Your Pet’s Dental Health

YOU MIGHT BE TEMPTED to think that because wild animals can’t do much for their dental hygiene, pets like dogs and cats don’t need dental care either. In reality, keeping your pet’s teeth healthy will help them have a longer, healthier, and happier life!

Why Do Pets Need Dental Care?

Our pets need dental care for the same reasons we do. Their mouths contain bacteria that coat their teeth in plaque, which, if not removed, calcifies into tartar and can easily lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Your dog or cat can’t tell you if something is wrong with their teeth, so these conditions are often easy to miss, but they are alarmingly common. By age three85 percent of dogs and cats get periodontal disease. Common symptoms of periodontal disease in a pet are difficulty chewing, tooth loss, and even bad breath. You can also check for loose teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, and reduced appetite.

Taking Care Of Their Teeth

Even if your pet is showing none of the above symptoms, the best time to begin a dental hygiene regimen for them is now. If they are already suffering from poor oral health, your efforts will dramatically improve their quality of life. If they aren’t, then you’ll be able to keep them healthy!

Here are a few things you can do to keep your pet’s pearly whites in good shape:

  • Brush their teeth once a day. You only need to brush the outsides of their teeth, and it should take less than a minute, but doing it on a daily basis is crucial!
  • Regular fluoride toothpaste will make your pet sick, so make sure to only use veterinary toothpaste, if any. It might work better as a treat after brushing to encourage them to cooperate.
  • Give them veterinarian-approved dental treats to chew on. The right chew toys won’t just help with stress and boredom — they’ll also help with oral health!
  • Take them in for professional teeth cleanings! Your veterinarian might offer this service, and if not, they can recommend a good veterinary dental specialist.

For more tips on pet dental care, listen to the Dog Whisperer himself:

Your Pets Are Worth It!

We know that training your pet to get used to a toothbrush isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of resources available to help you, including your veterinarian and our practice. Keep persevering until it becomes a habit for both you and your pet.

Don’t forget to take care of your own teeth too!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Congenitally Missing Teeth

IT’S ONE THING TO lose a tooth, whether through poor oral hygiene, accident, or oral surgery. A tooth not growing in where it should is something else. Between 2-4 percent of the population will have at least one tooth missing from their adult set. This condition is called congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia. In the much rarer event that the full set of teeth is missing, it’s called anodontia.

It’s All About Genes

The most common teeth to be affected by this condition are wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and lower second premolars. Since wisdom teeth are often removed anyway, not having them in the first place can save you a lot of hassle, but those incisors and premolars are more necessary.

Genetics are almost always the culprit behind hypodontia, which is why it tends to run in families. Missing teeth could be the only issue, or they could be the result of a broader genetic disorder, such as ectodermal dysplasia or Down syndrome. Whatever the cause, there are many treatment options available for hypodontia.

Filling In The Gaps

Having these missing teeth can cause a few problems, such as difficulty chewing, the existing teeth shifting, and poor jaw support that could lead to the loss of additional teeth. This is why it’s important to get the issue taken care of as soon as possible, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different options will be preferable depending on the age and sex of the patient and the length of time the tooth has been missing.

In most cases, orthodontic treatment will be the first step. Because missing teeth can cause the existing teeth to shift, braces might be necessary to correct the problem and open the gap wide enough to fit a replacement tooth. Replacements can come in a few different forms:

  • Removable partial dentures. These are the simplest solution in many cases. They use the surrounding teeth to anchor them in place, or might be attached to a retainer.
  • Dental bridges. As the name implies, a dental bridge “bridges” gaps by anchoring to the neighboring teeth. Unlike dentures, bridges are cemented in place.
  • Dental implants. These will function like normal teeth, with a post fixed in the jaw bone and a crown on top that matches the natural teeth. If multiple teeth are missing, implants can be used as support for bridges.

If you have questions about implants, check out this FAQ video by a woman who just got hers!

What Treatment Is Right For You?

Having congenitally missing teeth can be a struggle, but our practice is here for you. We can answer any questions you have and help you find the ideal treatment option so that your smile can be complete!

Keep being the wonderful patients that you are!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Why We Chose Dentistry

cropped head shot

MOST OF US aren’t born knowing what career we will choose when we grow up, and some of us still aren’t sure what we want to do as adults! When we do find the right career, we can usually look back and point at a particular source of inspiration that really started us down that path, so our practice is taking a moment to celebrate what led us to the dental field!

The Path To Dentistry for Dr. Lauren Massey-Williams

What inspired you to go into the dental field? I was always a big math and science nerd in school. When I was younger, I thought about going into dental hygiene because I was fascinated with teeth but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. In college, I majored in Biochemistry and worked in a lab doing neurochemistry research. I LOVED the science part but HATED sitting in a lab by myself all day long so I decided to do something in healthcare.

Was there a particular person who first gave you the idea or an experience? The oral surgeon who took out my wisdom teeth, Steven Rodgers, let me be an extern in his office one summer. I loved it. I took the DAT and applied to dental school.

Has it been smooth going, or were there a lot of obstacles? Dental school is its own beast. The rigorous schedule and added stress took such a toll on my health that I got mono my first year and had to miss a few weeks of class. But, I had a great support system in my classmates who took notes for me and kept me caught up so I didn’t’ fall behind. I came back after that week and aced two exams!

Why are you grateful you chose this career path? Absolutely!  I’ve had some fantastic patients over the years and have learned so much about people, as well as myself. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

The Path To Dentistry for Dr. Christina Gliwa

What inspired you to go into the dental field? Was there a particular person who gave you the idea or an experience?  Throughout my life I  have had an interest in science, math, art, working with my hands, and helping others in need.  It was not until I met my orthodontist that my eyes were opened to the dental field.  She helped me achieve a beautiful smile, which increased my self-confidence.  They say, “A smile can light up a room”, and I soon saw the meaning of that.  Above all though, it was my orthodontist’s professionalism, knowledge, and positivity, that were truly inspirational and she became a role model for me.  From that young age, it became apparent that my personal qualities and the skills I enjoyed could be used for a career in dentistry.  Shadowing, assisting dentists, and dental related research only reinforced my passion for the field.

Has it been smooth going or were there a lot of obstacles?  Pursuing a career as a general dentist has not been an easy path.  People will often judge you and tell you to have another career path in mind as it isn’t for everyone, but I strongly believe that it is how you handle these obstacles in your life that shapes who you become.  It can make you or breaks you.  Throughout my schooling, there have always been people trying to crush my dreams and that was my biggest motivator.  Taking life’s obstacles and persevering is the key and without a doubt rewarding.  So never give up on your dreams!

Why are you grateful you chose this path?  I am beyond grateful that I have chosen this challenging and ever-evolving profession.  It requires a continuous pursuit of knowledge and adaptability to new technology.  Most of all, it is rewarding in the sense that I can help serve the community through my skills including educating others about oral health.  Good oral hygiene goes hand in hand with one’s overall health and well being, which cannot be emphasized enough.  The profession has truly made me grow as an individual and made me realize how hard work pays off.  Nothing makes me happier than feeling accomplished all the while helping others feel good about themselves and ensuring they receive the proper care they need.  Patients tend to become like family to me.  How many professionals can say that!

Are You Considering Dentistry?

If our stories have inspired you, that’s great! Come talk to us if you want to know more about going into the dental field. If not, we hope you find the career you love and make sure to keep scheduling your regular dental appointments to keep your teeth healthy along the way!

You’re part of the reason we love what we do!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

An Eating Disorder’s Impact On Oral Health

THE FOOD WE EAT provides our bodies with the building blocks to maintain healthy cells, tissues, and organs and the energy to work, learn and do the activities we love. It is crucial that we eat enough food (and preferably the right kinds) in order to keep everything working properly, which is why eating disorders are such a serious threat.

Malnutrition And Overall Health

Eating disorders are a group of psychological disorders that can have a devastating impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of those who suffer from them. No system in the body is spared, and that includes oral health. That’s why we want to educate our patients on the dangers of eating disorders and encourage anyone suffering from one to seek help returning to healthy eating habits.

Anorexia: Starving The Oral Tissues

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely restricted food intake, and may also involve purging and compulsive exercising. The main risk to oral health with anorexia is malnutrition. Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis, which weakens the jaw bones, leading to tooth loss. The gums may also bleed easily, and the salivary glands may swell up and produce insufficient saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Bulimia: Stomach Acid Versus Teeth

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of overeating (binging) followed by forced elimination of food through vomiting or laxatives (purging). Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid on a regular basis, which erodes the protective layer of enamel and can lead to discoloration, decay, and even tooth loss.

Watch this video to see bulimia’s effects on teeth, as well as how dentist’s can help:

Preventing Additional Damage

Maintaining a good dental hygiene regimen is an important part of keeping teeth and oral tissues healthy in any circumstance, but particularly while recovering from an eating disorder. One important caution to take if your teeth have been exposed to acid (whether from acidic food and drink or from regurgitated stomach acid) is to wait thirty minutes to brush. Immediately after acid exposure, tooth enamel is weaker and can be scrubbed away by brushing, so it’s better to rinse with water and wait to brush.

The Road To Recovery

Eating disorders are very serious, and recovery is about getting the right help — from supportive friends and family as well as licensed psychologists. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, a good first step on the road to recovery would be contacting the National Eating Disorders Helpline. The dentist also plays a role in minimizing and repairing the damage from malnutrition and acid erosion, so make sure to schedule an appointment.

Your overall health and wellness are important to us!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Let’s Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your teeth healthy!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.