By Martin, Kissell & Pushee, PC
May 11, 2022
Category: Oral Health
4ThingsYouCanDotoMakeFlossingEasier

Nothing is more devilishly delicious than hearing someone dish on some celebrity gossip—especially if the "disher" is intimately involved with the "dishee." Consider this juicy morsel: Singer Katy Perry revealed on the British radio show Heart Breakfast that her fiancé, popular actor Orlando Bloom—hope you're sitting down—leaves used dental floss "everywhere."

Although Perry is thrilled with her beau's commitment to oral hygiene ("He has brilliant teeth"), she's not as equally thrilled with floss left "beside the bed, in the car and on the kitchen table."

Horrors.

Okay, maybe not. Although this might absolutely gross some people out, it's pretty ho-hum as salacious celebrity dirt goes. What's keen to note, though, is that at least Mr. Bloom flosses—putting him in a distinct minority of adults (about one-third) who actually floss regularly. That's far fewer than those who brush, a task that takes about the same amount of time.

So, why are so many "meh" about flossing? Simply put, many people find traditional flossing to be cumbersome and messy. And when they're done, they're left holding a wet, slippery piece of floss covered in "eww."

It doesn't have to be that way. Here are 4 tips to help make flossing easier and more pleasant.

Improve your technique. We're not born to floss—it's a learned skill, which, like others, we can improve over time. In that regard, your dentist provider can serve as your "personal trainer," giving you valuable tips in how to work with floss. And if you truly want to get to "floss town," practice, practice, practice every day.

Floss after you brush. Dental professionals actually debate over which is best to do first, brushing or flossing. One of the advantages for the former first is that brushing can get the majority of plaque out of the way, so there's less to deal with during flossing. If you tend to draw out a lot of sticky plaque while flossing, try brushing first.

Use floss picks. If the thread-around-the-fingers method isn't your cup of tea, try floss picks. These are disposable plastic handles with a sharp pick on one end and what resembles a bow at the other, with a tiny piece of floss strung between the bow. Some people find this device much easier to maneuver between teeth than plain floss.

Switch to a water flosser. A water flosser is another option that might be even easier than a floss pick. It consists of a small motorized pump that supplies a pressurized water spray through a handheld wand, which you use to direct the spray between your teeth. Studies have shown it to be as effective as floss thread, especially for braces wearers or people with limited hand dexterity.

If you would like more information about best oral hygiene practices, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Flossing.”

By Martin, Kissell & Pushee, PC
May 01, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
SmokingPutsYourOralHealthatRiskNowandintheFuture

When you smoke, you're setting yourself up for problems with your health. That includes your teeth and gums—tobacco has been linked to greater susceptibility to both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Smoking in particular can have a number of adverse effects on your mouth. Smoke can burn and form a thickened layer of the mouth's inner membranes called a keratosis. This in turn can damage the salivary glands enough to decrease saliva production, making for a drier mouth more hospitable to harmful bacteria.

Nicotine, the active chemical ingredient in tobacco, can cause the mouth's blood vessels to constrict. This causes less blood flow, thus a slower flow of nutrients and antigens to teeth and gums to ward off infection. Taken together, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to suffer from dental disease.

The impact doesn't end there. The conditions in the mouth created by smoking make it more difficult for the person to successfully obtain dental implants, one of the more popular tooth replacement methods.

Implants generally enjoy a high success rate due to their most unique feature, a titanium metal post that's imbedded into the jawbone. During the weeks after surgery, bone cells grow and accumulate on the implant's titanium surface to create a lasting hold.

But the previously mentioned effects of smoking can interfere with the integration between implant and bone. Because of restricted blood flow, the tissues around the implant are slower to heal. And the greater risk for dental disease, particularly gum infections, could cause an implant to eventually fail.

Of the rare number of implants that fail, twice as many occur in smokers. By removing smoking as a factor, you stand a much better chance for implant success. If you're considering implants and you smoke, you'll fare much better if you quit smoking altogether.

If you can't, at least stop smoking a week before implant surgery and for a couple of weeks after to increase your mouth's healing factor. Be sure you also keep up daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits.

Smoking can increase the disease factor for your teeth and gums. Quitting the habit can make it easier to restore your oral health.

If you would like more information on the impact of smoking to oral health, 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 “Dental Implants & Smoking.”

By Martin, Kissell & Pushee, PC
April 21, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
PreventingandTreatingGumDiseaseCouldBenefitYourOverallHealth

Gum disease's impact goes well beyond your teeth and gums—other aspects of your health can suffer too. Here's why.

Gum disease targets the gums, connective tissues and bone that support the teeth. These bacterial infections arise mainly from dental plaque, a thin biofilm that builds up on tooth surfaces. The risk is higher if you're not adequately cleaning your teeth of dental plaque every day with brushing and flossing.

As the infection ravages through your periodontal structures, you could eventually lose affected teeth. But two important aspects of gum disease also increase the risk of harm to other parts of your body.

For one, gum infections contain high levels of harmful bacteria and toxins. As periodontal tissues break down, these toxins can enter the bloodstream and spread infection to other parts of the body.

In the second aspect, inflammation normally occurs in diseased gum tissues in response to the infection. Although a crucial part of the body's defense mechanism, inflammation that becomes chronic (as it often does with gum disease) can itself become harmful.

Some research seems to show that gum inflammation might also influence other inflammatory diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or arthritis to make them worse. Conversely, these conditions could also elevate your risk for a serious gum infection.

Gum disease can also affect pregnancy, and vice-versa. Because of hormonal changes, pregnant women have a higher risk for developing gum infections. And an active gum infection and its associated bacterial load could likewise affect the overall health of both mother and unborn child.

In light of its potential impact on your whole body and not just your mouth, it's prudent to prevent gum disease or promptly treat it should it occur. As previously mentioned, daily oral hygiene is foundational to dental disease prevention, with regular dental cleanings and checkups further reducing your risk of infection.

You should also watch for signs of infection, including swollen, reddened or bleeding gums. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. The earlier we can identify gum disease and begin treatment, the less damage it will cause your gums—and the rest of your health.

If you would like more information on how your oral health can impact your well-being, 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 “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”

By Martin, Kissell & Pushee, PC
April 11, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
ProtectingYourselfFromInfectionisParamountDuringDentalCare

The odds are extremely low that you'll read or hear about an infection outbreak in a dental clinic anytime soon. That's no happy accident. The more than 170,000 dentists practicing in the U.S. work diligently to protect their patients and staff from infectious disease during dental care.

Spurred on by both high professional standards and governmental oversight, American dentists adhere to strict infection control measures. The primary purpose of these measures is to protect patients from bloodborne infections like Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS.

The term bloodborne refers to the transmission of a virus from person to person via contact with blood. This can occur when blood from an infected person enters the body of another person through a wound or incision.

This is of special concern with any procedure that can cause disruptions to skin or other soft tissues. Oral surgery, of course, falls into this category. But it could also apply to procedures in general dentistry like tooth extraction or even teeth cleaning, both of which can cause tissue trauma.

Each individual dentist or clinic formulates a formal infection control plan designed to prevent person to person blood contact. These plans are a set of protocols based on guidelines developed by on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Barrier protection is an important part of such plans. Dentists and their staff routinely wear gloves, gowns, masks, or other coverings during procedures to block contact between them and their patients.

Additionally, staff members also disinfect work surfaces and sterilize reusable instruments after each treatment session. They isolate disposable items used during treatment from common trash and dispose of them separately. On a personal level, dental staff also thoroughly wash their hands before and after each patient visit.

Because of these practices and the importance placed on controlling potential infection spread, you have nothing to fear in regard to disease while visiting the dentist. If you have any questions or concerns, though, let your dentist know—your safety is just as important to them as your dental care.

If you would like more information on infection control in the dentist's office, 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 “Infection Control in the Dental Office.”

By Martin, Kissell & Pushee, PC
April 01, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
ARoutineDentalProcedureSavesThisMLBStandoutsBrokenTooth

During this year's baseball spring training, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton got into a row with a steak dinner—and the beefsteak got the better of it. During his meal, the Gold Glove winner cracked a tooth.

Fortunately, he didn't lose it. Buxton's dentist rescued the tooth with a dental procedure that's been around for over a century—a root canal treatment. The dependable root canal is responsible for saving millions of teeth each year.

Dentists turn to root canal treatments for a number of reasons: a permanent tooth's roots are dissolving (a condition called resorption); chronic inflammation of the innermost tooth pulp due to repeated fillings; or a fractured or cracked tooth, like Buxton's, in which the pulp becomes exposed to bacteria.

One of the biggest reasons, though, is advanced tooth decay. Triggered by acid, a by-product of bacteria, a tooth's enamel softens and erodes, allowing decay into the underlying dentin. In its initial stages, we can often treat decay with a filling. But if the decay continues to advance, it can infect the pulp and root canals and eventually reach the bone.

Decay of this magnitude seriously jeopardizes a tooth's survival. But we can still stop it before that point with a root canal. The basic procedure is fairly straightforward. We begin first by drilling a small hole into the tooth to access the inner pulp and root canals. Using special instruments, we then remove all of the infected tissue within the tooth.

After disinfecting the now empty spaces and reshaping the root canals, we fill the tooth with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha. This, along with filling the access hole, seals the tooth's interior from future infection. In most cases, we'll return sometime later and bond a life-like crown to the tooth (as Buxton's dentist did for him) for added protection and support.

You would think such a procedure would get its own ticker tape parade. Unfortunately, there's a cultural apprehension that root canals are painful. But here's the truth—because your tooth and surrounding gums are numbed by local anesthesia, a root canal procedure doesn't hurt. Actually, if your tooth has been throbbing from tooth decay's attack on its nerves, a root canal treatment will alleviate that pain.

After some time on the disabled list, Buxton was back in the lineup in time to hit his longest homer to date at 456 feet on the Twins' Opening Day. You may not have that kind of moment after a root canal, but repairing a bothersome tooth with this important procedure will certainly get you back on your feet again.

If you would like more information about root canal therapy, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”





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