Advanced Cosmetic & General Dentistry of DC – Arousha Jahangiri DDS

Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay is a result of bacteria in the mouth that makes acids that eat away at the tooth. When sugar and starches are consumed on a regular basis and plaque is left on the teeth, it produces acids and destroys tooth enamel over a period of time.  Tooth decay will often lead to cavities if left untreated.

Most tooth decay can be treated by using fluoride, a filling, or, in more extreme cases, through a root canal or a crown.

You can prevent tooth decay by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, regularly scheduling hygiene checkups with your dentist, and limiting foods that are high in sugar.

Occlusal Guard, By Report – Dental Procedure Code Description

This dental procedure code is used when your dentist prescribes a mouth guard to help counteract the effects of bruxism: the excessive grinding and clenching of teeth. Such occlusal (or, biting surface) mouthguards are typically made in a dental laboratory, although modern technology can even sometimes allow doctors to create them in-house.The reasons for a bruxism habit are manifold, and can be seen in individuals of a competitive nature, those who are anxiety prone and even in children. While teeth grinding may appear to be a harmless habit, it results in the physical wearing down of the tooth’s surface as well as the weakening of its entire structure. Bruxism can create cracks and chips in teeth, and, without intervention, over time can contribute to a shortening of the lower face height, and a change in facial appearance. This change in “face height” is due to bone loss in the lower jaw and can be seen in individuals who have lost all their teeth and do not wear dentures. An occlusal (biting surface) mouth guard can protect from these effects.This dental procedure code is used when your dentist prescribes a mouth guard to help counteract the effects of bruxism: the excessive grinding and clenching of teeth. Such occlusal (or, biting surface) mouthguards are typically made in a dental laboratory, although modern technology can even sometimes allow doctors to create them in-house.The reasons for a bruxism habit are manifold, and can be seen in individuals of a competitive nature, those who are anxiety prone and even in children. While teeth grinding may appear to be a harmless habit, it results in the physical wearing down of the tooth’s surface as well as the weakening of its entire structure. Bruxism can create cracks and chips in teeth, and, without intervention, over time can contribute to a shortening of the lower face height, and a change in facial appearance. This change in “face height” is due to bone loss in the lower jaw and can be seen in individuals who have lost all their teeth and do not wear dentures. An occlusal (biting surface) mouth guard can protect from these effects.

Comprehensive Exams

The American Dental Association recommends you see your dentist at least twice each year for a checkup. At your checkup, the doctor will inspect your soft tissues for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other problems. The dentist will also look at each tooth in your mouth to assess problems like tooth decay or cracks, as well as old dental work. Sometimes old dental work wears out and needs to be replaced.

By looking for trouble every six months, your dentist can often reduce your potential for large dental problems. For instance, left untreated, a small cavity can grow to destroy an entire tooth and spread to surrounding teeth. A cracked tooth can cause pain or break off and create additional problems. Furthermore, conditions like advanced gum disease (the primary cause of tooth loss for American adults) and oral cancer (which causes more than 7,500 deaths each year) can be diagnosed during a visit to the dentist. Caught and treated early, these diseases can be controlled.

If you are wondering whether it’s time to start bringing your children to the dentist – chances are it’s time. Children as young as two should visit the dentist, and by age four or five, a child should attend regular checkups.

Gum disease

We all know that if we want to avoid gum disease, we need a solid oral care regimen – brush twice a day, floss at night and use mouthwash. Right? Of course … this is, after all, the familiar refrain. So let’s step away from that simple 3-step plan for this month to share with you a few other things you might not have known when it comes to preventing gum disease.

Gingivitis and its advanced cousin, Periodontal disease, are silent offenders. Most often, you may not even know you should be concerned. After all, the serious problems take place beneath your gum line where you can’t see them. What’s worse is that a growing number of scientists believe that plaque and gum disease can also influence and exacerbate conditions like heart disease and stroke – certainly conditions we do not want to encourage by a lack of attention to good oral hygiene. So with no further ado, here are six easy things you can do to help protect your mouth from gum disease.

  1. Eat more Veggies! Everyone knows we need more vegetables in our diets. Our waistlines and our teeth love them for their water content as well as their vitamin and mineral profiles. There’s no doubt about it, veggies are good for you. Not a big fan? Incorporate them into soups, or in a great fruit smoothie … you won’t notice the difference, but your teeth and gums will.
  2. Use an anti-microbial mouthwash: The key here is using a mouthwash that is anti-microbial. Find one you’ll actually use every day, and use it once in the morning after brushing, and again after brushing before bed. Usually, the recommendation is to use one low in alcohol or without it altogether, as alcohol dries out your mouth and can contribute to tooth decay. More saliva = better oral health.
  3. Try a toothbrush that moves: Get adventurous and try out an electronic toothbrush that has the endorsement of the American Dental Association (ADA). They’re more effective than you’ll ever be at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth by hand, and will protect your gums from aggressive brushing as well.
  4. Chew Gum! Keep that saliva flowing after a meal with sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol — a natural sweetener derived from plants. It doesn’t break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Both can help you avoid cavities. If you would like to avoid Aspartame in your Xylitol chewing gum, just do some searching online, or ask your dentist. Finding gum without Aspartame these days is very challenging, but they do exist.
  5. Get Braces! That’s right, getting braces can actually help protect you from gum disease. You see, crooked teeth are great enablers of tooth decay, which can lead to gum disease by allowing bacteria and plaque to colonize in the areas where your teeth are not aligned. Getting your teeth aligned eliminates these hideouts where your toothbrush cannot reach and straightens your smile at the same time.
  6. Quit Smoking! Okay, you know this one. But … it’s always worth mentioning. Smoking is always bad for your body, your gums, and your teeth.  

What Are Your Gums Trying To Tell You?

Taking care of your gums is an extremely important part of your dental health. And if your gums are not ship shape, they will let you know with easy-to-see signs. If you notice any of these red flags below, be sure to visit your dentist soon.

Swelling, redness, or puffiness: These are usually signs of inflammation and may possibly be an early indicator of gingivitis (gum disease). It can also be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection or may be caused by changes in hormones.

Receding gum line: Gum recession happens when the gum tissue wears away, exposing more of the tooth and sometimes even the root. Receding gums can be caused by gum disease, but it can also occur from brushing too hard, hormonal changes or even from grinding or clenching your teeth.

Bleeding: Bleeding gums are never normal and are also a sign of gum disease or brushing too hard. If you just started flossing, your gums may bleed a little at first but the bleeding should stop after about a week. Taking blood thinners may also cause your gums to bleed.

Many gum issues are a symptom of gum disease. It’s important to see your dentist so the cause can be treated before it advances.

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10 Ways You Unwittingly Destroy Your Own Teeth

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Using the Wrong Toothpaste: A mistake in this area can wear your teeth down for years without you having the slightest idea it’s happening.

  1. Chewing on Anything Other Than Food
  2. this includes ice!): Sometimes we develop the habit of chewing on pencils, pens and pen caps when we’re bored or focusing intently on some task at work.
  3. Constant Snacking: This habit causes your enamel to be in constant interaction with acids from food, which can wear away at your teeth. Even worse is snacking on sweet or starchy foods like mints, candy, throat lozenges or pretzels.
  4. Guzzling Fruit Juice: We know it’s hard to believe, but fruit juice packs nearly as much sugar as soda. Stick with water (either carbonated or flat).
  5. Drinking Sports Drinks Instead of Water for Hydration: Popular drinks in this category are high in acid as well, which eat away at tooth enamel.
  6. Opening Packages with Your Teeth: Just say no.
  7. Grinding Your Teeth: Check with your dentist since they’re able to tell by looking for signs of wear on your teeth. Then, ask them about mouth guards or splints to protect your teeth.
  8. Getting Pierced: Other than the fact that tongue and lip piercings can harbor bacteria that can lead to an infection, those little shiny objects also cause a lot of damage to your teeth.
  9. Speaking of Mouth guards: Mouth guards protect against the loss of teeth and damage to the jaw. There’s really no excuse for not wearing one if you’re involved in a contact sport.
  10. Excessive Bleachers: If you’re experiencing excessive gum and tooth sensitivity, you may want to take a break and speak with your dentist before continuing.

Don’t Ignore Constant Dental Pain – You May Need a Root Canal

Pay Attention to Pain: When your teeth bother you, this is a signal from your body that something is not right in your mouth. Here are three of the most common symptoms one can experience that may necessitate a dental evaluation:

Sensitivity to Hot and Cold: If you’ve experienced a certain degree of gum erosion, you have most likely had to deal with sensitive teeth. Some degree of sensitivity is common and normal. If it lasts for minutes or days at a time, you should see your dentist. Persistent discomfort can be an indicator of a loose filling, a small cavity, or the early stages of nerve trauma.

Pressure Sensitivity: This type of pain can often be an indicator of a cracked tooth, nerve trauma or a small cavity. If you experience this sort of pain, you’ll want to definitely visit the dentist before the problem advances. It’s worth noting that some people experience this sort of sensitivity after dental work, which typically goes away in 2-4 weeks. In some individuals, it can take months. However, do not wait too long without consulting with your doctor. Lingering pain (even after an exam) should be brought to the attention of your doctor after a week has passed. They will then let you know what your next steps should be.

In addition, this pain can be caused by an abscess, which is a serious infection that can spread to the bone. Infections of this nature can be fatal if not treated in a timely manner. It is always important to never ignore constant pain and pressure. Keep your teeth healthy by paying attention to your body’s signals; it is pretty good at letting us know when we need to confer with a professional!

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Five Reasons Why You May Have a Dry Mouth

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  1. Physiologic: Sometimes having a dry mouth is just a normal part of life. Temporary anxiety open-mouthed breathing, mild dehydration, menopause, pregnancy, and decreases in salivary production due to sleep are all considered physiologic (or, “normal”) causes of dry mouth.
  2. Prescription medication: Sixty-three percent of the top 200 most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. are known to cause dry mouth. That’s a lot of interference. What’s worse, the higher the number of medications a person takes, the higher the chance of dry mouth. That’s why as we age, we tend to experience more instances of dry mouth. It’s not necessarily age-related, but our consumption of medications may cause this side effect.
  3. Habitual use of alcohol, cigarettes, and/or drugs: Use of any of these products will dry out the oral cavity. No real surprise here.
  4. Chronic Disease: Sjögren’s disease, a chronic autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands; along with the inflammatory disease, Sarcoidosis; Hepatitis C; and Diabetes, can all cause dry mouth.
  5. Psychogenic or Idiopathic: When symptoms are present without an identifiable cause (idiopathic), or because of psychological causes (psychogenic), they can be difficult to diagnose. If you find yourself with a persistent case of dry mouth that you’re unable attribute a cause to, see your doctor for further diagnosis.

Dry mouth can be uncomfortable to live with on a daily basis, and is an indication that there is something causing the symptom that requires further examination. As always, with any persistent medical condition, it’s important to never rely on self-diagnosis, and to see your doctor for proper evaluation.

 

What Is TMJD?

TMJD is a serious and often progressive condition resulting from mechanical stress to the jaw and its surrounding muscles. For instance, simply having your mouth extended too wide for a long time or repeatedly chewing can contribute to TMJD-related pain. The TMJ Association recommends treating your symptoms gently and suggests the following as potentially useful to curb pain.

Moist Heat: A warm compress can help reduce pain.

Ice: It can help decrease inflammation and numb pain. Also, never use uncovered ice directly on the skin and use in 10-15 minute increments

Soft Diet: Soft foods can help prevent overextension of the mouth and overuse of the joint

Over the-Counter Analgesics: Over-the-counter pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may help alleviate some discomfort.

Beyond the above recommendations, the best thing you can do is to seek the advice of your dental provider. Because TMJD is often progressive, ignoring the symptoms can not only cause your pain to escalate but the imbalance it creates with in your bite can cause excessive tooth wear and an uneven facial appearance. TMJD is something you should not self-diagnose. if you find yourself experiencing regular bouts of facial pain and discomfort, then please schedule an appointment to see your doctor right away.

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Patients with Heart Conditions:Why Your Dentist Needs to know

Why It’s Important

Routine dental procedures, such as a cleaning, can cause bleeding in the mouth. As a result, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and possibly travel to the heart. For a patient with a heart condition,  this bacteria poses a potentially dangerous risk of endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves or tissue). Because of this, antibiotics are recommended for some patients prior to any dental visit, including routine cleanings.

Overall, all patients should communicate any medications they are taking for their heart condition, such as anticoagulants or blood-thinning medications. Also, any patients who have suffered a heart attack in the last six months, should postpone dental treatment. Patients with stable angina (regularly occurring chest pain) should consult with their dentist before treatment, but those with unstable angina (irregularly occurring) are usually advised to not undergo non-essential dental procedures. Emergency dental care should be performed either in a hospital setting or an office with cardiac monitoring capabilities.

Other things to keep in mind to protect your heart health before visiting the dentist:

-Learn what your dentist can do in the case of medical emergency and find out if there is oxygen and nitroglycerin readily available.

-Be sure your dentist has your complete medical history, including any relevant blood work and contact information for your other healthcare providers.

-Always be sure to let your dentist know if you have any health concerns. Your continued good health depends on it!

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