SmilesByGlerum News

Karen Glerum DDS

Smiles by Glerum News – April 2013

April 3rd, 2013

Regular Checkups Can Save You Thousands

It might sound crazy, but spending $100 on your teeth can actually save you thousands. How? First let’s look at what $100 covers. The average cost of a dental exam and cleaning is $50 – $135. If you have dental insurance, your out-of-pocket expense may range from nominal to nothing for basic dental care services including X-rays.

Now let’s go over how this can actually save you thousands.

If you have dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease or even oral cancer, regular dental visits give your dentist a chance to catch it early on. That’s key. Because the earlier your dentist diagnoses a problem the easier it is to treat. For example, if you have gum disease and let it go unchecked (and untreated) for too long, you may need extensive — and expensive — gum disease treatment. Regular dental checkups allow you and your dentist to stay ahead of problems, which can translate into thousands saved.

A professional dental cleaning is also a must because it’s the only way to effectively remove tartar (hardened plaque). Even if you brush and floss regularly, that’s not enough. Besides looking unsightly (tartar is a “stain magnet” and often has a brown or yellowish tint), tartar also contains cavity-causing bacteria. Preventing the need for a mouthful of fillings every year easily adds up to thousands saved in the long run.

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings is that it has a positive impact on your overall health. Recent studies have shown that there’s a link between periodontal disease and heart disease; when the former is present, the latter is twice as likely.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and attach to your heart’s blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart’s blood vessels to swell.

In this way, regular checkups and cleanings are not only money-saving but life-saving. And that’s priceless.


More Root Canals for Smokers?

Looking for another reason to quit? Recent studies at Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine reveal that your gender, how much you smoke and how long you’ve been smoking can significantly multiply your need for root canal treatment. To sum up the findings, men and women are distinctly different when it comes to dental health.

Men, it turns out, have the odds stacked against them when it comes to cavities, gum disease and oral cancer. Smoking puts men at twice the risk for developing these dental problems than women. Men who smoke also need more root canals.

“Our study has shown that men have almost twice the risk of having root canal treatments if they smoke cigarettes, compared to men who never smoke,” said Elizabeth Krall Kaye, author of the Boston University study and professor in the department of health policy and health services.

So does that mean women are in the clear? Not really, says Kaye. Historically, women haven’t smoked as long or as much per day as men but Kaye believes that the risk associated with smoking and root canals still applies.

Although it might seem obvious, why smoking makes men and women more susceptible to dental problems is still somewhat of a mystery. Kaye and her associates think the answers lie in what smoking does to your overall health: It affects your ability to ward off infection, increases inflammation and damages your circulation system.

The good news is you can greatly reduce your need for root canals by quitting cigarette smoking and staying smoke-free. In fact, if you stay smoke-free for at least nine years, your chances of needing a root canal treatment can drop as low as a non-smoker’s.


Gum Grafts: Stick It to Receding Gums

Take a look at your gums. Do they look like they’re receding or do they feel extra sensitive lately? If yes, it’s time to come in for a visit. Receding gums are a sign of two things: gum disease or overly aggressive brushing. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even heart disease. For early stages of gum disease, we can use a non-surgical scaling and root planing (SRP) treatment to get your gums healthy again. Excessive gum recession, however, sometimes requires a surgical treatment called a gum graft.

Once your gums start to recede, brushing with a lighter hand will only be effective if there is still adequate gum tissue left to act as a barrier from disease and bone loss. But if your gums have receded to the extent that your tooth roots are exposed, you may need a gum graft. Exposed tooth roots can cause varying degrees of tooth sensitivity or make your teeth appear longer than normal. But more importantly, exposed tooth roots can leave your teeth vulnerable to bacteria and periodontal disease.

Gum grafts may also be used to correct a high frenum attachment. The frenum is the muscle between the upper or lower front teeth; if it pulls on the gum margin, recession could result. Orthodontic therapies can also stretch the gum line and cause the gums to recede. In all cases, gum grafts are an excellent way to protect the underlying bone and prevent the gums from receding further.



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