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Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that is actually pretty common. When someone has gingivitis, their gingiva — the sections of gums at the base of your teeth — become inflamed, swollen, and irritated.

When your mouth is healthy, your gums should be firm, have a pale pink color, and fit tightly around your teeth. If you have gingivitis, your gums will:

  • Have a bright, deep red or purple color
  • Be puffy and swollen
  • Recede away from your teeth
  • Be soft and tender-to-touch
  • And bleed easily when you floss or brush your teeth

Another possible symptom of gum disease is halitosis, or bad breath.

Although gingivitis can typically be treated and reversed, it still needs to be taken seriously to avoid more severe complications. If your gingivitis is left untreated, you may lose your teeth or develop periodontitis, a bacterial gum disease that may be able to spread to other parts of your body.

In extreme cases, gum disease can progress to trench mouth, or necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG). Trench mouth can cause infected, painful, bleeding gums and ulcerations and is rare in developed countries.

What causes gingivitis?

When you develop bad oral hygiene habits, plaque can collect on and around your teeth, and gingivitis can develop. Here’s how:

  1. Plaque develops on your teeth.

    When sugars and starches in food mix with your normal mouth bacteria, a sticky, transparent film (plaque) develops around your teeth. When you brush your teeth daily, you can remove the plaque. But when you forget to brush, it will just continue building.

  2. Plaque becomes harder to remove.

    As the plaque collects on your teeth, it can solidify into what is called tartar, or calculus.  The tartar is challenging to remove, keeps collecting bacteria, irritates your gums, and even builds a protective shield around the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Once tartar develops, your teeth will need to be cleaned by a dentist.

  3. Your gingiva become irritated & inflamed.

    As more and more tartar collects around your teeth, your gingiva — remember, the gums immediately around your teeth — become more and more inflamed, swollen, and tender. Your teeth may even start to decay.

In addition to poor oral health habits, there are a number of things that may heighten your risk of developing gingivitis:

  • Smoking & chewing tobacco
  • A poor diet, especially a diet lacking vitamin C
  • Hormonal changes (like puberty, menopause, menstrual cycle, & pregnancy)
  • Crooked teeth or other circumstances that make it hard to clean your teeth
  • Certain diseases, like diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, respiratory disease, coronary artery disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Specific drugs that reduce saliva flow, like phenytoin for epileptic seizures
  • Older age
  • Family history

How can I prevent — or reverse — gingivitis?

The good news is gingivitis is both preventable and reversible. Here are some things you can do to fight it off:

  1. Practice good oral health.

    Brush your teeth regularly — minimally, at morning and at night, but ideally, after every meal or snack. Flossing every day before brushing and rinsing your mouth routinely with antiseptic mouthwash can help destroy any plaque that has accumulated.

  2. Go see your dentist regularly.

    It’s best to visit your dentist at least every 6-12 months — and perhaps more if you fall into some of the risk-factor categories above. Your dentist can keep an eye out for gum disease symptoms and treat them before they become an even larger issue.

  3. Set an appointment as soon as you see signs.

    If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described in the top of the article, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can remove the plaque and tartar build-up and get your smile back into shape.

If you have further questions about gingivitis or other gum diseases, feel free to ask your dentist. If you think you may have gingivitis, our team at Salling and Tate can help ! Give us a call today at 910-256-9040, or click here to schedule your next appointment online.

First, what are wisdom teeth? And why do they even exist?

Wisdom teeth are molars that appear for most people when they are a young adult. Historically, human jaws were much larger than they are today. Likely because of dietary changes, our jaws have become smaller — too small for an extra set of molars.

It’s become standard practice to surgically remove wisdom teeth, a sort of rite of passage into adulthood. But is it really necessary to remove these teeth?

In many cases, the answer is yes. If left alone, wisdom teeth can cause serious damage to your teeth and jaw. So, even if you aren’t feeling any pain from your new molars, there could still be something wrong that can only be found with an X-Ray.

Dentists often decide to remove wisdom teeth early to prevent any problems from developing later on. It can actually be “unwise” to wait to remove your wisdom teeth. As you age, your teeth become harder and more difficult to remove. So, if you hold on to your new molars too long, the removal surgery could create even more problems, from broken teeth and excessive bleeding to severe numbness and loss of jaw motion.

Problems wisdom teeth can cause:

  1. Damage to other teeth.

    When your wisdom teeth come in, they may grow in a way that pushes your other teeth around. This can create tooth pain and bite problems.

  2. ​Jaw damage.

    Cysts may form around the new molars. If these aren’t treated quickly, they can hollow out your jaw and cause nerve damage.

  3. Misalignment.

    If a wisdom tooth is impacted — or stuck underneath your jaw — it can crowd your other teeth as it continues to grow. In such situations, you may even have to get extra treatment to straighten your other teeth.

  4. ​Sinus issues.

    Oddly enough, wisdom teeth issues can even lead to extra sinus pressure, pain, and congestion. Because the wisdom teeth in your upper jaw are near your sinuses, they can develop in a way to put pressure on the area.

  5. ​Inflamed Gums.

    The gum tissue surrounding your wisdom teeth can swell if the teeth push through your jaw a certain way. When the tissue swells, it may become challenging to clean the teeth and surrounding areas.

  6. Cavities

    When your gums swell up and you can’t clean your wisdom teeth and gums very well, pockets can form between your teeth, creating the perfect hiding spots for bacteria — and cavities — to develop.

When can I keep my wisdom teeth?

All this being said, it isn’t always necessary for patients to have their wisdom teeth removed. Here are some circumstances that may allow you to avoid surgery and keep your new set of molars.

  1. Large jaw size.

    People come in all different shapes and sizes — and so do their jaws. So, if your jaw happens to be large and spacious enough for an extra set of molars, it may be safe to keep them.

  2. ​Full-size wisdom teeth.

    If your wisdom teeth come in too small, they won’t be able to contribute to the chewing force of your bite and may create a higher risk for tooth loss. But, if your new molars are normal, full-sized teeth with well-developed roots, they can withstand chewing pressures and you may be able to keep them.

  3. Easy cleaning.

    Proper cleaning of your teeth and gum tissue is essential for your oral health. Because your wisdom teeth are located the furthest in your mouth, they can be challenging (maybe even impossible) for you to clean. Without consistent cleaning, plaque will accumulate and increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. If you already have a high risk for these problems, you should not keep your wisdom teeth.

If you have further questions about your new molars or wisdom tooth removal surgery, feel free to ask your dentist. Our team at Salling and Tate is here to answer your questions! Give us a call today at 910-256-9040 or click here to schedule your next appointment online.

Everyone probably knows it’s crucial to brush your teeth twice a day. With braces and clear aligners, cleaning your teeth becomes even more important…and complicated. To keep your teeth healthy and avoid plaque and bacteria development, you not only need to clean your teeth more than twice a day, but there are also extra steps you should take to keep your braces and aligners clean.

Tips for clean teeth & braces:

  1. Use a soft toothbrush.
    To clean your teeth while you wear braces, it is important for you to brush your gums and the top section of your teeth above the brackets. A toothbrush with softer bristles can help you avoid irritating your gums.
  2. Brush after you eat.
    Brushing out food debris after every meal is important to prevent plaque development. You may consider carrying a travel toothbrush when you eat away from home. If you forget your toothbrush, rinse your mouth with water for about 30 seconds.
  3. Use less toothpaste.
    The more toothpaste you use, the more foam will cover your teeth and hide food debris and plaque. Each time you brush, begin with a wet toothbrush and clean around your wires and brackets. Brush with a precise, picking motion rather than scrubbing. Then, brush your teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  4. Brush all areas of your mouth.
    It’s important to brush each section of your teeth — upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left — for about 30 seconds each. Don’t forget to spend time cleaning both the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth.
  5. Don’t forget to floss.
    A floss threader or a waterpik can offer an easy way to floss while you have braces. A floss threader allows you to guide the floss through the wires of your braces. Meanwhile, a waterpik uses a stream of water to remove debris.
  6. Use mouthwash nightly.
    Anti-cavity, fluoride mouthwash reduces tooth decay and protects the enamel covering your teeth. Rinsing with mouthwash for one minute each night can also help you knock out any remaining food debris after brushing.
  7. Gargle saltwater.
    Not only can saltwater reduce inflammation and minimize pain and soreness after your brackets and wires have been adjusted, but it can also act as a cleaning agent.
  8. Stay away from specific foods.
    Although you may have to give up some of your favorite foods for a short time, it’s best to avoid foods that can get stuck in your braces, such as popcorn, chips, corn on the cob, caramel, and other sticky foods. When these foods get stuck in your teeth, you may damage your brackets and wires while attempting to clean out debris.

Tips for clean teeth & aligners:

  1. Clean aligners thoroughly each night.
    Thoroughly rinse and clean your aligners every night with antibacterial soap or cleaning solution your orthodontist provided you. Toothpaste can be gritty and can damage your aligners. Gently scrub your aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush separate from the one you use to brush your teeth. Once the aligners are clean, let them dry before you put them back in.
  2. Brush & floss before putting aligners in.
    After removing your aligners and before you put them back in, brush and floss your teeth normally. If you don’t brush out remaining food debris before putting your aligners in, bacteria may develop underneath your aligners.

If you have further questions about cleaning your braces or clear aligners, feel free to ask your orthodontist. Our team at Salling and Tate is here to answer your questions! Give us a call today at 910-256-9040 or click here to schedule your next appointment online.

Do you have a habit of clenching or grinding your teeth? Do you experience regular headaches and jaw pain? Do your teeth and mouth hurt when you eat or drink something hot? If so, you may be suffering from a condition called bruxism.

What is bruxism?

You may have bruxism if you excessively grind, clench, or gnash your teeth, either when you are asleep or unconsciously when you are awake. This condition can lead to greater health problems, such as jaw pain, TMJ disorder, sleep apnea, enamel loss, and tooth pain and sensitivity.

The most common cause of bruxism is stress, but certain medications and particular personality types may encourage the condition as well. Although you can work to stop these underlying causes of bruxism, doing so can be a long and challenging process. In the meantime, it is important for you to use a nightguard to reduce your bruxism symptoms and prevent further oral health problems.

What is a nightguard?

A nightguard is a piece of plastic similar to a retainer that covers the surfaces in your mouth that touch when you bite. The guard can be worn on the top or bottom set of teeth and can be customized to comfortably fit the unique shape of your teeth and bite. A nightguard goes by many names. You may hear a dentist call it a mouthguard, bite splint, dental guard, occlusal guard, or nocturnal bite guard. There are various kinds of nightguards you can get, whether hard or soft, over-the-counter or custom-made. The harder the nightguard, the more durable and effective it will be. If you have a severe case of bruxism, a hard nightguard may be the best option for you. Although softer nightguards may be more comfortable and cheaper, they aren’t as effective nor as long-lasting.

Although you can find a one-size-fits-all nightguard over-the-counter for a low cost, this option will likely cause your bite to shift. It is far wiser and much more effective to use a nightguard custom-made by a dentist using an impression of your teeth.

Why do I need one?

There are many important reasons you should investigate getting a nightguard if you suspect you may have bruxism, whether to get rid of your pesky headaches and jaw pain or to prevent future health problems.

  1. Prevent damage to your teeth.
    Constant grinding of your teeth can erode the enamel protecting your teeth and cause extra sensitivity. If your enamel has been eroded, eating and drinking hot things will be painful and your teeth may even start to decay.
  2. Prevent TMJ disorder.
    Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects your skull and your jaw and is associated with the muscles you use to chew your food. When you clench your teeth, you apply extra pressure to this joint, which can result in misalignment. When this happens, you may experience chewing difficulty and discomfort, ear pain, and headaches.
  3. Prevent chronic headaches
    Neck pain and headaches are typically a couple of the first symptoms you will experience if you have bruxism. As you clench and grind your teeth, you create tension in the muscles in your neck, shoulder, mouth, and jaw, resulting in frequent discomfort and pain.
  4. Prevent altering your bite.
    A custom-made nightguard will protect your natural bite because it will be fitted precisely to your teeth and mouth. Softer nightguards and sports mouthguards (usually made of soft material) may encourage you to chew while you sleep because your brain interprets the guard as food. Such chewing can cause further muscle discomfort and shift your bite over time.
  5. Prevent plaque development.
    Many people confuse nightguards with sports mouthguards. However, it is essential for you to remember the difference. Unlike nightguards, sports mouthguards allow harmful bacteria to collect around your gums. When this bacteria collects, plaque will develop and cause greater oral health problems down the road.
  6. Save money.
    Although a durable, custom-made nightguard can cost several hundreds of dollars, this is a small price when compared to the potential restorative dentistry costs you may face without the preventative measure of a nightguard.

If you’re looking for a dentist who can help you determine if you have bruxism and need a nightguard, look no further! The team at Salling & Tate is skilled in both general and cosmetic dentistry. Think of us as a one-stop shop for all your dental needs! Give us a call today at 910-256-9040 or click here to schedule your next appointment online.

Oral surgery usually refers to any surgical procedure that has to do with the mouth, teeth, gums, or jaw. It’s performed when tooth or jaw corrections are needed that go beyond the expertise of a general dentist. For example, if your wisdom teeth are impacted, you may need to see an oral surgeon.

Additional types of oral surgeries may include:

  • Gum grafts
  • Tooth implants
  • Maxillofacial surgery
  • Root canals
  • Jaw and/or teeth repair following an injury

How to Get Ready for Oral Surgery

Having someone operate on your teeth or mouth may be a little intimidating, especially if you already have a fear of dentists or dental procedures. That said, most oral surgeries are relatively quick and nothing to be afraid of.

If you are scheduled to have oral surgery soon, the following tips can help you prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally:

  1.  Read your pre-op instructions carefully.

    These instructions will let you know what to expect and give you specific tips for your procedure. They will also outline what you can and cannot do (eat, drink, etc.) before your surgery.

  2.  Make sure your surgeon knows your medical history.

    Share any conditions you may have or medications you may be taking with your surgical team. In some cases, your surgeon may ask you to stop taking certain medications (e.g. blood thinners) prior to surgery.

  3.  Prepare your recovery space.

    Change your bed linens to ones that are comfortable but can be disposed of, as you might stain them after surgery. Get plenty of pillows to prop yourself up with and find activities, like reading or crossword puzzles, that you can do while in bed. Finally, make sure your room, and the rest of your house, is neat and tidy to help reduce stress.

  4. Pick up your medication.

    After surgery, you probably won’t want to go anywhere but home. If your surgeon has prescribed pain medications or antibiotics, make sure you pick them up before the big day.

  5. Arrange for someone to give you a ride.

    Many oral surgeries require a type of anesthesia that makes it dangerous to drive afterward. Even if yours doesn’t, you will likely be tired and not feel like driving, so you need to make sure you have a friend or family member who can give you a ride to and from your surgery.

  6. Go to the grocery store.

    After oral surgery, soft foods are best. Head to the store to pick up things like yogurt and fruit to make smoothies with, as well as healthy drinks like water and sugar-free electrolyte beverages. Oh, and grab some ice packs while you’re there!

  7. Follow fasting instructions.

    Many oral surgeries require IV sedation, which means you’ll probably have to fast for a certain amount of time before your surgery. Your pre-surgery instructions will outline when to quit eating, drinking, and smoking to help ensure a successful procedure.

  8. Dress comfortably.

    Wear something soft and stretchy to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during and after your procedure, and avoid wearing jewelry altogether. You should also wear a sleeveless shirt or tank top, as it makes it much easier for nurses to administer IVs, take vital signs, and monitor your blood pressure.

  9. Get to your appointment early.

    This will give you a chance to fill out any last-minute paperwork or ask any questions you have. Plus, the earlier you arrive, the more time you have to calm your nerves before the surgery.

Remember, if you have questions about the procure or find yourself feeling nervous, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist. They will be more than happy to talk you through the process or answer any questions that may help you feel better.

In need of a root canal or another procedure? Feel free to reach out to the team at Salling & Tate at 910-256-9040.

Summertime is almost here! With school out and kids home for the summer, families often find themselves in a totally different routine than they do during the school year. While mixing things up can certainly be a welcome change, and every kid loves being out of school, the change in routine during summer can potentially harm kids’ oral health.

To help keeps your kids’ teeth safe and healthy this summer, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Wear a mouthguard when playing sports.

    Sporting accidents are fairly common, especially amongst children. Whether your child is playing a contact sport like football, hockey, or basketball, or they’re riding around the neighborhood on their bike, make sure they are wearing a mouthguard that will protect their teeth in case there’s an accident or injury.

  2. Maintain your child’s oral health routine, even if you’re on vacation.

    Less strict bedtimes, family trips, or stays at summer camps are just a few of the things that can throw off a child’s brushing and flossing routine during summer. Just remember that keeping this routine regular is important, and be sure to pack all of your child’s oral health essentials if you’re going out of town.

  3. Keep kids on a healthy, low-sugar diet.

    Without school lunches and regular mealtimes, many parents find themselves reaching for convenience foods during the summer. While there’s nothing wrong with meals that are quick and easy, make sure they still include plenty of healthy vegetables and don’t include sugary snacks or drinks.

  4. Stay hydrated all day, every day.

    Aside from the obvious health benefits of drinking plenty of water, keeping your kids hydrated can also help improve their oral health. Not only is water the best alternative to sugary drinks, but it helps to wash sugar off teeth if your kids just can’t help but have a sweet snack.

  5. Wear an SPF lip balm.

    While your lips don’t have much to do with your teeth, it’s important to protect them as well! Make sure your kids are wearing an SPF 15 or higher lip balm to prevent lips from being burnt and protect against skin cancer.

  6. Keep an eye on pool time.

    Slips and falls are common on the pool deck, and they can result in chipped or cracked teeth, so be sure to advise your kids not to run around the pool. Additionally, kids who swim regularly can be prone to swimmer’s calculus, which can cause yellow/brown stains on their teeth. So, if your child swims a lot during summer, you may want to schedule an extra dental checkup.

  7. Replace kids’ old toothbrushes.

    Most toothbrushes are only meant to last about three months. If you’re not sure when you last switched out your child’s toothbrush, the beginning of summer is a great time to do so. Replace their brush when summer break starts and again before school goes back and try to maintain that three-month routine all year.

Another good habit is to schedule a dental check-up for your kids before they go back to school. That way things like cleanings and cavities can be addressed without having to interrupt your child’s school day. Ready to schedule your child’s next cleaning? Give us a call today at 910-256-9040 or click here to schedule your next appointment online.