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Posts for: November, 2017

By J. Michael Plyler, DDS, PA
November 25, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.

First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all  Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.

What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.

Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.”  If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.

By J. Michael Plyler, DDS, PA
November 16, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

A toothache is a frustrating situation which can make it seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, a root canal can help root canalyour toothache instantly, allowing you to walk out of your dentist’s office pain-free. But what is a root canal? How does it work? Find out the answers to these questions and more with Dr. J. Michael Plyler at his practice in Hot Springs, AR.

What is a root canal? 
Though it may seem so from the outside, the tooth is hollow. Inside the hollow portion is the tooth’s pulp, made up of nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp becomes damaged or decayed, it causes the nerves to feel pain, causing a toothache. A root canal clears out the infected tissue from within the tooth, removing the nerve and deadening the tooth, resulting in it not being able to feel pain and curing the toothache. After removing the infected tissue, your dentist scrubs the inside of the tooth and down its root canals, ensuring no infection is left behind. Your dentist then fills the cleaned tooth with filling materials and restores its structure and function.

Can a root canal help my tooth? 
If you have a toothache, your dentist may be able to avoid an extraction by using a root canal to restore the tooth. While an extraction seems like the fast and easy option, it actually comes with a slew of side effects which can affect your teeth long term and cause future issues. You may also need a root canal if your tooth has become damaged, cracked, or broken. Your dentist may also suggest a dental crown which fits over the tooth after the root canal to protect it and restore its biting surface after it receives the large filling.

Root Canal Therapy in Hot Springs, AR
If you think you should receive a root canal, you can consult with your dentist at a regular dental examination and professional cleaning to ensure that this is the best procedure for you. For more information on root canal therapy, please contact Dr. Plyler at his practice in Hot Springs, AR. Call (501) 623-7113 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Plyler today!

By J. Michael Plyler, DDS, PA
November 10, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache  

If your child begins complaining of tooth pain without an accompanying fever or facial swelling, it’s likely not an emergency. Still, you should have us check it—and the sooner the better if the pain persists or keeps your child up at night. There are a number of possible causes, any of which if untreated could be detrimental to their dental health.

Before coming in, though, you can do a cursory check of your child’s mouth to see if you notice any abnormalities. The most common cause for a toothache is tooth decay, which you might be able to see evidence of in the form of cavities or brown spots on the tooth’s biting surfaces. If you notice swollen or reddened gums around a tooth, this could be a possible sign of a localized area of infection known as an abscess. You should also ask your child if they fell or were hit in the mouth and look for any signs of an injury.

If you don’t see anything unusual, there may be another cause—stuck food like popcorn or candy lodged and exerting painful pressure on the gum tissue or tooth. You may be able to intervene in this case: gently floss around the affected tooth to try to dislodge any food particles. The pain may ease if you’re able to remove any. Even so, if you see abnormalities in the mouth or the pain doesn’t subside, you should definitely plan to come in for an examination.

In the meantime, you can help ease discomfort with a child-appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. An ice pack against the outside jaw may also help, but be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin. And under no circumstances rub aspirin or other painkiller directly on the gums—like ice, these products can burn the skin. If these efforts don’t help you should try to see us the same day or first thing the next morning for advanced treatment.

The main thing is not to panic. Knowing what to look for and when to see us will help ensure your child’s tooth pain will be cared for promptly.

If you would like more information on handling dental issues with your child, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child’s Toothache.”