Category Archives: Blog

West Seattle Dentist: Oral Changes in the Elderly

What Oral Changes are Seen in the Elderly?

With the rise of the elderly population, an increasing trend towards poor oral health is seen. Traditionally, the trend is manifest in high levels of tooth loss, dental caries and periodontal disease experience, as well as dry mouth and oral precancer or cancer. On top of these, there is also evidence of the relationship between oral health and poor general health with links between severe periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus, ischaemic heart disease and chronic respiratory disease.

With advancing age, there are changes in the dental and oral structures and are a combination of physiological age changes with superimposed pathological and physician-induced effects.

Take bone changes for example. While alveolar bone in your jaws naturally waste away if no longer supporting teeth, its decline is more pronounced in the elderly if they lose their teeth and don’t wear dentures. There’s loss of facial height as the lower jaw tends to move up and forward. And due to the decline in a particular enzyme (COX-2) for bone repair, healing of bone tissue is delayed. There are also changes in the elderly’s TMJ, that joint which articulates with the upper jaw.

The elderly’s muscle mass in the face also is reduced and, hence, their biting forces are no longer at maximum. Their oral mucosa exhibit changes over time showing mucosal trauma, mucosal diseases, and salivary gland hypofunction which can alter the clinical appearance and character of the oral tissues. It becomes susceptible to infection and trauma due to decreased immunological response.

It poorly responds to medications taken, and can develop ulcers, lesions, including oral cancer. Sense of smell is altered; foods become tasteless, due to degeneration of taste buds, resulting in reduced appetites. And due to decreased salivary function, the elderly constantly suffer from dry mouth.

Tooth enamel of older people becomes more brittle and susceptible to chipping, cracking and fracture. It darkens as it easily stains absorbing organic material introduced into the mouth. Secondary dentine forms as one ages, resulting in reduction in size to sometimes obliteration of the pulp chamber. The dentine hardens (dentine sclerosis) and the roots become brittle, tending towards translucency. As the pulp ages, it becomes less vascular, less cellular and more fibrotic, resulting in a reduced response to injury and decreased healing potential.

Know Age-Related Dental Changes in West Seattle

The elderly patient who comes to First Impressions here in West Seattle are treated very specially owing to the particular changes in their oral anatomy. Know more when you visit us.

West Seattle Dentist: Your Medications are Causing Your Tooth Decay

Common Medicines Affecting the Mouth

You seem to be having tooth decay issues more often than before or experiencing dryness of the mouth, swelling gums, discolored teeth, mouth sores and other nuisances. You may not know it but the medications you’re taking may be the ones causing your mouth woes. Many are common, everyday medicines that you take for your condition to stay healthy. If at the same time, they cause mouth problems, then it’s time you ask your dentist.

Did you know that many meds cause mouth dryness? Not a major condition but it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Antacids, like Tums, Prilosec, and Alka-Seltzer, used to neutralize stomach acids, cause dry mouth and besides are also sugary. Both after-effects weaken teeth causing decay and gum disease. Better cut-down on antacids, choose the sugar-free forms, and brush and floss regularly to avoid more damage.

NSAIDs and other pain relievers can also cause dry mouth, especially if you are taking them for chronic pain relief as in cases of arthritis. To counter this, you must take water frequently, chew sugarless gum, and practise dental hygiene faithfully. Antihistamines for allergy also cause dry mouth and dry tongue because they block saliva release. Decongestants, for allergies and the common cold, are the same but for cough syrups, have an added acidic property that can erode enamel. Hydrate frequently and practice oral hygiene still more, especially using fluoride toothpaste.

If you are taking beta blockers, ca channel blockers, diuretics, and ACE-inhibitors for your hypertension, ask your doctor to switch you to other options with less mouth-drying effects. On the other hand, long-term corticosteroid use (for asthma, COPD, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis) has been shown to cause dental pulp calcification or pulp stones which manifest as the pulp is irritated by these drugs. Pulp diseases can cause sudden, intense pain, mouth infections, dental abscess, and a hardening of the pulp tissue that’s so severe a root canal is required.

Keeping Oral Health while Medicating in West Seattle

Know more about how you can cope with the dental side effects of common medications you might be taking. Turn to your West Seattle dentist at First Impressions Dental and Denture for a consultation on how to manage dental issues arising from taking certain prescription drugs.

Going for Safety with Digital X-rays in West Seattle

Digital vs Traditional Radiography

Between conventional and digital dental x-rays, the similarity would be the film used. Traditional dental X-rays use film plates on which the image is reflected; digital uses a sensor, like a film plate, but is electronic and hooks up to a computer where the image is projected on a screen for viewing. The similarity ends there. The properties of digital radiography are weighty enough to overshadow traditional film X-ray features.

Digital X-rays use up to 90 percent less radiation than film X-rays. This makes digital radiography a safer, excellent option for those who take X-rays on a regular basis or for those who are concerned about radiation. Digital X-rays also produce higher quality images of mouth structures, especially tooth surfaces. Brightness and contrast are adjustable, enabling to visualize even small cavities. On the other hand, the standard size of film X-rays can make viewing and study sometimes difficult and may necessitate re-exposure to X-rays to ascertain accuracy of the image produced.

Through the power of the web, digital dental images can be copied, downloaded, printed, and emailed to colleagues, patients, and others, making it easier to transfer data for review, second opinion, and other requests. It eliminates the time and expense to copy files and mail them.

Finally, digital radiography is environmentally friendly for no chemicals are used to develop film, no darkroom, no storage room needed. Definitely it lowers cost and translates to savings. Digital radiography conforms to the ALARA principle: As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This is a radiation safety principle for minimizing radiation exposure to both patient and operator by employing all reasonable means possible.

Low Radiation Concerns with Digital X-Rays

Dental X-rays are an important part of your regular dental visits, helping pinpoint and diagnose dental issues. If you’re concerned about radiation, talk to your West Seattle dentist about digital X-rays. Find out more how we at First Impressions Dental practice safe dentistry.

Looking after Tongue Health: West Seattle Dentist

Help Tips for a Healthy Tongue

The state of your tongue can very well speak about your hygiene practices and can even tell the status of your overall health. You may not know that oral health is not just about teeth brushing and flossing. Your tongue needs as just much attention, too. A few tips might help you along.

Your tongue needs brushing, too. But do not use the bristles part of the toothbrush for that, instead the reverse part of it if that is provided for by your brush. Or you may use a brush specifically designed for tongue-brushing, sometimes called a tongue-scraper or tongue-cleaner.

The scraper must be thoroughly cleaned before use, that scraping must be in a downward motion two to three times and not too vigorously or you’d hurt your tongue. Do use toothpaste to coat your tongue before you scrape. Remember that you are removing harmful bacteria from your tongue and doing so regularly prevents them from growing and spreading.

While toothpaste neutralizes bacteria on the tongue, rinsing with mouthwash after scraping eliminates bad odor. However, mouthwashes may dry out the mouth so use them only occasionally. Take a half glass of lukewarm water and put in a half teaspoon of salt. Rinse your mouth five to six times a day with it.

Additionally, drink green tea; it eliminates oral bacteria, too. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your mouth. Know that sometimes, dehydration changes the tongue’s color. Avoid black grapes and berries also; they leave their color on your tongue. And if you notice a whitish layer on the tongue during high fever, you can scrape that off.

However, it is likely a fungal infection if it doesn’t get off. For that you might need to see your dentist.

Know More about Tongue Health! Ask our West Seattle dentist

When you come by your dentist in West Seattle the first time, you’ll surely go through a thorough oral examination that includes your tongue. Get to know a complete assessment of your oral status that can lead to a better understanding of what you might need for optimal oral health.

Tooth Bonding by West Seattle Dentist

The Best Uses of Tooth Bonding

If you’ve ever had tooth bonding, you’ve had a cosmetic procedure done on your tooth. It is simply using a tooth-colored material, such as resin, bonded to tooth using adhesives and a high intensity curing light. The procedure restores the natural appearance of teeth that were discolored, chipped or decayed.

Aside from repairing, bonding can alter the shape and length of teeth as may be necessary to align them with others, such as adding tooth-colored resin to edges of teeth that have been worn out. It can take the place of a gap between teeth and protect an exposed root portion after gum tissue has receded.

Bonding is a relatively easy procedure, takes minimal to no preparation unlike using veneers or crowns, and in most cases not requiring anesthesia except when a decayed tooth is involved. It is a common, short office visit (except if multiple teeth need treatment), and must be the least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures.

Due to some inherent limitations of its own, bonded teeth are best suited to small cosmetic changes, ideal for correction of frontal teeth owing to the less stress and pressure they are subject to.

Care for teeth that have undergone bonding is similar to that you give to your natural teeth. Proper oral hygiene as brushing and flossing are essential to maintain their appearance and function. Regular dental visits are as important to see to how bonded teeth are holding up and to check for any chips or discolorations on the surfaces. Your dentist will be able to tell you if bonding is right for you or may make other recommendations relative to your personal conditions.

Cosmetic Solution by Your West Seattle Dentist

A consultation with First Impressions Dental, can help determine if tooth bonding is just right for you. Your West Seattle dentist can provide options depending on the concerned tooth’s condition.