My Blog

Posts for: July, 2015

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
July 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’ve no doubt experienced red and swollen gums. If, however, you notice an especially inflamed area next to a tooth, you may have developed a gum abscess.

An abscess is a pus-filled sac that develops as a result of chronic (long-standing) gum disease, an infection caused by bacterial plaque that’s built up on tooth surfaces from inadequate oral hygiene or from a foreign body (food debris) getting stuck below the gums. The abscess, which typically develops between the tooth and gums, may be accompanied by pain but not always (the affected tooth may also be tender to bite on). Abscesses may grow larger, precipitated by stress or by a general infection like a common cold, and then abate for a time.

As with other abscesses in the body, a gum abscess is treated by relieving the pressure (after numbing the area with local anesthesia) and allowing it to drain. This is often followed by cleaning any infected root surfaces of bacterial plaque and then irrigating the area with a saline and/or antibacterial solution. We may also prescribe antibiotics afterward and some form of pain control (usually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen) to help with discomfort.

Although the results of this procedure can be dramatic, it’s just the first step in treating the overall gum disease. After a few days of healing, we continue with a complete examination and recommend further treatment, usually starting with removing bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), the underlying cause for the infection and inflammation, from all tooth and gum surfaces. This may take several sessions before we begin seeing the gum tissues return to a healthier state.

The key to preventing an abscess recurrence (or any symptom of gum disease) is to remove plaque everyday through proper brushing and flossing, and visiting us twice a year (or more if you’ve developed chronic gum disease) for cleanings and checkups. Doing so will raise your chances of avoiding an uncomfortable and often painful gum abscess in the future.

If you would like more information on gum abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses.”

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
July 15, 2015
Category: Oral Health

As is the case with most celebs today, Beyonce is no stranger to sharing on social media… but she really got our attention with a video she recently posted on instagram. The clip shows the superstar songstress — along with her adorable three-year old daughter Blue Ivy — flossing their teeth! In the background, a vocalist (sounding remarkably like her husband Jay-Z) repeats the phrase “flossin’…flossin’…” as mom and daughter appear to take care of their dental hygiene in time with the beat:

We’re happy that this clip highlights the importance of helping kids get an early start on good oral hygiene. And, according to authorities like the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, age 3 is about the right time for kids to begin getting involved in the care of their own teeth.

Of course, parents should start paying attention to their kids’ oral hygiene long before age three. In fact, as soon as baby’s tiny teeth make their first appearance, the teeth and gums can be cleaned with a soft brush or cloth and a smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. Around age 3, kids will develop the ability to spit out toothpaste. That’s when you can increase the amount of toothpaste a little, and start explaining to them how you clean all around the teeth on the top and bottom of the mouth. Depending on your child’s dexterity, age 3 might be a good time to let them have a try at brushing by themselves.

Ready to help your kids take the first steps to a lifetime of good dental checkups? Place a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush, and gently guide them as they clean in front, in back, on all surfaces of each tooth. At first, it’s a good idea to take turns brushing. That way, you can be sure they’re learning the right techniques and keeping their teeth plaque-free, while making the experience challenging and fun.

Most kids will need parental supervision and help with brushing until around age 6. As they develop better hand-eye coordination and the ability to follow through with the cleaning regimen, they can be left on their own more. But even the best may need some “brushing up” on their tooth-cleaning techniques from time to time.

What about flossing? While it’s an essential part of good oral hygiene, it does take a little more dexterity to do it properly. Flossing the gaps between teeth should be started when the teeth begin growing close to one another. Depending on how a child’s teeth are spaced, perhaps only the back ones will need to be flossed at first. Even after they learn to brush, kids may still need help flossing — but a floss holder (like the one Beyonce is using in the clip) can make the job a lot easier.

If you would like more information about maintaining your children’s oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Top 10 Oral Health Tips For Children” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
July 01, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: sedation dentistry  

Discover how sedation dentistry could make anxious patients less fearful of the dentist.

Do you cringe at the thought of seeing the dentist? Do you cancel your appointments out of fear? If so, find out why Dr. Jeffrey Harris is Sedation Dentistry making it easier for patients to leave their anxieties at the front door.

About Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry uses different forms of medication to help a patient relax during their dental visit. Sedation dentistry is designed to help soothe anxieties and make your next dental procedure easy and stress-free.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

Patients can choose from different levels of sedation depending on their anxiety levels and the type of dental procedure they are having. Here are the varying intensities of sedation you can expect when you visit your Warrenton dentist:

Minimal sedation: Patients who receive minor sedation will be fully awake during their treatment but will feel completely calm.

Moderate sedation: Sometimes referred to as conscious sedation, some patients who receive moderate sedation may not remember parts of their procedure and will experience extreme relaxation throughout their visit.

Deep sedation: This is often used for those undergoing extensive or multiple dental procedures at once. Patients are on the verge of consciousness and can be easily awakened with a gentle nudge.

There are also different forms of sedation that your Warrenton dentist offers:

Inhalation sedation: By breathing in nitrous oxide (better known as laughing gas) your Warrenton dentist Dr. Harris can immediately help you relax. What tends to make this sedation ideal is that the effects wear off almost immediately after treatment.

Oral sedation: This is usually the most common form of sedation and can produce minimal to moderate effects. Oral sedation comes in the form of a prescription-strength anti-anxiety pill (most commonly a form of Valium). While it won’t produce unconsciousness it can cause drowsiness and reduce dental anxieties in nervous patients.

Who is Sedation Dentistry Right For?

Sedation dentistry is a great option for anyone who experiences dental fears or phobias. If you have been canceling one dental visit after another due to anxiety then it’s time to find out how sedation dentistry in Warrenton could make your next dental visit easier.

Sedation dentistry is also great for those who have sensitive gag reflexes, those who have problems sitting still for long periods of time, those who need multiple procedures performed at once and even for those with special needs.

If you think sedation dentistry could make your next dental procedure a breeze, then it’s time to call our office and let us know! Schedule an appointment today and take the stress out of seeing your dentist.