My Blog

Posts for: October, 2014

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
October 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: medication  

One of the possible side effects of dental work is the introduction of oral bacteria into the bloodstream, a condition known as bacteremia. Although not unusual — it can also occur when you eat or brush your teeth — bacteremia could trigger a dangerous infection for some patients.

For many years, we in the dental profession have taken extra precautions with two such categories of patients: those with congenital (“at birth”) heart conditions who are more susceptible to infective endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the heart lining or heart valves; and patients who’ve undergone joint replacements and are at a higher risk of developing blood-borne infections at the replacement site. It’s been a standard practice for many years to administer antibiotics to patients in these two categories sometime before they undergo a dental procedure as a way of curtailing the effects of any resulting bacteremia.

Recently, however, the guidelines for antibiotic pretreatment for dental work have changed as two major medical associations have revised their recommendations on the procedure. The American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends dentists administer antibiotic pretreatment only to heart patients with a history of endocarditis, artificial valves or repairs with artificial material, heart transplants with abnormal heart valve function and other similar conditions.

Likewise after a series of joint studies with the American Dental Association on infections in dental patients with orthopedic implants, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons no longer recommends pretreatment for artificial joint patients. It’s now left to the dentist and patient to determine whether antibiotics before a procedure is appropriate based on the patient’s medical history. For example, premedication may still be prudent for joint replacement patients with compromised immune systems caused by systemic illnesses like cancer or diabetes.

Although the guidelines have narrowed, it’s still important for you tell us about any heart condition you may have, or if you’ve undergone any type of joint replacement therapy. It’s also advisable for you to discuss with your primary doctor how your condition might be impacted by any proposed or scheduled dental procedure. Our aim is to always minimize any risk to your overall health as we treat your dental needs.

If you would like more information on antibiotic treatment before dental procedures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
October 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   Prevention  
Warrenton area parents: Do you desire a dentist who is patient, caring, and understands the importance of your child’s dental health? Then, Dr. Jeffrey A. Harris is the dentist to visit. At our office, we provide regular check-ups and cleanings, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and sports mouth guards for your child.
Child ImageA child’s dental health is important for their overall health. Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, but it is the most common chronic disease in children. More than 40% of children from the ages of 2-11 have had a cavity in their baby teeth, and more than 2/3 of 16-19 year olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth.
There are safe and effective measures that parents can take to ensure your child’s smile is protected. Good oral hygiene practices are vitally important. Encourage your children to perform thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities. Dental sealants and water fluoridation are also beneficial to help prevent tooth decay.

The Basics of Good Oral Hygiene

  • The Rule of 2 – Brush 2 times a day for 2 minutes on every surface of every tooth.
  • Flossing – There are character made “flossers” that help aid children in finding a easier, more enjoyable way to floss their teeth.
  • Parents’ Role – Your kids are not able to brush on their own until they are able to tie their shoes. Parents are encouraged to aid their child in proper teeth brushing techniques.
  • Healthy Snacks – Having snacks that are healthy available for children will help their oral health and their overall health. Always offer a healthy choice before crackers or sweets. Sugary and acidic foods separate and together can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Visit Dr. Jeffrey Harris For Your Child's Dental Check-up

The steps you take at home are equally important as regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups. Contact Dr. Harris’s office today to keep your child’s health in check.

Making sure your child practices good oral hygiene is sometimes easier said than done. How do you make sure your kids practice good oral hygiene? We would love to hear your tips!


By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
October 09, 2014
Category: Oral Health

You may think snoring is a minor problem, but it can be a lot more than that. Just ask hoops star Shaquille O'Neal, whose rambunctious snoring bothered his girlfriend enough for her to suspect a health problem. Her observations eventually led to Shaq's diagnosis of moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissue structures at the back of a person's throat, including the tongue, partially close off the upper airway and prevent air from moving into the lungs during sleep. Sometimes airflow can be blocked completely for 10 or more seconds.

When air flow is reduced, blood oxygen levels drop. This leads to brief waking episodes known as “micro-arousals,” which can happen sometimes more than 50 times an hour. The sleeper might not even be aware of this, even while gasping for air. Micro-arousals prevent the person from ever reaching deep, restful sleep.

Besides suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show sleep apnea patients are at higher risks of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes. People with sleep apnea also have a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents.

OSA can be treated in a few different ways. On the advice of his doctor, Shaq opted for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which generates pressurized air delivered through a face mask worn while sleeping. The force of the pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same way as blowing into a balloon does.

For people with milder OSA, or who find they can't tolerate wearing a mask during sleep, an oral appliance supplied by a dental professional might be the answer. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth and are designed to gently reposition the jaw and move the tongue forward away from the back of the throat. Success rates of 80% or more have been reported using oral appliances, depending on the severity of the OSA.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”