Ask Your Dentist

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Question: I have heard a lot about gingivitis. What is it? How do I get it? How do I know if I even have it?

Gingivitis is a subtle form of gum disease. It is caused by plaque build-up between the base of your tooth and your gums. With poor oral hygiene, you are creating the perfect opportunity for bacteria to grow in that area. 

You are inviting gingivitis when you do not practice good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene involves regular dental check-ups, brushing your teeth at least twice daily, and flossing daily.  

The symptoms of gingivitis are:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bright red, reddish-purple gums
  • Gums that are tender when touched but otherwise painless
  • Swollen gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Shiny appearance to gums
  • Bad breath

If left untreated, gingivitis leads to tooth loss. However, gingivitis can be reversed and prevented. Schedule a visit with your dentist if you suspect you have gingivitis.

Read more about gingivitis here.

Question: I have also heard about periodontal disease. What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease occurs when the gingivitis we discussed goes untreated. Think of gingivitis as the first stage of periodontal disease. 

Untreated gingivitis gradually becomes more severe. This progression of gum disease leads to the loss of teeth and even the loss of all of your teeth. 

In addition to cleaning the dentist, your teeth may require additional treatment such as:

  • Scaling removes tartar build-up and bacteria from the surface of your teeth and below the gum line. The dentist may use a laser or ultrasonic instrument.
  • Root planing is a treatment that smooths the tooth’s root surface.
  • Topical or oral antibiotics will be used to clear up an infection.  

Even though your dentist can reverse periodontal disease, it is better to prevent both gingivitis and periodontal disease. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s warning; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  In this case, the ounce of prevention is the time you put into brushing, flossing, and keeping up on your dentist visits.

Tips for brushing include:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride prevents cavities by strengthening the outer surface of your teeth, called enamel. 
  • Angle the brush toward the gumlines. This cleans the gums and teeth. Remember, gingivitis is created between the gums and teeth.
  • Brush in gentle circular motions. Avoid brushing back and forth, as this will not clean the gums.
  • Remember the back of the teeth. Even though you do not see it, bacteria can also grow on the back of your teeth. 
  • Brush your tongue. 

Tips for flossing include:

  • Use a piece of floss about two feet long. 
  • Wrap the floss around the middle finger of each hand
  • Grip the floss with the thumb and index finger of each hand
  • Ease the floss gently between each tooth until it reaches the gumline. Do not force the floss into the gums, as this could harm the gums.
  • NOTE: If this is too difficult due to arthritis or other issues, a floss holder, threader, or water flosser can be used.

Read more about brushing and flossing here.

What to expect from a routine visit:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Teeth polishing
  • X-Rays as needed
  • Exam by your dentist

Question: Sometimes, my teeth are sensitive. Do I have gum disease just because my teeth are sensitive?

Sometimes a desensitizing toothpaste may be all you need if your teeth are sensitive. After several applications, a desensitizing toothpaste can relieve the discomfort. There are many brands available over the counter.

If the sensitivity continues, make an appointment with your dentist.

Question: I am unhappy with my smile; I cover my mouth when I laugh. How can I improve my smile? 

Depending on your situation, Whiteridge Aesthetic Dentistry has several treatments to enhance your smile and make it perfect. 

Sometimes, something as simple as teeth whitening can enhance your smile. Your teeth can turn yellow due to oral hygiene, diet, age, or many factors. The solution can be as simple as one visit to the office for teeth whitening treatment.

In other situations, dental veneers create desired cosmetic improvements. Dental veneers provide an excellent aesthetic improvement when your teeth have gaps, are misshaped, crooked, broken, or severely stained.

A dental crown may be needed when the tooth is too damaged to support a dental veneer. Dental crowns are a cap created from an impression of your teeth. The crown is placed over the designated tooth and secured with dental adhesive.

In cases where a tooth or teeth are missing, dental implants offer a permanent solution. Gum disease, injury from trauma, and other conditions can create a loss of teeth. Dental implants create a permanent solution for tooth loss. 

Read more about improving your smile here.

I have had silver and white fillings in my teeth. What is the difference between the two?

Silver fillings are referred to as dental amalgam. Silver fillings are a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. 

Silver fillings have been used for over 100 years as a choice by dentists to fill cavities. They have been the choice of dentists for so long due to their durability, especially in filling cavities in larger back teeth. 

Amalgam hardens faster in areas below the gumline that are more moist. Also, dentists prefer amalgam in working with children or other patients who have difficulty staying still during treatment. The fast hardening of amalgam assures less bacteria can enter the cavity as the dentist finishes the procedure.    

Aesthetically silver fillings could be more pleasing. Back teeth do not show as easily, but teeth towards the front of the mouth often display silver fillings when talking or laughing occurs.

White fillings are also known as dental composite resins. Synthetic resins composed of ceramics and plastic compounds create the filling.

White fillings are more flexible than silver fillings. As a result, natural tissue near the filling is better protected as the tooth chews and is exposed to pressure from other movements in the mouth.

Aesthetically white fillings are often more desired than silver fillings. Unlike silver fillings, white fillings are not detected when you smile or laugh.

How Whiteridge Aesthetic Dentistry Can Help

The great news about everything discussed is that Whiteridge Aesthetic Dentistry has you covered. From one tooth to an entire mouth, Dr. Sherman and Dr. Hepworth are the only expert dental care your mouth will ever need!

Serving the Salt Lake Valley, Cottonwood Heights, Mill Creek,  Park City, Summit County, Elko, Nevada, West Wendover, Nevada, and Evanston Wyoming