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Healthy Diet, Healthier Gums?

July 15th, 2020

Since gum disease is one of the most common adult diseases, it’s no wonder periodontists like Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis stress the importance of prevention. Effective brushing and flossing, regular dental appointments for exams and cleanings, and a prompt visit to our San Mateo, CA office if you notice symptoms of gingivitis (early gum disease) are all important steps to prevent more serious periodontal disease from developing.

One more step you can add to keep your gums their healthiest? Add some gum-healthy foods to your shopping cart! To see how your diet can help prevent gum disease, let’s look at what can cause gum disease.

When plaque builds up between teeth and gums, the bacteria found in plaque cause our gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Left untreated, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect and can cause infection.

Prolonged inflammation can lead to the destruction of gum tissue and the connective tissues which anchor our teeth to the alveolar bone in the jaw. Bone loss and even tooth loss can result from untreated gum disease.

Fortunately for us, there are foods that fight inflammation, help with healing, and strengthen and support gum tissue before problems develop. Let’s take a look at some of the valuable gum-healthy nutrients you can add to your diet with some tasty additions to your shopping list:

  • Vitamin A

This vitamin is essential for the health and healing of mucous membranes, including both our gums and the soft membranes in our mouths. Vitamin A is found in animal products such as dairy foods, meat, and liver, or formed in the body from beta-carotenes, found in plant foods such as carrots, peppers, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the so-called “essential nutrients.” These are nutrients that are necessary for our bodies to function properly, and which can only be supplied in our diets. Vitamin C is needed to help our bodies produce collagen, the substance that provides support and structure to our tissues. It also helps us repair tissue, and is a powerful antioxidant. One of the obvious signs that your diet doesn’t contain enough vitamin C is inflamed and bleeding gums.

When we think vitamin C, we instantly picture citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and all their cousins are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Looking for a little more variety? You’re in luck! Fruit fans can load up on strawberries, kiwi fruit, mangos, and papayas. Love your veggies? Red peppers, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli contain more vitamin C per serving than a medium orange.

  • Vitamin D

Vitamin D, of course, is essential for dental health because it helps us absorb the calcium that keep teeth (and bones) strong. And there’s more! It helps the body fight infection and reduce inflammation, and studies have suggested a link between vitamin D and better gum health.

Sunlight exposure leads our bodies to produce vitamin D naturally, but it is available in foods as well. Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and herring, are a rich source of the vitamin, as are cod liver oil and egg yolks. It’s also available in foods fortified with vitamin D, such as cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, and even many cereals. And while you’re getting the benefit of vitamin D from dairy, you’re also enjoying the proteins they contain, one of which helps neutralize acids in the mouth that can irritate gums. Bonus!

  • Iron

Iron deficiency can lead to a common form of anemia, where your body isn’t creating enough red blood cells to deliver the oxygen your tissues need. (In fact, one of the most noticeable symptoms of anemia is pale gums.) This condition can cause a number of problems, including an immune system that doesn’t work as well as it should. A strong immune system helps us fight infection, including gum disease and other oral infections.

A diet rich in iron can help prevent anemia. We absorb the most iron from foods such as meat, eggs, and fish, but iron is also present in beans, lentils, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and prunes if you’re looking for flavorful vegetarian options.

  • Omega-3s

Research has shown a possible relationship between getting the recommended dietary amounts of omega-3s and a lower occurrence of periodontitis. In other studies, omega-3s have shown promise in reducing the periodontal inflammation that can lead to severe gum disease.

Our bodies can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own, but fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines, a variety of high-fat seeds and nuts, and plant oils contain several different types of omega-3 fatty acids. Some foods are fortified with omega-3s, or your doctor might recommend fish oil (and algae oil for vegetarians) as a supplement.

Speaking of supplements, why not just add vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional supplements to our daily diet? Believe it or not, there can actually be too much of a good thing. Body chemistry requires balance, so talk to your doctor about whether or not supplements are necessary in your particular diet, and just what kinds and how much to take.

Whew! That’s a lot to think about for one shopping cart, but that’s just a small portion of the many foods—and the many vitamins and minerals—you can add to your menu to support oral health in a tasty, effective, and positive way.

After all, when we think about the “do’s and don’ts” of a dental-healthy diet, it’s all too often a collection of “don’ts.” Don’t eat a lot of sugar. Avoid acidic foods and beverages. Cut down on refined carbs.

And all of those suggestions are important, because the early stages of gingivitis are often easy to miss. So, let’s not forget the things we can actually do to be proactive with our gum health. Besides good dental hygiene and regular check-ups, eating a well-balanced diet helps keep your gums their healthiest.

Periodontists are specialists in the diagnosis of gum disease and the treatment of all the structures that support the teeth. And while we are trained and experienced in the most effective procedures for treating periodontal disease, we are also experts in providing you with the most up-to-date suggestions for prevention. If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining your periodontal health, contact our San Mateo, CA periodontal office. We could provide you with some food for thought!

Persistent Bad Breath? It Could Be Time to Talk to Your Periodontist

July 8th, 2020

Part of presenting our best faces to the world is making sure our smiles are bright and our breath is fresh. Sure, we’ve all been embarrassed by an occasional pungent reminder of that garlic bread we just couldn’t pass up, but with daily brushing and flossing, fresh breath is the norm. Until it isn’t.

If you’ve been carefully avoiding strong foods in your diet, if you’ve started brushing a lot more often, if you’re relying on mints and mouthwash to get you through the day, and you still have bad breath, it’s time to see your dentist or doctor.

Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of tooth decay, dry mouth, oral infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other medical or dental problems. It can also be a red flag for serious gum disease, or periodontitis.

How does gum disease cause persistent bad breath? The bacteria and plaque that we are careful to brush away from the surface of our teeth can also stick below the gum line. These bacteria irritate the tissues around them, and the area becomes inflamed. Pockets form around the teeth where bacteria collect and multiply, becoming the source of that unpleasant odor.

And, while bad breath is an embarrassing consequence of gum disease, there are other consequences that are far more serious. Infection causes inflammation, and untreated infection and inflammation lead to the breakdown of gum and bone tissue and, eventually, even tooth loss.

If your dentist discovers signs of advanced gum disease, it’s time to give a periodontist like Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis a call! Because this dental specialty requires three additional years of study after dental school, focusing on the treatment of periodontal disease and cosmetic restorations, periodontists have the knowledge and experience to treat the cause of your gum disease and to restore your gum and bone health.

What can your periodontist do for you? Periodontists are skilled in many procedures that can be used to save gums and teeth, including:

  • Antibiotic therapy, which can be used alone or with other procedures to treat periodontitis.
  • Non-surgical treatments, such as scaling and root planing, which remove plaque and tartar from areas of the teeth above and below the gum line and clean and smooth tooth surfaces.
  • Flap surgery, which allows the periodontist to remove tartar, smooth any irregular tooth surfaces, and then reposition the gum tissue snugly around the teeth to eliminate pockets where bacteria can multiply.
  • Bone and gum grafts, bone surgery, and surgical tissue regeneration, to replace and repair damaged bone and gum tissue.

If you are experiencing persistent bad breath, talk to your dentist or doctor about the possible causes, and whether a visit to our San Mateo, CA office is in order. Periodontal treatment can stop the progression of gum disease, and even restore damaged tissue and bone to make sure you keep your teeth for a lifetime. And one additional bonus? The return of your bright smile and fresh breath. Let your periodontist help you breathe easy once again!

Sedation Options for Your Periodontal Procedure

July 1st, 2020

There are many understandable reasons why you might be feeling less than enthusiastic about your upcoming periodontal treatment.  Perhaps anxiety is an issue, or your teeth are extremely sensitive. You may have a low pain threshold, an easily triggered gag reflex, or require longer or more complex work during your visit. These are also excellent reasons to consider sedation dentistry.

Of course, Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis will always try our best to make sure that every procedure is pain free. A local anesthetic will be provided to numb the treatment area completely. You might decide that this all that you need, especially for relatively simple procedures. But if you would prefer to remain completely aware, but feel less anxious, if you would like deep sedation throughout the entire procedure, or if you want something in between, talk to us about making sedation part of your treatment.

The most common methods of sedation include:

  • Oral Sedation

Usually, oral medications that reduce anxiety are given in pill form. The level of sedation and how much you will be aware during your procedure will depend on the dosage, and you will need time to recover from the drug’s effects after we are done.

  • Nitrous Oxide

Commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” this has been used since the 1800’s to relieve dental anxiety and reduce pain.  Today’s equipment is designed to provide a precise mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen inhaled through a mask that you will wear throughout the procedure. Once the mask is removed, you will recover quickly.

  • IV Sedation

Medication will be delivered through an intravenous line placed in a vein. This delivery system allows the sedative to take effect very quickly, unlike oral sedation, and adjustments to the sedation level can be made throughout the procedure. This method will also require recovery time when your work is complete.

Because your concerns and condition are unique, we will tailor your sedation to fit your specific needs, and our experience and training enable us to recommend the sedation that is best for you. We will take a careful health history to make sure that whichever medication is used won’t interact with your other medications or affect any pre-existing medical conditions.

Our San Mateo, CA office is trained to administer and monitor all these forms of sedation. Because sedation is a regular part of our practice, we have the medical knowledge and skill to provide you with a safe and comfortable periodontal experience. If you think sedation dentistry might be right for you, this procedure is something we are happy to discuss before your appointment.

Oral Diseases and How You Can Avoid Them

June 17th, 2020

While modern dental science has made remarkable advances in treating oral diseases, prevention is always better than cure. To keep our mouth, gums, and teeth their healthiest, there are some simple practices we can follow to reduce dramatically the risk of developing some of the most common oral diseases.

Tooth Decay

We don’t usually think of tooth decay as a disease, but it is, in fact, the most common chronic disease in older children and adolescents. A great majority of adults have had at least some experience with decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, and even loss of nearby bone in the jaw. Luckily, there are several time-tested ways to prevent cavities:

  • Brush properly at least twice a day. Ask Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis for the best toothbrush for your individual needs (usually, a soft brush is best), the best technique for angling the brush to reach all of each tooth’s surfaces, and the amount of time you should spend brushing.
  • Floss daily. Even with perfect brushing form, you are going to want to use floss to clean between the teeth and around the gum line.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Study after study has shown that the risk of cavities is reduced with regular use of a fluoride toothpaste or rinse.
  • Watch your diet. Foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates give cavity-causing bacteria the fuel they need to produce the acids which weaken enamel. On the other hand, a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is beneficial not only for your teeth, but for your whole body!
  • See your dentist for regular checkups to find small problems and prevent them from becoming major ones. Your dentist can also give you tips on better oral hygiene if your brushing and flossing habits aren’t doing the job.

Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is a lot like preventing tooth decay—your daily habits really make a difference. When plaque builds up around the teeth and gums, the bacteria in plaque cause gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Left untreated, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect and lead to infection. Infections harm not only gum tissue, but can destroy the bone which supports the teeth. What can you do to prevent gum disease?

  • Use proper brushing technique. Remember to angle the brush toward the gums to gently clean around and below the gum line.
  • Floss daily—flossing removes particles and plaque between the teeth, and it also helps remove plaque from the area under the gum line.
  • Smokers are at higher risk for gum disease, and smoking has been linked to slower healing. Giving up tobacco products of any kind is always a good way to protect your dental health.
  • Regular dental exams will catch gingivitis (early gum disease) while it is still reversible. Periodontitis (serious gum disease) can require treatment by Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis. Certain diseases such as diabetes increase the risk of developing gum disease, so checkups are especially important.
  • Having your teeth cleaned every six months, or as recommended, will remove plaque that brushing alone can’t handle. If there are signs of more serious gum disease, a periodontal cleaning will remove plaque and tartar from both above and below the gum line.

How Can Your Periodontist Help?

Periodontists like Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis have the advanced education and training not only to treat oral diseases, but to help repair the damage they can cause. A periodontist has experience in:

  • Treating all forms of periodontal disease
  • Periodontal cleanings such as scaling and root planning to remove plaque and tartar
  • Regenerative treatment to restore bone lost to periodontal disease
  • Implant surgery to provide a permanent, natural looking replacement for a lost tooth
  • Regenerative procedures, if needed, to make sure the jawbone has the necessary size and density for a successful implant
  • Gum surgeries to remove or reshape excess or damaged gum tissue
  • Soft tissue grafts to treat exposed roots, receding gums, and gum tissue loss

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to your dental health, there’s a lot you can do to prevent oral diseases. But should you need treatment at our San Mateo, CA office, we have the knowledge and experience to help restore the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. After all, you can’t weigh the worth of your oral health—that’s priceless!

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