Periodontal Associates of North Florida

We’re Loopy for Loupes!

loupes collage

Ever wonder why your Periodontal Associates of North Florida (PANF) hygienist is wearing those giant glasses? Why, the better to see you with of course!

Those giant glasses are called “loupes,” and you will notice that all of our hygienists wear them. Loupes provide 2.0-to-4.8 times the magnification compared to the naked eye, while also providing essential eye protection during dental procedures. These special glasses provide many benefits to our daily lives as hygienists.

Of course we know the loupes magnify what we are seeing as we look through the lens. This means we can better visualize the health of your gum tissue and teeth to provide the best possible periodontal maintenance cleaning during your visit in our office. This magnification enables our hygienists to more accurately detect calculus (tartar) deposits, possible carious lesions (decay) and more precisely measure the periodontal pocket readings for our diagnosis and monitoring of your gums. When you hear us calling out a string of numbers, we are in fact gathering some very precise and useful data for Dr. Colón! (More to come on that topic!)

Never a pain in the neck, loupes always have our backs…literally! Loupes help prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSI) in our hygienists’ hands, meaning we don’t have to bend over the patient or lean our heads down to see an area in closer detail.  Each pair of glasses is custom-built to accommodate the working distance of each individual hygienist.

At PANF, we are proud to provide our patients with the best care in a clean, safe and inviting environment. Visual examination is one of the most basic and important tools dental professionals use to evaluate oral health. Loupes ensure that we maximize what we can see and provide you with the best results possible. The next time you are in our office for your periodontal maintenance, ask us about our loupes!

Written by Jeanne Iglehart, RDH, Hygiene Therapistorascoptic zoom

Surprising Cavity Killers

Most patients are aware that brushing and flossing is the central defender of cavities. However, there are other ways to keep your pearly whites healthy!  These foods, drinks and tips may help prevent cavities and tooth decay:

wineandcheese-200x3001)   Cheese – Being cheesy isn’t always a bad thing. Casein, a protein included in cheese, increases calcium levels in the mouth. Because teeth already partially consist of calcium, salvia calcium helps mineralize teeth, which prevents cavities. 

2)   Sugar Free Gum – Doctors have recommended chewing sugar free gum to avoid cavities for years. The reason – sugar free gum consists of a sugar substitute called “xylitol.” This isn’t the same teeth-rotting sugar substitute included in diet soda. Xylitol prevents cavities because bacteria cannot use it to grow or produce acid. Bacteria use many pathways to spread, but xylitol is not one of them.

3)   Dark Chocolate- Dark chocolate contains cocoa beans with strong antioxidants that can prevent tooth decay. Tannin, the component in dark chocolate that give it its bitter taste, prevents oral bacteria from sticking to one’s teeth. The polyphenols in dark chocolate not only limit bacteria, but also work to prevent bad breath by neutralizing microorganisms. Remember that DARK CHOCOLATE – not milk chocolate or white chocolate – is the cavity killer. 

4)   Using a Straw- Carbonated beverages are never a wise choice regarding oral health. However, there is a way to limit cavity growth while consuming soda: using a straw. Using a straw and not letting the soda hit your teeth reduces the chances of tooth decay and cavities. That said, drinking sodas still increases your chance of getting tooth decay, so keep your favorite carbonated pick-me-ups to a minimum.

What Good Oral Health Means When You Are Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you already know how important it is to take care of your body, especially during this exciting time.  A nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and adequate sleep help protect both your health and the health of your baby.  What you may not already know is how important your oral health is during pregnancy also.

pregnant womanRecent research has suggested that women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of unwanted childbirth complications, such as pre-term labor and low birth weight of the baby.  The good news is that a thorough exam by your periodontist may decrease the chance of these pregnancy and labor problems.

What exactly is periodontal disease? Simply put, it is gum disease, a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums that is caused by the presence of bacteria.

So what can you do about it?  To ensure the best health outcome for you and your baby, be sure to see your dentist or periodontist regularly during your pregnancy  in addition to receiving regular medical care from your obstetrician.  As always, practice good dental hygiene at home with routine brushing and flossing.

By being a life-long advocate for your oral health you might just save yourself and your baby from potentially serious complications.  Wishing you a happy pregnancy and many joyful years to come!

Can My Dental Implants Get Cavities? (And Other Common Questions)

I hear dozens of questions every day about dental implants from curious patients.  I welcome all patient questions and I try to provide helpful answers.

To help you better understand an upcoming dental implant procedure, we’ve compiled a top-five list of the most common questions about dental implants:

Can my dental implants1.  Can dental implants get cavities?

No.  Because the implant-restored crown is made from an artificial material, it cannot grow cavities!  However, you still need to have regular gum care and cleanings around the implant site just like you would for a natural tooth.

2.  Can implants slip or fall out like dentures?

No.  The crown is attached to the permanent titanium post that is set in the jaw.  Crowns will not slip around or fall out like you may have experienced with dentures.

3.  Can I sleep with my dental implants in?

Yes!  They are practically “permanent,” unlike dentures.  You do not need to remove and soak them overnight.

4.  Aren’t dental implants more expensive than bridges and dentures? 

It depends.  If you are talking about just a few teeth, implants may be cheaper over time than bridges because they last longer.  However, if you need a whole row of teeth replaced, dentures may be a less expensive option for you.  Each case is unique, so be sure to call us for a proper consultation.  We are here to help you understand all costs and benefits so you can make the right decision for you!

5.  How long will my dental implants last?

If you take care of your implants properly, dental implants can last for many decades or even a lifetime.  Some implants have been in patients for more than forty years!

Don’t see your question on our list?  Contact us today for quick answers! 

Considering an Upgrade to Dental Implants?

Have you been thinking of upgrading your current tooth replacement strategy but aren’t sure where to start?  This is a great time of growth in modern dentistry, especially when it comes to replacing missing teeth!  With the evolution of dental implants, patients don’t have to suffer some of the pains of the past when older, traditional tooth replacement methods were used.

Considering upgradeTraditionally, missing teeth were always “fixed” with bridges or dentures.  And while both of those procedures are still in use by dentists and do still serve an important purpose, they often cause unintended problems in the mouth that modern dental implants may be able to alleviate, or avoid completely.

What is a dental implant, you may be asking?  At the most basic level, a dental implant is simply a prosthetic tooth that is mounted to a metal post which is screwed into the jaw bone.  The procedure is typically done in two visits.  During the first procedure, a titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone, where it is allowed to “settle in” and bond, a process that takes about six to eight months.  After that, the dentist creates a prosthetic tooth and attaches it to the titanium post for a fully functional (yet fake) tooth!

The benefit of dental implants is that, unlike dentures, they are almost unnoticeable by the patient.  Anyone who has had dentures knows that they tend to slip and wear down and sometimes even cause mild pain or discomfort.  With dental implants, you will not even know they are there.  They function just like a natural tooth in your mouth, no slipping, movement or separate cleaning required.  Similarly, patients who are used to receiving bridges may benefit by an upgrade to an implant as bridges have a tendency to invite bacteria and infection, requiring additional replacements.

Whatever your concerns about dental implants are, we are here to help.  Give Dr. Colon a call today to see if dental implants might be right for you!

Crown Lengthening to the Rescue: When Gums and Teeth Need an Intervention

When the gum to tooth relationship has deteriorated, you may hear us suggest a procedure called “crown lengthening”.  Many patients are a little bit hesitant about having this procedure done because it’s a relatively new idea.  They simply aren’t sure what it is and more to the point: they aren’t sure why they have to have it.  So if you have an upcoming crown lengthening procedure scheduled, read on to find out why we might be doing it and what to expect.

crownedtooth-300x300 2What is Crown Lengthening?

The idea behind crown lengthening is to expose more of the tooth or bone under the tooth by contouring and reshaping your gum tissue.  This restores a good “gum-to-tooth relationship” (so that more tooth is showing).

Why am I having this procedure?

Sometimes crown lengthening is done for aesthetic reasons, for example to reveal more pearly white teeth when a patient is concerned about an overly “gummy” smile.

Other times, crown lengthening is necessary if we need to install a new crown or perform other restorative work in the area but there simply isn’t enough tooth showing for us to work with.

What’s the big deal about crown lengthening?

Crown lengthening is a great improvement when you consider the old way we used to deal with this issue which was to remove what was left of the tooth and use a removable denture instead.  Now you get to keep your naturally rooted tooth and we will install a more or less permanent crown – no dentures to deal with!

What is the procedure like?

Usually it can be done in less than an hour, depending on how many teeth need work.  Also, typically the procedure can be done under local anesthesia so you can be in and out on time!

Still have questions?  Call Dr. Colon today to ease your anxieties about this smile-transforming, modern procedure!

A Clean Tongue 101

Did you know that 50% of the bacteria in your mouth live on the surface of your tongue? Also, a tongue cleaning is the single most important step you can take toward diminishing bad breath.

germs - bacteriaWe all know just how important brushing and flossing is to our oral health, and sometimes tongue scraping takes a seat behind these important steps. However, tongue scraping is just as important! The best way to rid you of bad breath is by scraping the smelly bacteria off. While scraping off tongue bacterium sounds somewhat gross, imagine all the bacteria just sitting on your tongue!

The tip of your tongue is less likely to harbor odor-producing bacteria since it constantly comes into contact with your hard palate when eating and speaking. The friction and contact creates a cleansing action that prevents debris build up. However, the back of your tongue only touches your soft palate, and results in a build up of bacteria. Even if you stick out your tongue while looking in the mirror, you’ll see white, or even a brown colors on the surface of the back of your tongue.

Brushing your tongue is better than not paying any attention to your tongue, but there are other much more effective ways to get your tongue to be squeaky-clean. If you do choose to use your toothbrush, gently move the toothbrush from back to front and along the sides. Try to brush as far back as possible to get all the gunk on the back of your tongue. Be careful, you might find that you have an active gag reflex, but don’t worry there’s a good chance it will diminish over time.

Another option is using a tongue scraper. Many people find that scraping the tongue is much more effective than brushing. You can either purchase a tongue scraper in the toothbrush aisle of your local drugstore, or even use a spoon from home! Just moisten the spoon, turn it upside down and place it at the back of your tongue and drive it forward. You’ll notice that using a tongue scraper/spoon has less of a tendency to gag.

Daily tongue cleaning is a well-established practice in many cultures, however is much less spoken about in the US and Canada. Since cleaning your tongue is relatively easy and quick, we recommend that the tongue be cleaned both morning and evening. According to studies, practicing good tongue cleaning is especially good if you have significant stress, as tongue coating tends to increase during stress. In addition to your tongue cleaning, be sure to brush and floss your teeth daily!

Soft & Healthy Foods After Dental Implant Surgery

Foods After SurgeryOn our website and social media channels, we have thoroughly explained why and how oral surgery is beneficial. Here’s a reason that has gone unmentioned: it will make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks that you aren’t able to eat or drink immediately after your procedure.  Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after your wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, orthagnathic surgery etc. Too much chewing can possibly re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or even infection. But don’t worry – we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations when your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and cold soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which ultimately can delay the healing process. Here are a few recommendations:

Banana Mango Shake- A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body.

Applesauce- You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Tomato Soup- A great snack even when your mouth isn’t sensitive.

Cold Pasta- Ever tried a Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo? Might be the perfect time to expand your taste buds!

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Broccoli Omelet: Who would’ve thought thathealing from oral surgery could be so healthy? Broccoli contains enough calcium to speed up the healing process, and the eggs provide enough protein to make this a fully substantial meal while taking it easy on your teeth/jaw.

Chicken Salad: Finally some real meat! Chicken that is chopped up into small pieces can be eaten with a salad, or even a cold pasta. The chicken provides the protein, while the salad (with soft vegetables) provides the healthy goodness.

Chicken Pesto Pasta: Believe it or not, this dish can prevent oral infection. The basil in pesto contains volatile oils, which can protect the mouth from oral bacteria. The last thing your mouth needs after oral surgery is oral bacteria.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call Colón with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

5 Points for Wearing a Mouth Guard During Sports

It’s easy for people to not realize what they have until it’s gone. Imagine what it would be like if you were missing one of your front teeth? You’d probably be a bit embarrassed smiling and talking, and not to mention eating would feel pretty abnormal as well. The good news is that taking preventative measures to protect your smile can diminish the chances of you having a toothless smile.

Wearing a mouth guard when playing sports decreases the risk of injuries to the mouth or jaw. Some sports players don’t like to wear mouth guards because of the inconvenience of their appearance while wearing one, but more injuries can happen when not wearing a mouth guard that can affect your appearance in a much more inconvenient way. Here are five reasons why you should always protect your pearly whites when participating in any contact sports or collision sports where unexpected contact can happen:

1. Protection Against Tooth Fractures

Mouth guards protect your teeth from chipping and breaking. Even though tooth fractures can usually be saved, why go through the risk when wearing a mouth guard can save you all the trouble.

2. Protection Against Tooth Replacement

Wearing a mouth guard is cushion for your teeth, so if a ball hits your face your teeth don’t receive a crushing force. However, if a ball hits your mouth without a mouth guard, it can result in completely breaking or ruining your tooth, leaving you with a toothless smile and an emergency call to [REPOST-DR-NAME]’s office. Having a gap in your smile due to an accident that could have been prevented isn’t worth it.

3. Protection Against Soft Tissue Injuries

Some contact sports involve quick impacts that could leave you biting through your tongue or lips! A mouth guard can prevent soft tissue injuries by creating a soft resistance from teeth contacting your lips and tongue.

4. Protection Against Concussions

According to the American Dental Association, mouth guards could help reduce the severity and incidence concussions. A properly fitted mouth guard decreases the likelihood of sustaining concussive injury because the padding between the mandible and the maxilla can lessen the force of the mandible pushing up on the skull near the brain, which causes a concussion.

 

5. Protection Against Jaw Fractures

Wearing a protective mouth guard protects you from jaw fractures. Impact to the neck or jaw could result in serious injury, but with the protection of a mouth guard during an impact, it reduces the likelihood of jaw dislodgement or neck trauma.

 

The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year! Using a mouth guard won’t only help prevent you from dental and jaw injuries but can also prevent damage to braces or other orthodontic work. If you’re ready to take the step to save your smile when playing sports, contact [REPOST-DR-NAME] for more information about mouth guard protection.

 

The Warning Signs of Periodontal Gum Disease

GingivitissHave your gums ever bled when brushing them? Bleeding gums is one of the first tell tale signs of periodontal disease when brushing or flossing. Many people experience bleeding gums when practicing oral hygiene but simply assume it is from brushing too hard or not flossing enough. However, bleeding of the gums is not normal and should be considered a red warning sign of gum disease. In order to actually bleed just from brushing your teeth and damage healthy tissue, you’d have to be brushing extremely hard. If your gums regularly bleed when brushing your teeth, we recommend calling Colón for an oral cancer exam. Curious about what other warning signs might be? We’ve listed them for you below:

The Warning Signs:

Bleeding gums during/after tooth brushing or flossing

Red, swollen, or tender gums: changes in the appearance of gum tissue or sensitivity to gums is another common symptom. Some cases may also lead to receding gums when the tissues are very thin.

Persistent bad breathe: besides bleeding gums, bad breath is one of the most common signs. Bad flossing habits can lead to plaque collecting in the area between teeth making them especially prone to gum inflammation. Another symptom similar to this is a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away.

Loose or shifting teeth: for some that have Periodontal Disease and are unaware, they may experience movement or migration of their teeth. The rate of movement will depend on the particular type of gum disease you may have. This can make major changes to the way your teeth fit together and your smile overall.

Gum disease can progress painlessly, producing few of these obvious signs, even in the later stages of the disease. While many of the symptoms of gum disease are typically subtle, Colón recommends an oral cancer screening during regular check ups with your Dentist or Periodontist. This serious dental disease, which pertains to the mouth, lips and throat, is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options include:

-Removal of plaque and calculus through scaling

-Medication

-Surgery in order to stop or minimize the progression

If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, contact Colón to schedule a consultation and learn more about the disea