Category Archives: Gum Health

Senior Oral Health Care

Senior Oral Health Care

Proper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement. Brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.

  • What problems should I watch for?
  • Why should I be concerned about gum disease?
  • What if it is too difficult to brush?
  • What are the signs of oral cancer?


What problems should I watch for?

Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush. If you have any of these symptoms, see Dr. Griffin at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.

Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal)disease. In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth. In the worst cases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone. This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis. If regular oral care is too difficult, Dr. Griffin can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.

What if it is too difficult to brush?

If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss. Ask us for ways to overcome this problem. Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers. Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle. These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age. See Dr. Griffin immediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue. Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily. Dr. Griffin will perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease.

If you have any questions about senior dental care or any other dental issues, please feel free to give us a call here in Carrollton, TX at 972-242-2155.  Or, simply use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form on this page.

(Information gathered from the Academy of General Dentistry)

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth

It’s summer in Texas!  It’s natural for all of us in Carrollton and surrounding areas to start heading for the nearest ice cream store, or get a giant cold drink in an effort to cool down.  But, is the taste of ice cream (or a sip of hot coffee) sometimes a painful experience for you? Does brushing or flossing make you wince occasionally? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.

Possible causes include:

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. 
Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask Dr. Griffin if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.  We can help!

(Click HERE to see a video from Colgate regarding tooth sensitivity).

Chewing Sugarfree Gum Helps Keep Mouths Healthy

Chewing sugar-free Gum Helps Keep Mouths Healthy

We all know sugar-free gum tastes great and freshens our breath, but did you also know that it is good for your teeth? Chewing sugar-free gum after meals has proven benefits for oral health.

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals helps:

  • Stimulate saliva flow
  • Neutralize plaque acids
  • Maintain proper pH
  • Promote tooth remineralization
  • Clear food debris

Chewing sugar-free gum, especially after eating and drinking during the day, is a simple step to improving your oral healthcare.

And, remember, while chewing sugar-free gum is beneficial, it does not replace brushing and flossing. It is important to remember to maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once per day.

Wrigley’s has been researching the oral care benefits of chewing sugar-free gum since the 1930s. Their dedicated science and technology team continues to conduct research into the oral-care benefits of chewing. They also partner with national dental associations and dental professionals worldwide to support this research, promote oral health education and support better access to oral care.

Wrigley’s Orbit® and Extra® sugar-free chewing gums were the first chewing gums to be awarded the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

To further maintain your oral health and the overall beauty of your smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Paul Griffin. Please call (972) 242-2155 or you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of the page. 

 

Fourth of July Dental Tips

Happy 4th of July!!July 4 Dental Tips

Independence Day is coming up and we know that many of you will be celebrating this 4th of July holiday by enjoying cookouts, fireworks, and fun. While you’re celebrating it’s easy to engage in some not-so-tooth-friendly activities, especially with all the sugar-laden foods and drinks that are eaten on this summer holiday. We here, at Paul A. Griffin, DDS, want you to enjoy this July 4th, and make sure you keep your mouth healthy, so here are some dental tips to keep your teeth safe while celebrating.

Eat Healthy

We know July 4th is a time for barbecues and brews, but try to fit in some fruits and vegetables, too. A balanced diet will not only help your waistline, it will help your teeth as well. When you eat sugary foods (which by the way, BBQ sauce is loaded with sugar), the decay-causing bacteria inside your mouth multiply. They feed on sugar to form plaque on your teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause cavities. If you do eat a lot of sugary stuff, remember to brush your teeth afterward. At the very least, rinse with water immediately to remove as much food particles and sugar as possible.

Water, Water, Water

Texas is HOT, especially in July! And, those hot July days can really make you sweat, so don’t forget to hydrate. Replenish those lost fluids with water instead of sodas, sports drinks and beer. The sugar and acids in those beverages can really do a number on your teeth, yes even beer has sugar in it! Water helps neutralize those acids and keep saliva levels high. Saliva contains proteins and minerals that act against the acids that harm your enamel. So, instead of sipping on sugary drinks all day, grab that water bottle and drink up!

Chew Sugarless Gum

With all that yummy food at 4th of July celebrations, daylong snacking is going to happen. Snacking can be bad for your teeth because you’re not brushing between snacks, because, who honestly brings their toothbrush along for the party? To keep your teeth clean without a toothbrush, try chewing sugar-free gum. It will help remove food particles and stimulate saliva production. Sugar-free gum with xylitol is the best choice, because studies have shown xylitol interferes with the production of bacteria in your mouth.

Do Not Use Your Teeth as Tools

Remember teeth are jewels not tools! So, don’t be using your teeth to open that soda or beer bottle, for goodness sake! You could break a tooth, which can be a very painful problem for you and your wallet.

 

Dr. Griffin and his team, would like to wish all of our patients, friends, and family, a fun, safe, and Happy Fourth of July! And, we look forward to seeing you at your next visit.

The office will be closed on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 but if you need us, please don’t hesitate to call us at 972-242-2155. We will return your call when we get back in the office on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. And as always, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

Getting Rid of Bad Breath

Getting Rid of Bad Breath

Bad breath — we’ve all had it at some point, like after eating a garlic laden pizza, or after drinking that grande caramel macchiato, and most of the time it’s temporary. On the other hand, chronic bad breath can mean poor oral hygiene or more serious dental and medical issues. In this video, American Dental Association spokesperson, Dr. Ada Cooper, provides tips to avoid bad breath.

 

 

If you feel like your breath isn’t as fresh as it should be, give us a call at 972-242-2155, and we’ll get you in for an appointment. You can also use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

Oral Malignant Melanoma & Melanoma Awareness Month

MelanomaOral Malignant Melanoma & Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and you are probably wondering why we are talking about Melanoma Awareness Month on our dental blog? Well, melanoma, which is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer, can also occur in the mouth.

What Is Melanoma?

Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins when melanocytes, which are the cells that produce darker pigments in the skin, mutate and become cancerous. There are several factors that may increase the risk of getting melanoma, including having fair skin and light eyes, numerous moles, a family history of melanoma, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and/or tanning beds. Exposure to UV light is thought to be the cause of most melanomas on the skin.

Even though melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths. An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. An estimated 9,730 people will die of malignant melanoma in 2017.

Oral Malignant Melanoma

While malignant melanoma mainly occurs on the skin, it can develop in the oral cavity. Oral malignant melanomas are extremely rare, accounting for only 0.2-8% of all melanoma cancers found on the body, and less than 1% of all cancers found in the mouth. The most common locations oral melanoma are found are the palate (roof of the mouth) and maxillary gingiva (gum tissue on the upper part of the mouth).

Unlike most cases of melanoma of the skin, oral melanoma is not considered to be caused by UV exposure. Additionally, there are no obvious identified risk factors, such as poor oral hygiene, alcohol consumption, smoking, or even family history.

Although oral malignant melanomas are rare, they tend to be more aggressive than melanoma found on the skin and often prove to be fatal.

Signs of Oral Malignant Melanoma

Oral malignant melanomas do not usually have symptoms in the early stages. They may appear as a dark spot or patch on the gum tissue. The color of the spots can vary from dark brown to blue-black, however white, red and lesions the color of the oral tissue have been seen. The lesions may be flat or elevated.

Pain, bleeding, and ulceration are rarely seen until late in the disease, which by that point prognosis and survival rate is very poor.

Diagnosis of oral melanoma is often difficult due to the absence of symptoms in the early stages and they can be confused with a number of asymptomatic, benign, pigmented lesions.

This is why getting yearly oral cancer screenings with Dr. Griffin, is so important. Any suspicious, pigmented lesion of the oral cavity for which no direct cause can be found requires further examination and possibly biopsy. Even though oral malignant melanoma is very rare you can never be too careful.

 

If you have spot you would like Dr. Griffin to look at, please call our office at 972-242-2155. Early and detailed examinations for oral malignant melanoma are critical for improving the survival rate.

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

AllergiesSpring has sprung! And, that means the temperatures are getting warmer and the April showers are bringing May flowers. All is good! Except that is, for seasonal allergies that come along with all those May flowers this time of year. From itchy eyes, to alternating runny/stuffy noses, and uncontrollable sneezing, many allergy sufferers across Texas know the pains of this seasonal dilemma. But, did you know seasonal allergies can also affect oral health? We, here at Paul Griffin, DDS, want to make sure you know how your teeth and mouth can be affected by seasonal allergies.

Tooth Pain

Have you ever experienced a toothache, in your upper teeth, from out of nowhere and thought it was a little peculiar? Turns out, it may not be a toothache at all, but instead symptoms of your seasonal allergies that are acting up. Your body’s immune reaction to the allergens in your system causes mucus to build up in the sinus cavities, which in turn, causes congestion, pressure and pain. When the maxillary sinuses, which are located just above the roots of the upper molars, are affected it can cause the molars, and sometimes premolars, to be sensitive to cold, biting or chewing, and sometimes even cause a throbbing sensation.

Dry Mouth

As if the pain and discomfort from your clogged sinuses and aching teeth weren’t enough, many allergy sufferers tend to suffer from dry mouth, as well. Allergies themselves, along with allergy medications, decongestants, and oral inhalers you use can make your mouth become extremely dry. This can really affect your oral health because saliva, which is full of antibacterial enzymes, is known to help prevent decay, and keep your breath and mouth from smelling and feeling like an old shoe. When your mouth becomes dry, you put yourself at risk for bad breath, tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis, and periodontitis.

If you suffer from dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your oral tissues moist, and alleviate dryness. Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol is recommended to encourage saliva production and xylitol is proven to help reduce cavities. There are also oral rinses and other solutions that may alleviate symptoms.

Mouth Breathing

A stuffy nose due to allergy congestion can result in breathing through the mouth causing dry mouth. Air against oral tissue dries up saliva, this lack of saliva causes to the gingival, or gum, tissue to become dry which can lead to swelling, gum sensitivity, and tooth decay. Research indicates that mouth breathing can actually change the shape of your face and alter your appearance. This is especially true for children because they are still growing. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue rests on floor of the mouth, causing cheek muscles to relax onto the upper teeth. This long-term pressure can lead to crooked teeth, dental overbites, as well as palate malformations.

So how do you know if that toothache is an actual infection or if it’s just your allergies playing tricks on you? Give us a call, at 972-242-2155, or, use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page, and we can schedule you an appointment. Dr. Griffin and his team can help get you fixed up no matter if it’s allergies or a more serious issue.

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness MonthOral Cancer and Baseball

It’s April!! And, anyone who is a sports fan knows what that means, Major League Baseball is back!! But, did you know April is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month?  And, since baseball and tobacco have such a synonymous relationship, raising awareness of oral cancer during April makes sense.

Baseball and Tobacco

The longtime relationship between baseball and tobacco started in the 19th century, when both tobacco and baseball became wildly popular. Players chewed tobacco because they found it kept their mouths moist on the dry dusty fields and the tobacco spit helped soften the leather of their gloves. And, players have been tucking tobacco between their gums and cheeks ever since. It’s a ritual that has long permeated the game, and a dangerous one at that.

This dangerous ritual has definitely had some devastating effects on some of baseball’s greatest players. The Sultan of Swat, the Great Bambino, and one the greatest baseball players in history, Babe Ruth, died at age 53 of throat cancer, after decades of dipping and chewing. Bill Tuttle, American League outfielder, died after a 5 year battle with oral cancer. Before his death, Tuttle waged a campaign against the use of chewing tobacco after the cancer left him disfigured. Brett Butler, former Major League center fielder, became a passionate advocate against tobacco after he was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 1996. Former Major League pitching great, Curt Schilling attributed his oral cancer to three decades of chewing tobacco. And, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54, after a lengthy fight with salivary gland cancer. Gwynn attributed his cancer to longtime smokeless tobacco use.

Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens and there is a definitive link between the use of tobacco products and the development of oral cancer. According to Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 49,750 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017. This includes those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, in the very back of the mouth known as the oropharynx, and on the exterior lip of the mouth.

One of the most troubling aspects of the disease is the survival rate. The survival rate of oral cancers are much lower than that of more well-known cancers, like breast or cervical cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A major reason for those discouraging odds is that oral cancer generally isn’t found until it has reached a later stage of development. As a result, it’s harder to treat successfully. Therefore, early diagnosis of oral cancer is very important — and why it’s vital to become aware of possible warning signs of the disease.

Warning signs of oral cancers include:

  • A sore that won’t heal
  • White, red, or off-color patches
  • An unexplained lump
  • Prolonged sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
  • A feeling of something in the throat
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth

Fortunately, dentists are trained to recognize the early signs of oral cancer, and Dr. Griffin can often identify possible signs of the disease in its initial stages. We perform oral cancer screenings at routine dental exams, but you can also come in for an examination any time you have a concern. The good news is that recent advances in diagnosing oral cancer offer the hope that more people will get appropriate, timely treatment for this potentially deadly disease.

If you have questions about oral cancer, please contact us by calling (972) 242-2155 for a consultation. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

World Oral Health Day

March 20th is World Oral Health Day

World Oral Health DayWorld Oral Health Day is celebrated globally every year on March 20 to promote the importance of good oral health throughout life. Organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, World Oral Health Day was launched in 2013 to raise awareness of maintaining good oral health and its significance in safeguarding general health and well-being. This is done through an international awareness campaign created and launched by the FDI, adapted and promoted locally by national dental associations in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Global sponsors and supporters of World Oral Health Day include, Henry Schein, Philips, Unilever and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program. Which offer the global dental profession a chance to take action in a worldwide effort to reduce tooth decay and organize programming and events under a single unifying message.

This year’s theme is “Live Mouth Smart”, which empowers people to take control of their oral health – throughout life – so they can enjoy a healthy, functional mouth from childhood into old age.

There are many ways you can Live Mouth Smart and make sure you have set yourself up for a healthy future.

Adopt good oral hygiene habits from early in life and have regular dental check-ups. This helps you maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensures you live not only a longer life, but also one free from the physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease.

Safeguard your oral health, which has a positive impact on your general health and well-being, helping you live a better quality of life into old age.

Avoid risk factors such as tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets – especially those rich in sugar – which helps protect your oral health and prevent other conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Understand good oral health is much more than a nice smile and oral disease can impact every aspect of your life – including your ability to perform basic functions.

Get involved with World Oral Health Day activities on 20 March, and demonstrate your commitment to protect your own and your family’s oral health.

For more information visit worldoralhealthday.com.

 

How Does Dental Insurance Work?

How Does Dental Insurance Work?Insurance

How does dental insurance work? It doesn’t. Just kidding. Dental insurance does work, it just doesn’t work the same way as health insurance, which most people assume it does. When most people think about health insurance, they think first about covering costs of treatment for serious medical conditions or accidents. But, dental insurance is a completely different animal.

“Dental insurance” is not really insurance, it’s more like a benefit. Most dental plans are chosen and by employers to save you some money on your dental care, but it does not relate at all to your personal dental needs or “catastrophic” dental needs.

That being said let’s look at a little history of dental insurance.

Dental insurance was first introduced in 1954 and gained popularity in the 60’s. By the 70’s, many employers offered dental insurance plans. These plans typically covered 100% of preventive care, 80% of minor dental work, or basic dental work, such as fillings and simple extractions, and 50% of major work such as crowns and bridges.

The annual maximum annual coverage of dental plans in the 70’s was $1000. Back then, $1,000 bought a lot of dental care. Today, the average cap on dental plans is…wait for it… $1,000. Um what? Yep, you read that right — most plans still offer $1,000, some plans offer $1500, and the rare plan offers more, but the average is still $1000. So in over 40 years, dental maximums have not gone up. Based on the Consumer Price Index, $1000 in 1970 would now be around $6258. Yes, you read that right. What you could have bought in 1970 for $1000 would cost you over $6000 today.

Let’s take a look at how most dental insurance plans work these days.

First, you have a deductible, which is typically $25 or $50. This is applied and paid by you when you have your first appointment for dental treatment like a filling or crown. Most plans do not apply this deductible toward your exams and cleanings, therefore no money is due from you during these types of appointments, unless your plan does not cover certain procedures such as fluoride for adults.

Then, you have your reimbursement levels, or the percentages of what your dental plan will cover. Most plans are typically grouped into three categories:

  • Type 1 (Preventative/Diagnostic) 100% coverage – exams, x-rays and cleanings, fluoride and sealants for kids up to a certain age.
  • Type 2 (Basic restorative) 80% coverage – fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal procedures.
  • Type 3 (Major restorative) 50% coverage – crowns, dentures, bridge work.

The coinsurance would be the percentage of the covered dental expense you pay, after the deductible has been met. So, if your plan covers 80% of a procedure your coinsurance would be 20%.

Next, is the annual maximum benefit. Most plans have a maximum of $1000.00 – $1500.00. Once you have reached that maximum, dental insurance will not pay for any more treatment that may be needed for the year. Which leaves you paying out of pocket.

Looks pretty straight forward doesn’t it? But hold on, many plans have exceptions especially with dental insurance. Here are some possible exceptions that dental plans may have:

WAITING PERIODS: Woops! You have to wait 6 months from your effective date on the group dental plan for Type 2 services to be covered!

MISSING TOOTH CLAUSE: If the tooth was missing prior to your effective date with the group plan, too bad. They are not going to pay to replace it with a bridge or implant.

FREQUENCYS: The group plan allows certain services at certain intervals. Cleanings every 6 month plus 1 day.  (I’m not kidding, have your cleaning 1 day too soon and you insurance won’t cover it.) Full sets of x-rays are usually limited to every 3-5 years. That means if you switch dentists you want to have those x-rays sent over before you arrive.

And finally,

DOWNGRADES: Most plans have “downgrades”, meaning the insurance may approve a procedure, but pay for a less expensive procedure (Example: You have a tooth colored filling on a back tooth. Your insurance pays what it would pay for silver, leaving you with the difference in cost).

So, that’s basically how dental insurance works. As you can see it can be easy and confusing at the same time, and, not a whole lot hasn’t really changed with dental plans in over 40 years!

 

If you have any questions about your dental insurance please feel free to call us here at 972-242-2155. Or you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” link at the top of this page.