Posts for category: Oral Health

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
December 31, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
AsWinterLoomsHereare3ThingstoWatchFortoProtectYourOralHealth

Here in the Western Hemisphere, sunlight hours steadily shrink day by day as we approach December 21st. This shortest day of the year marks the winter solstice and the official start of its namesake season. Love it or hate it, winter can have an impact on your health—including your teeth and gums.

Fortunately, winter doesn't sneak up on you—you can see it coming as the days wane. And, knowing what's up ahead gives you time to get yourself—and your mouth—ready. Here, then, are 3 things to prepare for during the winter months to protect your oral health.

Holiday eating. Winter starts off nicely enough with a bevy of festivities. But that could also mean you're eating more carbohydrates—particularly refined sugar—that feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. To lessen your chances of dental disease, exercise moderation while eating sweets and other holiday goodies. And, don't neglect your daily brushing and flossing routine.

Winter weather. Winter's chill could trigger some unpleasant oral experiences. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, for instance, colder temperatures can worsen your symptoms. Harsh and windy conditions also make you more susceptible to chapped lips. For the former, be sure you're using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. For the latter, apply lip salve to your lips that offers sun protection (SPF+) while you're outside.

Cold sores. You may be more apt to get sick during winter. That's because shorter days and more of your skin covered against the cold means you may absorb less Vitamin D from sunlight, leading to a weakened immune system. In addition to infections like colds and flu, this might also make you more susceptible to cold sores forming around your lips and mouth. If you feel a sore coming on, be sure to keep the area clean and apply an appropriate topical antibiotic cream to curtail any infection.

Winter also signals the beginning of a new year—the perfect time to get back on track with your dental care. If you haven't done so already, schedule a visit with your dentist for a cleaning and a checkup. By following these guidelines, you're sure to sail through the frigid winter months toward a brighter spring.

If you would like more information about dental care throughout the year, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Bitter Truth About Sugar.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
December 21, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental records  
WhyYourDentalRecordsShouldFollowYoutoYourNewDentist

Some things you hear at the dentist don't surprise you: You have more plaque buildup or (yuck!) you have a new cavity. On a more positive note, you might hear your teeth look fine. But what you might not expect to hear is that your dentist—your longtime dentist—is retiring.

Then again, it might be you telling your dentist you're moving to another city—or you just feel like it's time for a change. Whatever the reason, there could come a time when you must find a new dental care provider. And when you do, it's very important that your dental records go with you.

And, yes, your dentist does have such records on you. Just like medical physicians, they're obligated legally and professionally to maintain a formal record of all your visits and treatments (including all your x-ray films). They may also include notations on your other health conditions and medications that could impact your dental care.

Without those records, your new dentist essentially starts from scratch, depending on what you tell them and what they may ascertain from examining your mouth. It means new x-rays and new treatment plans that can take time to form. But with your old records in hand, dental care with your new dentist hardly misses a beat.

Technically, those records belong to your dentist. You are, however, legally entitled to view them and to obtain a copy, although you may have to reimburse the dentist for printing and mailing costs. Usually, though, you can simply request they be transmitted to your new dentist, which can often be done electronically.

But what if, for whatever reason, you're not comfortable asking for your records from your former dentist? In that case, you can ask your new dentist to request them. Even if you still have an outstanding balance with your former dentist's office, they can't refuse a transfer request.

HIPAA regulations require dental offices to retain adult patient records for at least six years. But don't wait that long! The sooner your dental records are in the hands of your new dentist, the less likely your dental care hits any speed bumps.

If you would like more information on the importance of your dental records, 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 “Why Your Dental Records Should Follow You.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
November 11, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  
ALittleFluorideGoesaLongWayinProtectingYourFamilysTeeth

A popular Sixties-era hair cream touted their product with the tagline, "A little dab'll do ya!" In other words, it didn't take much to make your hair look awesome.

Something similar could be said about fluoride. Tiny amounts of this "wonder" chemical in hygiene products and drinking water are widely credited with giving people a big boost in protection against tooth decay.

A Colorado dentist is credited with first noticing fluoride's beneficial effects early in the Twentieth Century. Although many of his patients' teeth had brownish staining (more about that in a moment), he also noticed they had a low incidence of cavities. He soon traced the effect to fluoride naturally occurring in their drinking water.

Fast forward to today, and fluoride is routinely added in trace amounts to dental care products and by water utilities to the drinking water supply. It's discovery and application have been heralded as one of the top public health successes of the Twentieth Century.

Fluoride, though, seems a little too amazing for some. Over its history of use in dental care, critics of fluoride have argued the chemical contributes to severe health problems like low IQ, cancer or birth defects.

But after several decades of study, the only documented health risk posed by fluoride is a condition called fluorosis, a form of staining that gives the teeth a brown, mottled appearance (remember our Colorado residents?). It's mainly a cosmetic problem, however, and poses no substantial threat to a person's oral or general health.

And, it's easily prevented. Since it's caused by too much fluoride in prolonged contact with the teeth, fluorosis can be avoided by limiting fluoride intake to the minimum necessary to be effective. Along these lines, the U.S. Public Health Service recently reduced its recommended amounts added to drinking water 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of water. Evidence indicated fluoride's effectiveness even at these lower amounts.

You may also want to talk with your dentist about how much fluoride your family is ingesting, including from hidden sources like certain foods, infant formula or bottled water. Even if you need to reduce your family's intake of fluoride, though, a little in your life can help keep your family's teeth in good health.

If you would like more information on the benefits of fluoride in dental care, 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 “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
November 01, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teeth grinding  
KeepaWatchfulEyeonYourChildsTeethGrindingHabit

More than one parent has wakened in the middle of the night to an unnerving sound emanating from their child's bedroom. Although it might seem like something from the latest horror flick is romping around in there, all that racket has a down-to-earth cause: teeth grinding.

Teeth grinding is the involuntary habit of gnashing the teeth together when not engaged in normal functions like eating or speaking. It can occur at any time, but frequently with children while they sleep. Adults may also grind their teeth, but it's more prevalent among children.

While stress seems to be the main reason for adult teeth grinding, many health providers believe the habit in children is most often caused by an overreactive response of the neuromuscular system for chewing, which may be immature. Other conditions like asthma, sleep apnea or drug use may also play a role.

Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be any lasting harm from young children grinding their teeth, although they may encounter problems like headaches, earaches or jaw pain in the short term. Most, though, will outgrow the habit and be no worse for wear.

But if it persists beyond childhood, problems can escalate. Adults run the risk of serious cumulative issues like chronic jaw pain, accelerated tooth wear or tooth fracturing. It's similar to finger sucking, a nearly universal habit among young children that poses no real harm unless it persists later in life.

And as with finger sucking, parents should follow a similar strategy of carefully monitoring their child's teeth grinding. If the habit continues into later childhood or adolescence, or noticeable problems like those mentioned previously begin to appear, it may be time to intervene.

Such intervention may initially include diagnosis and treatment for underlying problems like upper airway obstruction, asthma or stress. For short term protection against dental damage, your dentist can also fashion a custom mouthguard for your child to wear while they sleep. Made of pliable plastic, the guard prevents the teeth from making solid contact with each other during a grinding episode.

Outside of some lost sleep, there's little cause for alarm if your child grinds their teeth. But if it seems to go on longer than it should, you can take action to protect their long-term dental health.

If you would like more information on teeth grinding, 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 “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
October 02, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental injuries  
HeresWhatToDofor4KindsofDentalInjuries

Although kids are resilient, they're not indestructible. They're prone to their share of injuries, both major and minor—including dental injuries.

It's common for physically active children to suffer injuries to their mouth, teeth and gums. With a little know-how, however, you can reduce their suffering and minimize any consequences to their long-term oral health.

Here are 4 types of dental injuries, and what to do if they occur.

Chipped tooth. Trauma or simply biting down on something hard can result in part of the tooth breaking off, while the rest of it remains intact. If this happens, try to retrieve and save the chipped pieces—a dentist may be able to re-bond them to the tooth. Even if you can't collect the chipped pieces, you should still see your dentist for a full examination of the tooth for any underlying injury.

Cracked tooth. A child can experience intense pain or an inability to bite or close their teeth normally if a tooth is cracked (fractured), First, call the dentist to see if you need to come in immediately or wait a day. You can also give the child something appropriate to their age for pain and to help them sleep if you're advised to wait overnight.

Displaced tooth. If a child's tooth appears loose, out of place or pushed deeper into the jaw after an accident, you should definitely see a dentist as soon as possible—all of these indicate a serious dental injury. If they're unavailable or it's after hours, your dentist may tell you to visit an emergency room for initial treatment.

Knocked-out tooth. Minutes count when a tooth is knocked completely out. Quickly locate the tooth and, holding it only by the crown and not the root, rinse off any debris with clean water. Place it in a glass of milk or attempt to place it back into the socket. If you attempt to place it back into the socket, it will require pressure to seat the tooth into position. You should then see a dentist or ER immediately.

A dental injury can be stressful for both you and your child. But following these common-sense guidelines can help you keep your wits and ensure your child gets the care they need.

If you would like more information on pediatric dental treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.