What Causes Receding Gums?

receding gums
There’s no denying that receding gums are cause for concern. Aside from the fact that this condition can erode your confidence in your smile, exposing the roots of teeth could lead to increased risks for infection and decay.

There is good news, though. When you first start to notice gum recession, you can visit your dentist to learn about the treatment options available to you. Of course, you’d probably rather avoid receding gums if at all possible.

When you understand possible causes of gum recession, you’ll find that there’s a lot you can do in the way of prevention. Here are several causes of receding gums.

Genetics

Unfortunately, gum recession is sometimes hereditary. On the one hand, this means there is little you can do to prevent it. On the other hand, if you know it is coming you have plenty of time to prepare yourself, plan for treatment options, and recognize the signs of recession early in order to prevent further damage.

Misalignment

It might surprise you to learn that misaligned teeth can be to blame for gum recession. The good news here is that you can use treatments like orthodontic braces or Invisalign, just for example, to fix this issue and prevent a host of potential problems, including gum recession. At the very least you’ll know to keep an eye on your gums and other oral health concerns if your teeth are misaligned.

Vigorous Brushing

When was the last time you got a lesson in brushing your teeth? When you were five? If so, it should come as no surprise that your brushing habits are less than perfect.

The bad news is that overzealous brushing can damage your gums and cause them to recede. The good news is that you have complete control over how you brush. If you think you might be brushing too hard, ask your dentist for a refresher course to protect your oral health.

Bruxism

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching, also known as bruxism, is a common problem thought to be related to stress. It is also one possible cause of receding gums (not to mention cracks and chips to teeth).

While you might have some trouble curbing this nervous habit, especially since it often occurs during sleep, your dentist can prescribe a night guard to help protect your teeth and gums from pressure and damage caused by bruxism.

Gum Disease

Poor oral hygiene can lead to a whole host of problems, including cavities, gum disease, and periodontal disease in some cases. None of these are good, and over time, the result can be gum recession (among other things).

It is imperative that you work with your dentist to address oral hygiene issues and treat gum disease. If gum disease is left untreated, gum recession could be the least of your worries.

Trauma

Any time you suffer tooth or mouth trauma, including injury or illness, there’s a chance you could also see gum recession in the aftermath. So long as you visit your dentist regularly and follow instructions, you should be able to stave off this issue or at least catch it and treat it early.

Common Questions About Dental X-Rays

dental x-rays
Keeping your smile bright and beautiful is the absolute best way to look and feel attractive and confident every day. However, it’s not a one-and-done undertaking – it’s an ongoing process that requires several components.

A good personal, oral health routine that includes daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash is a great place to start. You also need to schedule regular dental visits for check-up and cleaning to get anything you miss on your own.

The final piece of the puzzle is getting dental x-rays. While most people are well aware of the benefits of a solid home care routine and regular dental cleanings, you might not totally understand why you need to undergo x-rays. Here are a few common questions about dental x-rays answered.

Why do I need x-rays?

Dental professionals, including your dentist, hygienist, and others, can do a lot to ensure the health of your teeth, gums, and other tissue in the mouth. They have the knowledge, skill, experience, and tools to keep your mouth healthy and clean.

However, they can’t see everything. X-rays are necessary to give dentists an idea of what’s going on inside your teeth and below the gum line. Even if dental professionals suspect potential issues like cavities, they need to see the extent of the damage so they can plan for appropriate treatment.

What if there are no indications of problems? Why do you need regular x-rays? This is so your dentist has a record of your dental history. Problems can develop over time, and regular x-rays allow your dentist to spot new problems, even when there are no other indications, as well as keep an eye on developing issues to determine when treatment is necessary.

How often do I need x-rays?

The regularity of x-rays depends entirely on the patient. For some patients, annual x-rays are enough. Others may need x-rays every six months, or you might need extras in some situations if you’re dealing with developing issues or there are other indications of problems.

If you ever wonder why your dentist recommends x-rays or how often, just ask. Dental professionals are always happy to explain the benefits of any test or treatment.

Why do I need more than one type of x-rays?

Most patients are familiar with bitewing x-rays, where you bite on a piece of plastic that contains a strip of x-ray film while the x-ray is taken. This is the most common type of dental x-ray and it is used to check for decay between teeth, monitor tooth alignment, and so on.

However, your dentist may want a better look at the entire tooth, including the root and parts of the jaw, to look for issues below the gum line. In this case, you might need periapical x-rays.

There are also occlusal x-rays that target the roof and floor of the mouth, and panoramic x-rays that provide a more comprehensive view of the entire mouth, jaw, and sinuses. Your dentist may take x-rays to create baseline images to refer back to, or you may need additional x-rays if problems are suspected.

Is radiation a concern?

Dental professionals take every precaution to prevent harmful exposure to radiation. This is the purpose of the heavy bib used to cover areas not being x-rayed. Whenever dentists order x-rays, they have weighed the potential risks and rewards, along with the patient’s individual needs. If you are concerned, however, don’t hesitate to ask questions so that you feel comfortable with the procedure.

How to Keep Teeth White After a Professional Whitening

teeth whitening
Staining and discoloration of teeth is nothing abnormal. It happens to all of us as we age and it can be caused by what we eat and drink, bad habits like smoking or poor dental care, illness, injury, medications, and other factors.

There is good news, though. Many types of staining and discoloration can be addressed with at-home or professional whitening treatments, although naturally, the treatments performed by your dentist are likely to be more effective than products you can purchase over the counter.

If you’re going to spend time and money to get the beautiful, white smile of your dreams, though, you want to preserve it as long as possible. There are several steps you can take to make sure your professional whitening endures.

Say Goodbye to Tobacco

This is number one. If you smoke, chew, or use other tobacco products you could not only damage your overall health, but also reverse the effects of professional teeth whitening.

Tobacco products are major culprits when it comes to stains and discoloration on teeth, and they can also cause dryness in the mouth that contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. Then, of course, there is the link to cancer. In other words, ditch the tobacco.

Change Your Diet

There are many foods and beverages known to stain teeth. Some of the most common are coffee, tea, and wine, but staining can also result from food dyes and other chemicals found in many products. What should you eat instead?

Sticking to water in lieu of other beverages is a great way to start, especially since you’re probably not getting your requisite eight glasses a day when you’re drinking coffee and soda. Water does not stain teeth, and it has the added bonus of flushing away food particles that can lead to tartar and plaque buildup, as well as tooth decay and gum disease.

You should also get plenty of calcium (found in dairy products and other sources) and think about adding high-fiber fruits and vegetables that stimulate gums and promote saliva (which rinses your mouth). Apples, carrots, and celery are good choices, but leafy greens like kale and spinach (which also have calcium) are even better.

Proper Oral Hygiene

This probably goes without saying, but maintaining a regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal, as well as visiting your dentist regularly, can only help to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth white.

Home Maintenance

Whether your teeth are whitened by a laser or you utilize bleaching trays from the get-go, you might want to ask your dentist to make you a set of bleaching trays for periodic touch-ups to keep your smile brilliantly white indefinitely.

4 Signs That You Might Need Dental Veneers

dental veneers
There are a variety of reasons why people might be unhappy with their smiles. Many of us are quick to say that a smile is the first thing we notice when meeting new people, or that we find a person attractive because of their beautiful smile.

The contents of your mouth can make or break first impressions and determine how people approach you. In other words, a person’s smile is important, and if yours is lacking in some way, it’s only natural you’d want to improve it.

Dental veneers are just one way to improve the appearance of your smile, but you’ll have to speak with your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for veneers and if they are the best option. Here are a few signs that dental veneers might be right for you.

1. Cracks, chips, and breaks

If your molars get cracked, chipped, or broken, chances are you’ll repair the damage with fillings or crowns. It might not be so easy on front teeth that are a lot more visible, however. Even if you can get a cap or some other type of fix, it might not look perfect, or it may not adapt well over time (as the rest of your teeth change color, for example).

In such cases, porcelain veneers can be an ideal solution. Bonding is also a possibility your dentist will probably discuss with you, but veneers just look better and they generally last longer, as well.

2. Extreme staining

Some stains can be corrected with whitening treatments. Others, especially very dark stains or those within the tooth (rather than on the surface) may not respond well to such treatment.

Porcelain veneers completely cover the front face of the tooth, and you can select a color that matches your other teeth or opt to cover several teeth in a row with brighter, whiter veneers.

3. Irregularities and imperfections

If your teeth are extremely crooked or misaligned or your bite is misaligned, veneers may not be able to solve your problem. In severe cases, corrective solutions like braces might be a better option.

However, veneers are ideal for mild issues like gaps, overlap, and crooked teeth, covering over your natural smile to create one that is perfectly straight.

4. Multiple cosmetic issues

If you’re dealing with crooked teeth or gaps, staining, and chips, for example, veneers can treat all of your dental woes at once. You’ll simply have to talk to your dentist about your concerns to see if veneers are the answer.

Dental Implant Surgery: Here’s What to Expect

operation
With a better understanding of what dental implant surgery entails, you’ll likely feel a bit more comfortable strolling through the procedure. As a matter of fact, most patients imagine the worst, and realistically, the surgery isn’t nearly as strenuous as they anticipate. Most patients even get through the entire process, pain free.

Let’s review the basics so you know exactly what to expect for each stage of the process.

Before Surgery

If you and your dentist plan accordingly, you’re sure to experience a much smoother implant surgery. Before the big procedure, you’ll likely undergo an x-ray exam, CT scans, and a thorough analysis of your bite to ensure your dentist isn’t leaving any sizable decisions for the day of surgery. Just about everything is planned beforehand.
Pre-surgery is also the time for you to put in any requests for sedatives that will work to calm your nerves on the day of surgery. Your dentist will surely dose you with some localized anesthesia for the procedure itself, but he or she can also prescribe you other medication to further relieve your anxiety before you take your seat in the dentist’s chair.

While You’re in Surgery

During surgery, your job is really just to lay still and alert the dentist of any unusual feelings of discomfort. Meanwhile, he or she will create a hole in your jawbone, insert the implant into that hole, then stitch up the hole to complete the procedure. (If the dentist doesn’t use self-absorbing stitches, you’ll need to schedule a visit to have them removed about two weeks after surgery.)

After Surgery

Your dentist will tell you what to expect after surgery, but generally speaking, you’re probably looking at a comfortable recovery. About 97% of implant surgeries succeed with a predictable healing process. Still, to ensure things go as smoothly as possible post-surgery, your dentist will likely prescribe a slightly strengthened form of aspirin or ibuprofen and perhaps some antibiotics, then send you on your way.

That’s how easy implant surgery really is. Your dentist will have the entire process planned and organized for you from the first to last steps. You’ll be in and out of his or her office with a fresh, healthy smile on your face in no time (and in nearly no pain) at all.

What Happens During a Dental Exam?

dental-exam
Your dentist will likely recommend that you head to his or her office about every six months for a routine dental exam. This regular check-up allows the dentist to review your overall dental health and make recommendations for future care or procedures. During this exam, you can expect three main dental evaluations: an x-ray, an oral cancer exam, and a dental impression.

X-Ray

A dental x-ray gives your dentist a clear view of what’s going on inside your mouth. Your dentist will opt for one of many types of x-rays, depending on what he or she would like to specifically see. You may receive a bitewing, periapical, occlusal, panoramic, or cone beam x-ray. These x-rays allow the dentist a better look at things like your bite or the spacing between your teeth.

Regardless, talk to your dentist about radiation exposure if it’s of a particular concern for you.

Oral Cancer Exam

The oral cancer exam doesn’t require any use of machinery, like the x-ray, but it’s still an important part of your routine check-up. To look for signs of oral cancer, your dentist will feel around your jaw and neck and inside your lips and cheeks. He or she will also check your tongue and the roof and floor of your mouth for anything that might act as a red flag.

Dental Impression

To evaluate your bite and decide whether or not you’re in need of things like braces or a mouth guard, your dentist will replicate your teeth with an impression of your jaws. To do this, he or she will fill two molds with dental gelatin and have you bite down on each to create a cast of your teeth. This gives the dentist a better look at the structure of your mouth so that he or she can provide the most applicable recommendations for future procedures.

In addition to these three main parts of the dental exam, your dentist will also likely talk with you about proper dental hygiene and healthy dieting practices. In addition to regular brushing and flossing, holding these appointments twice a year is a great way to keep track of your oral health and ensure that you’re answering to the needs of your teeth. After all, the more you maintain your oral health, the more you have to smile about.