dental implants

We are all familiar with the importance of brushing and flossing every day as well as regular dental visits for healthy teeth and a bright smile. More than pearly whites, however, diligent oral care directly impacts your body’s overall health and in fact contributes to extending your lifespan.

But certain life events or habits—smoking, damaged or decaying teeth, medical conditions—can deteriorate your teeth, gums, and facial structure as a whole. When this happens, it might be time to consider dental implants.

What are dental implants and how do I know if I need them?

Simply defined, dental implants are oral-specific medical foundations used in place of missing teeth. These implants take the place of a tooth’s natural root and support a variety of dental prostheses including crowns and bridges.

Is there a defining moment that signals a cue to opt for dental implants? In many cases, a missing tooth is the call. If you lose a tooth, the resulting scenario is more than simply the nuisance of having to dig out that corn on the cob from a summer picnic. Your teeth provide critical nutrients to your body and facial structure and without those nutrients, bone material surrounding the area of the missing tooth weakens and shrinks; potentially up to 25 percent within one year.

The short story is our bones require calcium to properly function and provide their intended support but if the jawbone is in a state of distress it will signal the body to pilfer calcium from the jaw. This is called resorption and left unchecked can cause decreasing gum size, sunken cheeks, and other sagging facial features that contribute to a much older appearance.

Dental implants are fantastic medical options that can restore a vibrant facial look and one effective procedure is All on 4 implants.

What are All on 4 dental implants?

All for one and one for all? All aboard? The name might sound confusing but All on 4 is a catchy moniker for a comprehensive dental procedure involving full arches. “All” refers to all teeth in an upper or lower set. “4” is the number of implants required to hold the arch in place. Put it together and All on 4 means a full set of upper or lower teeth anchored by four dental implants.

For example, instead of replacing several missing teeth one at a time; a dentist can place a full set all at once. Sounds like a great option, right? Let’s look at some benefits of this “all in” procedure.

Benefits of All on 4 dental implants

All on 4 dental implants bring an array of benefits for patients, the most popular being the ability to restore a full arch of teeth at one appointment. This drastically reduces the number of procedures required and cuts way down on time spent in a dentist chair.

The All on 4 method also helps limit the need for bone grafts in cases of jaw bone loss. It is of course more difficult to replace missing teeth with less bone material to work with but with only four implants needed, a dentist can be choosy in selecting the strongest existing bone without grafting.

Am I a good candidate for All on 4 dental implants?

Another great benefit of All on 4 implants is they cater to many different types of patients. Of course, people who have lost many or even all of their teeth are good candidates, as are those who need to have teeth removed for certain reasons. Patients who have suffered bone loss can also benefit greatly from the All on 4 procedure.

This procedure is also popular with patients who tend to be anxious at the dentist, even with general checkups. All on 4 requires far less surgery than multiple tooth replacements and this is good news for those who shy away from extended medical outings.

Budgetary concerns also come into play for many people and to that end, All on 4 is a very cost-effective approach for replacing and entire set of teeth.

Some people or particular situations limit the candidacy of All on 4. If a jaw bone is too weak, for instance, additional strengthening procedures might be required. A healthy immune system and overall good health are also important.

Consult with your dentist to make a sound and strategic decision.

Gum recession is a serious oral health risk

Have you noticed your gums bleeding or are they swollen and red? Perhaps you have noticed nothing out of the ordinary and feel no pain in your mouth at all. In either case, you could have the start of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or gum recession.

Gingivitis, swollen and bleeding gums, is the early stage of far more serious oral health issues involving gums pulling away from teeth, lost teeth, and bone loss. In fact, tooth decay and gum recession are two of the most concerning threats to adult dental health.

Gum recession defined

We are lectured from an early age to always brush our teeth but do you remember lessons on the importance of taking care of our gums? We can’t have healthy teeth without healthy gums and the best way to keep gum recession at bay is diligent oral care. Once gum recession gets started, it can lead to much more dire consequences.

Gum recession is the acute inflammation of the tissue that surrounds and supports our teeth. It is a common affliction that often appears mildly as gingivitis, which consists of bacterial infections causing the buildup of plaque and tartar, and eventually inflamed gums. In the grand oral health scheme, gingivitis is usually painless and treatable but left to its own devices can turn into significant tissue damage, loose or lost teeth, and even deterioration or loss of bone structure.   

Gum recession—a critical oral health concern

Gum recession is a very determined affliction, progressing slowly but steadily and beginning as merely a nuisance. While it’s true that beet red gums swollen and streaked with blood certainly don’t look the best, the more serious issue is what comes next.

Receding gums expose the roots of our teeth, which are naturally designed to live below the gum line. Tooth roots are not protected with a layer of enamel and instead covered in what is called cementum, which when exposed quickly decays and is a fast track to cavities and sensitivity to hot, cold, and anything sweet. Even worse, without a strong foundation, teeth are likely to fall out.

What’s to blame for gum disease?

We all eat every day, several times a day and it’s inevitable that pieces of that food gets stuck in the paper-thin space where our teeth meet our gums. This location is below the gum line and it takes regular brushing and flossing to adequately remove wayward food chunks and hold back the bacteria that forms and covers our teeth in plaque. When plaque becomes well established it turns into tartar and the presence of tartar below the gum line is a bad thing, causing the aforementioned swelling and bleeding.

It is possible to slow and reverse this process with a proper brushing and flossing regime but if left unchecked, receding gums can evolve to serious forms of periodontitis.

Advanced stages of plaque become tartar and if tartar evolves below the gum line, the gums turn red, swell, and often bleed. The condition can typically be reversed with brushing and flossing but if not treated properly, can move to more serious periodontitis in which the gums actually pull away from the teeth and develop pockets. Pockets in gums are prime locations for infection and in the heat of your immune system’s fight against the issue; some bacteria might sneak away and inflict further damage to surrounding soft tissue and bones. This in turn can lead to tooth or bone loss.

Causes of gum recession

What is the cause of all this oral mayhem? Gum recession is the result of many different factors and the key to preventing the condition from taking hold, or controlling it when it starts, is understanding. Unfortunately, some people will succumb to gum recession regardless of their responsible oral care but staying aware of common risk factors goes a long way in staying ahead of the game.

Your most effective strategy to control and treat gum recession is early detection and sound oral health habits. Warning indicators for gum recession are many; pay attention to them and you can dodge unpleasant outcomes. In the meantime, brush and floss twice a day and see your dentist regularly.  

For more information on gum recession, contact Star White Dental at (951) 291-0668 or starwhitedental.com.

6 tips to help you recover faster from gum graft surgery

Not often considered as a strong and critical component of our bodies, our gums are nevertheless very tough stuff and the key ingredient of course for holding our teeth in place. Unfortunately, without proper oral care or bad habits such as smoking, high alcohol volume, or even bad genetic luck; periodontal disease (gum recession) can take hold.

Gum disease is a bad thing. Simply stated, it is an infection in the tissue which holds your teeth in their designated locations. Once infection gets started, it wears away the gums and exposes more of the tooth’s root, which brings with it high sensitivity and increases the chance for bacteria to settle in and cause further issues.

Gum disease happens very gradually and it’s difficult to notice until you have bleeding or sore gums, or even begin losing teeth. At this stage, gum graft surgery is recommended to repair the immediate problem and prevent further, more damaging, issues.

But wait, surgery of any kind is typically not something to look forward to and most people cringe even more when discussing surgery inside the mouth. However, the good news is gum graft surgery is a relatively simple procedure and following a few tips during the recovery phase will help return you to 100 percent in no time. First, let’s look briefly at what gum surgery entails.

Gum grafting surgery 101

It sounds intimidating but gum surgery (also known as gingival graft surgery) isn’t that bad. It is actually a straightforward outpatient procedure involving the removal of a small portion of tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitching it to areas where the gum has receded.

After surgery, you will feel some effects of the medication as well as localized pain to a mild degree. After about a week things will start returning to normal but in the meantime there are six handy tips to follow to make your post- gum surgery life substantially more enjoyable.

  1. Get the stent

If your surgery involved using your own tissue rather than from a tissue bank, the roof of your mouth will remind you of that fact. If your dentist did not offer or suggest a stent to protect your palate, ask for one. A stent will greatly reduce bleeding and keep your tongue and food pieces away from the wound until the stitches come out.

  1. Antibiotics to the rescue

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to patients after gum surgery to help prevent infection. This is important. Follow the instructions and run out the entire course to keep infection in check.  

  1. Pain meds and ice are your friends

Most patients experience facial swelling and sometimes bruising near the site of gum surgery. A tandem of pain medication and ice packs will ease what ails you. For best results with ice, start using cold packs on your face right after leaving the dentist. Then continue applying every 20-30 minutes through the entire day. Swelling will intensify further as healing kicks in and ice treatments are a saving grace.

Ice will go a long way in keeping the pain at manageable levels but if you’re still hurting, head to the pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter medication. If you still have significant pain, talk to your dentist right away for other options.

  1. Be smart with your diet

After your surgery, it’s time to be very savvy with what you eat and drink. Most importantly, avoid hot or cold foods and beverages. The shock of hot or cold will hurt like mad and may cause further swelling and you don’t want that. Go for items of neutral temperature.

Soft food is the answer. Think bananas, oatmeal, eggs, mashed potatoes, and the like to avoid irritating the surgery site.

Opt for a liquid diet for the first week or so. Drinking soup and some stews through a straw is a good approach. Really anything that won’t hurt your teeth works great.

  1. Light exercise ONLY

You might want to get right back into your athletic warrior routine but hold up. No strenuous exercise for two full weeks. Period.

  1. Rest

Of all the above remedies, rest is the one you simply can’t do without. Relax and let your body heal.

For more information on recovering from gum graft surgery, contact StarWhite Dental at (951) 228-0635 or starwhitedental.com.