Are Dental X-rays Safe? Your Encinitas Periodontist Explains

Have you ever wondered if dental X-rays are safe? Are you concerned about exposure to unnecessary radiation? The truth is that X-rays are an essential part of oral examinations. Dental X-rays can reveal oral health problems such as bone loss, cysts, tumors, and dental caries that may not be detectable to the naked eye. Although dental X-rays emit some radiation to capture images of the oral cavity, radiation emission is actually quite minimal. Dr. Ann Kania explains.

Why do patients need dental X-rays?

At oral examinations, panoramic X-rays and bite-wing X-rays are taken to assess patients’ oral health. Images captured by X-rays are incredibly useful for diagnosing oral health conditions such as periodontal disease and tooth decay.

How much radiation do dental X-rays emit?

Traditional dental X-rays emit about a day’s worth of radiation. Every day, you are exposed to some radiation from environmental factors. For example, small amounts of radon in the air or living in a brick house expose people to daily radiation. In most cases, dental X-rays emit about 1.5 millirems of radiation. When compared to other diagnostic imaging procedures such as mammograms or CT scans, dental X-ray emission is minimal. (more…)

San Diego Periodontist Discusses Oral Cancer

Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Dr. Ann Kania along with the American Dental Association use this month to educate the public on the dangers of oral cancer. This year, nearly 40,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed by doctors and dentists throughout the United States. Sadly, almost 8,000 lives are lost annually to this illness. Like other types of cancer, detecting oral cancer early on increases a patient’s chances of survival.

Oral Cancer Information and Risk Factors

Oral cancers may form anywhere in the oral cavity including on the lips, tongue, and soft oral tissues. Certain lifestyle choices significantly increase the risk for oral cancer. Common risk factors such as using tobacco and heavy alcohol use contribute to oral cancer. Patients who are carriers of HPV or those who have had excessive UV exposure are also at risk. However, nearly one-fourth of patients who developed oral cancer had no known risk factors.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Oral sores that heal slowly
  • Bumps or lumps in oral tissue
  • Discoloration on the lips, tongue, or soft tissues
  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Earaches
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss (more…)

Causes of Tooth Loss Explained by Your Encinitas Periodontist

Unlike childhood, where losing a tooth was almost like a rite of passage, losing teeth in adulthood is hardly something to be excited about. In fact, for many patients, losing teeth is distressing and traumatic. Patients with missing teeth often feel self conscious and embarrassed by their smiles. The physiological effects of tooth loss include the diminished ability to speak properly and masticate (chew) food. Contrary to popular belief, tooth loss is not a natural part of the aging process; your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Dr. Ann Kania discusses the causes of tooth loss below.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is the number one cause of tooth loss in adulthood. Gum disease infects and inflames the gum tissue. As the infection and inflammation worsens, the natural bond between your teeth and gum tissue is separated. Over time, your teeth become loose without the support of neighboring gum tissue. Tartar buildup filled with bacteria attaches to the roots of teeth as well. Preventing periodontal disease is important for keeping your teeth for a lifetime. For patients who currently have gum disease, we strongly encourage that they manage their illness with professional treatment and meticulous oral hygiene at home.

Traumatic Injuries to the Teeth

Traumatic injuries are another cause of tooth loss. Injuries may chip, crack, dislodge, or knock teeth out of the mouth. Powerful blunt force from a nasty fall or contact sports often results in traumatic tooth injury. (more…)

Encinitas Periodontist Discusses Bad Habits that Affect Oral Health

Some habits that seem innocent are actually very harmful to your oral health. We often find that patients are surprised how certain behaviors affect their teeth and gum tissue. Are you harming your teeth and gums with common bad habits? Dr. Ann Kania and our staff address some harmful habits below and explain how they damage your oral health.

Brushing Teeth Too Vigorously

You may think that if you brush your teeth harder, you will have a cleaner mouth. While this technique may work for scrubbing dishes and floors, it’s actually harmful for your teeth and gum tissue and does not produce a cleaner mouth. Brushing too vigorously will damage your tooth structure and cause your gum line to recede—affecting your tooth’s natural bond to your gum tissue.  Firmer bristles are often a larger diameter.  This larger diameter can only work above the gum line.  Only soft, small diameter bristles can gently clean below the gum where plaque hides.

Chewing on Hard Objects

Chewing on hard objects such as ice cubes or pen caps will destroy your tooth enamel over time. You can also damage your enamel if you use your teeth as tools to tear away a clothing tag or a product’s packaging. These actions create microscopic cracks in tooth enamel, which leave your teeth vulnerable to decay and fracture. (more…)

Dental Laser Treatment Explained by Your Encinitas Periodontist

Dental lasers have many applications for treating oral conditions. Dr. Ann Kania is a Board Certified Periodontist and also holds certification with the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry. For the treatment of gum disease, dental lasers are less invasive than traditional surgical procedures. Many patients enjoy a shorter recovery time and less discomfort.

Gum Disease Treatment with  Dental Lasers

When gum disease advances, periodontal pockets form between the teeth and gum tissue. Infected and inflamed, these periodontal pockets are the result of deterioration of connective tissues between the tooth and gums.

Our Periolase dental laser is the tool we employ for LANAP, Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. The laser gently opens periodontal pockets and allows Dr. Kania to clean the infected area and smooth teeth roots, reducing the potential for plaque and tartar buildup on roots. Dental laser fibers are tiny and minimally invasive. The laser fiber is inserted between the tooth and gums, into the periodontal pocket to efficiently clear away bacteria and infection. After the pocket is cleaned, the gum tissue is gently compressed back to the tooth without sutures, allowing it to reattach to the tooth by forming a fibrin clot.

Laser Treatment Benefits

  • General anesthesia is not required.
  • Estimates indicate that LANAP is as succussful as traditional periodontal surgery.
  • LANAP procedures reduce recovery time. (more…)

Whoopi Goldberg: Gum Disease Advocate

Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of the daytime talk show The View, openly discussed her struggle with gum disease with her audience and the media. She attributes her development of advanced periodontal disease to neglecting her oral health. Although she possessed great dental insurance, she did not visit her dentist regularly. She stated publicly that she would lose her teeth to the disease because it is eroding her jawbone. Periodontists and dentists throughout the United States have applauded Ms. Goldberg for discussing her condition with the public and endorsing oral-systemic health awareness. She vehemently acknowledged that a person’s overall wellbeing is linked to their oral health. After emergency gum surgery, Whoopi Goldberg returned to The View and urged her audience to take care of their oral health.

Gum Disease is a Serious Condition

Periodontal disease is a severe infection of the gum tissue. It is often painless. Diagnosis requires imaging and clinical examination. When gum disease advances, aggressive bacteria attack your teeth and gum tissue and may eventually destroy your facial bones. Periodontal disease is linked to debilitating conditions and ailments such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, and diabetes. Your best line of defense against gum disease is regular dental cleanings and checkups along with proper oral hygiene. (more…)

Gum Disease Myths Dispelled by Your Encinitas Periodontist

Dr. Ann Kania is a board-certified periodontist with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating gum disease. Advanced gum disease manifests as a dangerous oral health condition and is the number one reason for tooth loss in adulthood. Our team would like to dispel some commonly-held misconceptions about gum health and periodontal disease.

Myth #1

Antibiotics cure gum disease.

While antibiotics are often used to help reduce the presence of infection, these medications do not cure gum disease. In fact, once gum disease advances, the condition is not reversible; it is only treatable. Additionally, if antibiotic medication is overused, bacteria in your body may build resistance to the medication.

Myth #2

Gum disease is only caused by poor oral hygiene.

Although poor oral hygiene contributes to gum disease, some patients develop gum disease because of genetic predispositions, certain medications, or hormonal changes. For example, pregnant women are susceptible to periodontal disease because of intense hormonal fluctuations. (more…)

Heart Health Tips from Your Encinitas Periodontist

Dr. Ann Kania is committed to providing excellent dental and periodontal care. Our staff also cares about the general health of all our patients. Since February is designated as Heart Health Awareness month, we would like to provide our readers and patients with helpful information about heart disease. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, researchers have discovered a link between gum disease and heart-related illness. For our patients with periodontal disease, we want to help inform you of the best ways to protect your heart health.

Heart Disease Facts

  • Heart disease is the number one fatal illness in the United States. Estimates show that about 25% of annual deaths are attributed to heart-related illnesses.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart illness.
  • Each year over 700,000 people in the United States will suffer from their first heart attack.
  • Heart disease affects people of all ethnic backgrounds.
  • The state with the highest incidence of heart disease is Mississippi. Minnesota has the lowest incidence rate. (more…)

The Facts on Xylitol

Many of us feel guilty if we chew gum or eat sugary foods because we have been told that sugar is bad for our teeth. While this is completely true, most chewing gums and breath mints contain an ingredient that is actually good for our teeth. Chances are, if you chew gum or use breath mints, you have used this ingredient before. It is called xylitol.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is often used as a substitute for sugar. It is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, a compound frequently used in the place of table sugar. Xylitol sweetens foods and chewing gum, but doesn’t produce the oral health threats that sugar does. A study dating back as far as the 1970’s shows that xylitol is not harmful to the teeth and may actually reduce the risk of tooth decay.

How Does Xylitol Prevent Cavities?

At any given moment, your mouth is filled with harmful bacteria. These bacteria, especially the mutans streptococci strain, aggressively attack your teeth and cause cavities. When you eat sugary foods or drink sugary beverages, you provide nourishment for harmful bacteria, which feed off of sugar. However, when you consume xylitol, you attract these harmful bacteria, but starve them instead of feed them. Essentially, xylitol tricks bacteria into thinking it is a sugary food source. Xylitol disrupts the colonies of bacteria that form plaque and can protect your teeth from dental caries by reducing harmful calculus and bacterial buildup in the mouth. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of xylitol and acknowledges the claim that xylitol is a great alternative to sugar. (more…)

The Benefits of Fluoride in Oral Health

As a specialist in Periodontics, Dr. Ann Kania places a high priority on preventive care. Throughout her career, she has seen the damaging effects of dental disease in general and specifically gum disease.  She strives to educate her patients so that they can reduce their risk for potential oral health problems. As part of any oral health regimen, fluoride is helpful to maintaining strong teeth and a healthy mouth. Below are some facts about fluoride and its many benefits to overall oral health.

  • Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It can be found in some foods and deep water supplies.
  • As a mineral, it replenishes mineral loss in teeth.
  • It strengthens tooth enamel. Healthy tooth enamel is essential to fighting off cavities and infection of the gum tissues.
  • Many toothpaste brands contain fluoride. When purchasing toothpaste, look for the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.
  • Brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste helps ward off the buildup of plaque. Filled with harmful bacteria, plague buildup is dangerous to your gum health. (more…)