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Pregnancy and Dental Care

Pregnancy and Dental Care

There are many myths that surround your oral health when it comes to pregnancy. No matter what you might hear, there is one thing that is certain: the primary changes you see during pregnancy are due to a large surge in hormones, with an increase in estrogen and progesterone. Unfortunately, these hormonal changes can magnify the way your gum tissue reacts to plaque, so it’s crucial to keep up with your dental care during pregnancy.

What Should Be Done to Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy?

First of all, if you are planning on becoming pregnant, it is a good idea to go in to your dentist and get a checkup. Make sure you go ahead and treat any pre-existing oral problems that could accompany your pregnancy and dental health.

During your pregnancy, you need to make sure to give your gums and teeth extra attention. Keep brushing and flossing regularly and focus on eating a balanced diet. You also need to make sure you are setting up regular visits to your dentist so that they can assist you in reducing dental problems that can occur during a pregnancy.

What Types of Oral Problems Can Occur While Pregnant?

It has been shown in several studies that many pregnant women get pregnancy gingivitis. Check out Flintlock Dental’s blog on gingivitis for more information on this disease. Gingivitis tends to occur more often during a pregnancy due to the increased levels of hormones. These hormones magnify the way the gums react to irritants in plaque. This does not mean that hormones are the only factor in gingivitis. It is still the plaque that causes this gum disease, so you can fight against the problem with good oral hygiene.

Simply making sure you keep your teeth clean, especially up near your gum line, will help reduce and even prevent gingivitis during a pregnancy. You can also substitute sweets in your diet and reduce sugar consumption to further prevent the chance of gum disease.

What Will a Dentist Visit Look Like When I Am Pregnant?

The first thing to do is to make sure you let your dentist office know that you are pregnant when you call to make the appointment. This is due to the fact that the use of x-rays as well as anesthetics and pain medication is affected by pregnancy. These are all things that should not be administered during at least the first trimester of a pregnancy, so you want to make sure that the office is aware of your situation.

It is overall best to schedule your appointment during the fourth thru sixth month of your pregnancy. Doing this ensures you are healthy and through the first three months (which are most important to the baby’s growth and development) and you are not into the last trimester, where you can become uncomfortable sitting for longer periods of time. It has also been shown that stress can lead to prenatal complications, and sometimes a visit to the dentist can induce stress, so that is yet another reason to try and avoid the dental appointment in the last trimester of your pregnancy.

Should you need to get into the dental office due to an emergency, again make sure the office knows you are pregnant. Take the time to discuss any health issues or concerns you have had in the past, as these types of things can influence how your visit to the dentist will go. Depending on the situation, it may also be important for your dentist to discuss your medical history and needs with your doctor prior to your visit.

Most of the time, going to the dentist during your pregnancy will involve brief appointments and will usually just consist of a quick checkup and cleaning to make sure your gums and teeth are healthy. These appointments should be stress-free. Again, it is safest to try and not schedule the dental appointments much into the third trimester, but brief ones if needed are okay.

Any elective procedures that may come up in your visits are best to be done after your baby arrives, if they can be held off until then.

It is best to have a good schedule of dental cleanings already in place before you are pregnant so that when the time comes, your dentist is already aware of your oral health and knows you as a person and patient. This will make office visits during your pregnancy stress-free and quick!

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What Exactly is Gingivitis?

What Exactly is Gingivitis?

At your dental appointments, you’ve probably been told to watch out for gingivitis. What does that mean, what are the warning signs, and how can it be treated? If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis, this means that you have an inflammation of the gums, also called gingiva. It will most commonly occur because films of bacteria called plaque have accumulated on the teeth. This is called plaque-induced gingivitis.

Gingivitis is a non-destructive type of periodontal disease, but if left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis. This is more serious, painful, and can eventually lead to the loss of your teeth. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of gingivitis and know how to combat it before it becomes a real problem.

Symptoms and Signs of Gingivitis

First you should know the difference between a symptom and a sign. A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, while a sign is something everyone including a nurse or doctor can see.

Usual signs and symptoms for gingivitis are:

  • Gums are bright red or purple.
  • Gums are tender and sometimes painful to the touch.
  • Bad breath (also called halitosis).
  • Inflamed or swollen gums.
  • Receding gums.
  • Soft gums.

In mild cases of gingivitis, the patient may not even notice that anything is wrong, because the symptoms are so mild. Any symptom needs to be taken seriously and should be looked at by your dentist.

What are the Causes of Gingivitis?

Accumulation of Plaque or Tartar

Having an accumulation of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth is the most common cause for gingivitis. This triggers an immune response, which can eventually lead to the destruction of gingival tissue and eventually lead to further complications including loss of teeth.

Dental Plaque

Plaque is a biofilm that accumulates naturally on your teeth. There are some experts that say this colonization of bacteria can help protect the mouth from harmful microorganisms. On the other hand, dental plaque can also cause tooth decay and periodontal problems like gingivitis. When the plaque is not removed correctly, it can cause an accumulation of calculus (not the math kind) at the base of the teeth near the gums, creating a yellowish color. This is harder to remove, and can only be removed properly by a professional.

Gingivitis can also have other causes as well:

Hormones. Changes in hormones occurring during puberty or pregnancy can cause the gingiva to become more sensitive and raise the risk of inflammation.

Disease. Some diseases such as cancer or HIV are linked to a higher risk of developing gingivitis.

Smoking. Regular smokers more commonly develop gingivitis compared to non-smokers.

Family history. Experts have found that people whose parents have had gingivitis have a higher risk of developing it themselves.

Complications from Gingivitis

In most cases of diagnosed gingivitis, there are no complications if it is treated and the patient follows the dentist’s instructions. If the condition is left untreated, however, the gum disease can spread and affect deeper tissues as well as the teeth and bones.

Some possible complications of gingivitis are:

  • Abscess (buildup of pus) in the gingiva or jaw bone.
  • Infection in the gingiva or jaw bone.
  • Periodontitis that can lead to tooth loss.
  • Recurrent gingivitis.
  • Trench mouth (an ulceration of the gums that is caused by bacterial infection).

Some studies have linked gum diseases to other issues such as cardiovascular diseases like heart attack or stroke. Others have shown an association with a higher lung disease risk. Find more information on diseases all over the body that can be caused by tooth decay here.

Treatment Options for Gingivitis

If you go to the dentist early on and your treatment for gingivitis is quick and proper, the symptoms of gingivitis can be successfully reversed. The treatment process usually involves care by a dentist and follow-up procedures carried out by the patient at home.

The care you receive from the dentist can include:

  • Plaque and tartar removal (also known as scaling).
  • Explanation of good oral hygiene and how to effectively brush your teeth.
  • Follow-up visits with further cleaning if necessary.
  • Fixing your teeth so that oral hygiene can be done more effectively.

Care you need to do at home can include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Keep in mind that electric toothbrushes can be more effective at getting a good clean on your teeth.
  • Flossing your teeth at least once a day.
  • Regularly rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. Your dentist can recommend a good one.

With good dental hygiene and routine visits to your dentist, you should be able to steer clear of gingivitis. Finding the time to visit the dentist is just as important as regularly visiting your doctor. With early detection of any gum disease, it can save you time, money, and a lot of pain later.

 

Synthetic Tooth Enamel can be Used in Other Applications

Synthetic Tooth Enamel can be Used in Other Applications

When you hear the word enamel, you might think about that coating on your teeth that protects them. It is super strong and withstands a lot from our diet, from acidic foods and drinks to extreme temperature changes to the constant grinding from chewing. But what if there were other ways that tooth enamel could be used? What if it could be more than just a protective layer on your teeth?

Different types of enamels are used to protect hard surfaces such as on furniture and floors, but now scientists are finding ways to use replicated tooth enamel to protect surfaces outside our mouths.

What is Tooth Enamel?

Tooth enamel is a very hard and mineralized substance made up mostly of hydroxyapatite. This layer of your teeth is important, because it plays the role of protecting your teeth from damage and decay. The enamel on your teeth is not something that can be regenerated if it erodes away into cavities.

Tooth enamel has evolved over time. It has adapted in shape to different animal and human teeth, from pointy tiger teeth to our more flattened molars. However, although the enamel can take many shapes and thicknesses, it keeps the same structure at a molecular level.

How Can Enamel Be Used In Other Ways?

If the enamel on your teeth is so strong, there have to be other ways it can be used, right? This is the question that some scientists have set out to answer.

Think of the small vibrations that occur constantly on an airplane. Over time, these vibrations will cause the structure to age and crack. Researchers have found that designing these structures with a base more like tooth enamel could lead to a more resilient structure.

Artificial enamel has proven to be better than many previously-used commercial materials at damping the same vibrations. It is a lighter and more effective compound that sometimes is even a less expensive option.

As the theory was being tested at the University of Michigan, it was not initially agreed upon that using tooth enamel was the strongest, best compound. The researchers looked at many structures on animals that had to withstand shocks and vibrations like bones, shells, and teeth. The structures changed with each species they looked at, but the tooth enamel was the same no matter what animal it came from.

This fact told them that enamel could stand the test of time and was strong enough to withstand almost anything, no matter the situation. The reason the structure of enamel is so good at absorbing vibrations is the way the columns of the enamel bend at a molecular level. By bending like this, it can absorb the shock in between the columns of protein.

The group testing this theory demonstrated that synthetic tooth enamel came close to the ability of real tooth enamel of defending itself from damage due to vibrations.

What Do These Results Mean?

If there could be a way to create synthetic tooth enamel on a larger scale, it could be something to use in airplanes as well as other environments where there is a constant issue with vibrations. Using this in those situations could protect the structures from damage as well as protect what’s inside them, like electronics. The biggest challenge in all of this would be figuring out a way to automate the production of the synthetic enamel material.

Only time will tell if synthetic tooth enamel is something that will be used in other areas, or if it will just stay on our teeth. But seeing that it is less expensive to produce than many other substances, as well as lighter and more effective, it may be something we see used on structures soon.

If you want more information on dentistry and tooth health, check out Flintlock Dental’s other blogs, such as this one that goes over the many diseases throughout our bodies that can be caused by tooth decay.

Diseases Linked to Tooth Decay

Diseases Linked to Tooth Decay

When we think about our oral health, overall health rarely comes to mind. However, studies are showing more and more that diseases that occur all over the body are linked to oral health. Make sure you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, floss daily, and make time for those teeth cleaning appointments every six months. These steps will greatly benefit your oral health and also help your overall health.

Which diseases are caused by or worsened by tooth decay? Let’s go over some of them now and see how they develop over time.

Common Risk Factors

Most diseases have more than one factor causing them, and many have the common factor of gum and tooth health. Even though it is preventable, oral disease is the most widespread chronic disease. Some common risk factors that oral disease shares with other chronic conditions are:

Tobacco use increases the risk for oral and other cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke, and periodontal disease.

Poor diet increases risk for dental caries, coronary heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

Poor hygiene increases the risk for periodontal disease and other bacterial and inflammatory conditions.

While these are just a few examples, they show that there is more to a disease than just oral health. Good dental hygiene is an important fundamental factor for your overall health.

Diseases Linked to Tooth Decay

Heart Disease

Heart disease is closely and frequently correlated to bad oral hygiene. Some research has shown a great risk for heart disease in people that have periodontitis, also known as gum disease or infection of the gums. Infection of the gums can also cause plaque to build up on your arteries. People with gum disease are two times as likely to have heart disease than those who don’t.

Stroke

Patients who have lost teeth or have significant loss of tissue or bone around the gums have an increased risk for stroke. Some evidence also shows that very severe cases of periodontitis can also develop atherosclerotic plaque, which can build up and cause heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers from the University of Bristol also found that bleeding gums can be linked to heart attack or stroke. This happens due to the infected blood from a person’s gums entering into the blood stream and sticking to the platelets. These then form blood clots and block the arteries of the heart and brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes

People who have periodontal disease are also at risk for getting pre-diabetes. Once diabetes develops, it affects your metabolism and can result in high blood glucose levels and many unpleasant health issues.

Kidney Disease

Poor oral health can also lead to kidney disease, which affects bone health and blood pressure. Some periodontists have found that toothless adults are at a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating brain disease that causes dementia and low cognitive function. While researchers continue to seek answers to the cause of Alzheimer’s, they have found that inflammation of the gums appears to be a factor. The most common cause linked to the disease is inflammation from chronic periodontal disease starting at a younger age. While research is still being done on this, it seems that gum disease could be a preventable factor in fighting Alzheimer’s.

Studies done in 2010 by New York University (NYU) researchers concluded that there was a link between Alzheimer’s and gum inflammation after 20 years of data collected. After comparing cognitive functions at age 50 and 70, the research found that gum disease at the age of 70 was strongly linked to low scores of cognitive functions.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Since most of the diseases discussed above are linked to gum disease, it’s important to understand that gum disease stems from poor oral health and not taking care of your teeth. If your teeth start to decay, the infection and decay will go into your gums, which will then cause gum disease and other health problems.

By taking good care of your teeth and getting your professional cleanings, you are already reducing the risk of getting a serious illness later. If you already have one of these conditions, it is vital that you continue to take good care of your teeth so that you don’t exacerbate the symptoms and progression of the disease.

The American Dental Hygienists Association recommends that people brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day to have the best oral health. The guidelines also stress the importance of flossing and using a mouthwash daily as well.

If you want more information on oral health, dentistry, and more, keep an eye on Flintlock Dental’s blog!

History of Dentistry

History of Dentistry

Our teeth are such an important part of our bodies. If you’ve had a bad toothache, you know how frustrating it is to be in pain when you eat. Unsurprisingly, humans have paid attention to their oral health for a very long time. Modern dentistry is leagues ahead of what our ancient ancestors managed to do. The history of dentistry reaches far into our past. When the health of your mouth means the difference between life and death, there’s a strong drive to create a profession to help keep teeth healthy. From wildly incorrect assumptions thousands of years ago to the beginnings of institutions that are still around today, here is a brief overview of the history of dentistry:

Ancient Beginnings

Without the benefit of local anesthetics or even strong painkillers, ancient dentistry was pretty brutal. After people began farming, they ate a lot more grains, leading to a diet that was rough on their teeth. Grains leave residues in our mouths that attract tooth-decaying microbes. Also, our ancestors would often use rough stones to grind the grains, leaving behind tiny bits of rock within their food that wore down teeth quickly.

The earliest evidence of an attempt to fix tooth decay comes from an archaeological site in Northern Italy dated to about 14,000 BC. Some of the teeth had been carved out to remove cavities, but they were not filled back in with anything. A slightly later site in the same area from around 13,000 BC shows the first evidence of actual fillings.

The first written text describing tooth decay came quite a bit later, around 5000 BC. This Sumerian text suggests that people believed that tooth worms caused dental decay. If you’ve seen the beginning of a cavity that looks like a small round hole leading into the tooth, it’s easy to imagine how they came up with this hypothesis. The idea of tooth worms actually popped up in other places over the ages, including China, India, and Europe.

The First Dentist

The first record of a person referred to as a dentist came from ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs on clay tablets from 2,600 BC document the death of Hesy-Re (shown in the image above). This man was a high official and had several titles. The most relevant title was Wer-ibeh-senjw, which translates as “great one of the ivory cutters.” This phrase is commonly considered to modernize into something more like, “great one of the dentists,” since the ancient Egyptian symbol for cutters also refers to doctors.

Other Early References to Dentistry

Several other references to tooth decay treatment and dentistry have popped up all across the world. Here are a few examples:

1700 BC – Ancient Egyptian text Ebers Papyrus details tooth disease and remedies.

500-300 BC – Ancient Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle discuss dental treatments including extraction and using wires for stability.

100 BC – Ancient Roman writer Celsus publishes a compendium of oral hygieneand treatments for tooth pain.

200 AD – Evidence of Etruscans (in Italy) installing gold crowns and fixed bridgeworks.

700 AD – Chinese medical text describes the use of a type of dental filling material called “silver paste.”

European Publications and Organizations

Since 1200 AD, many organizations have been formed, publications dispersed, and other strides taken to improve the science of dentistry. Many of the earliest steps occurred in Europe, especially France. Here are some of the highlights of the early rise of modern dentistry:

1210 – The Guild of Barbers was established in France. This was an organization of surgeons and barbers, some of which performed tooth extractions.

1530 – German writer Artzney Buchlein published the first book entirely dedicated to dentistry entitled Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth. It covered a wide variety of dentistry techniques, from simple cleaning to drilling and inserting fillings.

1575 – The French “Father of SurgeryAmbrose Pare published his Complete Works, which included practical information on dentistry.

1723 – The title “Father of Modern Dentistry” went to French surgeon Pierre Fauchard. In 1723, Fauchard published The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth (Le Chirurgien Dentiste). This was the first comprehensive guide to human dental anatomy and dental techniques from basic hygiene to complex surgery and denture construction.

1789 – The first patent for porcelain teeth goes to Frenchman Nicolas Dubois de Chemant.

History of Dentistry Accomplishments in the United States

Although a little late to the party, the United States quickly became a leading source of innovation for dentistry. Here are some of the early American dentistry firsts:

1760 – John Baker traveled from England to become the first American medically trained dentist.

1770 – Isaac Greenwood was the first American-born dentist.

1776 – Did you know that Paul Revere was a dentist? He also provided the firstdocumented case of using dental forensics to identify a person after death! He identified a friend who died on the battlefield from the bridge that Revere had constructed for him.

1839 – The world’s first dental journal, the American Journal of Dental Science, was established.

1840 – Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris established the world’s first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. This school created the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. The American Society of Dental Surgeons was also established this year but had already dissolved by 1856.

1846 – William Morton conducted the first documented successful surgery using ether anesthesia.

1866 – Lucy Beaman Hobbs became the first woman to earn a dental degree by graduating from Ohio College of Dental Surgery.

1869 – Robert Tanner Freeman became the first African American to earn a dental degree by graduating from Harvard University Dental School.

1890 – Ida Gray became the first African American woman to earn a dental degreeby graduating from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Revolutionary Dental Discoveries

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many discoveries and inventions revolutionized dentistry, making it more closely resemble the science we know today. Here are a few highlights:

1871 – James B. Morrison patented the first commercially manufactured foot-treadle dental engine, revolutionizing dentistry by allowing a tool to more smoothly cut through enamel.

1880 – Toothpaste began to be distributed in the collapsible tubes we use today, allowing for more regulation and marketing for everyday dental hygiene.

1890 – Willoughby Miller discovered that microbes cause tooth decay and published his findings in the book Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth. This spurred a huge movement for oral hygiene around the world.

1895 – German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovered the x-ray. It was already being used for dentistry by 1896 in New Orleans by C. Edmond Kells.

1899 – Edward Hartley Angle established orthodontics as a dental specialty.

1905 – German chemist Alfred Einhorn discovered the formula for the local anestheticNovocain.

1908 – Greene Vardiman Black standardized dental practices by publishing the most influential dental clinical textbook for most of the 20th century, Operative Dentistry.

1930 – The American Board of Orthodontics became the first dental specialty board.

Modern Dentistry Emerges

From the mid-20th century to modern times, dentistry quickly became more and more modern. You may recognize most of these innovations as what we use today:

1938 – The first toothbrush made with synthetic bristles appeared on the market.

1945 – Water fluoridation began in the cities of Newburgh, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

1950 – The first fluoride toothpastes hit the market.

1957 – John Borden developed a high-speed air-driven handpiece that made dentistry even faster.

1960 – The use of lasers was introduced into dentistry, helping treat soft-tissue problems and diseases.

1962 – Rafael Bowen created a resin that’s still used today, Bis-GMA.

1989 – The first products designed for home tooth bleaching hit the market.

1990 – Dentistry became more aesthetically pleasing as new tooth-colored restoration procedures and products emerged. Now we can enjoy fillings and other fixes that blend in with our teeth instead of having mouths full of metal!

That completes a whirlwind history of dentistry. If you are interested in even more information, check out the American Dental Association website. They have a great timeline set up that includes many of these facts and much more. It’s amazing to see how the modern field of dentistry emerged over thousands of years of human history. We’ve come a long way from chiseling out cavities without any anesthesia and leaving the hole unfilled. Maybe the thought of early dental practices will make you appreciate how far we’ve come next time you have to sit in the dentist’s chair!