Posts for: February, 2016
If you ever get out of the habit of daily brushing and flossing, you’re setting yourself up for dental disease. Neglecting oral hygiene allows bacterial plaque to build up on tooth surfaces, which can give rise to aggressive gum infections known collectively as periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease may first manifest itself as gingivitis, an inflammation of the outer gum tissues around teeth. Resuming hygiene habits could help reduce the infection if it’s detected early enough. If the infection has spread deeper below the gum line, though, brushing and flossing won’t be able to reach and remove the offending plaque — you’ll need our help with that.
The objective of any such treatment is the same as your daily brushing and flossing — remove plaque as well as hardened deposits (calculus) that cause disease. The most basic technique is called scaling in which we use specialized hand instruments (scalers) or ultrasonic equipment to loosen and remove the plaque and calculus from all tooth and gum surfaces.
For deeper plaque, we may need to use a technique called root planing. As its name implies, we use equipment similar to scalers to shave or “plane” plaque, calculus, bacteria or other toxins from the roots that have become ingrained in their surfaces.
These procedures are often carried out with local anesthesia to ensure patient comfort and allow us to be as meticulous as possible with plaque and calculus removal. It’s imperative that we remove as much plaque and calculus as possible, and which often involves more than one session. This is because as the gum tissues become less inflamed it allows us to access more plaque-infested areas during subsequent sessions.
Hopefully, these techniques will arrest the infection and restore good health to gum tissues. It’s then important for you to recommit and follow through on a renewed daily hygiene regimen to reduce the chances of re-infection that could lead to more serious problems and potential tooth loss.
If you would like more information on treating periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Planing.”
Routine dental examinations do more than just clean your teeth. While hygienic cleaning removes biofilm--bacteria-filled plaque and tartar--and helps prevent cavities and gum disease, other components of a 6-month check-up guard oral health and the appearance of your smile, too.
Dr. Nidhi Sikka, San Jose, CA dentist, and her associate dentist, Dr. Mona Chattha, use the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques to evaluate oral health, to restore enamel, bite and gum health and to cosmetically improve appearance. The routine exam provides baseline information so doctors can formulate individualized treatment plans for each of their patients.
Dental Services in an Exam
Besides hygienic cleaning, a 6-month check up includes:
- visual inspection for tooth decay, including state of the art diagnosis by laser
- VELscope screening for oral cancer, a deadly cancer increasing in incidence, particularly in men over 40
- bite evaluation and check for any abnormalities in the jaw or tooth development
- digital x-rays and CAT scans to visualize the roots and bone structure
- periodontal probing, a simple measurement of gum pocket depth and assessment for gum disease
- inspection of existing restorations such as crowns and fillings
When the San Jose dentist completes her examination, she devises a treatment plan and discusses results with the patient. The plan contains steps to continue preventive dental services and also recommendations for restorations such as tooth-colored fillings, crowns, gum disease therapy or whatever necessary to bring the mouth to full health.
Additionally, the dentist discusses any goals or concerns the patient may have--tooth discoloration, chips or cracks, or replacement of old bridgework or metal fillings, as just a few examples. Particularly for young patients, Dr. Chattha and Dr. Sikka take the time to teach about oral hygiene habits, the mainstay of good dental health. As does the American Dental Association, team at Sikka Dental advises all patients to brush for 2 minutes twice daily and to floss each day, too.
The dentist often recommends in-office fluoride treatments to prevent decay and to reduce tooth sensitivity. This painted-on varnish is an easy and economical way to strengthen tooth enamel for youngsters and for older patients, too. Plastic sealants protect the deeply grooved crevices in back molars. Also, the dentist advises mouth guards for tooth grinding issues and protection during sports activities.
More than a Quick Look
Preventive dentistry through the regular, semi-annual exam forms the foundation of a healthy, attractive smile that lasts a lifetime. If you're overdue for your check-up and cleaning, call the office at Sikka Dental in San Jose, CA today. A helpful staff member will set-up a convenient appointment time. Phone (408) 259-1280.
Have you started orthodontic treatment recently? Are you having a little trouble getting used to your braces? If so, you are not alone: Everybody goes through an adjustment period during which they momentarily wonder if they’ll really ever get used to this. Don’t worry — you will! And we’ve never heard anyone say, on the day their braces come off and their new smile is revealed, that they aren’t glad they went the distance. Just ask Houston Rockets all-star center Dwight Howard, who discussed his own orthodontic treatment in a recent interview.
“I’m sure I was no different than anyone else who has ever had braces,” he told Mediaplanet. “At first I hated them so much… That changed once I got used to them and I actually grew to love them.” What’s Howard’s advice? “Do exactly what your orthodontist says and know that the outcome is well worth it in the end.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are some tips for wearing braces comfortably:
- Hard & Chewy Foods: If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s great; there’s no reason to give them up, just the really hard ones. You don’t want to bite into an apple or carrot or any other hard foods like bagels and pizza that have any “size” to them. Small pieces may be ok as long as they can’t bend your wires. Chewy, sticky candy should really be avoided completely. Same with soda, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks because they contain acids that promote tooth decay and can cause a lot of damage around the braces.
- Effective Oral Hygiene: Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever, but also more challenging than ever. It’s easy for food to get stuck under wires and around brackets, but failing to remove it can cause tooth decay, gum irritation and soreness. Therefore, the cleaner your teeth and your braces are, the healthier you will be. Use interdental cleaning brushes and/or a floss-threader to get behind your wires. A mouthrinse can also help strengthen teeth and keep bacteria in check. If you have any questions about how to clean between your teeth, please ask for a demonstration at your next visit.
- Pain Relief: Some soreness at the beginning of orthodontic treatment is normal. To relieve it, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever and/or a warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw. If brackets or wires are rubbing against the inside of your cheeks or lips, try applying wax to these areas of your braces. If this does not offer enough relief, we may be able to trim the end of a poking wire. Call us if you need help with this.
Our goal is to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible on the way to achieving your all-star smile. If you have questions about adjusting to braces, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”