My Blog

Posts for: January, 2019

CertainFactorsMayRaiseYourRiskandtheIntensityofGumDisease

Periodontal (gum) disease is mainly caused by bacterial plaque built up on tooth surfaces due to ineffective oral hygiene. For most cases, treatment that includes plaque and calculus (tartar or calcified plaque) removal and renewed daily hygiene is highly effective in stopping the disease and restoring health to affected gum tissues.

However, you might have additional health factors that may make it more difficult to bring the disease under control. If your case is extreme, even the most in-depth treatment may only buy time before some or all of your teeth are eventually lost.

Genetics. Because of your genetic makeup, you could have a low resistance to gum disease and are more susceptible to it than other people. Additionally, if you have thin gum tissues, also an inherited trait, you could be more prone to receding gums as a result of gum disease.

Certain bacteria. Our mouths are home to millions of bacteria derived from hundreds of strains, of which only a few are responsible for gum disease. It’s possible your body’s immune system may find it difficult to control a particular disease-causing strain, regardless of your diligence in oral care.

Stress. Chronic stress, brought on by difficult life situations or experiences, can have a harmful effect on your body’s immune system and cause you to be more susceptible to gum disease. Studies have shown that as stress levels increase the breakdown of gum tissues (along with their detachment from teeth) may also increase.

Disease advancement. Gum disease can be an aggressive infection that can gain a foothold well before diagnosis. It’s possible, then, that by the time we begin intervention the disease has already caused a great deal of damage. While we may be able to repair much of it, it’s possible some teeth may not be salvageable.

While you can’t change genetic makeup or bacterial sensitivity, you can slow the disease progression and extend the life of your teeth with consistent daily hygiene, regular cleanings and checkups, and watching for bleeding, swollen gums and other signs of disease. Although these additional risk factors may make it difficult to save your teeth in the long-run, you may be able to gain enough time to prepare emotionally and financially for dental implants or a similar restoration.

If you would like more information on the treatment of gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal (Gum) Treatment & Expectations.”


By JC Duncan DDS, PA
January 17, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: x-rays  
BitewingX-RaysanImportantToolinEarlyToothDecayDetection

It's difficult to measure how x-ray imaging has transformed dentistry since its use became prominent a half century ago. As equipment and methods standardized, the technology revolutionized the way we diagnose tooth decay and other mouth-related issues.

One of the more useful of these methods is called the bitewing x-ray. The term comes from the shape of the device a patient holds between their teeth with the film attached on the side toward their tongue. We direct the x-ray beam to the outside of the patient's cheek, where it passes through the teeth to expose on the film. Its particular design provides clearer images since the patient's bite helps keep the film still and distortion-free, making it easier to view signs of early tooth decay.

Bitewing x-rays usually consist of four films, two on either side of the mouth, necessary to capture all of the teeth (children with smaller jaws, however, often only require one film per side). How frequently they're conducted depends on a number of factors, including the patient's age: children or young adolescents are usually filmed more frequently than adults, usually every six to twelve months. Frequency also depends on a patient's particular decay risk — the higher the risk the more frequent the x-ray.

Regardless of how often they're performed, a similar application principle applies with bitewing x-rays as with any other radiological method: As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA). With the ALARA principle in other words, we're looking for that sweet spot where we're able to detect the earliest stages of dental disease with the least amount of radiation exposure.

Bitewings fit this principle well: a patient receives only a fraction of the radiation exposure from a four-film bitewing as they do from a daily dose of environmental radiation. Factor in new digital technology that reduces exposure rates and bitewings pose virtually no health risk to patients, especially if conducted in a prudent manner.

The benefits are well worth it. Thanks to bitewing x-rays we may be able to diagnose decay early and stop it before it causes you or your family member extensive tooth damage.

If you would like more information on the importance of x-rays in dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By JC DUNCAN DDS, PA
January 11, 2019
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: teeth whitening  

Find out how to keep your teeth looking and feeling their best after teeth whitening.

You just turned to our Huntersville, NC, cosmetic dentist Dr. JC Duncan for professional whitening treatment and you are in love with your whiter smile. So, how do you keep your results looking their best for as long as possible? While you can turn to professional in-office whitening for a refresher, we know that the goal is to maintain your results so that you don’t have to keep coming in for whitening treatment. Here’s what you can do,

 

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

This involves brushing a minimum of twice a day and flossing daily. After all, the only way to keep teeth looking their best is to provide them with as thorough an at-home cleaning as possible. To keep your smile looking its best you may choose to brush with whitening toothpaste.

Just don’t forget to brush your tongue too, as bacteria can build up on the tongue and spread to your teeth and cause stains. When you brush you should be spending a minimum of two minutes each time brushing your teeth. Floss once a day, preferably before bedtime.

 

Avoid Stain-Causing Foods and Drinks

One of the best ways to keep your teeth looking their whitest is to avoid the foods and drinks that caused the stains in the first place. While we know that some foods and drinks may be difficult to avoid altogether, it’s at least important to limit exposure to your smile if you want to keep your teeth white. Some of these offending foods and drinks include,

  • Coffee and tea
  • Wine
  • Berries
  • Sodas and energy drinks
  • Citrus foods
  • Processed foods
  • Dark-colored condiments (e.g. tomato sauce)

If you have to enjoy that morning cup of coffee it’s recommended that you drink chilled and through a straw, as this can limit how much contact your teeth have with the dark liquid.

 

Come in for Professional Cleanings

Even with the best at-home dental care in place, you will still need to visit your Huntersville dentist every six months for professional cleanings and to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. During these cleanings we can remove minor surface stains that have built up over the last six months, allowing you to keep those whitening results for longer.

 

Use At-Home Whitening Products

You may also choose to use some whitening products from the comfort of your own home. Talk to your dentist about professional at-home whitening for keeping your results fresh or turn to over-the-counter methods as a way to prevent stains from forming.

 

If you are interested in getting professional teeth whitening in Huntersville, NC, then call our dental office today to find out if you are an ideal candidate for this cosmetic treatment. Get started on a brighter smile by calling (704) 948-1300!


By JC Duncan DDS, PA
January 07, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental emergency  
KnowWhattoDo-andWhen-inCaseofaDentalInjury

“Don’t panic” is your first priority when faced with a sudden mouth injury. Of course, that may be easier said than done when you or a family member has just experienced a chipped, fractured or even dislodged tooth.

It helps, therefore, to have some idea beforehand on what to do and, especially, when to do it. You should think in terms of immediate, urgent and less urgent injuries: a tooth completely knocked out of its socket requires immediate action — within 5 minutes of the injury; a tooth that’s moved out of its normal position but still in the socket is an urgent matter that needs professional attention within 6 hours; and a chipped tooth is less urgent, but still needs to be seen by a dentist within 12 hours.

As you may have gathered, the most important thing you can do when a dental injury occurs is to contact our office as soon as possible. If for some reason you can’t, you should visit the nearest emergency center.

There are also some actions you should take for a knocked-out permanent tooth because there’s a chance it can be replanted in the socket if you act within 5 minutes of the injury. First, rinse the tooth with cold, clean water (bottled or tap) if it’s dirty. Be sure to handle it gently, avoiding touching the root. Grasping the crown-end with your thumb and index finger, place the tooth into the empty socket and push it firmly into place. Apply light but firm pressure with your hand or a wad of wet tissue to make sure it doesn’t come out. Don’t worry about correct alignment — we can adjust that later during examination.

If the tooth is chipped or broken, try to locate the broken pieces — it may be possible to re-bond them to the tooth. You should store them in a container with milk or the injured person’s saliva (the same can be done for a knocked out tooth if reinserting it isn’t practical). The broken pieces should then be transported with the injured person to emergency treatment.

Taking these actions may not ultimately save a traumatized tooth, but they will certainly raise its chances for survival.

If you would like more information on preventing and treating dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”