Friday, February 9, 2018

My roots are showing. Is this a problem?

Well, like all issues, it just depends on the circumstances. If you are a young adult with significant root exposure (more than 2mm), yes. If you are a middle aged or older person, and you've noticed more root showing recently, yes, this probably needs to be addressed. Keep in mind that gum recession is usually a slow process, but it can lead to tooth loss. The main treatment is a gum graft to cover exposed roots and provide thick, attached gum tissue that is resistant to further recession. If you even think that you may have a problem, it's best to get it checked by your dentist or periodontist. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why are my gums receding?

There area a number of causes for gum recession and root exposure. Traumatic tooth brushing or using a hard tooth brush is one that's preventable. You should use a soft brush and make small circles with it as you go from tooth to tooth. Don't scrub with a sawing motion, and use light pressure. If you use an electric brush, don't push too hard. Most of the current models will either stop or a flashing red light will come on when you press too hard. Another cause of tooth recession is grinding and clenching your teeth. This is a hard habit to break, but a bite guard can help control the damage that this causes. Lastly, some people are just born with thin gums that are prone to recession. These are the people who most benefit from gum grafts. Generally, once a graft is done, the gums stabilize and further recession is minimized. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"I'll just replace the tooth when I get insurance."

I hear this quite often, and it sometimes leads to a more expensive tooth replacement. Even if you have a bone graft at the time of a tooth removal, bone will tend to be lost over time. Often this necessitates another bone graft prior to implant placement. The best time to get an implant is at the time of the tooth removal if possible. The second best time is a few months after the tooth was removed and a bone graft placed. Too often when people put off tooth replacement, months turn into years, and the replacement becomes more complex than it had to be. An implant is an investment in yourself, why not enjoy the benefits of it for the maximum amount of time and possibly save money in the long run?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"My gums have receded, and my dentist wants to cover my exposed roots with white fillings."

If there is decay on a root surface, it will need a filling to stop and prevent further decay. Placing white fillings over root surfaces for aesthetic reasons though is sometimes a bad idea. If the objection is gum recession, why not cover the exposed root with gum tissue? This is generally the best option, as it prevents further recession, reduces sensitivity, and looks more natural. Once a filling has been placed on a root surface, it is more difficult to get a gum graft to adhere. Before you get a root filling, see a periodontist for a consultation. He can tell you if there is a better alternative. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"But my cousin had a lot of pain after her implant was placed and it ultimately failed."

I hear this from a patient occasionally, and it is very disheartening, because implant placement generally is not accompanied by severe pain. As a matter of fact, when a patient tells me that they experienced significant pain following implant placement, I suspect that something isn't right, and the implant may be infected. This is really a very rare occurrence. Implant success rates are in the 95-98% range. You would be hard pressed to find another procedure in medicine or dentistry that has that kind of predictability. Keep in mind that you likely have many friends and relatives who have implants that are doing well, and who had a good experience with their implant procedure. People are much more likely to voice their dissatisfaction when something doesn't go well than to brag about a procedure that they underwent in which everything went perfectly. That's just human nature. I tell my patients to expect some soreness following implant placement that may last 2-3 days. Anything worse than that, and I want to hear from them, because something isn't right. Fortunately, I rarely do have patients call to complain of unusual discomfort following implant procedures, and that's because implant placement really is a predictable and comfortable procedure in the vast majority of cases. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Don't lose your benefits!

Most insurance plans start on January 1st and end on December 31st. If you've been delaying treatment, it's now or never to use your remaining benefits for this year. Even if you don't do all of your treatment this year, do what you can to lessen your out of pocket expenses next year. The Holidays are also a good time to recover from surgical treatment without having to use vacation or sick days. Time is growing short. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

What should gums look like?

Well, that really depends. In general, red is bad, but it's not that simple. There are many kinds of gum disease, and they all manifest themselves differently. You really can't tell how healthy gums are just by looking. Periodontists take many different measurements to determine gum health. They also note swelling, bleeding, puss, ulceration, and other factors to come up with a diagnosis. In some instances, a biopsy of the gum tissue is necessary to obtain an accurate diagnosis so that the prescribed treatment will be successful. A regular examination is the best way to know how healthy your gums are, and, like most other things, prevention is the best treatment.