What is a Tooth Abscess?

dentist analyzes x-ray

An abscessed tooth isn’t a very fun topic to talk about, but it is necessary. Many people will experience an abscess in their life as well as the pain that often comes with it. At our dental office in West Chester, we’re here to share some important information about tooth abscess, so you’re able to recognize the signs and get treatment quickly.

What is an Abscess?

A tooth abscess is a painful collection of pus that’s brought on by a deep tooth infection that has spread into the tooth’s root and even the bone. If treatment is not sought early, the infection can lead to serious problems and perhaps require a tooth extraction.

Signs & Symptoms

Tooth pain is a common sign of an abscess. Other signs and symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Face or jaw swelling
  • Sensitivity with increased pressure
  • A bad taste in your mouth that may taste salty
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or ear

It’s worth noting that, occasionally, an abscess won’t show any symptoms at all. When this happens, your dentist in West Chester is usually the one to diagnose an abscess at one of your dental checkups through the use of a dental x-ray.

Causes of an Abscessed Tooth

Often untreated decay is the main cause of an abscess. But there are other things can lead to a painful abscess, including an injury to the mouth, certain dental treatments (such as a root canal), crown, or filling, or from clenching or grinding.

Risk Factors

There are several things that can increase your risk of getting an abscess including:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Eating too much sugar
  • Dry mouth
  • Not seeing your dentist in West Chester every six months

All of these factors increase your risk of decay, and in turn an abscessed tooth.

Prevention

Since many abscesses are caused by untreated decay, the best thing you can do to prevent an abscess is to follow a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing every day. It’s also recommended that you visit our dental office in West Chester at least twice a year for preventative care, professional dental cleanings, and x-rays.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment or you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today. We have dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Recognizing the Signs of Oral Cancer

oral cancer awareness ribbon

Oral cancer is a scary disease that takes the lives of over 8,500 Americans every year. It’s a widespread problem that can be treated, often very successfully, if caught early. The problem is, many people don’t know the signs of oral cancer and may never realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. So in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, our dental office in Middletown is here to help spread awareness of not only the common signs of oral cancer, but also several risk factors.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be crucial in catching and diagnosing the disease early when treatment is most successful. Some of the more common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Change in voice

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist in Middletown as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

It’s important to note that anyone can get oral cancer. However, there are some things that can put us at more risk of the disease including:

Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.

Age: People over 50 are the most affected by oral cancer.

Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.

Alcohol: Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.

Limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products are great ways to reduce your risk of getting oral cancer. But perhaps one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of oral cancer is to see your dentist every six months. These visits can help catch any problems early while the chance for successful treatment is greatest.

Every year, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Of those, 40% won’t survive more than five years. Early detection greatly increases the chance of successful treatment and survival. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Middletown today.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Why Do I Grind My Teeth?

man grinds teeth

Did you ever wake up in the morning and notice that your face and jaw are sore? Do you get up in the mornings with unexplainable headaches?  Our dental office in Kettering wants to know if you’ve ever considered that your pain and discomfort could be caused by teeth grinding or bruxism. Read on and see if your smile is at risk because of clenching or grinding…

What Exactly is Bruxism Anyway?

Bruxism is defined as the involuntary habitual grinding of your teeth, mainly while you’re asleep. That’s what makes teeth grinding so dangerous for you and your smile. Many of the 30 million people who struggle with bruxism don’t even know they’re doing it, so they don’t know what signs and symptoms they should be looking for. That’s why it’s important to have a partner like your dentist in Kettering who can see the early warning signs and help you fight your bruxism before it badly damages your teeth.

What Causes Bruxism or Teeth Grinding?

The American Dental Association says there are three big reasons why patients of all ages grind or clench their teeth while sleeping. While we break them down here, ask yourself if any of these could be affecting you oral and overall health.

  1. Anxiety or Stress – This is a big one that so many people can relate to, especially when life is busy and demanding. Worrying or feeling stressed can cause us to tense up making it all the more likely you’ll start to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. It’s important to address your stress before it ruins your smile and your sleep.
  2. Having a Bad Bite – Sometimes when your teeth are out of alignment, it can cause problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the surrounding facial muscles. Your muscle can start to spasm during sleep causing you to grind your teeth together in response.
  3. Medical Complications – Some patients who grind their teeth at night could have an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease or even acid reflux. Bruxism is also a side effect of certain prescription medications.

Stop ignoring your pain or masking it with medications. It’s time to call our Kettering dental office as soon as possible before your teeth become damaged or broken. We can give you a comprehensive, thorough exam, learn more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and monitor your bite. From there, we’ll be able to address the severity of your teeth grinding and put together a personalized treatment plan for you.

Garland and Johnson has three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Can Snoring Harm My Smile?

couple snoring

Your dentist in Middletown always wants what’s best for you and your smile. That’s why if there’s something you’re concerned about, we hope you’ll take the time to talk to us. One of the biggest questions we seem to get from time to time is about snoring and how it affects our teeth. The truth is that this is an excellent question and we’re happy to break it down for you in this latest blog post. Read on, enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when we’re done.

There Could Be More to Your Snoring Than You Think

Wrap your head around this fact: The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that almost 90 million Americans are struggling with unruly snoring every time their head touches the pillow. This isn’t good for you or your bed partner! Sometimes snoring is just that: snoring. But in some cases, snoring is attributed to a serious condition called sleep apnea. One of the craziest things about this issue is, so many people have it and are losing sleep over it every single night, but don’t even know it!

Some of the most common signs of sleep apnea related snoring are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness throughout the day
  • Night sweats
  • Choking
  • Gasping for air
  • Sudden awakenings where you have to restart breathing
  • Falling asleep at unwanted times

Understanding Sleep Apnea

It’s important to understand that if you or someone you know thinks sleep apnea may be to blame for their snoring, that there’s a safe, personalized solution for everyone that can help you get the restful night’s sleep you need and deserve.

Sleep apnea is usually classified into two distinctively different ways:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is, by far, the most common form of sleep apnea being diagnosed across the country today. At our dental office in Middletown, we’ll always tell you to seek help if you or someone in your family continues to have issues with snoring. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s usually caused by a blocked airflow during sleep due to your soft tissue collapsing in the back of your throat.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose because it involves a specific problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles to respond. Unlike OSA, your airway isn’t blocked in this case; it’s your brain that fails to signal your muscles to breathe.

Snoring and Your Smile

There’s no doubt snoring affects your oral health. It mainly has to do with dry mouth and the lack of saliva that’s no longer present when your mouth stays open for long periods of time. Your teeth can be subject to decay and deterioration because your mouth loses the ability to wash away harmful bacteria, acids, and plaque. This means your teeth could be susceptible to enamel erosion and foul odor.

We always hope you’ll feel comfortable discussing both your oral and overall health concerns with the talented team at our Middletown dental office. If you think your snoring is becoming out of control and you’re worried about your smile, please don’t hesitate to talk to us. Together, we can get you the help you need and keep your teeth protected and healthy enough to last a lifetime.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

How to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity

sensitive tooth

If you’ve ever experienced tooth sensitivity, you’re well aware of just how uncomfortable it can be. Something as simple as drinking a cold beverage or trying to enjoy a of bowl of ice cream can send you into a fury of pain. When faced with the discomfort of sensitive teeth, your dentist in West Chester is the first place you should turn to for help.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

The most common cause of tooth sensitivity is due to part of the tooth’s root becoming exposed. These roots are packed with tons of nerves that can send pain signals soaring into your brain when they come in contact with heat or cold. Oftentimes root exposure happens as a result of gum recession or worn enamel, which can be caused by a number of things including chronic grinding or clenching, brushing too hard, or consuming a lot of acidic foods or drinks.

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

There are a number of things that you can do at home to help reduce pain caused by sensitive teeth including:

  • Choosing the Right Toothpaste. Selecting a toothpaste that’s specifically designed to easy sensitivity and using it regularly can help reduce the severity of the sensitivity and give you some relief. Look for an option that’s formulated for those with sensitive teeth and avoid using toothpaste that contains sodium pyrophosphate, which is found many whitening and tartar-control pastes.
  • Using a Softer Toothbrush. Using the right toothpaste and also a soft-bristled toothbrush can double the sensitivity-fighting effects. Toothbrushes with soft bristles are more gentle on both the gums and tooth enamel, yet are still very effective at removing bacteria and plaque buildup. Harder bristles, on the other hand, can scratch enamel and even cause it to erode. This will increase the risk of roots becoming exposed and teeth becoming more sensitive.
  • Taking it Easy While Brushing. It may first appear that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. However, quite the opposite is true. Brushing with too much pressure can easily cause gums to recede and enamel to erode, again leaving your roots at risk for being exposed.

Making some adjustments to your oral hygiene routine can help reduce tooth sensitivity, but if the pain continues to bother you and keeps you from enjoying your favorite foods, schedule an appointment with your West Chester dentist. There are many treatments available such as fluoride, bonding, or a root canal and dental crown.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

4 Ways to Help Bad Breath

bad breath

Halitosis, or more commonly referred to as bad breath, can happen to anyone. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But what’s more concerning for the team at our dental office in Kettering is that bad breath can be a sign of something more serious. Let’s take a look at what causes bad breath and some ways you can get rid of it.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be caused by something temporary such as fragrant food or something like coffee. This type of bad breath usually resolves itself and is probably nothing to worry about. However, when bad breath becomes an ongoing occurrence, you should consider calling your dentist in Kettering.

Chronic bad breath is typically caused by an overabundance of bacteria in the mouth. Now, while the bacteria themselves don’t smell bad, the byproduct they give off after feeding certainly does. This byproduct is stinky hydrogen sulfide and it’s what we’re referring to when we talk about smelling bad breath.

Why is Bad Breath Concerning?

Besides causing embarrassment, bad breath can be an early symptom of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious problem not only for your mouth but also for your body. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, sensitivity, and has even been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Essentially, bad breath is something you should take seriously and seek proactive treatment.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

If you suffer from bad breath, there are few tips you can try.

  1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene. Making sure that you brush and floss daily is a great way to get rid of bacteria that could contribute to bad breath if left alone. Clean the surface of every tooth, under the gum line, and the tongue.
  2. Choose Water. Keeping your mouth hydrated helps wash away bacteria which can lower your risk of bad breath. When our mouths don’t get enough water, they dry out and saliva production slows, leaving bacteria free to linger around.  
  3. See Your Dentist. Maintaining regular visits to your Kettering dentist can not only help protect your smile from cavities, it can also help catch any potential problems before they have a chance to become serious… including gum disease. If you’re worried about your bad breath, or if it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, give us a call today.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

How Does Oral Health Affect Heart Health?

heart health month

February marks the beginning of a month-long dedication to heart health. It’s officially known as American Heart Month, and its purpose is to raise awareness of the risks associated with heart disease. Many people know that things like smoking and a poor diet can cause troubles with the heart, but at our dental office in Kettering, we also know that your oral health can affect your heart health.

The Mouth is the Window to Whole-Body Health

You may have heard the expression that the eyes are the window to the soul, and while that may be true, another part of your body can tell you a lot about your overall wellbeing. The truth is, your mouth can give your dentist in Kettering insight to other problems that may be going on in the rest of your body. More specifically, researchers have found a connection between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease.

More About Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious dental problem that requires early treatment to resolve. Without proper intervention, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other health concerns throughout the body. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) has concluded that people who have gum disease are at increased risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. This happens because the bacteria that cause gum disease have a pretty easy path into the bloodstream and can raise the levels of something called C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP can cause some scary problems such as:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

Signs of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease are easy to explain away and some may think they’re actually normal. However, any of the following signs could mean that you may have gum disease.

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, it’s important to see your Kettering dentist as soon as possible.

The team at our Kettering dental office wants to encourage all of our patients and neighbors to practice a good oral hygiene routine at home as well as get professional teeth cleanings and dental checkups at least twice a year. These appointments can help catch and treat gum disease before it has a chance to cause bigger, more serious complications.  

Don’t leave your heart at risk, call to schedule an appointment today. We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

What Happens if You Don’t Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

wisdom teeth on x-ray

Wisdom teeth are often a topic of concern for many patients, and we get asked a lot of questions about these sometimes pesky teeth. How do you know if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed? What happens if you don’t extract wisdom teeth? Does the procedure hurt? We understand that wisdom teeth can be confusing and perhaps even scary, but don’t worry, our dental office in West Chester is here to help.

Wisdom teeth are usually first seen on dental x-rays during routine appointments with your dentist in West Chester. Typically your dental team can see them before you even know that they’re starting to work their way to surface. This is also when we can most likely tell if they’re going to need to be removed. Most of the time, they will need to come out. In fact, 90% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. But what happens if you don’t have your wisdom teeth extracted?

Overcrowding

The top reason why most wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there’s simply not enough room in the mouth for these new teeth. Your dental x-rays will show your dentist whether or not there will be enough space for your wisdom teeth. However, if your mouth doesn’t have adequate room and you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, it can lead to overcrowding, crooked teeth, or even an impaction. Having impacted wisdom teeth essentially means that the teeth are stuck in your bone below the gum line. This can be very painful and increases the risk of infection.

Coming in Sideways

Wisdom teeth also have a funny way of working themselves sideways and start to come through horizontally rather than vertically through the gums. If this occurs, nearby healthy teeth can be seriously damaged and your bite can be affected, causing larger, more serious, and painful problems.

The Dangers of Bacteria

Let’s say your wisdom teeth develop perfectly and there’s room for them in your mouth. While rare, it does happen. If you’re one of the few that can keep their wisdom teeth, problems may still find you in the future. Wisdom teeth are way in the back of the mouth which makes them very difficult to properly care for. If proper oral hygiene isn’t maintained, teeth can decay and the risk for gum disease increases.

Maintaining regular visits to our West Chester dental office not only helps protect your existing teeth from decay, but these appointments can also help us identify whether your wisdom teeth should be removed before any problems arise. If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, don’t worry. The procedure is incredibly common and your dental team will do everything they can to keep you comfortable during and after treatment.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

woman with stress

Being stressed out is stressful enough, but knowing that constant or repeated high levels of stress can actually affect your health and make you sick certainly doesn’t help either. Too much stress can cause serious health issues throughout the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. But the concerns don’t end there. Our dental office in Kettering also wants our patients to know that high stress can also affect oral health.

Clenching & Grinding

During periods of increased stress, a common and automatic response may be to clench our teeth together or even grind them against each other. If either of these habits is done too often, it could result in chipped, broken, or cracked teeth as well as damage to the jaw joint. The constant force put on the jaw joint during repeated clenching can make the muscles sore and eventually cause TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder, or TMD, tends to be painful and may also cause popping, clicking, or a locked joint. In order to get relief, your dentist in Kettering will need to find the best TMJ treatment for your individual case.

Gum Disease

When many people think of gum disease they often immediately assume it was caused by poor dental hygiene. But there are several other factors that can put you at increased risk including smoking, medications, clenching or grinding your teeth, and stress. Gum disease is a serious condition that not only affects your mouth but also your whole body. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, heart disease, and increase the risk for stroke.

Lower Your Stress & Protect Your Health

Stress is a natural part of life, but there are things you can do to help protect your health against the negative side effects of too much of it.

  • Take a Deep Breath. Believe it or not, sometimes all you need to reduce stress is a few minutes of deep breathing. Focusing on your breath can lower your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed almost instantly.
  • Work up a Sweat. Exercising regularly increases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone. These chemicals are known to help make us feel good and combat anxiety and stress. Go for a walk, do some yoga, swim some laps. Whatever you do… just get moving.
  • Sleep it Off. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours a sleep every night, but many of us don’t. A thorough night’s sleep can reboot your body, lower stress, and give your body a chance to recover.

Nobody likes feeling stressed, and nobody wants to put their health at risk because of it. Commit to finding ways to help you relax, handle stress better, and keep anxiety low.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

4 FAQs About Dentistry

FAQ's

If you have questions about dentistry, you’re not alone. At our dental office in Middletown, we love answering questions from our patients and neighbors in order to help them get a strong, healthy smile. Let’s take a look at four of the most common questions we get asked.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental x-rays are extremely safe, but they do still require radiation. However, the radiation exposure from dental x-rays is super small and so are the potential side effects. The use of protective equipment such as a leaded apron farther minimizes risk. Dental x-rays are incredibly helpful when looking at teeth as they allow us to see things that may not yet be visible to the naked eye as well as into the jaw bone. The images produced from x-rays help us catch decay or other problems early when treatment is easier.  

Do I Really Need to See the Dentist Twice a Year?

It’s usually recommended that patients get a dental checkup every six months. But unfortunately, many people only go to the dentist when they have a problem. The truth is, your dentist in Middletown suggests visiting regularly to prevent just that. Bi-annual dental checkups can prevent potentially painful problems from ever occurring, and if there does happen to be a concern, catching it early often means easier and cheaper treatment.

Is Flossing Necessary?

Even if you brush your teeth twice a day every day you’re still missing out on thorough cleaning. While brushing does a good job at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth and mouth, most toothbrushes just can’t get in between the tiny spaces between each tooth. This is where bacteria, plaque, and food particles love to hang out. If not removed regularly the chances for decay greatly increases. But cavities aren’t your only concern. Failing to remove buildup from around and under the gum line can also put you at risk for gum disease.

What’s the Best Way to Whiten Teeth?

There are many smile whitening options available to us today. From over-the-counter strips to whitening toothpaste, professional in-office whitening to take-home trays from your dentist, how do you know which whitening option is best for you? Each whitening method has its own set of pros and cons. The fastest way to get whiter teeth is usually a professional in-office whitening treatment. But it’s not the right choice for everyone. If you’re looking to get a whiter smile, start by talking with your dentist to find the solution that fits your needs.

As always, if you have questions about dentistry, the team at our Middletown dental office is here to help. Simply call and talk with us today!  

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.