August 19th 2015
Ever heard the phrase, “you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind?” It has never been truer than when referring to gum disease treatments. Periodontal disease affects as much as 80% of US adults, but the way dental practitioners handle periodontal treatments may be part of the problem. Patients avoid periodontal treatment due to lack of treatment urgency, not fully understanding necessary treatments, and money. Many dentists hesitate to fully explain and recommend periodontal therapy because they fear patients will simply cancel appointments due to the added cost. Instead, dentists tend to try the “nice” approach – recommending periodontal appointments every three months but billing them as regular dental cleanings during six month checkups. However, by changing the focus of periodontal disease treatment to communicating clearly, emphasizing assessment and prevention, and working with patients to maximize insurance benefits, dentists can better equip patients to receive the dental care they need.
Say What You Mean – To Be Unclear is to be Unkind
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque around or below the gum line. These plaque deposits harden into tartar which can irritate gum tissue leading to gingivitis. This is a mild form of gum disease that is easily treated at your regular dental checkups. However, left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. This more advanced form of periodontal disease is detrimental to oral and whole body health.
To be clear: periodontal disease is dangerous! Studies have linked advanced gum disease to chronic and systemic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and preterm or low weight births, it effects more than half of the US adult population, and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Not treating periodontal disease is not an option. There is good news about gum disease. It is 100% treatable and preventable, and your dentist is always here to help you do both.
Learned Behaviors – You Have to be Good to be Lucky
The best way to treat gum disease is avoid having it in the first place. With proper at home hygiene and regular, biennial dental visits, you’ll be on your way to a healthy smile for life. At regular dental appointments, your dentist should screen for signs of periodontal disease, and make sure that plaque and tartar have been removed during your teeth cleaning.
If you do have advanced gum disease, you’ll need more advanced treatment. Typically antibiotics are recommended in addition to scaling (removal of excessive tartar buildup below gum line) and root planing (smoothing of the root making it more difficult for plaque to attach to the tooth’s surface). For the most severe cases, laser or surgical treatments may be necessary, and are typically performed by a periodontist.
Financial Preparedness – Your Smile is Worth its Weight in Gold
As the number of people with periodontal disease increases, more insurance providers are beginning to cover the appropriate treatment. However, make sure you speak with your dentist or the practice’s financial coordinator about maximizing the benefits of your insurance coverage in order to obtain the necessary treatment. If your insurance doesn’t cover the recommended care, talk to your dentist about alternatives that won’t compromise your treatment, or consider working with a third part healthcare financier like CareCredit.
Periodontal Therapy – You’re Only as Good as Your Last Shift
Gum disease is episodic. That means that patients can go years being asymptomatic before the disease comes back. Regular maintenance and assessment from a skilled dental practitioner twice a year is the only way to ensure your dental health for a lifetime.
July 25th 2015
There are a lot of tobacco users in this country. Whether it’s smoking, dipping, or any other kind of activity, tobacco can leave your mouth, and especially your smile, worse off. Think about it. There are countless carcinogens inside of a single cigarette that can have devastating effects on the appearance of your teeth. Yellow teeth are most often associated with smoking, but your tongue can turn yellow as well. It isn’t just the appearance of your teeth that should be important, your overall health is put into question with each puff. Oral cancer and other ailments are widely associated with tobacco use and for good reason. Gum disease and other ailments can also increase in size and scope when you smoke or dip. Do yourself a favor: stop.
Oral cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 90% of patients with oral cancer have partaken in tobacco use of some kind. Did you know smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers? Simply put, the longer you use tobacco, the greater your risk for oral cancer.
Gum disease: Tobacco doesn’t just do a number on your teeth, your gums are also caught in the crosshairs. Periodontal disease, or gum disease as it’s more commonly known, accounts for almost 50% of smoking-related diseases. That’s an astronomical number. The only way to combat it is through surgical and nonsurgical treatment.
There’s no such thing as a “safe” tobacco. All tobacco is bad for your oral health, period. There are certain steps you can take to avoid oral cancer or periodontal disease, or both. All it takes is dedication and the willingness to be proactive about your oral and overall health.
- Quit smoking. It’s that easy. Your risk of oral health problems is dramatically decreased. The longer you don’t have a puff, your risks are practically depleted.
- Go to your dentist regularly. Getting a regular dental checkup can work wonders for your oral health. He or she can detect oral cancer if any symptoms are present.
- Practice proper brushing and flossing techniques. Since tobacco has so many harmful carcinogens, it can leave your gums overheated. Brushing and flossing thoroughly can help combat against oral cancer and helps you maintain great dental health.
It’s never too late to kick the smoking habit. Your oral health is a huge concern when it comes to tobacco use. Don’t battle oral cancer or other ailments later on in life. Keep your mouth as healthy as it can possibly be – kick cigarettes, dip and other tobacco products to the curb.
June 20th 2015
Your kids have been out of school for a couple months now, but before you know it it’ll be time to ease them into the back-to-school routine. Lost in all the fracas is the time necessary to receive a regular checkup. You were a kid once, what did you do during the summer? You most likely spent your days outdoors with friends getting into trouble and doing who knows what. Now that you’re older, you should understand the importance of a dental checkup, especially for your kids. Who knows what kinds of sugary treats and other goodies they’ve been gorging on for the past couple months. A dental checkup can check for problems and help keep their mouths healthy throughout the school year.
The best way to keep your little one on the road to optimal oral health, is by compiling a back-to-school checklist. This is a great way to keep your children’s oral health in check. What all should be included on this checklist? Here are some friendly tips to help you get started:
- Take them to regular dental examinations. Unless you’re a licensed dentist, you won’t be able to tell whether or not your child has an infection or disease inside their mouth. Some symptoms never show at all. Your dentist is the only one who can properly diagnose and eradicate bacteria or an infection. It saves your child future pain and doesn’t keep them away from the classroom.
- Help them practice excellent dental hygiene. There’s a lot more to brushing and flossing than meets the eye. It is entirely possible to practice incorrect brushing and flossing techniques, and in order to keep their mouths happy and healthy, you may need to show them how it’s done. There are countless online resources for guidance, or, just give your dental office a call.
- Pack healthy lunches. Ditch sugary treats for healthy options like grains, milk, yogurt, fruit and raw vegetables. Not only do they keep teeth healthy, but they have whitening benefits as well. Fruit, like strawberries and oranges, help teeth naturally whiten.
- Protect their mouths during sporting activities. Mouthguards are designed to keep your teeth in place and away from danger. They’re especially useful for organized sports, playing on the playground, or physical education classes.
Ensure your kids’ mouths are in great shape by being proactive and making an end-of-summer checklist. Send them back to school with smiles that are sure to turn them into teacher’s pets.
May 22nd 2015
Are you adding to your family in the near future? Congratulations! This will be an exciting—not to mention busy—time in your life. You’ll have a nursery to decorate, furniture to buy, and plenty of checkups with your doctor.
With everything that’s going on, though, it’s important not to lose sight of your oral health. In fact, regular brushing and flossing will never be as important as they are now. Besides causing symptoms like swollen or bleeding gums, gum disease has also been linked with certain pregnancy complications, like premature birth.
To ensure that your smile stays healthy during your pregnancy, and that your baby stays safe, we recommend the following:
- Clean your smile regularly, paying special attention to your gumline. Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of bacteria and plaque along the gums.
- Enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet. Foods that are processed or sugary will increase your chances of developing gum disease or cavities.
- Talk to your dentists about when to schedule a checkup during your pregnancy. The best time is often during the second trimester.
Like any mom, you want to give your baby the best possible start. With preventive brushing and flossing, you’re already well on your way.
If you have questions about the connection between pregnancy and gum disease, don’t hesitate to talk to your regular family dentist.
April 17th 2015
Did you know that over 70% of Americans have reported experiencing some level of fear or anxiety when faced with an upcoming appointment at their local dentist’s office? These feelings are understandable, but they can also be dangerous for your oral health. After all, someone who dreads going to the dentist will put off needed appointments, allowing any problems they have to worsen to the point that they require even more time to fix. Thankfully, many practices now offer sedation dentistry, which can help patients relax and feel at ease during their appointment.
If the answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” you may want to talk to your dentist about using sedation dentistry to increase your comfort level at your next visit:
- Does the mere thought of visiting the dentist induce anxiousness, nervousness, or even terror?
- Is it difficult for you to feel comfortable sitting still in a chair for a long period of time?
- Do you have a sensitive gag reflex or constant jaw pain?
- Do the sights, sounds, or smells of the dentist’s office make you feel stressed?
- Are you in need of multiple, lengthy procedures in order to restore your smile to full health?
- Do you struggle with feeling ashamed of your teeth?
There are several kinds of sedation dentistry available for patients. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the mildest type, inducing feelings of warmth and contentment that wear off quickly after the procedure is finished. More severe dental anxiety may be better treated with oral conscious sedation or IV sedation, which helps patients achieve such a deep level of relaxation that they often don’t remember anything about their appointment. Please contact your local dentist to learn what kinds of sedation dentistry they offer and what they recommend for your unique situation.
The team at Voller Dentistry has provided Kittanning and Pittsburgh area families with excellent dental care since 1981. Call the Voller Dentistry location closest to you to reserve a checkup, consultation, or second-opinion visit with Dr. Voller. We serve patients from Harrison Township, Freeport, New Kensington, Oakmont, and beyond.