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. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How long can I wait after losing a tooth to get a dental implant?

I get asked this question quite a bit, and the truth is that every situation is different. The one certainty is that sooner is better once the tooth socket has healed. In fact, often the best time to get an implant is the day that the tooth is removed. Implants and bone grafts tend to preserve the bone contours of your jaw. When you lose a tooth and the area is allowed to heal naturally, some of the bone is generally lost, and that can compromise the ability to replace the tooth with an implant or to place the implant in the best position possible to allow for a more natural look to the implant crown.  I generally recommend a bone graft at the time of the tooth extraction if the implant can't be immediately placed, and if there is no severe infection in the area. Research shows that these grafts cause more symmetrical healing, and prevent loss of bone height. In some cases, this is the difference between being able to eventually place an implant and having to do more bone grafting or give up on an implant altogether. Now, just because you lost a tooth 20+ years ago, it doesn't mean that an implant isn't possible. What it does mean is that some bone grafting may be necessary prior to implant placement, and you may have to wait 6-12 months to have the implant placed. Like I said earlier, every situation is different, so you won't know about your options unless you see a periodontist to allow him or her to evaluate you as an individual to determine the viability of implant placement in your mouth. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Receding gums are not necessarily a part of the aging process

Many people assume that receding gums are a sign of aging. While older individuals do tend to have more root exposure, gum recession is often tied to other very specific issues unrelated to age. Things like grinding or clenching your teeth, brushing improperly, plaque, and thin gum tissue are the primary causes of recession. By addressing these issues, you can prevent and even correct receding gums. Some of these problems can even be identified in childhood, when intervention can prevent recession from even happening. If you notice that your gums are receding in yourself or a child, evaluation by a periodontist as soon as possible is the best way to prevent or correct this problem before it becomes a major issue that ruins your smile or leads to tooth loss.