Unhealthy Gums? When To Be Alarmed

Gum Disease: Signs and Symptoms To Watch Out For

Most people don’t know if they have gum disease and that’s because most are not aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease. Most gum disease starts with mild symptoms, but it can progress over time.

The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis. Red, swollen gums that bleed easily, as well as chronic bad breath are usually found in persons with gingivitis. They do not experience any pain or tooth loosening. With good oral hygiene and dental care most will recover from the condition.

If gingivitis goes untreated, over time it can progress to periodontitis. Plaque and tartar can spread below the gum line. Present in plaque are bacteria that irritate the gums and trigger an inflammatory response. The reaction may eventually lead to tissue and bone destruction, characterized by gum tissue slowly receding from tooth structure and bones becoming brittle and prone to fracture. Eventually teeth will lose their support. As the damage worsens, deep pockets of space between the teeth and the connective tissues are observed.

If you have periodontitis, the condition is sometimes asymptomatic, or does not present symptoms initially. However, you may notice the following: teeth appearing longer (gum recession), loose teeth, presence of pus between the teeth or at the gum line, halitosis (chronic bad breath), bleeding gums or red, swollen gums.

There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you getting gum disease. Aging is one of them, but which you cannot control. Other than that, here are some of the most common risk factors for developing gum disease: obesity and poor nutrition, smoking and tobacco use, teeth grinding or bruxism, stress and genetics. Certain drugs, like antidepressants, oral contraceptives, and some heart medications. Presence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are also contributory factors.

If you experience some of these signs, do see your dentist right away: gums that pull back from the teeth, that bleed easily and are swollen or red, teeth that are sensitive teeth or feel loose in their sockets, pain while chewing, and ill-fitting dentures.


Fighting Gum Disease in Bellingham

We know all the signs and symptoms of gum disease and though we see them regularly, we give each patient personalized treatment. Find out if you are at risk. See us at Tetrick Family Dentistry, here in Bellingham.

Don’t Let Sleep Apnea Affect Your Health

Considering Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Apnea

How serious is sleep apnea? If left untreated, sleep apnea is potentially very dangerous. The condition brings with it an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and dementia. It can be fatal in some cases.

There’s a 2015 study examining the association of obstructive sleep apnea with clinical outcomes including all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease(CHD), strokes and chronic kidney disease. It found that people with untreated sleep apnea are 86% more likely to die at a younger age than people who don’t have sleep apnea. It definitely increases the risk of dying younger than you would otherwise.

Side Effects of Sleep Apnea

There are many side effects and complications of untreated sleep apnea. Studies show a strong link between obstructive sleep apnea and depression, though the relationship is not fully understood. Another study found that sleep apnea might be associated with erectile dysfunction in men. It has also been associated with liver damage and metabolic syndrome and increases the risks associated with surgery and undergoing anesthesia.

How is the condition diagnosed? See your primary care doctor if you experience these: loud snoring, headache on waking up, dry mouth, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, irritability, gasping for air at night. It might be sleep apnea. If your doctor suspects it, you might be referred to a sleep specialist for a full evaluation.

Evaluation for sleep apnea will require an overnight stay at a sleep center for monitoring. The primary test is a nocturnal polysomnography that monitors everything from your heart and brain activity to your breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels. There are home sleep test options but are not as reliable.

Treatment Option for Sleep Apnea

What treatment options are available? Lifestyle changes will be the first step, and these include weight loss and exercise, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and changing your sleeping position. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine may be recommended which will keep your airways open while you sleep. This method treats moderate to severe sleep apnea.

If these don’t work, surgical solutions are available. These are tissue removal and tissue shrinkage, jaw repositioning, nerve stimulation, and tracheostomy. Consider your best option. Treating this condition is still worth all the trouble.


Seeking Treatment in Bellingham

For all its worth, look into your sleep apnea condition and consider the possible consequences. For life and health and for the treatment of sleep apnea, pay us a visit here at Tetrick Family Dentistry in Bellingham, WA.

What Parents Need To Know for Children’s Dental Health Month

Tips Every Parent Should Know

The National Children’s Dental Health Month is the month of February and it calls out to parents – the ones responsible for children’s good dental health habits. As parents, kids follow what you do – if you brush regularly, they, too, will. Kids are more likely to accept dental hygiene as part of everyday life as they get older when they start young.

Taking care of infant’s teeth is all about from wiping the gums with soft cloth to fingertip brushing to soft bristle tooth-brushing. A small pea-size toothpaste will do until the child can handle more toothpaste. Artificially sweetened toothpaste is better than those that use sugar. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist in the first year of life, to familiarize them with the process and to detect any early decay issues or anomalies. Regular six-month checkups starting at 2-3 years old is another basic parenting skill. It will monitor good dental health in kids by setting guidelines and establishing discipline.

ADA guidelines offer tips so that brushing is an integral part of family life, but also a time for fun. Tips like brush with your kids to set a good example, let kids choose their own toothpaste and toothbrushes, stick to the brushing routine even on vacation or special event days, make brushing time pass quickly by playing a favorite song, reading/listening to a story, reinforce good habits with stories or videos that show characters taking care of their teeth, and reward good behavior with stickers or other small treats.

Establish some dos and don’ts regarding habits. Make clear that the first line of defense is brushing. Good healthy diet is also important. Things to avoid or minimize are candy, regular chewing gum, fruit juices and soft drinks. They are fun to have occasionally and should not be regular treats.

When choosing a dentist, it’s important to find one you like and trust. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Find out your dentist’s specialty area, insurances that are accepted and methods of payment. As parents, you must know your child’s dentist’s office hours, travel distance distance required to get there, how emergencies are handled outside of office hours, and what is the dentist’s approach to preventive dentistry.


Child-Friendly Dental Practice in Bellingham

When you’re ready and your little one is into his or her first year of life, come visit us at Tetrick Family Dentistry and we’ll start our good oral health journey together.