Tag Archives: gum disease

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).

Study Finds Link Between Gum Disease and Cognitive Decline In People With Alzheimer’s

Study Finds Link Between Gum Disease And Cognitive Decline In People With Alzheimer’s

Gum Disease and Cognitive Decline

BBC News (UK) (3/10, Howell) reported that early stage research suggests a link between gum disease and “a greater rate of cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease.” The University of Southampton and King’s College London led the small study, published in PLOS ONE, which involved “59 people who were all deemed to have mild to moderate dementia.” After tracking the participants for six months, the study found “the presence of gum disease – or periodontitis as it is known – was associated with a six-fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline.” Dentist Dr. Mark Ide from King’s College London said, “In just six months you could see the patients going downhill – it’s really quite scary.”

The Independent (UK) (3/11, Gander) reported that the research “builds on previous evidence which has linked periodontitis with higher levels of inflammatory molecules associated with deteriorated mental health,” adding that the study suggested that “the body’s inflammatory response to gum disease could explain the link between gum disease and cognitive deterioration.”

The Daily Mail (3/10, Macrae) also covered the story.

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on gum disease.

If you think you may have signs of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, or have any questions about periodontal disease please feel free to give Dr. Griffin a call at 972-242-2155. Or, simply use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form on this page. We are here to help!


Periodontal Disease Symptoms and Treatments

Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PAThis is part 2 in our 3 part blog series on periodontal disease. In last week’s blog we discussed what periodontal disease is, the types of periodontal disease and the risk factors. In this week’s blog we will be focusing on the symptoms and signs of periodontal disease and the different treatments that are available to help control the infection.

Periodontal Disease Symptoms

It is extremely important to note that periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms such as pain.  This is why regular dental checkups are exceptionally important. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of periodontitis:

  • Unexplained bleeding – Bleeding when brushing, flossing or eating food is one of the most common symptoms of a periodontal infection.  The toxins in plaque cause a bacterial infection which makes the tissues prone to bleeding.
  • Pain, redness or swelling – A periodontal infection may be present if the gums are swollen, red or painful for no apparent reason.  It is essential to halt the progression of the infection before the gum tissue and jaw bone have been affected.  It is also critical to treat the infection before it is carried into the bloodstream to other areas of the body.
  • Longer-looking teeth – Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession.  The toxins produced by bacteria can destroy the supporting tissue and bones, thus making the teeth look longer and the smile appear more “toothy.”
  • Bad breath/halitosis – Although breath odor can originate from back of the tongue, the lungs and stomach, from the food we consume, or from tobacco use, bad breath may be caused by old food particles which sit between the teeth and underneath the gumline.  The deeper gum pockets are able to house more debris and bacteria, causing a foul odor.
  • Loose teeth/change in bite pattern – A sign of rapidly progressing periodontitis is the loosening or shifting of the teeth in the affected area.  As the bone tissue gets destroyed, teeth that were once firmly attached to the jawbone become loose or may shift in position.
  • Pus – Pus oozing from between the teeth is a definite sign that a periodontal infection is in progress.  The pus is a result of the body trying to fight the bacterial infection.

Any of these symptoms may signal a serious problem, which should be checked by Dr. Griffin.

Treatments for Periodontal Disease

There are a variety of treatments for gum disease depending on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health.

Treatments range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgical treatments that restore supportive tissues. Medications can also be used in combination with non-surgical and surgical treatments. Types of treatments are as follows:

Non-surgical Treatments for Periodontal Disease

  • Professional dental cleaning – During a typical hygiene appointment your dental hygienist will remove the plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also known as tartar), from above and below the gum line of all teeth. Calculus can only be removed with professional cleaning due to its hard mineral composition. If you have signs of gum disease, it may be recommended that you have cleanings more than twice-a-year.
  • Scaling and root planing – Scaling and root planing (also known as a deep cleaning or deep scaling) is performed when periodontal pockets are greater than 3mm due to excessive calculus build-up. Scaling is focused below the gum line, on the root surfaces, to remove the hardened calculus. Planing (smoothing) of the root surface leaves the root free of tartar, which allows the gum tissues to heal and reattach to the root. After scaling and root planing is complete, it is recommended that you have cleanings every 3 months, known as periodontal maintenance. Patient compliance is the key to success.

In some patients, the nonsurgical procedure of scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum diseases. Surgery is needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options.

Surgical Treatments for Periodontal Disease

  • Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery – During this procedure the gums are lifted back and the tarter is removed. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. The gums are then placed so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth. This method reduces the size of the space between the gum and tooth, thereby decreasing the areas where harmful bacteria can grow and decreasing the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.
  • Osseous (bone) surgery – Following flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped to decrease the craters. This makes it harder for bacteria to collect and grow.
  • Bone grafts – This procedure involves using fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone to replace bone destroyed by gum disease. The grafts serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone, which restores stability to teeth. New technology, called tissue engineering, encourages your own body to regenerate bone and tissue at an accelerated rate.
  • Soft tissue grafts – This procedure reinforces thin gums or fills in places where gums have receded. Grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is stitched in place, adding tissue to the affected area.
  • Guided tissue regeneration – Performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, this procedure stimulates bone and gum tissue growth. Done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.

Medications used to treat Periodontal Disease

Medications may be used in combination with non-surgical and surgical periodontal therapies. It is very important to note that using medicinal therapies alone is not the main component in attacking periodontal disease. Below are the most commonly used medications:

  • Antimicrobial Therapy – Antimicrobial therapy consists of treatments to control the microorganisms that cause disease activity. This therapy can be administered systemically by prescribing antibiotics or locally through controlled-release devices and subgingival irrigation, or both. One type of antimicrobial that is used is chlorhexidine. It is available as a prescription mouth rinse that is to be used daily. Chlorhexidine also comes in a gelatin-filled chip (brand name PerioChip®) that is placed in the periodontal pockets after scaling and root planing. This chip slowly releases the medication over about a 7 day period.
  • Local Antibiotic Therapy – Local antibiotic therapy uses small doses of topical antibiotics, delivered directly into the periodontal pocket. Because of the direct site application the bacteria are exposed to higher concentrations of the bacteria killing agents. Two commonly used local antibiotic therapies are:

°   Antibiotic Microspheres – Antibiotic microspheres ( band name ARESTIN®) are tiny, round particles that contain the antibiotic minocycline. The microspheres are placed into the pockets after scaling and root planing and slowly release minocycline over time.
°   Antibiotic gel – This gel contains the antibiotic doxycycline (brand name Atridox®). It also is placed in the periodontal pockets, after scaling and root planing, to control bacteria and reduce the size of periodontal pockets. The antibiotic is released slowly over a period of about seven days.

  • Systemic (Oral) Antibiotics – Because periodontal disease is an infection, it would seem logical that oral antibiotics would eliminate the problem. Unfortunately, when treating routine periodontal breakdown, the effects of antibiotics are short-lived. This is because the bacteria that cause the disease reform immediately after the antibiotics are discontinued. In fact, periodontal cleanings that remove calculus and plaque appear to be as effective as antibiotics in controlling the infection. Oral antibiotics may helpful when used for treatment of acute infections, such as periodontal abscesses, or to control local sites of inflammation due to periodontal disease.

If you feel that you have any of these signs or symptoms, please do not hesitate to call us at 972-242-2155. We would be happy to get you scheduled for a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation, with Dr. Griffin, to assess your current oral health and any risk factors you may have.

And, please look for Part 3 of our blog series, next week, in which we will focus on Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health.


Periodontal Disease

Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PAPeriodontal Disease

If your hands bled when you washed them, would you be concerned? Of course you would! But, yet, many people think it’s normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. Almost all of the time, the cause of this bleeding is periodontal disease. Many U.S. adults currently have some form of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is the infection of the structures around the teeth. These include the gums, the root, the periodontal ligament and the bone. It ranges from simple inflammation of the gingiva (gums), called gingivitis, to serious damage to the tissue and bone supporting the teeth, which is called periodontitis.

This is part 1 of a 3 part blog series on Periodontal Disease. Look for Part 2, Periodontal Disease Symptoms and Treatments, and Part 3, Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health, in the coming weeks.

Types of Periodontal Disease


Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis starts when plaque, which harbors a ton of bacteria, builds up between the gums and teeth. In an effort to eliminate the bacteria, the cells of your immune system release substances that cause inflammation. The gums then become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings.


When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets, which become infected. Once again, the body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose resulting in tooth loss.

Periodontal Disease Risk Factors

The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums. Below are some factors which are linked to periodontal disease.


Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis.

Smoking/Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.


Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early intervention treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.


Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.


Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

Other Systemic Diseases

Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity

A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In addition, research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is common but largely preventable. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental visits, with Dr. Griffin, can greatly reduce your chance of developing periodontitis.

If you would like more information on periodontal disease or if you would like to schedule your next appointment please call us at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.