Portland, OR Dentist | There’s A Lot You Can Do To Prevent Tooth Loss

Portland, OR Dentist

Tooth Loss Doesn’t Have To Be Part of Aging

tooth loss

The absolute best defense against tooth loss, whether it’s from disease, old age or lack of care, is to have a well-established relationship with your dentist so that they can spot problems long before a situation is irreversible.

That means not waiting until something catastrophic happens with your teeth to make an appointment. Rather, we at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, want to help you maintain the teeth you have through regular care and consulting when issues arise. We recommend twice yearly visits to clean and examine your teeth for anything that might cause problems in the future.

That said, there’s a lot you can do in daily life to protect your teeth so you can keep them for a lifetime. The most important of these is, of course, having good oral hygiene. That means brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day to disrupt the environment between teeth that is the source of so much decay and gum disease.

Lifestyle and general health factors that contribute to tooth loss include poor eating habits, smoking, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis. But how we treat our teeth every day also plays a part in keeping them healthy. Consider that your adult teeth have to last many decades, so they should be treated with care.

Many people don’t realize that, while their teeth are excellent tools for the job of eating, they are not meant to be used for jobs that don’t involve normal chewing, such as cracking ice cubes, nuts or those burnt popcorn kernels at the bottom of the bowl. They’re also not meant for removing bottle caps, chewing pencils, holding keys, hangers, pens or anything else while your hands are otherwise occupied. And they’re not nearly as good at removing a tag or loosening a knot than a small pair of scissors would be, nor are they meant for cutting thread for that matter.

Our best advice in this area is if you don’t have the proper tool for a job, don’t assume your teeth can easily handle it. Better to wait and save your teeth the stress of a job they were not intended for.

Contact Downtown Dental Associates of Portland today if you have any questions about your dental care or dental procedures in general.

Dentist in Portland | What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Removal

Portland, OR Dentist

With Proper Treatment and Aftercare, Wisdom Teeth Removal is a Relatively Painless Procedure

Wisdom Teeth RemovalOnce it’s been decided by you and your dentist that extraction of your wisdom teeth— otherwise known as your third molars — is necessary, some decisions must be made about how to proceed.

The vast majority of third molar extractions take place in dental offices and are extremely safe. But occasionally, there are risk factors for some patients that require that the procedure take place in a hospital setting. Your dentist can explain if and why this precaution might be necessary for you.

That said, most patients can be treated in a dental office with local anesthesia if the wisdom tooth or teeth are easy for the dentist to reach and will be simple and painless to extract. Dentists use general anesthesia if the procedure will be more involved, and potentially more painful. That’s so the patient sleeps through and experiences no pain. If that’s the case for you, your dentist will discuss this with you and tell you not to eat after midnight the night before your procedure.

Your dentist will also ensure that there is no infection and put you on antibiotics for several days prior to the procedure if there is an infection present.

During the extraction, your dentist will open the gum tissue that covers the tooth and remove bone beneath the gum tissue that may cover the tooth being extracted. Then the dentist will separate the tissue that connects tooth to bone prior to removing the tooth. In some instances, the dentist might need to cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make removal easier.

Oftentimes, though not always, the dentist will stitch the wound closed with either dissolving sutures or ones that will need to be removed a few days after the extraction.

You’ll go home with a gauze pads to keep over the sutured gums to help stop bleeding.

You’ll also go home with information on how best to take care of the extraction area and the rest of your mouth so that you’ll heal as quickly as possible. You’ll also be told what to expect after the extraction.

At Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we know that our most important job — with wisdom teeth extraction and every bit of dentistry we do — is providing the best possible care for our patients. We welcome any questions you might have about this or any dental work, so contact us today.

97205 Dentist | What You Need to Know about Wisdom Teeth

Portland, OR Dentist

It’s Wise to Have a Dentist Check Your Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom TeethThey’re called Wisdom Teeth because they usually make their appearance later in life, when you are expected to be a bit wiser then you were when the rest of your adult teeth came in. But Wisdom teeth, or third molars are they are called by dental health professionals, are a sign of another kind: time to have a dentist check them out.

While many people have no problems with this last set of molars to come in, and their wisdom teeth are healthy and properly aligned, many others face pain and risk serious complications from wisdom teeth that are misaligned, impacted or infected.

Misaligned third molars can grow into a horizontal position or come in at odd angles, causing problems and even crowding and damaging, nerves, the jawbone or adjacent teeth.

The most serious problem for erupting wisdom teeth happens when they become impacted. This means they do not fully erupt from the gum but rather are enveloped in soft tissue and the jawbone, only erupting partially. This allows a place for bacteria to thrive and can, and often does, lead to a stiff jaw, pain, swelling and an overall feeling of malaise for the patient.

These partially impacted teeth, and all wisdom teeth for that matter, are also far more prone to gum disease and tooth decay. Their placement in the mouth is difficult to reach and clean effectively though brushing and flossing, something we preach all day, every day.

While it’s become almost a rite of passage to adulthood to have your wisdom teeth removed, the difficulty of this procedure varies, depending on the position of the teeth and their where they are in development and how embedded they are in the jawbone.

It’s why we, at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, recommend screening for problems with third molars early and then periodically, so we can catch any problems when they are easier to treat. This will dramatically reduce the likelihood of them becoming infected and leading to complications.

Call us today to discuss any questions you may have about your dental health or to schedule an appointment.

Dentist in 97205 | Brushing with Braces Takes More Effort, But It’s Worth It

Portland, OR Dentist

Protect Your Investment in Your Teeth by Putting Effort into Brushing with Braces

Brushing with Braces

It takes a bit more effort to do a proper job of cleaning your teeth once we put orthodontics on them, but it’s well worth it. Consider all the time, expense and work that goes into creating a beautiful smile with straight teeth. You wouldn’t want to work against that effort by not doing an adequate job when you’re brushing with braces because, while braces won’t damage your teeth, failure to keep your teeth clean while you wear them can.

Because so much is at stake when bacteria take a strong hold in your mouth, we strongly recommend brushing after every time you eat, or, at the very least rinsing your mouth well. The very least you should do is brush twice a day and floss at least once a day, and the recommendations for these practices remain the same:

• Use a soft bristle toothbrush or power toothbrush and brush for at least two full minutes.
• Thoroughly brush every surface you can reach with the brush.
• The brackets on your braces will be hard on your toothbrush, so be sure to replace it with a new on at least every three months, if not more frequently.
• Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

The tricky part of oral hygiene with orthodontics is that flossing can be especially challenging because the wires between teeth get in the way. This is where other cleaning aids such as floss threaders that make getting between teeth easy and other implements known as interdental cleaners can help immensely. Ask one of our dentists about these at your next visit.

The important thing is that you make a effort to get under the gum line each time you floss or use other tools to clean between your teeth.

At Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we are serious about your smile, so don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you have about this or any other dental-related issue.

Dentist Near Me | Oral Hygiene is More Than Brushing Your Teeth and Flossing

Portland, OR Dentist

The Best Oral Hygiene Includes Brushing Your Tongue

Downtown Dental Associates of Portland

We hate to be the ones to point out on a frequent basis that your mouth is an excellent habitat for unhealthy, bad breath causing bacteria, but someone has to do it. And at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we care enough to be that someone. So in an effort to help our patients — and anyone interested in oral hygiene — we recommend daily tongue brushing to help keep your mouth healthy and your breath fresh.

Most people, who take their oral hygiene seriously, brush and floss at least daily, but how many people miss the very important step of brushing the tongue? We can tell you from experience that it’s a lot. This important part of oral hygiene is often overshadowed by early instruction on brushing and flossing.

Most of the time people don’t even know they’re supposed to be brushing their tongue when they brush and floss their teeth. But if you think about the structure of the tongue, you’ll understand why it’s important to make life difficult for bacteria that try to live there.

The truth is, the tongue can be home to more bacteria than the entire rest of your mouth. Why? It may look smooth, but the tongue is covered with tiny peaks and valleys that are perfect habitat for bacteria to thrive — and multiply — if they aren’t removed regularly.

And removal is the easy part.

Brush and floss your teeth first. Then, with either a wet toothbrush or one with toothpaste on it, work in small circular motions, scrubbing the tongue from the back to the front.

The hang up for many people, especially those with a sensitive gag reflex, is to keep from gagging while brushing the tongue. The gag reflex is just that, a reflex, and if you are careful to avoid the very back of the tongue where the reflex originates, you can avoid gagging. Just follow the simple rule: If you gag, you’ve gone too far.

You can use your regular toothbrush for tongue cleaning or buy a special brush or scraper designed for the job. Any of these to remove much of the bacteria on your tongue and leave you with a cleaner, healthier mouth and fresh breath.

Contact Downtown Dental Associates of Portland today if you have any questions about oral hygiene or to talk about any of your dental needs.

Dentist in Portland | Teeth Grinding, Though a Minor Problem, Can Lead to Damaged Teeth

Portland, OR Dentist

Talk to Your Dentist If You Think You Might be Teeth Grinding

Downtown Dental Associates of Portland

Dental splint to prevent bruxism

Teeth grinding — or bruxism — is a common problem and one you should talk to your dentist about to prevent it from leading to bigger problems for your oral health.

About a third of people, many of them children, grind their teeth at some point during their lives. The causes can range from badly aligned teeth to stress or allergies, but what matters most, though, is that you address the issue and keep it from causing unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth.

Teeth grinding during sleep is difficult to identify since you’re asleep when it happens, but a loved one can tell you if they’ve noticed any nighttime grinding. Other telltale signs of nocturnal teeth grinding include having a dull headache or sore jaw in the morning. One of the dentists here at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland can examine your teeth and tell you if teeth grinding is a problem for you.

Your dentist can also offer tips to help you reduce nighttime stress that may lead to teeth grinding as well as fitting you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth.

Along with consulting with your dentist, things you can do to help prevent or lessen teeth grinding are:

  • Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol because it can worsen an existing teeth grinding problem
  • Use your teeth for chewing food only. No pencils, pens, toothpicks.
  • Avoid chewing gum because the muscle action involved encourages teeth grinding
  • Try to pay attention to times when you might clench or grind your teeth and train yourself to relax these muscles. Placing the tip of the tongue between the front teeth teaches your jaw muscles to relax.

Children can also suffer from teeth grinding, though the reasons for it are unclear. Baby teeth being affected by teeth grinding is less of a concern if your child does grind his or her teeth, but if the problem persists once adult teeth are present, it must be addressed.

If you think you grind your teeth or you have a loved one who does, talk to us today about your treatment options.

Dentist in Portland | Dental Insurance Doesn’t Have to be a Headache

Portland, OR Dentist

Understanding a Few Principles Will Help You Navigate Your Dental Insurance

Downtown Dental Associates of Portland

Maybe you’ve spent hours poring over your dental insurance policy and have a firm grasp of what it covers and how to get the most benefit from it. Maybe you’re like the 99 percent of us who simply put aside the policy to review at some later date that never comes.

Don’t worry. The staff members at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland have some answers for you that will help you navigate your dental plan and help you make the most of it.

Once you wade in, you’ll find that dental insurance is a lot easier to deal with than, say, your health insurance. There are just a few things you need to understand to get your head around it.

Let’s go over a few terms that will help:

Deductible — This is the amount, usually $25 or $50, which is paid by you at your first appointment for a particular treatment, a crown or filling for instance. It’s important to note that most insurance companies don’t make you pay a deductible for exams or cleanings because these are maintenance and not treatments, technically speaking.

Annual Maximum Benefit — Just like its name says, this is the total annual amount that you can claim under your dental insurance policy in a benefit year or calendar year. Knowing this amount and discussing your treatment plan with your dentist will help you plan accordingly, so you get the most benefit from your insurance.

Under most dental plans, the annual maximum benefit is usually $1,000 to $1,500 and is paid out in percentages, depending on what services you are receiving. Though the percentages vary by dental insurance company, one example is a plan that offers 100/80/50 percent coverage for various services and treatments.

For example:

  • Preventative services such as exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants for youngsters are covered 100 percent in some plans.
  • Basic restorative procedures, such as fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal scaling and other deep cleaning, are usually covered at 80 percent by some insurance companies and 20 percent by you.
  • Major restorative procedures — such as crowns, posts, dentures, buildups and bridgework — can be a 50-50 deal with you paying half and the insurance paying the other half.

Again, these percentages vary by company and plan.

There are other parts of dental insurance policies that you want to look out for and understand, and these are called exceptions. These are rules in the policy that put a waiting period between when you join a plan and when you can receive your first treatment. Not surprisingly, these are called waiting periods and can be as long as six months. You also want to look for exceptions such as a missing tooth clause that prevents you from getting bridge work or dentures for a tooth or teeth that were missing prior to your joining the plan.

These basics should help you begin to understand your dental insurance, but we also want you to remember that you can ask us what different terms of your policy mean and how they could affect payment.

The most important thing to remember is that your dental insurance policy is a lot like a gift card. There’s an amount you can use, but if you fail to use it in a particular time frame, you lose the benefit. Unlike a gift card, though, use of dental insurance can help you maintain and even improve your general health.

Talk to us today at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland about how we can help you make the most of your dental policy — and your dental health.

Portland Dentist | It’s Important to Understand the Connection Between HPV and Oral Cancer

Portland, OR Dentist

With So Many People Infected, Understanding the Connection Between HPV and Oral Cancer is More Important than Ever

Downtown Dental Associates of Portland

Oral cancer is on the rise, particularly among younger people, thanks in large part to the spread of the human papilloma virus, or HPV. So understanding the connection between HPV and oral cancer is more important than ever because, as with all cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the likelihood of successful treatment and survival.

That’s why at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we include a screening for oral cancer with every exam because we know it’s a simple way to save lives.

Once thought to be a cancer of older people, oral cancer is touching predominantly younger people now because they are sexually active and more likely to acquire HPV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of Americans will have HPV at some point in their lifetimes. For most, the virus will pass through their lives without their ever knowing they had it because the human immune system will fight it off in about two years. For a small number of people, though, it is the beginning of a nightmare.

Some facts about HPV and oral cancer:

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Every day approximately 12,000 people ages 15 to 24 are infected with HPV.
  • Of the nearly 200 strains of HPV, nine are known to cause cancers, and another 6 are suspected of causing cancers.
  • HPV can lie dormant for years or even decades, so there is almost no way to know who gave it to you if you are diagnosed with HPV.
  • You can have HPV and never know it because it often has no symptoms and you will not be aware of your immune system clearing your body of the virus.

For more information about oral cancer and its connection to HPV, please visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

97205 Dentist | Different Patients Require Different Teeth Cleaning Protocols

Portland, OR Dentist

Learn Which You Need: Prophylaxis or Periodontal Teeth Cleaning Maintenance

Downtown Dental Associates of Portland

It is a common misconception among dental patients that there is only one kind of teeth cleaning needed to maintain a healthy mouth. But understanding the difference between prophylaxis and periodontal maintenance can help you see why your dentist might recommend one over the other and why that matters for your dental and overall health.

If you think of teeth cleaning as a spectrum, prophylaxis is on one end and periodontal maintenance on the other. That’s because prophylaxis is teeth cleaning for an already healthy mouth and is preventative in nature against disease. It includes tartar removal and leads to better mouth aesthetics, fresher breath and can be used to spot health issues early on, including oral cancers, diabetes and kidney problems.

Periodontal maintenance, on the other hand, is treatment for a mouth that is suffering from periodontal disease and so is in need of more aggressive and frequent care. Periodontal disease in a spectrum in and of itself, ranging from simple inflammation of the gums to a more advanced state of the disease that can result in damage to the soft tissue of the mouth, bone loss and even the loss of teeth.

While periodontal disease is not curable, it is very treatable, meaning regular maintenance at home and by dental professionals can help you sidestep the very serious problems that can result from periodontal disease.

Risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, hormonal changes in women and girls, diabetes and other diseases and their treatment and medications and being predisposed to it through genetics.

Signs that indicate periodontal disease are:

  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

The team at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland wants you to be educated about the best approach to oral care for you and your family. Please feel free to ask us questions about your dental health and treatment options.

Dentist Near Me | The Advantages of Dental Implants Over Other Tooth Replacement Options

Portland, OR Dentist

Key to a Good Choice is Understanding How Dental Implants Work

Downtown Dental Associates of PortlandIt’s easy to see why replacing a missing tooth is important for cosmetic and health reasons. A missing tooth, even a back tooth, can negatively affect your appearance by diminishing your smile or changing the shape of your face as well as potentially affecting your speech and ability to chew. But it’s important to be aware of the pros and cons of your options – dental bridges, partial dentures and dental implants – before settling on what is right for you.

Bridges and partial dentures are good options for patients who, for health reasons, cannot undergo the oral surgery needed for dental implants. But for patients who can undergo surgery and who want a lasting, cosmetically appealing option that maintains jawbone density, dental implants are the obvious choice.

Dental implants are titanium posts that are placed surgically into the jaw and act as solid anchors onto which your dentist affixes replacement teeth. Titanium is a strong, lightweight metal that the human body readily accepts.

Aside from the fact that implants are the closest option to natural teeth, they can last for many years or even decades, do not involve nearby teeth and help prevent bone loss. That’s because the body quickly reacts to missing teeth by re-absorbing the bone where the root had been. Dental implants, on the other hand, mimic the action of real teeth, putting stress on surrounding bone and causing it to remain robust.

Bridges don’t do anything to stop the bone loss associated with missing teeth and, in fact, have a negative impact on the teeth around them. In order for a bridge to work, the dentist must grind down surrounding teeth to support the bridge. Removable dentures come with their own disadvantages. They are less stable than other options, can be uncomfortable and must be replaced more frequently.

That said, not all implants are created equal. At Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we are committed to using the best possible practices when it comes to providing dental implants. That’s why we never offer implants in one visit. Healing and bone growth are key to successful implants, so we allow the time for the patient to heal after the native tooth is removed as well as after the titanium rod is surgically implanted. This healing time allows the bone to grow around the rod, which is precisely what makes an implant such a strong and lasting option.

If you are considering dental implants or any other options for replacing missing teeth, call us to schedule a consultation so we can review them with you and help you settle on the one that’s best for you.