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Is periodontal disease contagious?

February 29th, 2024

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and over suffer from some form of gum disease. Caused by plaque buildup, gum disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. In its advanced stages, it is known as periodontal disease. If left untreated, it can result in the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth, causing teeth loss. It’s a preventable condition seen far too often by Dr. Chad Vanourny.

Research between periodontal disease and other diseases is ongoing. Some studies have indicated that gum disease is linked to other health conditions such as stroke or diabetes. Furthermore, while most factors that lead to periodontal disease are dependent on the individual (genetics, diet, poor oral hygiene) there is a possibility that periodontitis is capable of spreading from one person to another.

What the Research Says

Periodontitis is a gum infection, and the bacteria that cause the gums to become infected travels in saliva. Researches have used DNA coding techniques to track the path of infection from one person to another. In other words, kissing and close contact play a role in the transmission of the infection, so if you’re married to a spouse with periodontal disease, then your chances of having gum problems are slightly increased. Other studies have indicated that saliva contact is common in family settings through coughing, sneezing, and shared utensils and food. Children with parents who have periodontal disease are at a somewhat higher risk of developing it. At the same time, just because you exchange bacteria with your loved ones doesn’t mean you will get periodontal disease.

It is important to note that the scientific evidence supporting the spread of periodontal disease is limited and ongoing. The best way to prevent gum disease is through proper plaque control, which includes brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and twice a year trips for professional cleanings. Contact our Charlotte office if you have any questions about periodontal disease.

Seal of Approval

February 22nd, 2024

Outside activities? You slather your kids with sunscreen. Biking? You don’t let your child leave the house without a helmet. Youth sports? You provide mouthguards and padding and headgear and all the other tools designed to keep your child safe. Protecting your child is a fundamental part of parenthood, and you take your job seriously.

Protecting your child’s dental health is fundamental, too! Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, and children’s premolars and molars are far more vulnerable to decay than any of their other teeth. You can help protect your child’s molars and premolars with a simple and effective treatment—dental sealants.

  • How Do Sealants Work?

The bacteria in plaque use food particles to create acids. These acids erode the minerals in tooth enamel, creating weak spots that become cavities over time. Molars and premolars are especially vulnerable to cavities because of their uneven chewing surfaces. The dips and grooves on top of the teeth—technically known as “pits and fissures”—collect food particles and bacteria, and can be difficult for children to clean completely when brushing. That’s why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars.

Dental sealants protect your child’s molars and premolars by creating a barrier that covers and smooths out the chewing surface of the tooth, preventing bacteria and food particles from getting stuck inside those uneven pits and fissures.

  • What Kind of Sealants Are Available?

The two most common dental sealants are composite resin coatings and glass ionomer sealants.

With resin sealants, after each tooth is cleaned and dried, an etching solution will be brushed onto the top surface of the molar. This etching slightly roughens the surface so that the sealant will stick to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a special curing light.

Glass ionomer sealants use a flexible paste that bonds to the tooth and hardens within minutes. While they generally don’t last as long as resin sealants, they are designed to absorb and release fluoride for extra cavity-fighting protection.

  • Do Sealants Work?

They certainly do! According to the Centers for Disease Control, sealants can prevent 80% of the cavities in molars and premolars, which is where 90% of children’s cavities appear. Dental sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer. Dr. Chad Vanourny will check the condition of any sealants at each dental exam, and let you know if it’s time for a reapplication.

  • When’s the Best Time to Get Sealants?

Tooth enamel gets harder as we get older, so children’s newly erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. First adult molars usually arrive when a child is six to seven years old, and second adult molars come in around the age of 12. The first and second premolars can erupt between the ages of ten to 12. As soon as the first permanent molars begin to erupt, it’s a good time to talk to Dr. Chad Vanourny about the best time to apply sealants.

And what about baby teeth? Even though baby teeth are meant to be replaced, they shouldn’t be lost to tooth decay before they are ready to fall out. Primary teeth help young children learn to speak and eat properly and hold the place for adult teeth so these permanent teeth come in where they should. Baby teeth have thinner enamel, and so cavities can progress more quickly. Dr. Chad Vanourny can let you know if sealant protection for your child’s baby molars is indicated.

Applying sealants at our Charlotte office is a safe, simple, cost-effective, and painless process. Dental sealants are one more tool you can use to make protecting your child’s dental health a little easier and a lot more effective. That gets a well-deserved parents’ seal of approval!

Building Blocks for a Healthy Grown-Up Smile

February 15th, 2024

Even before a baby is born, those tiny baby teeth are already forming. Expectant mothers can help ensure that their children’s baby teeth will be strong and healthy by getting the recommended amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in their prenatal diets.

But a mother can’t “eat for two” to make sure her child’s adult teeth are healthy—children’s permanent teeth begin real growth and development only after birth. What can we do to encourage strong permanent teeth as our children grow and develop? Here are four important building blocks parents can use to lay a healthy foundation for their children’s grown-up smiles.

Serve a Tooth-Healthy Diet

The same vitamins and minerals that help create baby teeth are essential for creating healthy adult teeth. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is almost completely made up of calcium phosphate minerals.  A diet which provides the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorus helps your child’s body grow strong enamel. And don’t forget vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

A tooth-healthy diet should include several servings of foods which provide calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, cereals and tofu. Phosphorus can be found in proteins like meat, fish, and poultry, as well as beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains. Egg yolks and fatty fish are natural sources of vitamin D, and it’s easily available in fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals, and orange juice.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Fluoride is called “Nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and helps strengthen tooth enamel. Dr. Chad Vanourny can offer invaluable advice on when to start and how to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s baby teeth and developing adult teeth.

Can there be too much of this good thing? While fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect teeth in normal, recommended amounts, too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This condition can cause cosmetic changes in the enamel of permanent teeth, from almost invisible lighter spots to darker spots and streaking.

How to make sure your child gets the right amount of fluoride?

For children under the age of three, use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Ask Dr. Chad Vanourny if fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Young children can’t always understand the idea of spitting and rinsing after brushing, so children between the ages of three and six should use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, and need you there to make sure they spit and rinse afterward.

Ask us about local water fluoride levels if you have any concerns about using tap water for drinking or for mixing formula, keep fluoride toothpastes and other products out of the reach of children, monitor your children while they brush, and always check with us before giving your child a fluoride rinse or supplement.

Help Your Child Retire Harmful Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits

Your child might self-comfort with the help of a pacifier or thumb sucking, which can be a valuable soothing habit. But it’s important to talk to Dr. Chad Vanourny to see just how long this soothing habit should last. Around the age of four, aggressive thumb or pacifier sucking can lead to problems for permanent teeth.

Vigorous sucking can cause protruding upper front teeth. Aggressive sucking can lead to changes in the shape of your child’s palate and jaw. Open bite malocclusions, where the upper and lower teeth are unable to meet, and overbites, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than they should, can also be the result of lengthy and forceful thumb sucking.

Take Care of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are important! They bite and chew food, and they work with the tongue to help your child learn to pronounce words properly. And there’s one more important reason to make sure primary teeth stay healthy: they serve as the place holders which guide permanent teeth into their proper spots.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, due to decay or injury, the teeth on either side can drift into the empty space, preventing a permanent tooth from erupting where it needs to. Any misalignment or crowding which results may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

Call our Charlotte office if your child unexpectedly loses a baby tooth. There may be no cause for concern, or, if there’s a potential problem, an appliance called a “space maintainer,” which keeps the baby teeth from shifting out of place, can be fabricated especially for your child.

Your child’s adult teeth are being formed now. Work with us to make sure the building blocks of present and future dental health are in place. You’re giving your child the foundation for a lifetime of beautiful, grown-up smiles!

Are you a tooth grinder?

February 7th, 2024

Perhaps you had a particularly irritating commute home from work, and you realize at the end that your jaw was clenched tight the entire time. Or maybe you grind your teeth when you are nervous or anxious about an upcoming business meeting. Most people grind their teeth from time to time, but it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of chronic tooth grinding. Known as bruxism, this condition can lead to oral health problems and dental issues later.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism

  • Your partner might complain about the fact that you grind your teeth while you sleep. People who grind their teeth on a regular basis often do so during the night, and aren’t necessarily aware it is happening. However, your partner will more than likely notice if you develop this condition. If he or she mentions that it happens often, you might want to contact our team at Catawba Valley Dental Care.
  • You may experience a persistent and unexplained headache if you grind your teeth too often. You may not realize why you have this headache, because you are not aware of the fact that you have been grinding your teeth. Take note of any headaches you have, and if you cannot attribute them to another source, please give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Chad Vanourny.
  • Your jaw will more than likely become sore if you suffer from bruxism. If you wake up in the morning and have any discomfort in your jaw, you might have spent the night grinding your teeth. Our team can give you tips and advice for managing bruxism.

While many people associate their teeth grinding with stress, it actually is caused more often by crooked teeth, an overbite, or an under bite. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to a variety of complications, including dental injuries, hearing loss, and the onset of TMD. If you think that you might be a chronic tooth grinder, it might be time to set up an appointment at our Charlotte office in order to find out which treatment options are available to you.

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