Why It’s Necessary to Replace Missing Teeth

From gum disease to injuries, there are tons of issues that can lead to missing teeth. Not only do tooth gaps negatively impact self-confidence, but they may also cause oral health problems. Let’s take a closer look at the potential consequences of missing teeth, as well as available treatment options.

What Are the Consequences of Missing Teeth?

Even a small gap in your smile can greatly impact your day-to-day life. Here are a few possible oral health issues that may occur as a result of missing teeth.

Difficulty Chewing

Every tooth plays an essential role in the chewing process. For example, front teeth are used to break off small bites of large food items (such as apples), while back teeth help grind up chewier foods (such as meats). Molars, meanwhile, are used to chew virtually everything. Foods that become especially challenging to consume with missing teeth include:

  • Hard foods (like raw vegetables or nuts)
  • Sticky foods (like gum or candy)
  • Hot foods (like hot beverages)

Difficulty chewing is more than an inconvenience. If you don’t chew properly, you may experience acid reflux and similar digestion problems.

Misaligned Teeth

When you have a gap in your teeth, the adjacent teeth will gradually move closer together in an effort to fill the gap. As a result, your teeth may become misaligned. Known as malocclusion, this can cause the following problems:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle plain
  • Tooth sensitivity or decay
  • Gum recession
  • Further tooth loss

Uneven teeth also pose cosmetic issues. If your teeth aren’t aligned properly, it’s harder to be confident in your smile.

Weakened Jawbone

Every time your top teeth make contact with the bottom teeth, your jawbone is stimulated and strengthened. If a tooth is missing, the part of the jawbone around that area will not receive the stimulation it needs. When this happens, the jawbone will shrink and the gums will recede into the gap, leading to these consequences:

  • Sagging facial skin
  • Changes in facial structure
  • Difficult speaking and chewing
  • Headaches and facial pain
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TJD)

In addition to causing pain, a weakened jawbone may alter the appearance of your face and make it harder to pronounce certain words.

What Are the Solutions for Missing Teeth?

Even just one missing tooth can cause long-term problems for your oral well-being. Fortunately, there are treatments available for those with tooth gaps. Here are three common solutions.

Partial Dentures

Dentures are artificial tooth replacements that look and feel just like real teeth. Some dentures are removable, while others are secured in place with an adhesive. While they’re typically used in situations where a patient is missing most or all of their teeth, there are partial dentures available for filling in small-scale gaps. To create the dentures, Dr. Kevin F. Postol will make a wax or plastic impression of the patient’s jaw and mouth. Then, a technician will shape them until they’re a perfect fit. Benefits of dentures include:

  • Realistic appearance: Dentures are designed to look natural.
  • Low maintenance: Fixed dentures can be maintained with regular brushing and flossing, while removable dentures just need to be rinsed regularly.
  • Works for most patients: Unlike other tooth replacement options, partial dentures can suit almost any patient.

Of course, there are some cons to dentures as well. For instance, they cannot handle certain foods and need to be replaced regularly (about every seven to 10 years). They’re also prone to slipping, which can be embarrassing in social situations.

Dental Bridges

If you’re missing teeth but think dentures are too extreme, dental bridges may be the right solution. Staying true to their name, they quite literally “bridge the gap” between teeth using posts and prosthetic teeth. Dr. Postol will start by installing two posts (or crowns) over the teeth adjacent to the gap. Then, he will place artificial teeth over the posts. Secured in between these teeth is another artificial tooth, which seamlessly fills in the gap and completes your smile. Benefits of dental bridges include:

  • Strong bite force: Compared to dentures, dental bridges offer a stronger bite force that can maintain the shape of your jawbone.
  • Long-lasting: On average, dental bridges last for about 15 years.
  • Secure: Dental bridges remain secure in your mouth, meaning you don’t have to worry about an embarrassing slippage situation.

On the downside, dental bridges are not 100% effective in preventing bone loss and jawbone deterioration. Moreover, if the crowns don’t fit properly, the patient may experience tooth decay underneath.

Dental Implants

When it comes to tooth replacements, dental implants tend to be the most popular option. They involve artificial, customized tooth roots that are implanted directly into bone tissue. First, Dr. Postol will make a small incision in the gum to expose the jawbone underneath. If the bone is strong enough to support implants, he will drill holes and install the tooth roots. Patients with weaker jawbones may need a bone grafting procedure before they can use implants. Benefits of dental implants include:

  • Permanent solution: Unlike other artificial teeth options, dental implants typically last a lifetime.
  • Easy maintenance: Dental implants are designed to function just like normal teeth, so they can be maintained with regular brushing and flossing.
  • Stability: Since they’re anchored to your gums, dental implants are highly secure.

In comparison to dentures and dental bridges, dental implants offer the most benefits. Not only are they permanent and easy to care for, but they’re also the closest thing you’ll find to real teeth.

Where Can I Get a Tooth Replacement?

Whether you’re missing one tooth or several, it’s important not to let the problem go unaddressed. Over time, missing teeth can cause tooth decay, gum disease and serious jawbone deterioration. If you’re looking for high-quality dental implants or other tooth replacements, Dr. Postol and his team are here to help. After an initial consultation, we can determine the best solution for your needs. Learn more by requesting an appointment today!

Effects of Eating Disorders on Oral Health

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating are all eating disorders that have the potential to cause dental health concerns. Symptoms range from mild to severe and hurt both your oral and overall health. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team can identify early signs of an eating disorder and help patients access the treatment they need to stop harmful behaviors and improve oral health.

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Oral Health?

It’s no secret that your diet has a huge impact on the health of your mouth. A lack of nutrients and consuming too many sugary or acidic foods may lead to tooth decay and other problems. However, the harm caused to the mouth by an eating disorder is often just as devastating to your oral health.

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is any abnormal or dangerous eating habit. They are serious and potentially life-threatening mental illnesses that may cause long-term damage to a person’s mental, physical, and oral health. Some of the most common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia: Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa severely limit their food intake out of fear of gaining weight.
  • Bulimia: Individuals with bulimia nervosa engage in a pattern of binge-eating numerous calories and then purging. Vomiting, taking laxatives, and engaging in long periods of exercise are all methods of purging.
  • Binge-eating: This eating disorder involves an individual who consumes excessive amounts of food. The person typically eats until they are uncomfortable and experiences associated feelings of shame, guilt, depression, or disgust after the episode.

There are many types of eating disorders that have varied behaviors and characteristics. They usually start with an unhealthy view or obsession with food or body weight.

How Do They Cause Complications In the Mouth?

Dietary habits have a major impact on oral health. Visible signs may emerge in the mouth that indicate a problem or change in routine behavior. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team can check for early signs of an eating disorder as changes in the mouth are often the first symptoms a patient presents.

Restricting food leads to deficiencies in key nutrients like calcium, vitamins, and iron. A trained dentist will notice the signs of nutritional deficiencies such as tooth decay, gum disease, and sores. Other behaviors associated with an eating disorder, such as frequent vomiting, also leave behind signs. Vomiting brings stomach acid into contact with the teeth and can cause them to lose enamel or change color. It also can leave behind small cuts and redness in the mouth, which is a warning sign to dentists that there may be a deeper problem.

Individuals who binge eat may consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and carbonated beverages that increase the amount of plaque present on the teeth. This raises the risk of developing cavities and tooth decay.

Signs of Damage From an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are serious and the associated lack of essential vitamins and nutrients can lead to dysfunction in the body. Higher levels of acidity in the mouth can also cause harm by wearing away the teeth and gums. These are some of the oral signs of an eating disorder:

  • Bleeding of the gums and soft tissues
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Cracked and dry lips
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath
  • Change in tooth color or shape
  • Erosion of enamel
  • Redness and small scratches or cuts in the mouth
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bruising around the mouth

When left untreated, an eating disorder can progress to cause serious and permanent health issues in the mouth and throughout the body.

Treatment of Dental Concerns Caused by Eating Disorders

Dr. Kevin F. Postol can identify concerning signs that a patient may have an eating disorder. Routine check-ups look for problems and issues with the hard and soft mouth tissues. If warning signs are found, our team gently addresses the issue by discussing the oral health problems and giving advice and treatment options to correct them. Your dentist won’t judge you, so be honest so you can get the best care, advice, and ongoing support.

Dental Procedures

Dental care for individuals with eating disorders varies according to each person’s unique needs. The first step is to get the help necessary to treat the disorder and receive proper dental care. The longer the damaging behavior continues, the harder it is to reverse the oral health consequences.

Visit your dentist regularly to get an assessment and advice. If you require crowns, a root canal, or any form of cosmetic dentistry, you will need to address these issues immediately and then follow up with good oral hygiene and consistent follow-up visits.

Oral Hygiene Practices

You can help prevent further problems and protect your dental health by following a dentist-recommended oral hygiene practice. Start by brushing and flossing every day. Avoid brushing your teeth after vomiting as this can lead to further damage. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash. Ask for specific instructions to treat your additional areas of concern. Dr. Postol may prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste, remineralizing substance, or another product.

Restore Your Smile With Dr. Kevin F. Postol

If you need dental services, schedule an appointment with Dr. Postol today. Our dental team has more than 25 years of experience in family and cosmetic dentistry. We use the latest techniques to help you improve your oral health and maintain a gorgeous smile. Whether you need a routine examination or have specific needs, your health is our priority. If you are currently dealing with an eating disorder, our team can step in and help you restore your oral health. Early detection is best for a smooth and successful recovery.

You can be confident that your comfort and care are our primary focus. We understand that a trip to the dentist can be stressful. We do our best to ease your anxiety with our friendly environment and various amenities so you can relax through your appointment and have a pleasant experience.

What is a Sleep Apnea Dentist?

At first, the signs of sleep apnea can be easy to dismiss. Some people simply snore loudly, have trouble staying asleep or have headaches in the morning. However, these symptoms could point to a much bigger issue that can be fatal if left untreated.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes patients to stop breathing while they’re asleep. They often wake up gasping for air, then fall back into a restless sleep. When a patient has obstructive sleep apnea, their throat muscles relax while they sleep, closing their airways. Other patients have central sleep apnea, which happens when their brain doesn’t tell their breathing muscles to keep working.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Insomnia or restless sleeping might not be an isolated issue. Instead, it could be a sign of sleep apnea. If you have trouble sleeping, look out for these common symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating or staying awake during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Sudden episodes where you stop breathing
  • Dry mouth

Many people don’t know that they have sleep apnea because they can’t hear themselves snoring. If you sleep with another person, they might notice that you snore loudly or suddenly stop breathing during the night. Don’t assume that you’re just a restless sleeper–take these concerns to your dentist before complications arise.

In children, sleep apnea symptoms include bed wetting, sweating, mouth breathing, snoring and choking or coughing while asleep. During the day, the child might act out in frustration. Parents assume that they’re misbehaving, but they’re actually tired and stressed after a night of restless sleep.

What is a Sleep Apnea Dentist?

A sleep apnea dentist works specifically in the sleep apnea field to provide patients with the best possible care. Patients can visit the clinic on their own or get a referral from a doctor. Once they schedule a consultation, the dentist talks about their symptoms, evaluates the patient’s mouth and discusses a treatment plan.

Sleep apnea dentists offer custom-made appliances that fit directly over the patient’s teeth. They make impressions of the patient’s teeth, then sends them to a lab that crafts the appliances. If necessary, dentists recommend other treatments like surgeries and CPAP machines. They stay in touch with the patient throughout the process to answer questions and adjust their appliances.

How Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea?

In some cases, dentists recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that keeps your airway open while you asleep. When you sleep, you’ll wear a face mask connected to the CPAP machine. The machine feeds air pressure through the mask that keeps your airway tissues from collapsing. You’ll enjoy reduced snoring and a better quality of sleep without disturbances.

If you have mild sleep apnea, we prefer to prescribe oral appliances that open your airway while you sleep. Appliances are smaller and quieter, making them an efficient treatment for people who don’t need a full CPAP machine. The appliances hold your jaw open at night to clear your airways without pain or discomfort.

Many patients prefer appliances because they’re much more portable. Patients can easily take trips, stay in hotels or crash at friends’ houses without hauling their CPAP machine around. They’re also more comfortable and less invasive. At night, the patient simply inserts the appliance, then takes it out when they wake up the next morning.

Dr. Postol’s office makes customized appliances for qualifying sleep apnea patients. We offer five different appliances that suit various needs. When we start treatment, we’ll evaluate parts of your mouth like the jaw, tongue and soft palate, then decide which appliance offers the best treatment.

Which Appliances Treat Sleep Apnea?

Studies have shown that oral appliances are just as effective as CPAP machines. You might be a candidate for appliances if you have mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, you’re not comfortable with CPAP therapy or you can’t undergo surgery. Some patients use an appliance along with their CPAP machine for comprehensive treatment.

EMA

The EMA is thinner than other appliances, making it ideal for people who aren’t comfortable holding large appliances in their mouths. EMA appliances feature plastic trays with adjustable straps on each side. While this appliance is less durable than its counterparts, the straps offer different lengths that gradually adjust the patient’s jaw.

TAP® 3

Many patients prefer the TAP® 3 because they can make their own adjustments. This appliance uses a hook and socket to connect your upper and lower jaw while you sleep. To make adjustments, simply use the key to gradually shift the position, then close your mouth once you’re satisfied.

HERBST OA

While the HERBST OA’s components look intimidating, this appliance is safe and comfortable for patients. The design allows greater flexibility so patients can move their jaw during the night. Each appliance comes with a simple adjustment mechanism and uses rubber bands to keep the patient’s mouth closed, preventing a sudden episode.

What Happens When You Start Wearing Appliances?

When you first start using oral appliances, you might experience minor discomfort like tension, sore gums, dry mouth or salivating. Typically, these symptoms disappear as your mouth adjusts to the appliance. If the discomfort persists, schedule an appointment so we can make adjustments. Talk to us immediately if you experience jaw pain, tooth movement or damage to existing structures like crowns and bridges.

As you adjust to the appliance, you might notice reduced headaches, more alertness in the morning and restful sleep that gives you energy for the day ahead. Your partner may remark that you’re snoring less and don’t wake up in the middle of the night, gasping for air. You’ll enjoy a better quality of life without surgeries or CPAP machines.

Contact Our Office Today

If you suspect that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with Dr. Postol’s office. We may start with a Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT) or polysomnography test (PSG) to provide an accurate diagnosis. Otherwise, we’ll talk about treatment options that suit your condition’s severity.

Why Choose Dr. Kevin F. Postol for TMJ Treatment

Do you suffer from TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder? If so, you’re not alone. TMD, or Temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is located in the lower jawbone and allows patients to open and close their mouths. TMJ disorder is when the temporomandibular joint does not work properly.

TMJ is a common dental problem that can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw and neck. In some cases, it can even lead to other health problems, like headaches and difficulty speaking. Fortunately, several treatments can help reduce the pain and improve your quality of life.

The treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder can be complex and involve various therapies and surgeries. If you’re looking for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, Dr. Kevin Postol is one of the best TMJ experts who can help you get started. So, whether you’re looking for an online guide to the causes and symptoms of TMJ and the treatment options available, our blog is the perfect place to start your journey in finding the best TMJ treatment for you.

What Causes TMJ/TMD?

TMJ affects patients of all ages; however, women of childbearing years are the most affected. In many cases, the causes of TMJ disorders aren’t always clear or understood. Causes may include muscle weakness, stress or anxiety, teeth grinding, poor posture, braces, gum chewing, and inflammation. Other risk factors that will increase an individual’s chances of developing TMJ disorder are:

  • Jaw injuries
  • Different types of arthritis
  • Certain connective tissue disease
  • Neck strain
  • Poorly positioned teeth
  • Genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress response

Multiple factors can contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMD or if they are a direct result of the disorder itself.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of TMJ/TMD?

Although pain is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders, it affects patients differently. Common signs of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joints
  • Pain while chewing or difficulty moving the jaw while chewing
  • Aching around the ears or in other areas of the face
  • Swelling around the face
  • Stiff joints or locking referred to as lockjaw
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw joints

Many patients experience this popping or clicking in their jaw joints, but they don’t have any pain or difficulty opening and closing their mouths. In this case, you may not need TMJ treatment if you are willing to live with the clicking. Each patient is unique; therefore, the number, intensity and frequency of TMD symptoms can vary in each patient. However, if your symptoms are severe, it is vital that you schedule an appointment for an evaluation right away. Dr. Postol can identify the causes of your TMJ disorder and decide on the most appropriate treatment. There are many effective treatments available for TMJ, and a diagnosis can help you get started on the path to healing.

How Do We Diagnose TMJ/TMD?

There is no widely recognized method for diagnosing TMJ because the exact causes are unknown and it is often caused by a variety of factors. Typically, during your appointment, we will consider your symptoms and ask you a few simple questions about your medical history. Based on this information, we may perform a physical examination of your jaw. In some cases and if we suspect a problem, we may also recommend x-rays, so we can examine your jaw in more detail.

What Treatment Do We Offer for TMJ/TMD?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating TMJ, as the condition can be significantly affected by your individual circumstances and symptoms. We offer a broad range of TMJ treatments through various methods. Some of the most common treatments include oral appliances, medication, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy.

Oral or injection therapies such as corticosteroid therapy can effectively relieve TMJ symptoms. Sometimes, patients also benefit from botox injections into the jaw to prevent pain when chewing. Habits such as teeth grinding, biting your fingernails, and leaning on your chin can also lead to TMJ disorder. If this is the case, we may prescribe counseling to address any underlying issues that leads to this behavior.

You may require surgery if other therapies are not successful in relieving the symptoms. If this is the case, Dr. Postol will take you through your different options for surgical procedures. We often use arthroscopy as an alternative TMJ treatment to open-joint surgery as it is less invasive. During this procedure, we insert a small thin tube, known as a cannula, into the joint space, followed by an arthroscope, a small camera, to view the problem area to help determine a diagnosis. Although there are fewer risks involved than open-joint surgery, this treatment is limited, and in some cases, open-joint surgery is necessary. What is important to know is that TMJ can often worsen over time if left untreated, leading to reduced jaw mobility and even tooth loss.

When it comes to TMJ, there’s a lot that we still don’t know. However, we hope this blog helped you understand TMJ and the available treatment options.

At Kevin F. Postol, DDS, our caring dental team is highly trained, health-oriented, and experienced in all areas of dentistry. We aim to provide a reassuring atmosphere, excellent service and state-of-the-art dental techniques. As a recipient of the “Top Dentist” award every year since 2008, trust Dr. Postol and his team to provide the proper TMJ treatment to give you the relief you need.

Find out more by requesting an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his professional dental team today.

Should My Gums Bleed?

Most people have noticed bleeding from their gums at some time. If you do see it, you’re probably not sure whether to worry about it or not. The simple answer is that this is not normal and should be taken seriously. If you’ve started a new brushing or flossing routine, bleeding may occur at first but, should it last more than a week, you should consult your dentist.

Why Are My Gums Bleeding?

Some reasons for bleeding gums are straightforward and can be rectified by simple adjustments to your oral care routine. These include:

  • Poor brushing technique
  • Your toothbrush is too hard
  • You just started a flossing routine

The second group includes reasons that are serious enough to warrant a visit to your dentist and will get worse if left untreated. This group includes:

  • Gingivitis
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Periodontitis

The final group of possible causes for bleeding gums includes more severe conditions that are more in the area of a medical doctor’s care. Your dentist will be able to eliminate the less serious causes and refer you for medical treatment if they suspect one of these reasons. This list includes:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • leukemia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Scurvy
  • Hemophilia or von Willebrand disease
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Vitamin K deficiency

Other reasons may include hormonal changes during pregnancy or side effects from blood-thinning medications.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease and simply means inflammation of the gums. This is caused by a build-up of plaque at your gum line, causing your gums to become irritated, red and swollen and causing them to bleed during brushing. Taking good care of your teeth will usually sort out this problem. You can do this by regularly brushing and flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash and regularly visiting your dentist.

What is Periodontitis?

If you don’t take care to treat gingivitis, it may lead to periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease. This long-term condition affects the tissue and bone around your teeth, leading to lasting damage that your dentist will need to repair.

If your gums are regularly bleeding easily when brushing your teeth or even when you’re eating, this may be a sign of periodontitis. You may get bad breath, loose teeth, a bad taste in your mouth or a change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. You should always consult your dentist if you suspect that you have periodontitis.

Preventive Action

There are two main groups of actions to prevent your gums from bleeding due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. These fall into the categories of “home routine” and “dental visits.”

Home Routine

You must have heard the advice to brush your teeth at least twice each day. If you don’t do this already, you should start immediately. A soft-bristled toothbrush is best to avoid damaging your tooth enamel and causing gum recession. You should brush for roughly two minutes, using a circular motion and ensuring that you reach all parts of your mouth.

Once you have brushed and removed all superficial food debris, follow this up once a day with flossing. Again, make sure you reach all of your teeth and follow the curve of your teeth to avoid damaging your gums.

Dental Visits

Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque may still build up, possibly leading to gingivitis. So even if your gums show no signs of bleeding, you should still schedule an appointment with your dentist every six months. Your dentist can do a thorough examination and see any signs of plaque build-up, gingivitis or periodontal disease.

You can also have a dental hygienist perform regular cleanings, removing plaque build-up from under your gums and tartar from your tooth enamel. Bear in mind that your dental checkups don’t take the place of your own oral hygiene regime; they supplement it, and you should keep up with your regular brushing and flossing.

At Dr. Postol’s office, we have a dedicated team who will care for all your preventive dentistry needs. Contact us to schedule your regular appointment today.

Treatment for Bleeding Gums

If you have gingivitis, a simple clean by your dental hygienist should sort out the issues and stop your gums from bleeding. However, even if you have progressed to advanced stages of periodontal disease, there is still time to repair the damage. Dentists can use two techniques to treat and repair the damage. These are:

  • Scaling—the removal of plaque from below the gumline
  • Root planing—smoothing the tooth root, allowing the gum to re-attach

This type of deep cleaning may leave you with tooth pain for a day or two and sensitive teeth for about a week. Your dentist might prescribe a pill or mouth rinse to prevent infection and control pain. Your gums may also be a little swollen and feel tender or bleed.

After scaling and root planing, you should schedule another appointment a couple of weeks later so your dentist can check your progress. If pockets from periodontitis persist, another treatment may be required.

Get Quality Dental Care Today

As you can see, poor dental care and hygiene can lead to serious issues that affect your whole life. Nobody wants the bad breath that comes with gingivitis or the pain from eating that comes with periodontitis. A good oral hygiene program maintained at home and with your dentist can save you much pain and discomfort and prevent the worries caused by bleeding gums.

Dr. Kevin F. Postol has a dedicated team that will greet you with a warm and sincere welcome and places as much value on your oral health as you do. To find out more about why your gums might be bleeding or to make an appointment, contact us today.

What Are the Benefits of Regular Periodontal Maintenance?

When you think of dental care, you probably think of brushing and flossing regularly and visiting your dentist twice a year. While these habits certainly help establish the foundation for good dental health, they only begin to scratch the surface. There’s a lot more to maintaining healthy teeth and gums than simply covering the basics.

This is where periodontal maintenance comes in. Regular periodontal maintenance plays a key role in enhancing your overall gum and bone health. This procedure also goes above and beyond routine dental cleanings to keep gum disease at bay. If you’re ready to give your smile the boost it needs, here is everything you need to know about periodontal maintenance.

Periodontal Maintenance vs. Regular Cleanings: What’s the Difference?

Periodontal maintenance, also known as deep cleaning, is a special dental cleaning procedure that typically occurs more frequently than a regular cleaning. While a standard dental visit is normally scheduled every six months, periodontal care tends to takes place every three to four months.

Regular dental cleanings are also preventive, while periodontal maintenance targets existing dental issues. The goal of this procedure is to get to the root of gum problems and prevent periodontal disease from advancing. If you currently have gum disease, it’s crucial to schedule periodontal care on a regular basis to keep your gum and bone health in optimal condition.

Benefits of Periodontal Maintenance

Stopping by your dentist’s office for regular periodontal care can lead to incredible benefits. Here are some of the main ways a deep cleaning can transform your smile for the better.

1. Slowed Progression of Gum Disease

The most important benefit of regular periodontal maintenance is slowing the progression of gum disease. Periodontal care is typically recommended to dental patients who have already been diagnosed with gum disease and need rigorous treatment to address the problem. Fortunately, periodontal treatment sessions can help prevent gum issues from becoming more severe.

It’s important to remember that a single periodontal maintenance therapy session isn’t enough to tackle chronic gum problems. To properly protect your teeth and gums from further damage, be sure to schedule periodontal care at least every three to four months.

2. Thorough Plaque Removal

Over time, plaque and tartar build up on the surface of your teeth, which can lead to gum disease and other forms of damage. While regular brushing and flossing can help slow down the accumulation of plaque, it’s a good idea to supplement with professional periodontal maintenance therapy to remove any unwanted buildup.

Periodontal treatment is so thorough that it targets various other dental problems as well. Through the use of specialized dental equipment and techniques, periodontal experts can effectively remove bacteria, gum pocket deposits and other forms of debris that have built up on your teeth.

3. Fresher Breath

One of the most common symptoms of periodontal disease is bad breath, also known as halitosis. This occurs when food particles that are trapped below your gum line begin to rot. Over time, hidden particles of food can lead to gum infection and other types of periodontal issues.

During periodontal maintenance therapy, a skilled hygienist will thoroughly remove any plaque, tartar, hidden food particles or other forms of debris from your teeth. This process helps to alleviate any existing irritation and keeps further problems at bay. The result is fresher, cleaner breath that gives you a healthy and rejuvenated feel.

4. Aesthetic Appeal

Periodontal care doesn’t only keep your teeth clean and healthy. This dental cleaning also plays a key role in promoting a more polished smile. Oftentimes, people who struggle with periodontal disease have yellowed, stained teeth that they may try to hide in photos or even when they’re talking to other people.

Fortunately, regular periodontal maintenance can help restore your confidence in your smile. Once you’ve parted ways with harmful buildup, your teeth will take on a new, radiant look that you’ll want to show off to everyone you see.

5. Stronger Teeth

If you let your dental problems persist, they may become serious enough that your teeth begin to fall out. There are a number of reasons this may happen, including periodontal disease, cavities, recessed gums, poor dental hygiene and a decline in bone strength. It’s crucial to take the right precautions to keep your teeth strong and guard them against decay.

Periodontal treatment is designed for this exact purpose. By cleaning up any lingering debris and addressing existing gum issues, periodontal maintenance experts allow you to maintain stronger teeth that are less likely to fall out. This is vital to keeping your smile healthier overall.

6. Reduced Risk of Infection

One of the goals of periodontal care is to reduce the depth of pockets in your gums. If these pockets are left untreated, they will continue to deepen, causing bacteria to accumulate inside your gums. This bacteria may then begin to travel through your bloodstream, where it can spread and infect other areas of your body.

By curbing the growth of harmful bacteria, periodontal maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of infection. This helps to promote optimal health and well-being overall. The next time you schedule a periodontal appointment, think about all the good you’re doing for your entire body—not just your pearly whites.

Be Proactive About Your Dental Health

When you’re diligent about keeping your teeth and gums in good shape, you help build the foundation for better dental health. Don’t put off periodontal maintenance therapy if you have existing gum damage or notice signs of periodontal disease. The earlier you take action, the easier it will be to address any issues you have and prevent your gum disease from advancing.

Once you’re ready to give your smile the care it needs, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol. His unwavering commitment to high-quality dental care ensures that you’re in good hands. Our team is eager to learn more about your needs and give you the smile you deserve.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Traditional braces involved metal wires, headgear, rubber bands and visits to the orthodontist that left your mouth sore afterward. Adults who need braces often choose crooked teeth over a mouth full of metal. However, technological advancements have replaced the metal wires with clear, removable braces. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team set you up with clear braces that gradually adjust your teeth, offering minimal pain and discomfort.

While they might work gradually, clear braces are more efficient than traditional braces. Typically, they straighten your teeth within six months or less. No one will notice that you’re wearing braces–and when you need to floss or brush your teeth, they detach in seconds. Schedule an appointment to talk about starting an Invisalign regimen.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign braces are clear aligners that fit directly over your teeth. Each aligner is custom made to fit your teeth while applying a slight pressure. As you wear the aligners, the pressure gradually straightens your teeth. You’ll use multiple aligners over the course of the treatment. Invisalign braces are removable, non-invasive and virtually invisible, allowing you to correct your teeth in adulthood without feeling self-conscious.

What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?

Here’s why patients prefer Invisalign over metal braces:

  • Invisalign is invisible–no metal bands or wires that everyone notices immediately. You can go to work, attend school and smile in photographs, and no one will notice the difference.
  • Invisalign is safer and more comfortable than traditional braces. When an orthodontist installs metal braces on your teeth, you have to return periodically to get your braces tightened, making your mouth sore again. Plus, loose wires and brackets can injure the inside of your mouth.
  • Invisalign is removable so you can take out the aligners to brush and floss your teeth. You won’t have to brush around metal brackets and hope you don’t get cavities.
  • Invisalign fits directly over your teeth. Since you don’t have complicated metal brackets and wires, food particles won’t get trapped in your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Do You Qualify for Invisalign?

Many patients choose Invisalign simply because they want a better smile. If you have crooked or uneven teeth, Invisalign straightens your teeth and improves their appearance. However, your dentist might recommend Invisalign if you suffer from certain conditions like overbites, underbites, teeth crowding, jaw pain, bone loss and sleep disorders. You’ll improve your health and enjoy a straighter smile at the same time.

While Invisalign is popular with adults, children and teenagers also choose Invisalign as an alternative to metal braces. Traditional braces are painful and unattractive, which makes children feel self-conscious. Invisalign is virtually invisible–in fact, no one will know that your child’s undergoing treatment. They’ll feel increasingly confident as they watch their teeth become straight and even.

Is Invisalign as Effective as Traditional Braces?

Invisalign is actually more effective than traditional braces. While metal braces take up to four years to straighten your teeth, Invisalign corrects your teeth in two years or less. In fact, some patients end their treatment after six months. You’ll enjoy the benefits of traditional braces with none of the metal brackets, wires, rubber bands or cement.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Here’s what happens when you undergo Invisalign treatments:

  1. You’ll set up an appointment with our team. When you arrive, we’ll take impressions of your teeth that we’ll use to craft the aligners.
  2. We’ll create a set of dental trays and give them to you at your next appointment. You’ll use these trays one at a time until you’ve completed your treatment.
  3. To start, you’ll wear the first set of aligners. The aligners apply pressure to your teeth that gradually makes them shift.
  4. After a certain time frame, you’ll swap out the trays for the next set of aligners. These aligners continue to apply pressure to your teeth, straightening them even further.
  5. You’ll continue the process until you’ve used all the trays. Periodically, you’ll return to our office to see how your treatment is going.
  6. At the end, you’ll have straight teeth, better health and less discomfort.

We’ll discuss the process in more detail when you arrive for your consultation.

How Do You Get the Most Out of Invisalign?

While Invisalign is faster and more comfortable than other treatments, you’ll still need to stay on track to make it work. Wear your Invisalign trays for at least twenty hours day, and remove them only for brief periods, like when you brush your teeth. Swap out the trays according to schedule to keep straightening your teeth. If you stop wearing the aligners too early or take them out too often, your teeth will remain crooked.

Does Invisalign Come with Any Risks?

Invisalign is a non-invasive procedure that comes with few risks. At most, you might notice a slight lisp when you first start wearing your aligners. In rare cases, you could damage the aligners if you clench your teeth hard enough. Let us know if you have a polyurethane allergy that makes you ineligible for Invisalign. Otherwise, slight discomfort is the most you’ll experience during your treatment.

How Do You Get Started?

When you’re ready to straighten your teeth, contact us to set up an appointment. We’ll discuss your options and decide if Invisalign is the best treatment for you. If you qualify, we’ll move onto the next steps and start treatment as soon as possible. With Invisalign, you may enjoy a brighter, straighter smile in two years or less.

Other services at our clinic include X-rays, screenings, preventive cleanings, cavity fillings, crowns, bridges, sealants and cosmetic dentistry. We serve patients at every age–children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. If you have anxiety about visiting the dentist, we’ll employ relaxation dentistry techniques that keep you calm during your visit.

Call our office, or request an appointment online to get started. We’re accepting new and returning patients. If we ask you to fill out forms before your visit, print them directly from our website and bring the forms when you arrive.

Sleep Apnea: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Sleep apnea is a condition that blocks the airway during sleep, forcing you to wake up several times in the middle of the night to begin breathing again. It’s often accompanied by loud snoring and can make it unpleasant for your partner, who’s unable to sleep due to your snores. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea and aren’t getting the quality of restorative sleep they could be.

You may be surprised to learn that dentists are able to treat sleep apnea. Dr. Kevin F. Postol has been treating patients with sleep apnea for over 15 years with a success rate of over 85%. It’s even possible to have your treatment covered by your medical insurance if you’re diagnosed by your primary care physician.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

There are two ways you can be tested for sleep apnea. You can obtain a home sleep apnea test if you’d prefer to test yourself in the comfort of your own bed or to conduct a sleep study in a lab. During the study, you’re observed during a full night while equipment monitors your breathing patterns, when you wake up and if your oxygen levels drop while you’re sleeping.

There are three types of sleep apnea you might be diagnosed with:

  • Central sleep apnea: Patients suffering from central sleep apnea have open airways, but their lungs aren’t drawing air during sleep. The problem is the brain’s control over their lungs or diaphragm and not the position of the jaw or tongue.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have lungs that function as they should, but their airways are blocked, depriving them of the oxygen they need. They may wake up for several moments, adjust the position of their jaw or tongue and be able to breathe again before falling back asleep.
  • Mixed sleep apnea: This form of sleep apnea has symptoms of the other two, which means the brain isn’t communicating with the lungs well and there’s an obstruction in the airway.

Traditional Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

A doctor may recommend a treatment plan based on the type and severity of your sleep apnea. In many cases, patients are prescribed a device called a CPAP machine. The machine keeps your airway open through the night by delivering enough air to your lungs to keep your airway open. Many patients are uncomfortable with devices covering their faces while they try to sleep and view CPAP machines as a hassle.

Sometimes, patients might need surgery. Surgical procedures may remove tissue in your mouth or airway, stimulate the nervous system, create a new path for air to travel through or insert implants into the patient’s soft palate. Surgical intervention should always be seen as a last resort.

An alternative to CPAP machines many patients consider is the use of oral appliances to reposition the jaw and keep the airway open through the night. An oral appliance is more comfortable, less invasive and easier to use than a CPAP machine and can be just as effective in many cases.

Types of Oral Appliances

Dr. Kevin F. Postol offers five types of oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. What’s most effective varies by patient, so Dr. Postol will help determine which type of appliance is most comfortable and efficient for you. All of the appliances we use to treat sleep apnea are custom made so they’ll fit your mouth correctly. Our most popular options are the following:

TAP ® 3 Appliance

This option treats obstructive sleep apnea and works regardless of how severe your condition may be. The appliance works by aligning the upper and lower jaw with a small hook and socket. You can adjust the adjustment using a key so that you can adapt gradually and avoid overstraining your jaw while it adjusts over time. Patients like this device due to how easy it is to adjust and that they’re able to manage adjustments on their own.

EMA Appliance

The EMA is custom fit to your mouth and designed to be worn over your teeth. It’s ideal if you have a small mouth because the plastic straps are thinner than the material used in other appliances. You can use five different strap lengths over time to adjust the position of your jaw during sleep as time goes on. It can’t be adjusted as well as alternative appliances can and the plastic isn’t as durable as the materials other appliances are made from.

Herbst Oral Appliance

The Herbst OA is made of acrylic and supported by a metal frame. It can be adjusted using pistons and tubes on the side of the device. Because it allows you to move your jaw more freely, Dr. Postol recommends this option to patients who grind their teeth at night. While you’re still able to open your mouth partially, the rubber bands in the device prevent your jaw from falling completely open. Patients report feeling more comfortable when using this device.

How to Pay for an Oral Appliance with Insurance

Sleep apnea is considered a medical condition, so if you’ve been diagnosed and referred by a physician, it’s possible to have your health insurance billed for your oral appliance instead of using dental insurance or paying out of pocket. Dr. Postol is a part of the Cigna and United Healthcare networks and works with Medicare too. Our team can help you file a claim to see if your insurance will cover the cost of your oral appliance.

Learn More About Oral Devices

Dr. Kevin F. Postol has been treating sleep apnea for over 15 years and his patients see a success rate of over 85% in improved quality of sleep and reduced symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, he can help you get a better night’s sleep with the right oral appliance. Contact us today to arrange an appointment so that we can review your treatment options and decide what’s right for you.

Knowing When You Need Emergency Dental Care

While dental care is often considered a luxury, this couldn’t be further from medical reality. In truth, dentistry is so vital to your general health that it may be the oldest form of medicine. Tooth and gum problems can be terribly detrimental to your comfort and quality of life, and infections can quickly spread from these locations to your airways. It’s essential to know when your toothache, sore, or other issue constitutes a dental emergency and what to do when you experience one of these issues.

Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

Some of the most common dental emergencies include:

  • Severe toothaches
  • Knocked out, chipped, or otherwise damaged teeth
  • Infections
  • Harm to the soft tissues of the mouth

While just about everyone has had some mouth sores or minor tooth pain at one point or another, what separates these incidents from dental emergencies is a matter of degrees. Most situations where you’ll require emergency dental care will accompany severe pain, although there are some exceptions to this rule. In particular, severe toothache pain stopping suddenly is actually indicative of greater danger than the pain you were previously experiencing.

The approach from one dental health incident to the next varies considerably, but there are a few rules of thumb that you can consistently rely upon. For instance, do not use aspirin to treat pain associated with any mouth problem that includes bleeding. Aspirin prevents blood from clotting, so even a relatively small amount of blood flow could grow into something serious after taking aspirin. Likewise, never assume that oral pain is unserious; anything that affects the mouth can quickly spread elsewhere.

Oral Infections

Pain and swelling of the gums are the telltale signs that you have some sort of oral infection. If you see numerous, small marks around the gums, that indicates you have a tooth infection. When this spreads or you have widespread swelling of the gums, then the gums themselves have developed an infection and you might have inflammatory gum disease.

In any event, you shouldn’t respond to any sort of oral infection with home remedies or by hoping that it goes away on its own. These infections can cause lasting damage, and it’s even possible for an oral abscess to travel to the brain and become potentially life-threatening. If you suspect you have an oral infection, you should schedule an emergency appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol.

Cracked Teeth

When physical trauma damages your tooth, the proper response varies depending on the extent of the damage. If only the enamel is chipped and none of the underlying materials experience exposure, then it’s not an emergency at all. While you’ll need to take care to avoid putting pressure on the tooth and should seek a professional opinion, there’s no urgent risk.

However, emergency dental care is absolutely necessary if the interior of the tooth is exposed. If there’s visible red inside the tooth, that means that the sensitive pulp has no protection from bacteria. Without urgent care, you’ll have a high risk of infection.

Knocked-Out Teeth

When a tooth is knocked out, you should attempt to preserve the tooth as well as possible. Pick it up by the crown, avoiding the root and attempt to insert it back into your gums and secure it there with gauze or cloth. If it’s impossible to reinsert, then placing the tooth in milk will help expand its life and increase the odds of a successful reimplantation. The longer you take to receive care, the slimmer the success rate for saving the tooth becomes.

Soft Tissue Damage

When it comes to the mouth, soft tissue damage can take many forms. Common sores, scratches, and burns from eating excessively hot food technically qualify, but are unserious. What’s more worrisome is fluid-filled abscesses and swelling that’s either highly painful, or sufficiently severe in itself as to be externally visible when your mouth is closed.

Sudden Toothache

Relatively small issues such as trapped food particles can cause significant tooth discomfort. Before assuming that your toothache is a sign of an infection, try cleaning the area. Brush your teeth and use a saltwater mouthwash to flush the area and see if that relieves the pain. If it does, then your toothache is likely not serious. On the other hand, persistent pain can indicate a deeper problem that warrants emergency dental care.

If the pain suddenly stops without any apparent reason, that’s not a cause for relief. This is because the most likely reason for a severe toothache subsiding on its own is nerve death. Rather than indicating that the problem has undergone remission, the problem has killed the tooth nerve and pain signals can no longer transmit to your nervous system. Without the sensation of pain, you could easily ignore the problem until it grows into something much more severe. In this event, seek an examination and the advice of a dentist such as Dr. Postol.

Preventing Dental Emergencies From Arising

Many people are going to need emergency dental care throughout their lives, but you can minimize these risks by taking good care of your teeth. Brush daily, floss frequently, and avoid putting your teeth at risk with your diet or lifestyle choices. Some of the ways that you can minimize the likelihood you’ll need emergency dental care include:

  • Practice good dental hygiene
  • Reduce consumption of sugary and acidic foods
  • Protective measures, such as wearing mouthguards while playing sports
  • Schedule routine dental care

While you can reduce your odds of needing urgent dental care, no one is immune to infections and accidents. When you find that you need emergency dental care, reach out to the office of Dr. Kevin F. Postol for responsive, first-class treatment.

Bleeding Gums: Causes and Symptoms

You may be brushing or flossing one day and notice a little pink on your toothbrush or floss or in the sink. It might cause you to wonder why this is happening and what has caused bleeding gums. Knowing the causes and symptoms of bleeding gums will help you learn more about bleeding gums in general and bleeding gums treatment options.

Bleeding of the gums is sometimes referred to as gingival bleeding, and it may occur during brushing or flossing. Certain dental conditions cause bleeding gums and make them more sensitive and prone to bleeding. The truth is that some causes are more serious than others and some warrant a trip to your dentist while others can be managed by you at home.

Causes

First, you should know that bleeding gums is not routine or normal and should always be cause for concern. If left unchecked, it may be hazardous to your mouth and dental health. The only time it’s considered normal and usual is if you’ve started a new flossing or brushing routine, but it should only go on for about a week or so. One cause may be due to the early onset of Gingivitis. Take note if your gums bleed after daily flossing and report it to your dentist. If left untreated, Gingivitis can develop into more pronounced problems such as periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth) and advanced periodontitis. Additional causes of bleeding gums are as follows:

  • Brushing too hard or your toothbrush isn’t soft enough
  • New flossing routine
  • Taking certain medications
  • Have inflamed gums because you’re pregnant (Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause the gums to be more sensitive.)
  • Have dentures that don’t fit well
  • Inadequate plaque removal
  • Bleeding or swollen gums can be a warning sign of type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia
  • Stress or poor diet

It’s in your best interest to determine the cause and figure out if it’s a simple fix or a sign of a health condition you need to get checked out and address.

Symptoms

There are also symptoms of bleeding gums to be aware of so you can take action quickly if you notice these signs. For instance, inflamed and irritated gums when brushing or flossing may be gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is usually a painless condition and bleeding gums may be the only symptom. You should also look out for symptoms such as, swollen, red, or tender gums, persistent bad breath or taste, teeth that are loose, and a change in the way your teeth fit when you bite. You should also be on the lookout for mouth sores or lumps on your gums.

Periodontal disease (periodontitis) can occur when gingivitis becomes advanced. Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out. It’s an infection of the gums, jawbone, and supportive tissues that connect your teeth and gums. Signs and symptoms of periodontitis include, swollen or puffy gyms, bleeding gums, bad breath, and gums that feel tender when touched.

Treatment Options

The first step you should take when managing bleeding gums is to practice good dental hygiene daily. You must commit to brushing twice per day using a soft toothbrush and floss at least once per day. You might also consider using an electric toothbrush that can help you to clean your gum line more easily than a manual toothbrush. Proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque from your gum line and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

There are preventative actions you can take at home as part of your overall dental routine. Brushing your teeth daily should be automatic for you. Brushing should be done in a circular motion, for two minutes, spending an equal amount of time in each part of the mouth. Floss at least once per day and follow the curve of your teeth to avoid damaging the gums.

Dental visits are an excellent way to take preventative action against bleeding gums. Dr. Kevin F. Postol will perform an oral exam and can identify any signs of gum disease early on before it progresses. The cleaning entails removing plaque from your teeth in hard-to-reach areas. If you notice any of the signs and symptoms of bleeding gums or that a health condition is causing them then it’s best to schedule an appointment, outside of the recommended twice per year professional cleanings. Dr. Postol can review with you the best ways to brush and floss your teeth and check for signs of gingivitis.

Even if you have reached the advanced stages of gum disease, there is still time to fix the damage. Dr. Postol may perform scaling or root planning to treat advanced periodontitis. The goal and what these procedures will do is to remove the bacteria or plaque that caused the gum disease in the first place.

Next Steps

Regular dental visits are essential for early detection of gum disease, which will give you a better chance of reversing the damage already done. We are one of the best around when it comes to dental care and addressing bleeding gums. Do you have bleeding gums that won’t go away and want an opinion about what may be causing the bleeding? We invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Postol for bleeding gums treatment today.

At Kevin Postol, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, our caring dental team is experienced in all areas of dentistry. We offer restorative and cosmetic dentistry, using state-of-the-art dental techniques and a gentle touch to improve your general health and quality of life.

Each time you enter our dental office, you will be welcomed warmly and sincerely. We understand that choosing a new dentist can be a challenge, leaving you with some uncertain feelings. If the value you place on your teeth and health coincides with our beliefs in quality dentistry and the prevention of dental disease, a mutually rewarding relationship should evolve for both parties. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!