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Periodontal Health during Pregnancy

February 20th, 2019

Congratulations! Your pregnancy is a time of joy and excitement—and a time to take special care of yourself. You’ve discovered that pregnancy brings many physical changes, but it may still come as a surprise to learn that pregnancy hormones can affect your oral health as well. What should you look out for?

Gingivitis

Beginning in the second or third month of pregnancy, your gum tissue may show signs of gingivitis. Pregnancy hormones can cause an increase in the blood supply to your gums and affect the way your gums respond to plaque. These changes may lead to gums that are swollen, red and more likely to bleed upon brushing. This early form of gum disease should be treated as quickly as possible to avoid a more serious condition called periodontitis.

Periodontitis

Without treatment, the inflammation caused by gingivitis can increase. Periodontitis can lead to gums pulling away from the teeth, creating “pockets” that can be home to infection. These infections can lead to bone and tooth loss, so professional treatment is a must.

Pregnancy Granulomas

If you find a dark red swelling along the gumline or between two teeth, it might be a pregnancy granuloma. These granulomas are thought to be triggered by pregnancy hormones and may be a reaction to plaque or some other irritant. They often disappear once your baby is born and usually don’t cause any bother, but if you develop discomfort eating or speaking, your dentist might suggest removal.

You are looking for every way possible to provide your baby with the best start in life, so it is important to know that some studies have suggested a link between periodontal disease in pregnancy and complications such as pre-term delivery and low birth weight. Here are some important ways to maintain your oral health during pregnancy:

  • Call Dr. McCarthy when you find out you are pregnant. We have suggestions for your dental care that you can use immediately.
  • Keep to your regular schedule of dental examinations and cleanings at our Camarillo, CA office. If you find your gums beginning to show signs of gingivitis, call our office for an appointment. You might need to have your teeth cleaned more often during your pregnancy to avoid plaque buildup.
  • Maintain your daily dental hygiene. Be sure to carefully brush along the gumline to discourage plaque formation. If you have not switched to a soft bristle toothbrush, now is the time! Talk to us about possible rinses or other at-home treatments.
  • See a periodontist if needed for more serious gum problems.

Your pregnancy is a time to treat yourself and your baby with care. Talk to our office as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Making your dental health a priority can bring rewards both now and in the future, and we welcome the opportunity to suggest the best possible ways to care for yourself and your baby!

Team Dark Chocolate

February 13th, 2019

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate all the treasured relationships in your life. It’s a time to honor love in all shapes and forms with cards, social gatherings, and sometimes even binge eating of sweets.

It's hard to look the other way when grocery stores and pharmacies are invaded with goodies connected to the Valentine’s Day theme, and especially if you’re on the receiving end of some of these sweets. We get it. In fact, we’re all for it!

However, we also support a cavity-free smile. So in the interest of your dental and general health, and because we think it’s genuinely tasty, Dr. McCarthy recommends an alternative to the Valentine treats you may be accustomed to: dark chocolate. 

Yes, Healthy Chocolate Exists

Studies have shown that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, an ingredient found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Flavonoids can help protect the body against toxins, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.

By opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, you get to reap these benefits! Pretty sweet, right? Just make sure to stick to high-quality dark chocolates that have undergone minimal processing.

Dark Chocolate, AKA Protector of Teeth

Not only does dark chocolate provide some nice benefits for your overall health, it also helps protect your teeth against cavities! According to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, dark chocolate contains high amounts of tannins, another ingredient present in cocoa beans.

Tannins can actually help prevent cavities by interfering with the bacteria that causes them. Think of them as scarecrows for bacteria. They don’t always prevail, but isn’t it nice to have them there?

Smooth Never Sticky

Unlike many popular candies, dark chocolate is less likely to stick in the crevices of your teeth. Chewy, gooey sweets are more likely to hang around in your mouth for longer periods of time, which means they raise the odds of your harboring cavity-creating bacteria.

While some dark chocolates have additives like caramel or marshmallow, it’s best to opt for the plain varieties, which are just as delicious. If you’re feeling festive, though, a dark chocolate with caramel is still better than a milk chocolate with caramel, so that’s the way to go!

While dark chocolate has some pretty sweet benefits, the most important thing to remember (whether you go the dark chocolate route or not), is that moderation is key. That being said, we hope you have fun satisfying your sweet tooth and shopping for treats for your friends and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Michael McCarthy, DDS!

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems

February 6th, 2019

Have you ever wondered why people have wisdom teeth? These are a third set of molars that come in behind the rest of all your other teeth, usually during early adulthood. Scientists and anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth are a result of evolution, because our ancestors needed these extra teeth to handle their primitive diets. Nowadays, the average diet consists of fewer hard-to-chew foods, which renders wisdom teeth largely superfluous.

Most people begin to experience wisdom teeth pain between the ages of 17 and 25. Our ancestors nicknamed them wisdom teeth because they appeared at a time in life when we supposedly grew wiser.

If you’ve already had your wisdom teeth removed, you know how painful they can become if they aren’t taken care of promptly. If not, watch out for discomfort in the back of your mouth and let Dr. McCarthy know right away if you think your wisdom teeth are coming in.

In some cases, people do not experience any problems or discomfort with their wisdom teeth. These patients may keep their wisdom teeth intact if there’s enough room in their jaw to fit them properly. But this is generally not the case, so wisdom teeth can cause several concerns, depending on which direction they grow.

Common problems include:

  • Damage to surrounding teeth due to the pressure from the emerging teeth
  • Infection that causes the surrounding gums to swell and become painful
  • Tooth decay due to the lack of room to clean the teeth properly
  • Impaction (when the tooth is unable to break through the skin)
  • A cyst that may damage the jaw, the surrounding teeth, and nerves

If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed yet, there are many symptoms to watch out for when they begin to grow. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the jaw
  • Tooth irritation
  • Swelling of gum tissue
  • Crowding of other teeth
  • Spread of tooth decay or gum disease on nearby teeth

If you’ve noticed these symptoms, schedule an appointment at our Camarillo, CA office. Don’t forget: This is a common procedure that will take some time to recover from. Allow your mouth to heal, and then you’ll be able to get back to a normal routine quickly and be free from pain!

Post Oral Surgery: Signs of Infection

January 30th, 2019

Oral surgery can be intimidating, especially if you show any signs of an infection afterwards. Dr. McCarthy and our team want you to be informed about what to watch for after you’ve undergone surgery.

Oral surgery procedures are intended to reduce pain and prevent infection. Sometimes complications occur after your surgery, and if infection ensues, it will require swift medical attention.

People undergo oral surgery for many reasons, such as:

  • Impacted or infected teeth
  • Tooth loss, jaw problems
  • Facial injuries or infections
  • Birth defects
  • Sleep apnea

Symptoms of Infection

  • Pain that won’t go away with medication
  • Steadily swelling of gums, jaw, or face
  • Redness or oozing of pus from the area
  • Fever that doesn't subside
  • Difficulty opening the mouth or jaw
  • Excessive bleeding for 24 hours
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing (emergency situation)

After the initial surgery, don’t become worried right away if you notice any of these symptoms. It’s normal to show some blood and swelling after surgery, but that should stop fairly soon with the help of gauze and medication.

You will most likely be numb from the procedure and we will advise you to avoid hard foods for the first day. Pain medication will be administered, and you should take it before you begin to notice pain. A cold compress can also help with swelling and initial pain.

You will be advised not to brush your teeth in the region where the surgery occurred. You may use a prescription mouth rinse, or you can gargle with warm salt water to reduce the swelling. If you follow these directions, you can speed the healing process for a quick recovery.

Don’t fret: a post-surgery infection is not a common development. It happens most often to people who have a compromised immune system or diabetes. Let Dr. McCarthy know beforehand if you have either of these and we may prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent the spread of infection in the areas of your mouth that get worked on.

If you think you may be experiencing complications after a surgery, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Camarillo, CA office for advice.