dr. dubravec

How to Keep Your Gums Healthy

Woman holding an appleKeeping your gums healthy is vital to ensuring that your mouth stays clean and your teeth stay intact and in pristine condition. This blog will focus on the best ways to make sure your gums stay healthy in order to prevent gum disease and keep your smile shining bright for years to come.

1) Floss, Floss, Floss

Flossing is one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take to fight against gum disease and keep your gums healthy. Flossing once a day helps clean those areas in between your teeth which are hard for your toothbrush to reach.

2) Brush and Rinse

Brushing twice a day is the most commonly preached method of keeping your mouth fresh and clean. It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash twice a day in order to protect your gums. Rinsing with mouthwash is a great way to thoroughly clean your mouth, because it reaches areas that your toothbrush and floss can’t reach.

3) Use the Right Toothpaste

Choosing the right toothpaste is important to keeping your gums healthy. Make sure to grab a toothpaste that contains fluoride in order to get the best results when brushing. Also make sure to look for the ADA seal of acceptance in order to ensure that you’re getting a toothpaste backed by experts at the ADA!

4) Regular Dentist Checkups

Visiting your dentist twice a year is extremely important in preventing diseases and ensuring that your teeth remain healthy and clean. Your dentist will be able to see early symptoms of gum disease and is the only way for you to get rid of tartar and plaque which are stuck to your teeth and can have a negative impact on your gums if not cleaned.

These four steps can help you significantly improve the health of your gums and reduce your risk of gum disease. If you have any more questions about how to keep your gums healthy or how to prevent gum disease, give Dominik Dubravec, DDS, MMSc a call at 815-932-0554 today!

Estrogen’s Benefits for the Gums

A recent study from a university in Brazil has found that women who take estrogen for osteoporosis are 44% less likely to have severe periodontitis. While it is well known that hormone levels occurring throughout a woman’s lifetime will affect her gums, this study is one of the first to find that estrogen, specifically, may prevent gum disease.

Image of a woman smiling

Women and Gum Health

Women go through numerous changes in hormone levels throughout their lives. Some of the most obvious and well known of these changes are puberty, the menstruation cycle, pregnancy and menopause. For example, girls going through puberty often experience irritated gums, as do pregnant women.

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones. The disease is often attributed to hormonal changes in postmenopausal women, or to a vitamin D or calcium deficiency.

The Study

The study was conducted at the University of Bahia in Brazil, and published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society (July 2017 issue, Vol. 24). Examining the cases of 500 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, 113 of whom chose estrogen therapy for treatment, researchers followed the women for a year. Among other findings, which included the importance of income and dental visit frequency on periodontitis, was the finding that those who received estrogen therapy were much less likely to have severe gum disease.

What does this mean?

The results offer great information for those of us in oral (and other) health fields. They help us to better understand and possibly predict gum issues, and may even lead someday to updated recommendations for periodontal care in women.

Should I be on estrogen?

Not necessarily. While the link appears to be a good one, periodontal disease alone is not enough to warrant hormone replacement therapy in women. Regular check-ins with your physician are the only way to know if you need estrogen replacement therapy.

We are happy to bring you the latest in periodontal news! Please call our office with any questions you may have about your care.

Manual, Electric and Sonic Toothbrushes

ToothbrushWith the many options of toothbrushes available today, we understand that choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. If you are considering changing your brush style, read more information below about manual, electric and sonic toothbrushes.

Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes are the most common type of toothbrushes, available at your local convenience store. Many people choose to opt for the manual toothbrush because it is a much cheaper option compared to the electric and sonic toothbrushes. Studies have shown that there is not a huge difference in using a manual toothbrush vs. an electric/sonic toothbrush, as manually brushing still cleans the surface of your teeth of food debris and plaque. However, manual toothbrushes clean your teeth at a rate of around 300 brush strokes per minute, while electric and sonic toothbrushes operate much faster (see below).

Electric Toothbrushes

Electric brushes operate at a much higher brush stroke rate than manual toothbrushes, with around 3,000 – 6,000 brush strokes per minute. A brush stroke from an electric toothbrush differs from that of a manual toothbrush because it moves much faster in a smaller surface area, using either oscillating or vibrating motions.

Sonic Toothbrushes

Sonic brushes differ from electric brushes slightly in that they vibrate at a much higher frequency, about 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute. Sonic toothbrushes have been found to have a slighter higher cleaning rate because they clean harder to reach areas, such as under the gums and in between the teeth. However, while this may be true – nothing compares to flossing in between the teeth. The ADA recommends for adults with arthritis or who have a hard time manually brushing to change to electric or sonic toothbrushes, which increases stability for your hand while brushing.

Whatever option you chose, as long as you are brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once, you will be able to effectively keep your teeth clean and healthy! If you have any further questions about the toothbrush for you, give us a call at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554!

What is a Periodontist?

When your general dentist refers to you as a periodontist, the first question many people may have is, “what exactly is a periodontist?” Well, to put it simply, periodontists specialize in the placement of dental implants and the treatment of periodontal disease. They are specialists who are trained to keep your gums healthy enough in order for you to be able to keep your teeth for life. Periodontists receive an extra three years of specialized training on top of the standard schooling/training that dentists go through.

Periodontics is defined as “the branch of dentistry concerned with the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth.” Periodontists typically deal with gum disease and keeping your teeth in your mouth by repairing your gums. If the issue is less serious, a general dentist may be able to treat it. However, if the problem becomes more severe or intense, you will be referred to a periodontist for special care.

A study by the CDC states that half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, which is roughly equal to 64.7 million people. There are multiple ways that gum disease can be treated, including surgery, and also by the use of lasers. Periodontists not only specialize in the treatment of gum diseases and repair, but also in the placement of dental implants. Dental implants have become an extremely popular alternative to dentures and are a great way to replace a single tooth or a group of teeth, while keeping your smile perfect.

Knowing a little bit more about what periodontics is can help you have a better understanding of what to expect the next time you need to visit one. If you believe you are having issues with your gums, or would like to receive more information on receiving a dental implant, please call Dominik Dubravec, DDS, MMSc at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554 today for more information!

Dental Implants: The Recovery

Recovery SignThe recovery time following dental implant surgery tends to vary, but is usually based on the amount of teeth being implanted, whether or not a bone graft was needed and the individual and how well they manage their recovery. Luckily, the science and technology behind dental implants has improved drastically over the last few years, improving post-surgery pain and comfort for patients.

The patient requiring the least amount of recovery time would be one who had a standard, single dental implant placed with no bone grafting. With a simple procedure like this one, there is very little discomfort or pain after the surgery. Mild bruising and soreness can occur, but is typically manageable with over the counter pain relievers. In more severe implant cases, such as those where multiple teeth are implanted or severe bone grafting needed in order to accomplish the implant, the recovery time tends to be longer and the discomfort can be more intense.

In any cases, it is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, which can be done by rinsing your mouth gently with salt water beginning the day after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the night after the surgery, but make sure to keep it light around the surgery area as to not disrupt the healing in that area. It is also important to remember that in the week following your surgery, there should be no smoking and no sucking through a straw, as this can seriously inhibit your healing process. It is important to stick to a diet primarily consisting of soft foods for the first 7-10 days following your surgery before beginning to return to your normal diet.

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Dominik Dubravec, DDS, MMSc, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554.

Bad Breath Bad News

woman breathing fresh airBad breath is bad news. Don’t let bad breath be a part of your day! In our office, we are asked on an almost daily basis “How can I get rid of my bad breath?”

Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep your breath fresh and clean:

1. Brush and Floss Regularly:

It’s basic advice, but foolproof. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing and tongue scraping once is the best way to combat bad breath. When the bacteria in your mouth have bits of food and debris to feed on, they create the odors that cause bad breath. Keeping your mouth clean will keep your breath clean at the same time!

2. Drink Water:

You don’t always have access to a toothbrush. As it turns out though, water can be an effective way to freshen your breath until you can get home and brush. Water helps clean out your mouth and prevents dryness, another major cause of bad breath.

3. Eat Good Foods:

A good way to prevent bad breath is to stay away from foods that make your breath smell bad, and eat foods those that will help your breath smell good! Melons and citrus fruit are high in Vitamin C, and help kill bacteria in your mouth. Fibrous foods like apples and celery can help remove food stuck in your teeth, reducing smells caused by bacteria feeding on them.

4. Choose gum and mints with Xylitol:

Sugary gum and breath mints are often used to tackle bad breath. However, the stinky bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and giving them more tends to produce acid that can make your breath smell worse AND lead to tooth decay. Xylitol is a sugar alternative that bacteria cannot break down, which makes it a perfect method for keeping your breath fresh and clean.

If you are troubled by your bad breath, ask us for more tips on staying fresh and clean!

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Oral Cancer Among Men

man standing with arms crossedA recent study by the American Cancer Society reports that oral cancer cases in men is expected to increase in 2017 by 4%, while the rate of new cases among women stays the same year over year. “Oral Cancer”, which is a common way to refer to all head and neck cancers, involves cancer of the oral cavity, lips, tongue, pharynx and esophagus.

Unfortunately, oral cancers often go undetected until their later stages when they are more difficult to treat, giving them an even worse reputation than many other cancers.

Oral cancer is more likely in those who:

  • Drink Alcohol Excessively (more than 2 drinks a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women)
  • Smoke or Chew Tobacco
  • Have HPV (certain strains of the HPV virus are known to cause oral and other cancers)

HPV and Oral Cancer

Along with the rise of HPV among men has come the rise of oral cancers as well. Unfortunately, it has now been estimated that half of U.S. men are infected with HPV. While most of these will not go on to develop cancer, certainly, these increases may continue to create a rise in head and neck cancers until the disease is brought under control.

What You Can Do

Prevention and detection are the most important things when it comes to the fight against oral cancer. With early detection, we can do better for survival rates and, as we have seen with general cancer cases, prevention in the form of abstaining from tobacco and drinking in moderation can reduce the number of cases over time. In order to protect yourself and your family and help us with survival rates, we urge you to see us for an oral cancer screening. It only takes a few minutes for us to examine you – and it could save your life.

For more information on oral cancer, call us at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554 or visit oralcancerfoundation.org.

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Rubber Tipping

healthy gummy smileRubber tipping, a method of introducing oxygen to your gums to fight difficult bacteria, as well as clearing out plaque and excess food debris from under your gums, is a new method of keeping gums healthy. There is good evidence that the bacteria that hide out in gums pockets, the space between your teeth and your gums, can be destroyed with the introduction of oxygen. You can find rubber tips at the end of some toothbrushes, or as an individual tool at your local drugstore.

How it works:

Using a rubber tip and massaging your gums increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your gums. Oral bacteria are “anaerobic”, meaning they cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, so by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the gums, oral bacteria die off.

Benefits of rubber tipping:

  • While brushing and flossing also helps to bring oxygen to the gums, rubber tipping brings it a step further by stimulating blood flow.
  • Rubber tipping helps to prevent periodontal disease by keeping your gums clean – free of plaque and food debris – and by stimulating blood flow to the area.

    How to massage your gums with a rubber tip:

  • After thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth, massaging your gums is the third step to keeping your smile clean and healthy.
  • Using the rubber tip tool at a 45-degree angle, gently massage your gum line for 10-15 seconds for each tooth.
  • If you experience bleeding gums at any point in this process, give us a call.
  • General soreness is to be expected up to three weeks after starting rubber tipping.While this may seem like another tedious way to clean your gums, this simple technique can be carried out while watching TV, reading, etc. and before you know it you will have amazing gums!If you have any further questions about how to use a rubber tip, or why we recommend it, give Dominik Dubravec, DDS, MMSc a call at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554.

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Yes. You still have to floss.

woman flossing The AP recently released an article making the claim that “there’s little proof that flossing works”. Their review cited a series of studies that found flossing does little or nothing to improve oral health.

Here’s the problem: the studies were flawed

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The AP concluded that floss does little for oral health, but it’s important to note that the evidence they cited was very weak at best. In fact, they said so themselves.

As acknowledged by the AP, many of these studies were extremely short. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop” (Associated Press). They also say that “One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss” (Associated Press).

Of course the evidence is unreliable. You don’t simply develop gum disease because you forgot to floss yesterday. Cavities and gum disease do not happen overnight. You can prevent gum disease by maintaining a clean mouth over a long period of time. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology explained: “gum disease is a very slow disease”. In his interview with the AP he recommended long-term studies which he believes would clearly show the difference between people who floss and people who don’t.

Lets put it this way: If a study claims drinking milk does nothing for bone health, but draws conclusions after only three glasses of milk, is it a reliable study? What do you think?

The fact of the matter is floss removes gunk from teeth. You can see it. Gunk feeds bacteria which leads to plaque, cavities, poor gum health, and eventually gum disease. Floss has the ability to reach the food particles that your brush can’t get to.

Aldredge also pointed out that most people floss incorrectly, using a sawing motion instead of moving up and around the teeth to clean the cracks. Positive results come from correct use and it’s critical that people learn to use a tool properly before discarding it as useless.

That’s just what floss is: a tool. Just like your toothbrush, it is designed to keep your mouth clean, and therefore keep your body safe from infection. Both your toothbrush and floss are designed to do what the other can’t, and both successfully remove bacteria from your mouth. Just like proper brushing technique, it is important that you know how to use floss properly, so that you can reap the long-term health benefits of good oral hygiene.

It’s a shame that studies on an important tool such as floss have yielded poor results, but it’s a bigger shame that the studies themselves were poorly designed. Oral hygiene is a long term process, and requires long term observations to make worthwhile conclusions. In the mean time, it’s obvious that you should continue to do everything you can to protect your well being, and floss is one of many tools that can help you do that. If you would like a refresher on the best, most efficient techniques for floss use feel free to call our office today at 815-932-0554!

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Missing Teeth: More than Just a Gap In Your Smile

man smiling with full smileWhile it is true that the most obvious effect of missing teeth is a gap in your smile, missing teeth can cause other problems that you might not be immediately aware of. For example, did you know that for every missing tooth you have you lose 10 percent of your chewing ability? Read on to get a better idea of how a missing tooth can affect your life.

Surrounding Teeth

A missing tooth usually means more stress for the remaining teeth. In addition to that, if you are missing a tooth on the lower jaw, the opposing tooth on the top can grow longer to fill the gap in a process known as superuption or extrusion. This could lead to teeth tilting and move out of place by drifting into the space that was left by your missing tooth – a disaster for your beautiful smile!

Digestive Health

If you are missing teeth, you can’t enjoy all of the foods that you are used to eating – bad for your health and bad for your mood! Say goodbye to caramel apples, saltwater taffy, crunchy carrots and even gum. And because the variety in your diet is reduced when a tooth is missing, digestive problems are unfortunate yet common.

Decay and Hygiene Problems

The shifting of your teeth may cause new hygiene issues as it may be difficult to brush and floss like you normally would. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.

Facial Aesthetics

People with more than one missing tooth may also have issues with a collapsed bite which causes a loss of vertical dimension. This could make your face appear shorter, as the distance between the tip of your nose and your chin would decrease.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore! Dental implants can help you avoid all of the problems listed above and let you live your life normally again. It’s never too late for a dental implant, give us a call at Kankakee Phone Number 815-932-0554 to find out about this life-changing procedure.

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