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Gum Disease Can Sneak Up on You

December 16th, 2008

It’s easy to tell when you have a cavity; but unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your mouth without you even knowing. In fact, you can have the beginning stages of gum disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s important to watch for warning signs in order to prevent the disease from worsening!

Signs to watch for:

• Gums that appear red or swollen
• Gums that feel tender
• Gums that bleed easily (during brushing or flossing)
• Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
• Persistent bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position
• Any change in the way partial dentures fit

If you or someone in your family is showing these signs, make an appointment right away by calling 206.973.8211. We can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your teeth and give you back a healthy mouth!

Are There Teeth Grinders in Your House?

December 9th, 2008

Grind, grind, grind, grind. If you live with a teeth grinder, especially a night grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Other symptoms of teeth grinding (technically called “bruxism”) include:

• Sensitivity in the teeth
• Tightness or pain in the jaw
• Dull headaches, earaches, or facial pain
• Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

People frequently grind their teeth in response to stress, so taking measures to reduce or eliminate stress can help solve the problem. Here are some things you can try to stop grinding:

• Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
• Relax right before bedtime with a warm bath or shower
• Help your jaw learn to relax by quitting any chewing habits (pens, pencils, gum)
• When clenching or grinding happens during the day, place your tongue between your teeth to serve as a reminder to avoid the habit

If grinding goes untreated, it can lead to chipped teeth, worn enamel, chronic pain, or even TMJ, a painful jaw disorder. If the teeth-grinder in your house can’t stop, make an appointment to see us by calling 206.973.8211. Dr. Baruffi can help determine the cause of the problem and possibly even prescribe a custom mouthpiece to help break the habit.

Nifty "Eggs"periment

December 2nd, 2008

Winter vacation is drawing near, and the little ones may run out of ideas to keep themselves occupied. Why not use a fun and simple science experiment to focus their attention for a while? This one includes a lesson about why it’s important to brush teeth to make plaque go away.

Gather the items you will need for this experiment:

* 1 hard-boiled egg with the shell on
* 12 ounces of Coke, Pepsi or other dark-colored cola
* 1 container large enough to hold the cola and egg
* 1 plastic bowl
* 1 toothbrush
* 1 drop of fluoride toothpaste
* Clean-up supplies

Explain to your child that plaque is a sticky layer of germs that collects on her teeth. If she doesn’t brush, plaque can cause serious problems for her teeth, for example holes in the teeth (cavities) or swollen gums (gingivitis). Tell her that you are going to do an experiment to see how plaque coats her teeth, and why brushing twice a day is important for healthy teeth and gums.

Conduct the experiment:

1. Make the comparison between the white color of the egg and the white color of your child's teeth.

2. Place the egg into the container and pour the cola over it, so that it completely covers the egg.

3. Let the egg sit in the cola for 24 hours.

4. Remove the egg from the cola. The egg will be stained and yellowish.

5. Explain to your child that the colored layer that has appeared on top of the eggshell is just like the layer of plaque that occurs on her teeth.

6. Place the egg in the plastic bowl and give your child the toothbrush with the drop of toothpaste on it.

7. Let her brush the "plaque" off of the egg. The yellowish film will disappear, exposing the white eggshell. Explain that the same thing happens when she brushes her teeth.

Smoke Screen

November 18th, 2008

Everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer, but did you also know that smokers and tobacco are susceptible to a variety of oral health problems at a faster rate than non-smokers?

It’s true! Smoking is responsible for almost 75% of gum disease in adults; and, similar to smokers, adults who smoke pipes and cigars, as well as those using smokeless tobacco, are just as susceptible to gum disease and other tobacco related health problems.

As soon as you use tobacco products, you become more likely to experience any of these oral-health problems:

• Oral cancer
• Gum disease
• Tooth loss
• Loss of bone in the jaw
• Gum recession
• Delayed/impaired healing process after oral surgery or any other treatment
• Decreased success rate of dental implant (tooth replacement) procedures
• Mouth sores
• Loss of your sense of taste and smell
• Bad breath
• Tooth and tongue stains

If you are interested in protecting your oral health we strongly recommend you quit using tobacco products! The following steps are recommended by the Surgeon General to help you quit smoking and using tobacco:

• Get ready – set a quitting date and remove all materials from your home, car and office
• Get support
• Learn new skills and behaviors
• Get medication and use it correctly
• Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations

For support, start with Southcenter Dental! We can help by recommending different options to help you quit, and above all we will support you throughout the quitting process. We are dedicated to helping you protect your oral health – and quitting smoking is significant step in the right direction.

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