taken to improve your condition. But, sadly, bone loss is irreversible.

In addition to keeping your teeth from falling out, or getting loose, a deep cleaning will help permanent crowns and bridges adhere to your teeth and last longer. It might help take care of that bad breath, too.

A deep cleaning will take approximately three hours where as a regular cleaning without x-rays will only take about 50 minutes. You are numbed with anesthetic and the hygienist cleans off the roots of the tooth.

I know what you are thinking. You brush your teeth every day, you’ve never had a cavity, you floss every now and then and maybe you even believe that you don’t get plaque on your teeth. Good for you! But that doesn’t mean you can skip your regular teeth cleanings every six months. Hygienists have special tools that get heavy plaque off of your teeth. They also have the ability to see and reach things that you cannot.

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Real Gateway Dental patient who received a deep cleaning. The patient was experiencing bleeding when brushing and flossing and had deep pockets of 5-6 millimeters (1-3 millimeters is great, anything more than 4 should require immediate attention).

The biggest mistake a patient can make is to not maintain a good hygiene program with the hygienist following the deep cleaning. After the cleaning your hygienist will want to see you three months later to clean the teeth again. More often than not it isn’t covered by insurance which is why many patients do not keep up on it. But, coming back every three months for a year will restore your gums to their better condition, will close the deep pockets created by the bacteria, and will help reduce the amount of bacteria that can get in there again.

If you were told you needed a deep cleaning, do not wait. Aunt Ivy will be sorry.

You can call 916-649-0249 if you have more questions and we’ll be happy to help you.

Dos and Don’ts for Healthy Teeth & Gums

We love reading SHAPE magazine around here so we were pretty happy to see this article: “10 Bad (Dental) Habits to Break”. The SHAPE magazine article outlines 10 very specific ways to treat your teeth. No guess work, love that! You can read about why the following 10 things are so dang important.

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  1. Brushing too hard
  2. The wrong toothpaste
  3. Forgoing Floss
  4. Drinking lots of soda
  5. Foods that stain
  6. Frequent snacking
  7. Using teeth as tools (seen this before?)
  8. Neglecting problems
  9. Avoiding the dentist
  10. Ignoring your lips

If you are experiencing pain and are in need of an emergency dentist in Sacramento or you are looking to establish a new dentist in Sacramento you can visit us today!

Call 916-649-0249 Today!

Oral Health & Pregnancy: Prevention is the Key to Keep Your Teeth

Tending to your teeth is far down on your list of concerns when you are pregnant. But, it should be closer to the top. Good dental care during pregnancy is essential, not only for your own health but also for your baby’s.

Female Dentist in SacramentoGrowing belly. Random hair growth. Swollen breasts. With all the extreme changes that occur in pregnancy, it would be nice not to worry about the things in your body that stay constant, like, oh… the inside of your mouth?

Sorry, you’re not that lucky. Like it or not, even your gums are hijacked by pregnancy hormones. Increased levels of pregnancy hormones progesterone and estrogen boost circulation, which brings more blood to the gums, according to Sally J. Cram, DDS, a periodontist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association.

Low levels of plaque that might have been insignificant before you conceived can cause worrisome problems now. In fact, most pregnant women experience some degree of gingivitis, which is identified by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Left untreated, gingivitis can escalate to gum disease. So why is this a big deal? Women with this condition are significantly more likely to have a preterm baby, according to many studies, including one published last year in the Journal of Periodontology.

If you skip brushing or flossing for just one night, within 24 hours your gums may be red, swollen, or bleeding. If you continue to put off brushing and flossing, you could develop gum disease, or periodontitis, which can cause bone loss. Bone loss equals tooth loss.

There are other barriers than just your unusual hormones. The carbohydrates you may rely on to suppress nausea (crackers, anyone?) also bathe your teeth in sugars. Pair that with the morning sickness and heartburn and your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Gum disease can also trigger a premature birth. In a study of 1300 women who gave birth, studied the dental records of the 13 percent who had delivered prematurely. They found that those who had periodontal disease were four to seven times more likely deliver prematurely than women with healthy gums.

Here’s how to keep your teeth healthy:

  • Brush and floss at least two or three times a day. However inconvenient, the reality is that it is important that you give your teeth and gums more attention.
  • Switch to a softer toothbrush if brushing makes your gums bleed.
  • Don’t skip your annual dental checkup. Try to time it to take place during your second trimester.
  • Seek an appropriate level of care, your dentist will advise you on what that is. If you’ve had gum problems in the past, you may need more frequent monitoring. If you have larger treatment you can be treated while you’re pregnant, though that’s no guarantee and special precautions will need to be taken.
  • Make sure your diet includes plenty of vitamin C.

If you show them a little extra love you can keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition during pregnancy.

Q & A with the Dental Hygienist: Eight Ways to a Healthier Smile

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1. What’s the biggest problem that you see with patients who come in terms of oral hygiene?

Most patients do not like to floss and think that it is no big deal.

2. How often should I brush and floss?

In an ideal world you should floss after every meal or snack. But, at least twice a day at morning and at night when that is not possible. The best time to loss is at night if morning is not possible because you do not want to leave remnants of food in between teeth to rot.

3. What are the benefits of flossing regularly?

Healthy gums, helps keep the teeth’s foundation of bone level, no bleeding, fresh breath, good check-ups, less cavities, less money to be spent on treatment because teeth are healthy, improves overall health of the body because the bacteria content that can cause heart problems is significantly decreased, decreased chance of bacteria between teeth being passed from mother to unborn child which leads to low-term newborns.

4. What are the dangers of not flossing on a regular basis?

I just mentioned that bacteria found in plaque can be passed from expectant mothers to their fetus. But there are studies that show a strong link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Not to mention that not flossing can lead to the loss of your teeth which could mean periodontal surgery and that costs money.

5. What is a deep cleaning and why would I have to get one?

A deep cleaning involves scraping the crown and root of the tooth to get rid of built up calculus and debris. Someone would need one if there are deep pockets between the gums and teeth and there is calculus present on the roots of the teeth.

6. What percentage of new patients that you see need a deep cleaning? Is it expensive?

Approximately 30-40% of the new patients that I see a month need a deep cleaning. It is expensive. But, have normal cleanings on a regular basis will eliminate the need for this type of invasive cleaning.

7. Why is flossing painful for patients? Will it always be painful?

Flossing is only painful for patients who have swollen gums, periodontal disease, or who only floss sometimes. Healthy gums do not hurt when flossed unless one is flossing incorrectly. Your hygienist can show you how to floss correctly.

8. Any other tips or products that you have for patients?

For patients who don’t like to floss with the string I highly recommend the Reach Flosser, it has a big handle so you don’t have to stick your hand in your mouth. At $3 a piece it is really affordable. The Air Flosser is a new device that can be used to floss. It costs about $70. Things like waters picks are good at removing plaque but does not replace flossing.

I Hate Flossing! Part II

A former flossing procrastinator turned flossing advocate; why to floss, how to floss, and the dangers of not flossing.

Sacramento DentistDid you know that if you lose five or more teeth to gum disease your odds at having a heart attack increase by 26%? If you are predetermined to have heart disease or diabetes you might want to think twice about flossing. Studies definitely show a strong link between poor oral health and heart disease.

Okay, well, I didn’t know this before. I was one of those “sometimes” flossers. You know what I’m talking about. When the dentist asked me how often I flossed my response was a sheepish “sometimes”. Then, I realized that my paternal grandmother died from heart disease. To add insult to injury, my father received a quadruple bypass at 46 and I lost an uncle to diabetes. Keep in mind that at that time it had been a few years since my last dentist appointment. Like many people it really hurt to floss my teeth and it was uncomfortable. I really didn’t want to do it. Really.

I guess you could say that skies parted one day when I stumbled upon some reading material reminding me that I was predisposed to horrible health issues (my grandmother’s heart disease, my dad’s clogged arteries, my uncle’s diabetes) and that not flossing could come back to haunt me with a vengeance. Now I’m a flossing advocator. And I put down the french fries. Win-win.

Now, working in a dental office provides me with more of an affinity towards taking care of my teeth. And all the compliments I get on my pretty teeth are just icing on the cake.  I promise that I am a modest person. I am! But I constantly receive compliments on my teeth. People comment on how straight they are to how white they are (thanks for braces mom and dad!). It’s those compliments that make me take pride in my teeth.

Think about it, when you work hard for your toned body and people take notice it only makes you work harder, right? My teeth are the same thing to me. That’s why I floss.

Everyone hates to floss. I hate to floss. But at the end of the day I’m healthier for it. You will be, too. Did you know that even the girls in the office hate to floss? That’s two Registered Dental Hygienists, four dental assistants!

Top 5 Reasons We Hate to Floss!

  1. It’s uncomfortable to stick whole hand in mouth
  2. “It’s gross!”
  3. Food flies around
  4. When floss gets stuck in the teeth
  5. Messes up lipstick

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I Hate Flossing! Part I

A former flossing procrastinator turn floss advocate; why to floss, how to floss, and the dangers of not flossing.

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Specks of food on the bathroom mirror, the gums are bleeding and it hurts, those dang molars are hard to get to, your hands can’t fit in your mouth, the list goes on. Tell me I didn’t list at least one reason why you don’t floss.

Here’s a little note: people go to college for years to learn how to prevent, diagnose, and treat people who don’t floss! Yes, they are called dental hygienists and dentists.

Imagine showering but never once washing behind your ears, under your armpits, in between your toes, and even, ahem, the private areas. Kinda gross, right? That’s what it’s like when you don’t floss. Your toothbrush cannot get in between each tooth and under the gum line to get the food that has collected there. Now think about how long that food stays between your teeth before it can naturally be dissolved. You don’t know how long it will take because you don’t even know that there is food in your teeth. But there is!

I bet you are thinking that flossing does not apply to you because you go to the dentist every six months and have been since you can remember and you cannot recall the last time that you got a cavity. I know this excuse because my husband uses it every day. And he’s right; he goes to the dentist every six months for a cleaning and hasn’t had a cavity since high school.

But look back at those cleanings that you received. Was the hygienist having a hard time getting the floss between your teeth? Did you have bleeding gums? Did she overload your goodie bag with floss samples followed by a stern reminder that you won’t be so lucky at the next cleaning? Yeah… that’s because while right now your gums feel fine they can take a drastic turn.

A very painful and expensive alternative to daily flossing is a deep cleaning. Yay! Doesn’t that sound like fun!? Hardly. A deep cleaning can be extremely invasive and in some cases down-right uncomfortable. A deep cleaning is something that has to be done because there is plaque underneath the gum line. Cases range from small to severe but either way the hygienist scrapes the plaque off the root of tooth. Ouch.  I think I’ll pass.

You must choose to jump in with both feet and commit to flossing. While the dentist recommends twice a day most people just can’t do it. So, I propose that if you can only do it once a day then you must do it at night. That way your teeth are clean when you go to bed and bacteria doesn’t have a chance to grow when you are sleeping with gunk in between your teeth.

Flossing for me was painful at first and if I go a week without flossing my gums will be a little sore after I floss again. But I have the knowledge of what can happen to my teeth and pocketbook if I choose not to floss and really I’d rather save myself the trouble and just floss. I leave floss all over the house, on my nightstand, on the coffee table, by the computer, and I use it whenever I’m lounging around. I suggest you follow this advice for TEETH’s sake!

“Dirty Mouth? Clean It Up!”

What is good oral hygiene? The mouth should look and smell healthy, meaning that your teeth are free of debris (feel like flossing?), gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss, and bad breath is not a common problem for you. Bleeding gums and constant bad breath? Time to make a dentist appointment! Good oral hygiene allows you to smile and be confident. It is good for your overall well-being.

While it is unlikely that poor oral hygiene is the sole cause for the related conditions below, poor oral hygiene combined with the other risk factors can be a dangerous combination. Gum disease has been linked to heart attacks, clogged arteries, diabetes, and premature births.

Severe forms of gum disease have been linked to heart disease, clogged arteries, strokes, too. Gum disease has also been known to cause premature birth in pregnant women. Have diabetes? Your body’s inability to control your blood sugar and fight infections leaves your gums undefended against disease. Those with diabetes  tend to lose their teeth much quicker due to increased bone loss caused by erratic blood sugar levels. And tooth loss is often prevalent in those with HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease.1

It does make you wonder why taking care of our mouth is so low on the totem pole of things to do. The bacteria in your mouth is usually harmless when brushed and flossed away. But, when inflamed gums begin to bleed, then passage into the blood stream is provided for more than 700 kinds of bacteria.2  Scary, right? Once the bacteria is in the blood stream there is potential that they can stick to the walls of your arteries which is why poor oral hygiene is linked most often with cardiovascular diseases. Aggressive antibiotic drug treatments can potentially reverse the effects that poor oral hygiene has on your health.

To protect yourself in between dental check-ups you should brush and floss twice a day, schedule regular dental check-ups, and replace your toothbrush every four months. Dr. Truong strongly suggests the use of an electric toothbrush. It is an investment that your teeth will thank you for later in life. The end result, however, will remain the same for those that choose to put the cleanliness of their mouth on the back burner. Regardless of how healthy you are, if you don’t take care of your teeth, you are at risk for some nasty diseases.

1. http://www.mayoclinic.com 2. http://www.healthnewsrack.com

Fix Yellow Teeth

Is professional teeth whitening for me?

It wasn’t long ago that professional teeth whitening or teeth bleaching seemed unattainable to regular people. We often speak to patients who are so embarrassed by their smile stained with layers of soda, coffee, and tobacco. Whether you choose for the more effective professional whitening or the whitening products at the pharmacy the real truth is that it works! Almost everyone can see substantial improvement from 4 to 8 shades whiter with this cosmetic treatment. You can find our latest teeth whitening special here.

Teeth Whitening Options

  • In-Office Teeth Whitening: the major benefit of in-office whitening is that in a short period of time you can see massive results. A typical visit lasts just 2 hours. Gums are painted with a rubber dam for protection against bleach and then the teeth are bleached in 20 minute intervals. All patients and their teeth are different. Some will require an additional visit or will be instructed to continue bleaching at home with a take-home whitening system from the dentist. A typical teeth whitening treatment costs $650, on average.
  •  Professional Take-Home Teeth Whitening Systems: Dentists can make custom bleaching trays for patients that resemble an athletic mouth guard. They are just as effective as in-office teeth bleaching but take longer to see results because they contain a lower concentration of peroxide. They can be purchased from your dentist for $100-$400.
  •  Over-the-counter whitening: The strips, one-size-fits-all trays, and bleaching pens that you purchase at the store are the most affordable and arguably the most convenient forms of whitening. They contain a lower concentration of peroxide than found in the take-home trays from the dentist. These methods usually only whiten the front teeth whereas the other options whiten all the teeth. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products cost between $20-$100.
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Teeth Whitening Sacramento

Teeth Whitening Risks

Gum irritation, Technicolor teeth, and sensitivity are all a possible side effects of in-office teeth whitening. For in-office bleaching more than half of patients feel some sort of gum irritation. It can last up to a few days or until the bleach stops working. Technicolor teeth results from fillings, bridges, and veneers that do not change color during the bleaching process. They stay the same color while the surrounding natural teeth whiten. It is also likely that patients will experience sensitivity. This occurs most often during in-office bleaching because the potency of the bleach is much higher. Sensitivity usually last for a day but can last up to a month.

You should call your Sacramento Dentist for a consultation to see if you are a bleaching candidate as all patients and their teeth vary. The dentist will conduct a comprehensive examination and discuss hygiene with you to determine which method is for you. You may find more information about teeth whitening at http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/teeth-whitening/