Having been a dental hygienist, the day I walked into Dr Tanya Browns office, I knew I was in good hands. I am so proud of my new smile & I receive compliments all the time.

– Candy

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Tobacco and Oral Health

Cosmetic Dentist in Chesapeake

Cosmetic Dentist Chesapeake VAWhether you use smokeless tobacco or smoke cigars, cigarettes, or a pipe, tobacco use poses a serious threat to both your oral health and your overall health. In addition to the effects smoking has on your respiratory health, pregnancy, and heart health, a recent study has found profound connections between smoking and periodontal (gum) disease.

Most people are aware that tobacco use commonly causes a wide range of unpleasant side effects. Some of these include the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Stained teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of taste and smell

While these may seem like minor issues, they can lead to serious oral health complications. For example, chronic dry mouth will increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Additionally, the presence of frequent mouth sores raises your chances of developing an infection that can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.

Even more seriously, tobacco use greatly increases your risks of dangerous oral health complications. Dental implant failure is significantly more common among patients who smoke. Oral cancers are 6 times as likely to develop in smokers than non-smokers. Immune system suppression from smoking can lead to slowed healing and worsening gum disease, and even limit the benefits you receive from periodontal treatments.

Gum disease is 3-6 times more likely in smokers than non-smokers, depending on the daily intake. Gum disease in smokers can be more challenging to recognize in early stages because smokers are less likely to have bleeding gums. This is due to the blood vessel constriction common to smokers, and not an indication of healthy gums.

By breaking the tobacco habit you can significantly reduce your risks of damage to your gums and teeth. Former smokers who stop for at least 11 years have no higher risk of periodontal disease than non-smokers. Even reducing your tobacco intake can help reduce your risks of the serious health complications that smoking and tobacco use can cause.

For information on ways to quit smoking or smokeless tobacco use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a number of resources that can help. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/quitting-resources.html.

For more information about periodontal disease or to schedule a periodontal examination, contact our office.

Are You Brushing Properly?

Cosmetic Dentist Chesapeake

Chesapeake VA Cosmetic DentistMany people may be surprised to learn that they have been brushing their teeth incorrectly for years. Improper brushing may cause oral health complications, including tooth enamel erosion and periodontal disease. Learn how to brush your teeth correctly and you can protect them for years to come.

The most common way for people brush their teeth is by using a back and forth motion. This resembles sawing the toothbrush back and forth across the surface of the teeth until they feel clean and slippery. However, this is not an effective to brush your teeth. First, this method also does not clean effectively. Since the bristles are moving back and forth, they are essentially bouncing from one tooth to the next, which causes you to miss the spaces in between the teeth to remove plaque and other tiny particles of food.

In addition, brushing with a sawing motion is very abrasive to your teeth and gums. This can cause you to scrub away tooth enamel, along with food debris. Overbrushing in this fashion can increase your risk of sensitivity, tooth decay, and receding gums.

For a safer, more effective brushing method, start by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to where your teeth meet the gums. Then gently move your toothbrush back and forth and making sure the bristles cover each tooth and work their way around the sides of the tooth. This method allows you to find all the food particles and plaque in the spaces between your teeth.

Note: if you use an electric toothbrush, you may still be overbrushing your teeth. Despite your instincts to scrub manually, an electric toothbrush yields best results when used to cover each tooth individually for a few seconds, then moved to the next. The brush itself provides all the motion needed to thoroughly clean the surfaces of your teeth.

The value of proper brushing is often overlooked, but it is a vital part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Using the right method to brush your teeth will prevent build-up of harmful plaque that can lead to many oral health issues. Brushing properly can help prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, oral infections, and more.

It can be challenging to retrain yourself after you have been brushing the same way for years. Switching methods may take some adjustment, but you will love the results. If you have any questions regarding the most effective methods of brushing your teeth, please contact our office.

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

Cosmetic Dentist Chesapeake

Cosmetic Dentist Chesapeake VAPeriodontal (gum) disease is a progressive inflammation of the gum tissues. It is most frequently caused by bacterial infection. Left untreated, gum disease can have serious consequences for your oral and overall health.  However, one of the biggest challenges for early detection and treatment of gum disease is its silence. Gum disease can often begin and progress with few or no symptoms until reaching an advanced stage.

Gum disease is caused when the bacteria found in plaque builds up between the teeth and the gums. As the bacteria grow, the gums can become inflamed and pull away from the teeth. When gum disease is not treated promptly, it can worsen, leading to increased gum recession, infection, and bone loss. In addition, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Gum disease also impacts other aspects of your overall health. Research has found links between gum disease and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious inflammatory illnesses. To help prevent gum disease, ensure you are practicing strong oral hygiene habits, including brushing, flossing, use of mouthwash, and regular dental examinations. Be aware of your risk factors for developing gum disease, such as age, tobacco use, genetics, stress, medications, grinding, obesity, or other inflammatory diseases, among others. Consider having an annual periodontal evaluation.

While symptoms may not appear until later stages of the disease, it is important to watch for the warning signs of gum disease. Some of these include:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Mouth pain
  • Bleeding gums caused by brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between gums or teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums receding or pulling away from teeth
  • Changes in your bite or the fit of dentures

Gum disease can start silently, but may cause great damage if left untreated. Once gum disease has started, it can be effectively treated, but not fully cured. Protect your oral and overall health with preventive care and regular periodontal screenings. For more information about gum disease or to schedule your periodontal screening, contact our office.