Oral Health

concerned womanOur gums are an important part of our oral health. After all, they help hold our teeth in place and protect the tooth roots. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to see them when we smile, no matter how important they are. Nonetheless, there are some people whose gums show more prominently than others. This is known as a gummy smile. Now while there typically aren’t any problems associated with a gummy smile, they can make some feel self-conscious. When this is the case, your dentist in Lawrenceville has some options to help. 

Causes of a Gummy Smile

Before we dive into some of the cosmetic dentistry options that can fix a gummy smile, it’s important to know what can cause it in the first place. Some of the most common causes of a gummy smile include: 

One of the most common causes behind a gummy smile is the way the teeth develop and erupt. When there’s too much growth in the gum tissue it can expand up and over, essentially hiding teeth. This can create the appearance of short teeth and a gummy smile. However, oftentimes the teeth are fully developed and can be uncovered. An abundance of gum tissue can be genetic or can be a result of medication of an infection in the gums.

At your dental appointments, your dentist in Lawrenceville will ask you to bite down and touch your top teeth to your bottom teeth in order to check your bite alignment. This can help identify several things such as a potential problem with your jaw. A bad bite may also be the reason behind a gummy smile. For example, if the upper jaw protrudes too far outward can create a gummy appearance.

While something called a hyperactive upper lip may seem silly, it’s a very real thing. Sometimes the muscles in the upper lip and under the nose are too active. Over time, this overuse can bring the top lip up too high, exposing the gums. This cause of a gummy smile is often hereditary. 

Your dentist in Lawrenceville will need to know the root cause of a gummy smile in order to recommend the best treatment for your specific situation.  

Gummy Smile Treatment

Treatment of a gummy smile can vary greatly depending on the case. But some of the most common solutions are: 

If the cause of a gummy smile is an infection, your dentist will probably recommend beginning with a scaling and root planing deep cleaning. This treatment can be very effective at removing infection and reducing inflammation that may make the gums appear larger than normal. If scaling and root planing treatment doesn’t give a patient the result they desire, there are additional treatments available. 

Other common and often successful treatments for a gummy smile are crown lengthening or gum recontouring, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like. These procedures remove excess tissue around the teeth and restructure the gum line allowing more of the white enamel to show. 

A gummy smile caused by a bad bite may best be treated through orthodontics, including traditional braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign or ClearCorrect. Orthodontics can also help fix a bad bite in general and may relieve jaw pain or other oral health problems related to a bad bite.

If you notice more of your gums showing when you smile, laugh, or talk, and it bothers you, schedule a consultation with your dentist in Lawrenceville.

There’s a myth out there that says we’re almost guaranteed to lose some of our teeth as we get older. But a study by the American Dental Association says otherwise. In fact, more adults are keeping more of their natural teeth longer now than ever before. But that doesn’t ultimately mean that we’re all safe from tooth loss. Join your dentist in Lawrenceville as we take a closer look at some of the main reasons why our teeth fall out, some of which have nothing to do with age. 

Periodontal Disease 
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, accounts for 70% of all adult tooth loss in America and is the main reason our teeth fall out. Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue that can damage both the gum tissue and the jaw bone that hold our teeth in place. While anyone can develop gum disease, it does tend to affect older Americans more. For example, a little over 8% of Americans between the ages and 20 and 64 have gum disease compared to 17% for those over 65. The best way to combat the side effects of gum disease is to seek treatment from your dentist in Lawrenceville early. 

Cavities
Cavities are something that affects over 91% of Americans at least once in their lives, and they’re usually just a minor inconvenience. However, as with many things related to our health, if a cavity isn’t treated while it’s still small it can lead to other, more complex problems. As a cavity grows larger and deeper into the tooth, it will start to affect the tooth’s pulp, roots, and nerves. This can be painful and may require root canal treatment or tooth extraction and therefore, the loss of a tooth. 

Accidents

Our teeth can also fall out as a result of an accident. Many times these accidents occur from playing sports without a mouthguard but can also happen because of a fall, car accident, or other unexpected mishaps that involve trauma to the mouth. While nobody ever anticipates an accident and you can’t necessarily prevent them from happening, you can (and should) wear a mouthguard when playing sports. 

Other Causes
Believe it or not, there are some reasons our teeth fall out that seemingly have nothing to do with our mouths. You see, there are several whole-body health problems that cause problems throughout the body as well as in the mouth, including tooth loss. Make sure you tell your dentist in Lawrenceville your entire health history, so they know if they need to pay extra special attention to your oral health. Some of the most common health problems associated with tooth loss include:

As we grow up, we do not need to simply accept the fact that we will lose our teeth. We can take matters into our own hands and actively work to protect our smiles for life by brushing and flossing our teeth every day, eating a well-balanced diet, avoiding tobacco use, and of course, seeing your dentist in Lawrenceville every six months 

You’ve been told that you need what’s often referred to as the worst dental treatment out there — a root canal. Those two words can make any dental patient retreat in fear, and we understand why. However, while you may be feeling uneasy or flat out scared, it may help to know that the root canal’s reputation of being a painful and terrible treatment is old-fashioned and inaccurate. Join your dentist in Lawrenceville as we shed some truth about root canals. 

Do Root Canals Hurt? 

Let’s get right to the point and address the most common question surrounding root canals – Do they hurt? Historically, root canals have had a reputation for being painful. But the truth is, root canals help stop pain. When your dentist in Lawrenceville recommends a root canal treatment it’s usually because there’s decay or infection so deep inside your tooth a regular filling won’t fix it. Oftentimes when this happens, you will be in pain as the infection or decay has touched the tooth’s inner nerves. A root canal will remove this infection and relieve pain. And thanks to advancements in dental technology, the treatment formally known as painful, awful, and terrible suddenly becomes no big deal. 

What is a Root Canal?

Next, let’s take a closer look at the procedure itself because sometimes knowing what’s happening during treatment can alleviate concerns and fear. During a root canal, your dentist in Lawrenceville will:

How Do You Know if You Need a Root Canal? 

The aforementioned tooth pain is a key first sign that you may need a root canal. However, please note that tooth pain can be caused by any number of things and doesn’t automatically mean a root canal is in your future. Talk to your dentist in Lawrenceville to find out the cause of the pain and find the best treatment for you. Other signs that you may need a root canal can include, but are not limited to: 

If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can to get properly diagnosed and relief sooner rather than later. And if you’re told that you need a root canal, don’t sweat it, you have nothing to fear.

Does your smile appear dull, dingy, and discolored? You’re not alone. In fact, Americans spend over a billion dollars on smile whitening products every year because they’re unhappy with the color of their teeth. But what if we could better understand what’s causing the discoloration in the first place and, perhaps, prevent it? You’re in luck. Your dentist in Lawrenceville is here to share the top four things that often cause tooth discoloration and what you can do about them.  

One of the best ways to almost guarantee tooth discoloration is by using tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco. Tobacco products contain ingredients such as tar and nicotine that are known to cause staining, so when tobacco is constantly introduced to the mouth, it’s incredibly common to notice yellowing of the teeth. It’s also common for tobacco users to notice brown spots thanks to the natural brown color of the tobacco itself. The best way to prevent tooth discoloration from tobacco is to avoid it altogether, but your dentist in Lawrenceville can also help reverse discoloration through a variety of smile whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatments. 

Another common explanation behind tooth discoloration is found in our diets and in the foods and drinks we consume. Beverages such as a daily morning cup of coffee or tea, a nightcap of red wine, and soda can all cause teeth to appear brown or discolored. When it comes to foods that can cause tooth discoloration, think of foods that would stain a white shirt — berries, pasta sauce, and beets are all good examples. Additionally, foods and drinks that are highly acidic are known to attack tooth enamel and can cause teeth to appear dull, gray, or yellow. Alternatively, consuming too many sugary treats tends to cause tooth decay which can present itself as dark or brown patches. To decrease your chances of tooth discoloration from foods and drinks, enjoy tooth-staining treats in moderation. 

A car accident, a fall, or a sporting accident can all result in tooth trauma. You’ll probably find it easier to identify this as a cause of tooth discoloration as you’ll be able to link the discoloration to a mouth injury, whereas the other causes occur over time, often without you even realizing it. Tooth trauma usually causes teeth to appear darkened or gray, and this can occur in one or even multiple teeth. The darkening is due to an injury inside the tooth and will require intervention from your dentist in Lawrenceville

Another incredibly common explanation for tooth discoloration is poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth every day helps remove plaque and bacteria buildup and also helps protect teeth against decay. If you don’t remove this buildup regularly and effectively with a proper oral hygiene routine, you may start to notice your teeth take on a yellowish or gray appearance – or you may even start to see orange or green spots on your teeth. To protect your smile, make sure you’re brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time and flossing once a day. 

Of course, it’s also important to see your dentist in Lawrenceville every six months for a professional dental cleaning. At these appointments, your dental hygienist will remove even more buildup from your teeth that your at-home brushings can’t remove. This further helps keep your pearly whites white and fight off decay.

When it comes to your oral health, it’s no surprise that your dentist in Lawrenceville puts so much importance on taking proper care of your teeth. But did you know that your gums are another crucial aspect to overall oral health? In fact, our gums are just as important to take care of as our teeth. They help hold our teeth steady and firmly in our mouths, protecting the roots and helping teeth last a lifetime. However, it’s not uncommon to experience something called gum recession. 

What is Gum Recession? 
Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue begins to pull away from teeth, leaving tooth roots exposed and increasing the risk for tooth loss, increased sensitivity, and decay. What’s even worse is that once gums recede, you can’t grow it back. However, your dentist in Lawrenceville may be able to help with a variety of gum recession treatments. It’s best to talk with your dentist to find out the best way to fix receding gums. 

Gum Recession Treatment
Effect treatment of receding gums depends on the root cause and overall oral health. Some of the most common treatment options are: 

What Causes Receding Gums? 
There’s not one singular underlying cause behind gum recession. Each individual is different, and your cause may be different than someone else’s. Some of the causes of gum recession are:

Preventing Gum Recession
Gum recession is an incredibly common dental concern that we encounter every day. While it may seem like a minor thing, receding gums can lead to some serious complications and even become pretty painful if left untreated. There are ways you can help prevent your gums from receding such as:

If you notice any of the common signs of gum recession, including swollen, red gums, chronic bad breath, pain along the gum line, exposed tooth roots and the accompanying sensitivity, or visibility shrinking gums, schedule a dental appointment today.

woman drinking glass of waterAs we enter the hot summer months, it’s more important than ever to keep our bodies properly hydrated. After all, a well-hydrated body helps organs function properly, can improve sleep, and may even protect against infections. But as your dentist in Lawrenceville knows, drinking enough water isn’t just good for the body, it’s great for oral health, too.

Washes Away Bacteria

Drinking water is one of the best ways to hydrate. It’s also one of the best ways to wash away harmful bacteria, especially during and immediately after eating. Choosing water as your beverage of choice helps rinse away food particles that otherwise would break down and feed mouth bacteria. As bacteria feed, they release an acidic byproduct that can easily attack and wear away tooth enamel, leaving teeth at increased risk for decay. 

Protects Against Dry Mouth

A hydrated mouth is a healthy mouth, but a dehydrated mouth is more likely to feel super dry and uncomfortable. This is appropriately known as dry mouth, and while it seems harmless, your dentist in Lawrenceville knows differently. Dry mouth can occur from not drinking enough water, some medications, and breathing through your mouth. While the last two causes are a little bit more difficult to treat, drinking enough water is always a good place to start. You see, when a mouth is dry, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria to stick around. And as we mentioned above, the longer bacteria linger, the more acid they produce, and the more likely your teeth will be attacked. When it comes to oral health, saliva is your mouth’s best friend. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps increase saliva production and protect your mouth around the clock. 

Strengthens Enamel

Drinking water is always recommended, but drinking fluoridated water packs a double punch. Fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally found in some foods that helps remineralize enamel, making it stronger, tougher, and harder for acids to attack. Fluoride has been added to many community water supplies, so whenever possible, it’s best to drink water from the tap as opposed to bottled water. Fluoride can also be obtained by drinking some store-bought beverages that have added fluoride such as orange juice, by brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, or by talking with your dentist about adding fluoride treatments at your bi-annual dental appointments.

There’s No Sugar — And No Calories!

Another side benefit to water, and one of the top reasons your dentist in Lawrenceville loves it so much, is that it contains no sugars or calories. That means you can quench your thirst without the damaging side effects of sugar found in sports drinks, soda, and even fruit juice. Drinking enough water throughout the day may also help with weight loss or maintaining weight. 

This summer, and every season, keep your body and your mouth property hydrated by aiming to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day. To further protect your oral health, make sure to brush and floss regularly, and see your dentist every six months. 

The month of June has always been dedicated to the men in our lives, particularly our dads. June just so happens to also be Men’s Health Month, a time for all of us to encourage the men closest to us to focus on their overall health, including their oral health. After all, as your dentist in Lawrenceville knows, there’s a strong connection between what goes inside the mouth and the rest of the body. So this June, let’s take a minute to talk about why dental care is so important, especially for men. 

Men Are More Likely To Avoid The Dentist
A study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry showed that men are less likely than women to see their dentist regularly. In fact, many men don’t go to the dentist at all unless they’re experiencing a dental emergency. However, the truth is, if men were to see their dentist twice a year, they may be able to avoid those emergencies altogether. Regular preventive dental visits do just that — prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Professional cleanings remove plaque buildup that regular brushing and flossing at home can’t touch. This alone helps lower the risk of dental problems. 

Top Dental Concerns for Men 

There are many ways that poor oral health can affect overall health and require the need for advanced dental treatment. The best way to avoid that is to see your dentist regularly and to encourage every member of your family, especially the men, to do the same. 

P.S. Don’t forget Father’s Day is June 21st!

Usually you’ll find your dentist in Lawrenceville spending most of their time talking about teeth. But today, we’re switching it up a bit and focusing on another important area of oral health — the tongue. This amazing muscle helps us speak, chew, and swallow, but did you know that our tongues can also help your dental team identify oral health problems- or even other whole-body problems? Say “Ah!” and let’s take a look at some ways our tongues can be the window to overall health. 

A Bright Red Tongue
Tongues are usually a nice shade of pink — this indicates a well-hydrated and healthy tongue. But there are also times when patients look in their mouths to find a bright red tongue. The color can be so dramatic that it can appear as if you just ate a red popsicle that stained your tongue. A red tongue is often referred to as strawberry tongue and can indicate a vitamin B-12 deficiency or an iron deficiency. Occasionally, a red tongue may also be a sign of a fever, strep throat, Kawasaki disease, or erythroplakia. Erythroplakia may increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer, so any tongue redness that doesn’t go away warrants a call to your dentist in Lawrenceville

Scalloped or Wavy Edges 
If it’s been a while since you’ve last looked at your tongue, you may now notice changes in its texture, particularly a scalloped or wavy appearance along the edges. This is usually nothing to be concerned about but can be a sign of other problems. Scalloped or wavy edges often result from the tongue being pushed up against the teeth repeatedly. This can even happen during sleep! This change in tongue texture can also be a sign of teeth grinding, sleep apnea, TMJ disorder, or vitamin deficiencies.  

A Black, Hairy Tongue
As gross as this sounds and as scary as it can be, usually a black, hairy tongue isn’t anything to worry about. This condition can be caused by poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking too much alcohol, dry mouth, or changes to yeast or bacteria in the mouth. Also, the “hair” you see isn’t actually hair but rather a buildup of skin cells on the papillae (the tiny bumps naturally found on tongues). When too many cells take over the papillae, they can appear long and hair-like as opposed to small bumps. This condition can resolve on its own. 

Painful Sores or Bumps
As we’ve mentioned before, all tongues have tiny bumps called papillae. Those are normal and are no cause for concern. However, when a new bump appears and is accompanied by pain or soreness and doesn’t go away, you should visit your dentist in Lawrenceville. New lumps that don’t go away over the course of two weeks may be a sign of oral cancer. Oral cancer can be treated, but treatment is often more successful when the cancer is caught early. Call your dentist as soon as you can to get it checked out. 

Your tongue can say a lot about your overall health, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Keep a close eye on your tongue in-between your dental appointments and be sure to talk about any changes you may notice with your dental team.

During these times of change and uncertainty, it’s only natural to feel stressed out. After all, we’ve all been thrust into staying at home and figuring out our new, temporary norm. Your dentist in Lawrenceville understands. We’re in this together, and we’d like to help by talking about how stress can affect your oral health while also providing you a few tips on how you can lower your stress during stressful times.

How Our Bodies React to Stress
Stress affects different people in different ways, and what happens to one person may not happen to another. Knowing that, let’s take a look at some of the ways our oral health tends to respond to stress.

Teeth Clenching & Grinding – One of the most common correlations between stress and oral health is our body’s often subconscious response to clench and grind our teeth. Most of the time, we may not even know we’re doing these things until we start to experience the side effects. The pressure of repeated teeth-on-teeth clenching can be too much for our teeth and may lead to some serious concerns including chipped, cracked, broken, or worn down teeth. But that’s not all. Constant clenching or grinding can put unnatural stress on our jaw joint and jaw muscles, which can cause jaw pain and the development of TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder and jaw pain can often be treated successfully, so if you recognize any clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking call your dentist in Lawrenceville.*

Gum Disease – Gum disease is a serious oral health problem that can contribute to other whole-body health concerns such as the increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and some cancers. Usually, gum disease is a result of inadequate oral hygiene, not seeing your dentist regularly, or tobacco use. However, recent studies have also shown a connection between increased stress and the occurrence of gum disease. Gum disease can be treated if caught early, so if you notice bleeding gums, bad breath that doesn’t go away, or swollen, painful gums, see your dentist.

De-Stress to Protect
Your dentist in Lawrenceville wants to encourage you to try different things to help you de-stress, for your overall health, mental health, and yes, your oral health. Some things you can try include:

Sleeping Well. Getting enough sleep is important to help lower stress and keep your overall body functioning well. Having trouble sleeping? Avoid blue light at least an hour before bed, listen to calming music or relaxing sounds, and keep a regular sleep schedule (yes, even on weekends).

Exercising Daily. Hop on the treadmill or stationary bike, go for a walk, do some yoga, but whatever you do, do some sort of exercise daily. Regular exercise naturally lowers stress by giving your body and brain a surge of endorphins, which make you feel happy and more relaxed.

Meditating. Believe it or not, simply focusing on your breath and practicing some deep breathing techniques can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and help you feel more relaxed. Look for a free app on your phone or videos online to help guide you through breathing exercises or full meditation sessions.

It’s more important now than ever before to work on decreasing stress levels. We hope some of the tips above help. As we’ve mentioned before, stress is different for everyone, and that also includes stress management. Try to find the method that works best for you.

*At the time of publishing, the ADA recommends that all preventive dental appointments and non-emergency consultations be postponed. Please check with your local regulations.

emergency room signAs of March 18, 2020, the American Dental Association has recommended a nationwide postponement of all elective dental procedures and encouraged dentists to provide emergency services only. But how do you determine the difference between a dental emergency and a non-emergency? The ADA is helping out there, too and released important information and guidance to help both you and your dentist in Lawrenceville during these unprecedented times. 

What Are Dental Emergencies?

According to the ADA, dental emergencies are “potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection.” The guide released to dentists back in March goes into even more detail to give specific examples of potential dental emergencies. Let’s take a look. 

Urgent Dental Care

There is also a subset of the ADA’s guidelines to emergency dental needs called urgent dental care. These problems may still require dental care quickly and include: 

This is not an all-inclusive list of all dental emergencies that may require immediate treatment. Other situations may include defective restorations that cause pain, extensive cavities or decay that cause pain, needed adjustments to dental appliances when they aren’t functioning properly, or the replacement of temporary fillings where the patient is in pain. 

Non-Emergencies

At this time, dental offices are discouraged from having preventive, routine appointments or seeing patients with non-urgent needs such as: 

Please note, while your dentist in Lawrenceville is here to help you in any way possible, there are some limitations as to what we can and cannot do at this time. The best thing to do if you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency is to call your dentist. 

*As information about COVID-19 changes regularly both at the state level and on a national scale, please check your local area for the most recent updates regarding dental care. 

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