2111 Jefferson Davis Highway Suite # 1 South
Arlington, VA 22202
Gloria E. Ward, D.D.S.
2008 Bremo Road, Suite 104
Reston, VA, 20190
Archer, Richard D D.D.S.
1200 Battlefield Blvd N # 117
Chesapeake, VA, 23320-4790
Sallen, Bruce T D.D.S.
11710 Plaza America Dr # 150
Reston, VA, 20190-4756
Lloyd Moss, D.D.S. DMD PC
410 Pelham Street
Fredericksburg, VA, 22401
When women enter menopause, changing hormone levels bring about a variety of symptoms and raise new oral health issues. Women and their doctors must consider the entire range of physical and emotional health implications, including their oral health.
As natural levels of estrogen decline, women may find themselves at risk for loss of bone density. Jawbones are no different; these structures hold our teeth in place, and loss of jawbone density can lead to tooth loss.
When women lose teeth, there are other immediate considerations. One is the potential loss of nutrition, as people with fewer teeth or with problem teeth tend not to eat well. Second is the loss of confidence or self-esteem that results from any cosmetic changes to our bodies. And third, the financial cost of replacing one or more teeth can stretch even the best-planned budget.
Hormonal changes also can have an impact on the health of gums and teeth. Women may find that their gums become inflamed and bleed easily, and may discover that their teeth are more cavity-prone. Both gum disease and tooth decay can result in losing teeth, another good reason to consider your oral health during this significant time of your life.
Women may notice a burning sensation or dryness in their mouths. They also may discover that these changes cause food to taste different, leading to a loss of appetite. Be alert to an appetite loss that persists, particularly if you begin to lose weight.
If gums become inflamed or bleed easily, alert your dentist who will check for early signs of gum disease. A receding gum line may indicate bone loss in your jaw, so ask your dentist to examine your mouth and jaw carefully.
Both you and your doctor should discuss prevention techniques, including calcium and vitamin D supplements, and replacement therapy for hormones. These are personal decisions that vary from woman to woman, and your doctor is best equipped to advise you.
What you can do is pay attention to your nutritional needs. Make sure you eat a wide assortment of healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Exercise also is important to maintain your oral health and a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, keeping tabs on your emotional health as you enter menopause is important. A healthy outlook on life enables women to value themselves and seek the care required including: maintaining good oral health, seeing the doctor and dentist regularly, and focusing on healthy eating and exercise.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO
Technology now offers attractive options for cavity restorations in dental care. Called composites, these new tooth-colored fillings are excellent choices for front teeth and other repairs that might be visible. Composites duplicate the natural appearance of a tooth in restoring decayed teeth or repairing a defect.
Composites are made from a mixture of microscopic plastic and ceramic resin particles. Another type of tooth-colored filling is called a resin ionomer, which releases fluoride useful for preventing tooth decay.
The bonding process used in restoration provides strength to the tooth, making it more structurally sound. It also seals the tooth, decreasing the chance of sensitivity to hot and cold. Some composites made with materials releasing fluoride are ideal for treating root decay, a condition when gums recede, exposing tooth roots to more cavity-causing plaque. These fluoride-releasing materials also are useful for filling decayed baby teeth.
Following removal of the decayed area, a mild acid solution is used to prepare the tooth's surface for bonding. A bonding agent is then brushed over the surface. Next, several layers of the composite are applied. For a natural appearance, the dentist matches the color of the composite to the tooth.
Then, it is chemically hardened or cured with a special light and finally polished for a natural-looking finishing touch.
In a five-year clinical study, some of the resin materials demonstrated 100% effectiveness for adhesion and retention. Like other types of fillings, they may require periodic replacement. While the material is very durable, they may not perform quite as long as silver fillings or amalgams for their resistance to the rigors of grinding and chewing.
Scheduling regular dental exams is an important part of good oral hygiene. Your dentist will check your invisible fillings each time to ensure their performance.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO