Oral Surgery for Gum Disease

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Gum disease can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition. Non-destructive gum disease is called gingivitis and is caused by excess bacteria, which builds up as plaque on your teeth. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene but may also be due to mouth shape or illness. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can become periodontitis. This type of gum disease can eventually eat away at the teeth and even the surrounding bones. An oral surgeon may need to perform one or more procedures to get your oral health back on track in instances like these.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bad breath. Bacteria build up in pockets around your teeth or under the gums. This bacteria, if left unchecked, multiplies and causes an unpleasant smell to emanate from your mouth.

Excess bacteria can also make your gums swell and become inflamed. You may notice that your gums seem redder than usual. They may be sore or soft to the touch. You may also detect blood when brushing your teeth.

As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your gums seem to recede or that your teeth seem longer or larger. It may also seem like your gums are pulling away from your teeth, creating even more gaps where bacteria can hide and spread.

You may also start to experience more intense pain if the inflammation or infection starts to damage the soft tissues or even your teeth.          

Preventing Gum Disease

The first line of defense against gum disease is oral hygiene. But, how do you know if your oral hygiene routine is up to par? Here are the steps you should be following every day to help prevent periodontitis or gingivitis:

  • Brush your teeth every morning as bacteria can spread while you sleep. 
  • Brush your teeth every night to remove food particles and acids that build up during the day.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth.
  • Use mouthwash if you can, ideally an antibacterial version.
  • If you struggle to brush between your teeth, talk to your dentist about interdental brushes.
  • You may use a toothpick to help remove particles from between the teeth, but use these with care as hard toothpicks can cause damage to the gums or teeth.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush and make sure that you always brush along the gum line.

You can also help prevent gingivitis by stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption.

When To See an Oral Surgeon

You should speak to an oral surgeon about your options as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease. If gum disease has not progressed too far, they may recommend scaling and cleaning. This involves cleaning beneath the gum line to reduce plaque buildup. Deep scaling and root planing is another minor procedure that involves smoothing the surfaces of the teeth beneath the gum line. The smoother surface makes it harder for bacteria to embed and grow.

If you’re experiencing pain, your teeth feel loose, or bleeding from the mouth is common, it’s more urgent to see your oral surgeon. In these instances, periodontitis may have set in, and gum surgery may be a viable option. You must take action as gum disease is connected to heart disease and other major medical issues.

Treatments an Oral Surgeon May Perform

Your dental surgeon will examine you carefully and give you the options for treatment. The treatment offered depends largely on the severity of the gum disease.

Flap Surgery

During flap surgery, the surgeon manually lifts the gums away from the teeth. They then thoroughly clean the teeth and suture the gums back together, hopefully tightening them against the teeth to avoid pockets forming again.

Grafting of Bone or Tissue

Severe periodontitis can damage teeth and bones. If the bone around a tooth is damaged, you could lose the tooth. Bone grafting uses bone tissue from yourself or a donor to replace the damaged or destroyed bone and help the tooth grow stronger. Some oral surgeons may use artificial bone constructs for this procedure.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

When bone is destroyed, the gum can grow to fill the gap. This prevents the bone from healing itself and leaves the jaw and the teeth weaker than before. Guided tissue regeneration or GTR involves using mesh to stop the growth of new gum tissue. This encourages the bone to regrow instead.

Your oral surgeon will talk you through any procedure, including how to prepare and what to expect. You may need to stop taking certain medications before your procedure. You won’t be able to smoke or drink alcohol for 24 hours before a procedure, and you will need someone to drive you home in case you are still under the effect of sedation.

Recovering From Oral Surgery

Recovery time depends on the procedure you have. Slight discomfort is normal, as is some swelling and inflammation as your gums recover from surgery. Talk to the surgeon about what painkillers you can take and how often. Avoid hard, sharp, or crunchy foods. You may need to use a special mouth rinse to keep the surgery area clean. Don’t floss while recovering from gum surgery, and ask your surgeon if it’s okay to start brushing your teeth again right away or if a wait time is needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and other dental issues. However, there are still occasions when you develop irritation or inflammation of the gums, even with the best daily hygiene routine. Talk to a professional for advice and contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.

Recovering from Oral Surgery

Top 5 Tips for Recovering from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is extremely common. From having your wisdom teeth removed to receiving dental implants, there are several types of oral surgeries you may need throughout your life. Although it’s normal to have minor discomfort after surgery, recovery is typically quick and stress-free. However, to reduce the chance of any complications after the procedure, there are some tips to keep in mind.

This article will explain five tips for getting back to normal after oral surgery.

1) Don’t Overexert Yourself

After your surgery ends, resting is essential. Following the procedure, make sure to take it easy for the remainder of the day. While most people can return to normal activities in 24 hours, you shouldn’t overexert yourself for the next week. It is best to avoid activities such as running, biking, or doing anything strenuous. If you lift something heavy or move in a particular position, this can dislodge a blood clot and cause bleeding.

For the rest of the day after surgery, make sure to limit activities that require concentration. Try to avoid driving a car, studying, or working. If you received a sedative for the procedure, concentrating on anything can be challenging. Resting is the best way to speed up the recovery process and limit the chance of any complications.

When resting, make sure to keep your head elevated, which will help with blood circulation. Try propping up your head with a few pillows before falling asleep.

2) Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

During your oral surgery recovery period, you’ll want to avoid anything that can disrupt the healing process, including drinking alcohol and using tobacco. It’s best to avoid these substances for at least a week following surgery. Using alcohol and tobacco can also cause excessive bleeding and increase the risk of infection. These issues can result in a great deal of pain and possibly more treatment.

As quitting these substances can be difficult, it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you need help. By limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco following surgery, you can experience a faster recovery.

3) Apply Ice

Icing the area following surgery is also essential. Once the healing process starts, you may have bruises or facial swelling. While these are entirely normal, applying ice can promote healing and limit pain. You’ll want to ice the area as directed for the next 24–48 hours following oral surgery.

Often, you’ll be instructed to apply ice to your jaw multiple times in that 24–48 hour period for the best results — for example, icing the area for 30 minutes, removing it for 15 minutes, then icing again for another 30 minutes. You’ll probably be asked to repeat these steps for at least 24 hours. If you had the procedure for both sides of your mouth, make sure to follow your oral surgeon’s directions about switching sides when applying ice. 

While applying ice is standard practice after oral surgery, it’s critical to follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They may recommend a specific process for applying ice.

4) Eat Soft Foods

As you’ll probably have some tenderness after oral surgery, it’s important to eat soft foods or drink liquid forms of nutrition. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it can also limit the chance of any complications. Make sure to avoid hard foods like candy, apples, or raw vegetables. You should also stay away from foods that are too cold, hot, or spicy. These can all irritate the area. 

Experts typically recommend consuming soft foods and drinks, such as applesauce, oatmeal, smoothies, and meal replacement shakes. However, make sure these aren’t too hot or cold. After about a week, you should be able to return to your regular diet. However, always refer to your oral surgeon’s guidance regarding what you should consume. If you notice sharp pain or discomfort after eating or drinking something, be sure to tell your surgeon.

5) Follow Your Oral Surgeon’s Instructions

Above all else, follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They will provide a detailed recovery plan based on the type of surgery you received. These instructions also depend on how the surgery played out, including your personal needs.

Your oral surgeon may encourage you to refrain from using mouthwash or brushing your teeth, as these can sometimes cause irritation and discomfort. On the other hand, they may recommend only avoiding the tender spots when brushing.

Rinsing with salt water is another standard oral surgery recovery tip. Rinsing with salt water helps reduce the chance of an infection. In addition, the salt speeds up recovery while also mitigating pain. Be sure to rinse with salt water every few hours and after eating meals for a week following surgery, if this is what is suggested by your oral surgeon. 

Another crucial tip is to follow your oral surgeon’s instructions regarding pain medication. People often take over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your surgeon may also prescribe a more potent painkiller. Be sure to take these only as directed, and not to mix over-the-counter and prescription medications without your surgeon’s knowledge and approval.

Oral Surgery DC

If you’re looking for more oral surgery recovery tips or need an experienced oral surgeon in the Washington DC area, contact Oral Surgery DC today. Our surgeon, Tania Nkungula, DDS, and our team of skilled oral care professionals have years of experience in the industry.

Contact Oral Surgery DC today to learn more.

The Five Most Important Tools to Have in Your Medicine Cabinet to Ensure a Healthy Smile

It’s no secret that taking good care of your teeth is essential to keeping them healthy and maintaining an attractive smile. However, poor oral hygiene and inconsistent dental care can result in many more severe health problems beyond the deterioration of your teeth. 

 

Since digestion begins with chewing your food and thereby reducing it to smaller bits and pieces, if your teeth become decayed or weakened from improper maintenance, chewing becomes more difficult, placing a far more significant burden on your stomach to break down the food you eat. With your stomach having double the digestive workload, it will struggle and eventually fail to adequately convert the food you eat into the nutrients and other compounds essential to getting the vitamins, minerals, and other resources your body needs. 

 

The result is a cascading effect and, if not rectified, could lead to more serious health problems like an infection that can spread to the jaw, head, and neck, and even turn into sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

 

While it is crucial to keep your teeth healthy and see your dentist on a regular basis, there is a lot you can do at home to maintain good oral hygiene. Here are the top five most important tools to have in your medicine cabinet to safeguard your smile’s health.

 

  1. Your Toothbrush

 

While it might seem obvious, brushing your teeth is essential and should be done first thing when you awake, as a multitude of cavity- and plaque-producing bacteria have been growing in your mouth since your saliva hasn’t been active while you’ve been sleeping.

 

How long should you brush? The standard recommendation is to brush for two minutes twice a day, ideally when you awake and again before bed, to minimize bacteria growth while you sleep. However, it would be best if you brushed your teeth after every meal, too, and especially after drinking red wine, since it stains teeth more than nearly any other beverage. 

 

Of course, using the right toothbrush is also critical to achieving the most satisfactory results. It would be best to use a toothbrush with scientifically-designed contours that aren’t too big for your mouth, which will enable you to brush most effectively, allowing you to get into all of the tight areas inside your mouth. Electric toothbrushes are great as well; just make sure to use a slow setting so you won’t damage your tooth enamel. Also, selecting a toothbrush with softer bristles will let you brush your gums comfortably, which significantly helps to prevent gum disease. 

 

It is important as well to consider how you brush your teeth. Place your toothbrush at approximately a 45° angle in relation to your gums, then gently move your toothbrush in short strokes back and forth, up and down, and in small circles, making sure to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth. 

 

  1. Your Toothpaste

 

There are many different kinds of toothpaste on the market, and some are better than others. Many include mint flavoring added as a breath freshener; however, be sure to avoid any that contain sugar, artificial colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. 

 

Generally, it’s best to look for a toothpaste with fluoride, as it can help remineralize your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Baking soda-based toothpaste is also good because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and there are a wide variety of specialized toothpaste options for those with sensitive teeth, too. If you drink coffee, tea, or red wine, you might consider a toothpaste with added teeth whitening features, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

 

  1. Your Floss 

 

Brushing your teeth with the right toothpaste is great for removing stains, bacteria, plaque, and other unwanted elements from the surface of your teeth, but brushing the front, back, and crown of your teeth does little to reach the other 40% of your total tooth surfaces — the spaces in between your teeth. 

 

Food particles, plaque, and bacteria left to rot in your interdental spaces can eventually cause tooth decay. The way to clean that bothersome 40% is by using dental floss to clean in between your teeth at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, but ideally also in the morning after breakfast. 

 

The best floss to use is waxed or Teflon, which allows you to get into all of those tight spaces and lowers the risk of your floss shredding and tearing while you’re using it. 

If you have trouble using traditional string floss, you can use a dental harp or flossette to clean between tooth surfaces quickly and easily. 

 

  1. Your Tongue Cleaner

 

Since your tongue tends to host an abundance of oral bacteria, keeping it clean won’t just improve your overall oral health, but help your breath stay nice and fresh as well. One way to disinfect your tongue is to brush it with your toothbrush once you’ve finished brushing your teeth. Another way is by using a tongue scraper, which is a dental tool specifically designed to help you clear away the bacteria that collects on your tongue. 

 

  1. Your Mouthwash

 

The foregoing are fantastic ways to keep your teeth, tongue, and breath fresh, clean, and healthy, but there is one more thing to consider: mouthwash. While it’s not an acceptable substitute for daily brushing and flossing, the use of a minty mouthwash is an excellent final step to add to your daily oral self-care. 

 

The two primary types of mouthwash are over-the-counter and prescription. Each significantly helps to reduce plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, and bad breath. The prescription version is generally more aggressive, while the over-the-counter brands, flavors, and types include everything from being alcohol-free, less-stinging, and extra-minty. Some even offer teeth whitening and longer-lasting freshness. The choice is yours to make. 

 

Unless directed by a dentist, children younger than 6 years old shouldn’t use over-the-counter mouthwash, as they may be tempted to swallow it. 

 

Using a mouthwash:

  • kills bacteria in your mouth, 
  • rinses away any little leftover bits of food that may remain on your teeth or gums, and,
  • leaves your mouth and breath feeling and smelling fresh.

 

With these five items in your medicine cabinet, you are well on the way to attaining and maintaining a healthy smile! To learn more about how to get the most out of your home-care oral hygiene, and to discuss any issue with your oral health, contact Oral Surgery DC for a consultation today (https://oralsurgerydc.com/contact/).

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Almost half of all adults over 30 will experience some level of gum disease, or periodontitis, in their lifetime. Globally, it’s estimated to affect nearly half of the world’s population. The good news is, periodontitis has few long-term side effects if detected and treated early. However, if you ignore the signs of gum disease and fail to seek treatment, it can have severe implications, including tooth loss.

 

Here’s what you should know about the causes and risks of gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is a serious infection in the gums. The build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene, creates an environment where bad bacteria thrive. That bacteria, along with the “good” bacteria your immune system releases to fight them, will over time break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

 

Healthy gums feel firm and are snug around the teeth, while someone with gum disease will notice puffiness, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, pus, loose teeth, tooth loss, discomfort when chewing, pockets around the teeth, and receding gums. If you have any of these symptoms, you might be suffering from gum disease. 

 

Gum disease is easily diagnosed by a dentist or dental hygienist, and so is gum inflammation, which we call gingivitis. Gingivitis is a precursor to severe gum disease and is considered the mildest form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about how gingivitis begins and how it can advance into periodontitis if not treated properly. 

Causes of Gum Disease

The biggest cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing often enough, which leads to the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and food particles. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep plaque at a minimum, but poor dental hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque (and the bacteria it contains), which leads to the gum inflammation and bleeding associated with gingivitis. 

 

If you don’t brush, floss, and rinse for some period of time, plaque starts to build up on the surface of your teeth, releasing acid that damages the outer shell known as enamel. This marks the beginning of tooth decay. In these early stages, plaque can be easily removed and gingivitis is easily reversible with consistent brushing and flossing. If left unchecked, however, gingivitis will begin to turn into periodontitis. 

 

In just 72 hours, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which is a hard layer that will begin to grow along your gum line. Tartar makes it impossible to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums unless it is scraped away by a dentist. The build-up of plaque and tarter starts to worsen a person’s dental hygiene, inflame the gums, and eventually pull the gum and bone away from the teeth.

 

With gum disease, pockets start to form between the teeth and gums, which opens the door to more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. As gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. That’s how gum disease leads to loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Reversing Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontitis are easily prevented with proper dental hygiene. Gingivitis is also easily reversible, so if you begin to notice some mild inflammation and bleeding, you probably just need to start brushing and flossing better. Check in with your dentist and they’ll let you know if you’re experiencing gingivitis and what you can do to treat it.

 

With that in mind, while gingivitis can often be reversed by merely improving dental hygiene, periodontitis is not so easily reversible. Treating periodontitis also requires improved dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing alone cannot remove the hard layers of tartar that begin to form at the gum line. Advanced gum disease will also cause pockets in the gums and these pockets must be cleaned out with special scaling tools. 

 

If you think you have periodontitis, you should schedule an appointment. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning of your teeth in order to clean the visible tooth surface and go below the gum line to clean out any pockets. For someone who has severe periodontitis that has led to the destruction of bone or soft tissue, or the loss of teeth, seeing an oral surgeon is the best option.

How an Oral Surgeon Can Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.

 

If you’re suffering from periodontitis and it has led to the loss of soft tissue, bone, or teeth, an oral surgeon can help restore your healthy smile and your confidence. In our next article, we’ll explore all of the methods and techniques used in oral surgery to successfully restore the smiles of those who have suffered from periodontitis. 

 

At our clinic, we employ the latest technology and tools to speed recovery and restore oral health for patience experiencing periodontitis. If you have questions about gum disease or the best treatment path for you, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

A bright and healthy smile starts at home. Seeing your dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup is a big step in the right direction when it comes to your oral hygiene, but the path to your best smile begins with a consistent, everyday dental care routine. Here are some tips to help you achieve your most beautiful smile. 

  1. Choose Good-for-Your-Smile Foods 

It’s no secret that what you eat impacts your physical health, and your smile is no exception. A balanced diet will ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to grow and maintain healthy teeth, but what you eat impacts your smile in other ways too.

 

For instance, crunchy fruits and veggies cause you to produce more saliva, which naturally washes your mouth in between brushing and flossing. Meanwhile, foods that are high in sugar should only be enjoyed on occasion because sugar can feed the bad bacteria in your mouth and contribute to tooth decay. 

 

While we’re on the topic, it’s well known that red wine, coffee, and soda will stain your teeth. In fact, any highly-acidic food or drink is bad for your smile as it can wear down enamel and discolor it over time. Instead, drink lots of water to gently rinse your mouth throughout the day and promote saliva production.

  1. Kick-Start Your Oral Hygiene With the Right Toothpaste and Brush

There are countless toothpaste types on the market, but did you know that whitening toothpaste actually contains abrasives that can wear down enamel over time? Enamel is the protective outer layer on your teeth — and when it gets thin, the naturally yellow center of your tooth is able to show through.

 

If you want the healthiest smile possible, choose a toothpaste with fluoride, which will help strengthen enamel over time. Fluoride can also help reverse early-stage tooth decay, which means fewer fillings. To max out your oral hygiene, pair that toothpaste with a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid unnecessary abrasion, and make sure you brush at least twice a day.

  1. Keep Your Tongue Clean

You may have heard that your tongue is the primary source of bad breath-causing bacteria, and that’s not a myth. A host of bacteria live on your tongue, both good and bad, and it’s important that you scrub your tongue every time you brush. Forgetting to clean your tongue is like wiping clean dishes with a dirty towel!

 

Choose a toothbrush with a tongue scrubber on the reverse side, or pick up a tongue scraper that’s designed to make quick work of cleaning your tongue. You don’t necessarily need to use toothpaste on your tongue — you just need some gentle abrasion to clean off the bacteria. Once you’re done, continue your oral hygiene routine with a fluoride mouthwash to rinse your tongue and pearly whites. 

  1. Never Skip Flossing Again

After you brush, always use floss. Flossing helps remove excess plaque and clean in between your teeth where your brush can’t reach. If that plaque isn’t removed, it will build up over time and put you at an increased risk of gum disease and other problems.

 

The type of floss you use doesn’t matter, as long as you’re using it correctly. String floss is affordable and easy to take with you anywhere, but disposable pre-strung floss comes on a little handle for easy use. Avoid nicking your gums with the floss, and use a couple of new pieces as you move around your mouth. 

 

If you floss every day, you’ll notice the color of your gums improving and any tenderness you’ve been experiencing may start to disappear. However, when you first start flossing, you might experience some discomfort and bleeding. Your dentist can show you how to floss properly and assess your gum health to let you know whether any discomfort or bleeding might be an early warning sign of issues like gum disease.

  1. Ask an Oral Surgeon About Gum Disease

Periodontitis, often called gum disease, is an infection in the gums that will degrade your jawbone over time and lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene, which is good news since it’s a risk factor for heart and lung diseases and puts a serious damper on your healthy smile.

 

Bleeding when you floss could be an early sign of gum disease, and it’s one of the most obvious. Oftentimes, other symptoms go unnoticed — things like puffy, discolored, or tender gums and bad breath. Gum disease is incredibly common, especially if you don’t brush and floss regularly. That’s why you should talk to your oral surgeon about the health of your gums and discuss what they can do if you have any stage of gum disease. 

 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog for more information on why gum disease is so dangerous and how your oral surgeon can help you prevent and recover from gum disease and the decay or tooth loss that can result from it. In the meantime, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information on getting and maintaining a healthy smile.

All You Need to Know About Sedation Dentistry

Modern oral surgery has come a long way in its ability to provide optimal comfort for patients who must undergo invasive procedures. Unfortunately, however, many dental patients still feel anxiety whenever they must sit in the dentist’s chair, even for relatively minor dental work.

If you’ve ever had trouble remaining calm for dental appointments, or grown anxious at the prospect of major procedures such as dental implants, sedation dentistry can help you feel at ease.

 

Definition of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedative medications to relax dental patients and help them remain calm while undergoing everything from routine examinations and cleanings to extensive oral surgery work. The patient typically receives such medications alongside any necessary local anesthesia to ensure both relaxation and comfort. (The use of general anesthesia makes other forms of dental sedation unnecessary.)

 

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry can benefit patients in a variety of scenarios. For example, children often have irrational fears of the dentist, especially if they have little to no experience in the dentist’s chair or have had a painful dental experience in the past. For this reason, sedation often plays an important role in pediatric dental care.

Patients of any age can experience dental anxiety. An underlying general sense of anxiety — or “whitecoat syndrome” that comes into play specifically in medical settings — sometimes feeds such fear. Individuals with unusually low pain thresholds or sensitive teeth may have good reason to worry about what they’ll experience during their dental procedure. Other patients may simply dislike the tedium of lengthy dental procedures and find it difficult to sit in the chair for long periods.

Sedation dentistry can prove invaluable for these patients. Although the strength and effects of sedatives used may vary, the patient ultimately feels tranquil and at ease throughout the procedure in question. By alleviating their anxiety, sedation dentistry also encourages patients to schedule dental exams and procedures as needed instead of delaying proper care.

 

Common Types of Dental Sedation

Dental sedation usually takes one of four primary forms. Depending on your anxiety level and/or the scale of your dental procedure, you may receive:

  • Nitrous oxide sedation: This light form of sedation uses an inhaled gas commonly referred to as “laughing gas.” Recipients breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a face mask. The dentist adjusts the mixture as needed, with the effects wearing off relatively quickly after the procedure.
  • Oral sedation: When most people think of sedation dentistry, they envision this technique. You’ll receive an oral tranquilizer such as Valium or Halcion before your scheduled procedure, resulting in extreme grogginess.
  • IV sedation: IV sedation has the same general effect as oral sedation, but as a constant infusion through a vein rather than a pre-set dosage. This method permits the dentist to adjust the sedation level throughout the procedure.
  • General anesthesia: General anesthesia, also referred to as deep sedation, involves the use of intravenous drugs that render you completely or almost completely unconscious through your procedure. Extensive oral surgery may call for this type of sedation.

 

What to Expect from Sedation Dentistry

Your experience under dental sedation will vary according to the sedatives used. True to its nickname, laughing gas may make you feel giddy or giggly, although this effect fades as soon as the dentist introduces more oxygen into the mixture. Heavier drugs may induce an effect known as twilight sedation. In this state, you may feel almost asleep but can still respond to your dentist’s questions and instruction. If you receive general anesthetic, you probably won’t feel or even remember anything about the procedure at all.

 

Routine Cautions Regarding Dental Sedation

Skilled professionals trained in sedation dentistry can use sedatives safely and effectively. However, sedative and anesthetic drugs come with certain risks that call for vigilance and care in their use. Underlying health conditions can complicate the use of dental sedation. For this reason, it is important that your medical history form is filled out completely and accurately, including listing of all medications and supplements you currently take.

For all forms of sedation, you will be advised it you need to have an escort with you to drive you home post-procedure as while you may be awake, you’ll likely feel some residual drowsiness that might impair your driving skills. Remember to make these plans before your appointment.

 

Sedation Dentistry Costs and Insurance

The cost of your sedation dentistry will depend on factors such as the type of sedation you received and how much of it you require. (The amount of sedation required can vary according to your physical size and age.) Most standard dental insurance plans won’t cover sedation because insurers don’t regard it as a medically essential treatment. You might receive coverage if your procedure involves multiple appointments, or if the use of sedation helps to reduce the overall procedure cost. Otherwise, plan to pay for this form of care either out of pocket or with the aid of a supplemental dental payment plan or account.

Woodview Oral Surgery can answer all your questions about sedation dentistry and provide this form of care if you need it. Contact our office to learn more.

 

Image Credits: Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Almost half of all adults over 30 will experience some level of gum disease, or periodontitis, in their lifetime. Globally, it’s estimated to affect nearly half of the world’s population. The good news is, periodontitis has few long-term side effects if detected and treated early. However, if you ignore the signs of gum disease and fail to seek treatment, it can have severe implications, including tooth loss.

 

Here’s what you should know about the causes and risks of gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is a serious infection in the gums. The build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene, creates an environment where bad bacteria thrive. That bacteria, along with the “good” bacteria your immune system releases to fight them, will over time break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

 

Healthy gums feel firm and are snug around the teeth, while someone with gum disease will notice puffiness, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, pus, loose teeth, tooth loss, discomfort when chewing, pockets around the teeth, and receding gums. If you have any of these symptoms, you might be suffering from gum disease. 

 

Gum disease is easily diagnosed by a dentist or dental hygienist, and so is gum inflammation, which we call gingivitis. Gingivitis is a precursor to severe gum disease and is considered the mildest form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about how gingivitis begins and how it can advance into periodontitis if not treated properly. 

Causes of Gum Disease

The biggest cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing often enough, which leads to the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and food particles. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep plaque at a minimum, but poor dental hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque (and the bacteria it contains), which leads to the gum inflammation and bleeding associated with gingivitis. 

 

If you don’t brush, floss, and rinse for some period of time, plaque starts to build up on the surface of your teeth, releasing acid that damages the outer shell known as enamel. This marks the beginning of tooth decay. In these early stages, plaque can be easily removed and gingivitis is easily reversible with consistent brushing and flossing. If left unchecked, however, gingivitis will begin to turn into periodontitis. 

 

In just 72 hours, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which is a hard layer that will begin to grow along your gum line. Tartar makes it impossible to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums unless it is scraped away by a dentist. The build-up of plaque and tarter starts to worsen a person’s dental hygiene, inflame the gums, and eventually pull the gum and bone away from the teeth.

 

With gum disease, pockets start to form between the teeth and gums, which opens the door to more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. As gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. That’s how gum disease leads to loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Reversing Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontitis are easily prevented with proper dental hygiene. Gingivitis is also easily reversible, so if you begin to notice some mild inflammation and bleeding, you probably just need to start brushing and flossing better. Check in with your dentist and they’ll let you know if you’re experiencing gingivitis and what you can do to treat it.

 

With that in mind, while gingivitis can often be reversed by merely improving dental hygiene, periodontitis is not so easily reversible. Treating periodontitis also requires improved dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing alone cannot remove the hard layers of tartar that begin to form at the gum line. Advanced gum disease will also cause pockets in the gums and these pockets must be cleaned out with special scaling tools. 

 

If you think you have periodontitis, you should schedule an appointment. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning of your teeth in order to clean the visible tooth surface and go below the gum line to clean out any pockets. For someone who has severe periodontitis that has led to the destruction of bone or soft tissue, or the loss of teeth, seeing an oral surgeon is the best option.

How an Oral Surgeon Can Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.

 

If you’re suffering from periodontitis and it has led to the loss of soft tissue, bone, or teeth, an oral surgeon can help restore your healthy smile and your confidence. In our next article, we’ll explore all of the methods and techniques used in oral surgery to successfully restore the smiles of those who have suffered from periodontitis. 

 

At our clinic, we employ the latest technology and tools to speed recovery and restore oral health for patience experiencing periodontitis. If you have questions about gum disease or the best treatment path for you, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.