Family Dental Care
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease begins with the formation of hard and soft deposits on the surface of the teeth. Over time, a build-up of bacteria (plaque) collects at the gum line, eventually hardening on the teeth into calcium deposits (tartar).
Without proper oral care these bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), penetrate the gum line, and finally spread into the underlying bone (periodontitis). Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to complete destruction of the tooth's supporting tissues, abscesses and tooth loss.
The warning signs of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
According to some estimates, as many as 75% of adults over the age of 30 may suffer from some degree of gum disease. However, with proper oral care gum disease can be controlled or even reversed.
Gums and Overall Health
We all know that prevention is one of the keys to maintaining overall health.
We exercise and watch what we eat to help reduce our risk of heart attack, stroke and certain cancers. In much the same way, we should take good care of our oral health in order to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
Why is this so important? The reasons are much more than cosmetic. While we once believed the worst outcome of gum disease was tooth loss, we now know that oral health matters from head to toe.
Periodontal (gum and bone) disease may be a risk factor for a number of serious health conditions. In recent studies, gum disease has been linked to:
- Heart disease & stroke
- Pneumonia & other respiratory diseases
- Premature, low birth rate deliveries
What Can You Do?
If you suffer from or are at risk for 1 or more of these health conditions, it is particularly important to pay attention to you oral health. The good news is that with regular, proper oral care, gum disease can be controlled or even reversed. Visiting your dental hygienist on a regular basis is one of the most important steps you can take to maintain or improve you oral health.
Here's what you can expect from your dental hygienist:
- He or she will start by sitting down with you to review your medical history and make sure there are no medical conditions present that could influence your treatment.
- The next step is assessing the condition of your gums, teeth and other areas of your mouth. Any areas of concern will then be referred to your dentist or physician.
- You are then ready to have your teeth cleaned (called "scaling") to remove plaque build-up. This is done using hand instruments or a vibrating ultrasonic instrument.
- Your teeth may be polished to remove stains. If needed, you may receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen teeth, or other agents to desensitize them.
- Based on the condition of your teeth and gums, your dental hygienist will customize an oral hygiene program for your care between visits and may advise on other matters relating to oral health, such as reducing sugar intake & smoking cessation.
- It is important to make your personal oral hygiene program - developed together by you and your dental hygienist - a daily habit between office visits as a means to control or reverse gum disease.
Less than 5 minutes, twice a day, is all it takes to maintain or improve oral hygiene. It's never too late - or too early - to develop good habits. And remember: visit Dr. Phil Nasralla at least twice a year for thorough check-ups.
At Dr. Phil Nasralla's office, it is important for us to gather all relevant facts about new patients so that we can formulate a complete diagnosis and outline detailed treatment options that are customized to the individual's wants and needs.
We want you to find health and confidence in a smile from Dr. Nasralla, so each comprehensive examination includes the following steps:
- Medical history
- Dental history
- Head & neck exam
- TMJ (jaw joint) evaluation
- Oral soft tissue exam
- Oral cancer screening
- Bite analysis
- Orthodontic screening
- Charting existing teeth, restorations & decay
- Periodontal (gum) charting & evaluation
- Digital X-rays
- Digital photographs
- Cosmetic/smile evaluation
- Impressions/molds of the teeth (when indicated) to make stone models for analysis
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is any cancerous tissue growth located in the mouth. The most common form is squamous cell carcinoma, which originates in the tissues that line the mouth and lips including the tongue, the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gingiva (gums), or palate (roof of the mouth). Squamous cell carcinoma is malignant and tends to spread rapidly (metastasize).
Dr. Nasralla and his team realize the importance of identifying and treating these cancers in a timely manner, therefore they are always looking for and screening any suspicious findings.
Known risk factors for oral cancer may include a genetic family predisposition; smoking and tobacco chewing in conjunction with heavy alcohol intake; and age, especially if one is 40 years or older.
Symptoms may include the following with regard to skin lesions, lumps, or ulcers:
- Usually small and unilateral
- Usually small and unilateral
- Most often pale coloured, maybe dark or discoloured
- Early sign may be a white patch (leukoplakia) or a red patch (erythroplakia) on the tissues of the mouth
- Usually painless in the initial stages
- May develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced
- Tongue problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mouth sores that do not heal in 14 days
- Numbness in late stages
While Dr. Nasralla or other medical professionals may suspect a particular lesion is cancerous, the only definitive method for determining this is through a biopsy (done at Dr. Nasralla’s clinic) and microscopic evaluation of the tissue sample (done at the hospital pathology laboratory).
If you or anyone you know becomes aware of any oral changes that cannot be explained, please contact us immediately for a consultation.
Extractions & Root Canals in the Comox Valley Area
Dr. Phil Nasralla and his skilled team perform oral surgeries and tooth extractions (e.g. wisdom teeth) on a regular basis.
Extraction of any tooth is indicated when one or more of the following conditions arise: heavy decay, fractures, crowding, periodontal (gum) disease, and trauma. These conditions apply to all teeth; however, wisdom teeth often cause more problems in adulthood than any other teeth.
Wisdom teeth are the third molars (one in each corner of the jaws) and the last set to develop and erupt, usually between the ages of 17-25 years. On occasion, some people are fortunate enough to never experience any problems with their wisdom teeth, let alone the need for extractions; and in rare instances some never develop any wisdom teeth at all. However, the average person who requires extractions will have them classified as follows:
Impacted (stuck under the bone and/or gums) and causing jaw pains, infections or problems to the bite and adjacent teeth.
- Non-impacted (grown through the gum line) but there is insufficient room to accommodate all the teeth and/or they are chronically infected or decayed.
Dr. Nasralla performs all surgeries with gentle care and uses local anesthetic and/or oral sedation when deemed appropriate. If you have any concerns or questions regarding any of your teeth, please contact us to request a consultation.