Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

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Dental Deep Cleaning for Healthy Gums

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What is scaling and root planing? When is it recommended?

As with many aspects of general dentistry, scaling and root planing is a treatment related to keeping your mouth free of gum disease. Your routine appointments and your home care are preventative measures to maintain your oral health; but as nice as it would be to keep your oral health in perfect condition all the time, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. When we identify the onset of gum disease, we work quickly to reverse the condition and get you back on a healthy track. This is where scaling and root planing treatments play a critical role.

Often referred to as periodontal cleaning or deep cleaning, they are all the same form of treatment. The procedure removes dental plaque and tartar, specifically below the visible gum line. The spaces between your gums and teeth are prime breeding ground for bacteria and infection, so without treatment they can deepen and compromise your oral health. There are a variety of tools and methods available for periodontal cleaning, and each is designed to finely clean the dental pockets the gum disease is attacking and deepening. Successfully completed, the build-up collected around the teeth and gums will be removed, and the gums will heal tightly around the teeth for a secure and healthy fit.

Post-Treatment Follow-Up

Scaling and root planing are advantageous procedures if gum disease is present, but what about the importance of following up after you’ve been treated? Despite the fact healing and improvements will be seen immediately following treatment, the actual procedure is only the first step in arresting the periodontal disease. The true efficacy of scaling and root planing is contingent upon a number of variables, including patient compliance.

It is imperative the patient and our office collaborate to prevent the infection from recurring. Infection is often the result of negligent oral care, which will need to be excellent and diligently preformed following treatment. As it takes a significant period of time for the infection and bacteria to build-up, the remedial steps taken after scaling and root planing will not be an overnight solution – time and consistency will be necessary for a full recovery.

Subsequent appointments are often necessary in order to monitor and track the healing progress, and we will discuss the frequency and importance of these with you to ensure your understanding and comfort. Our office will be there to help through each and every step of this process with respect to your unique needs, as well as offer any resources or information necessary to restore your smile to a happy and healthy state.

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention. Plaque and tartar can be difficult to completely remove with a toothbrush and floss alone. If you are brushing and flossing every day and taking any other steps recommended by your dentist, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular oral care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). Perhaps you try to floss daily but somehow it averages to once a week ( and that is on a good week). Then there was the time that you had to cancel your dental cleaning and never got around to making another appointment. Now it’s been three years since your last check up and you noticed your gums are sore and bleeding a little in the back. This is the start of periodontal disease.

To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to be tight and provide a healthy seals around your teeth. A standard part of your regular cleaning includes your doctor or dental hygienist checking this tissue. A measuring tool is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-­3mm of depth is considered normal and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Depths of 4 mm or more is a sign that you are losing the bone around your teeth. Bleeding gums is evidence that there is “gunk” (plaque and tartar) below the gumline causing inflammation and infection around your teeth. The ‘pockets’ becomes a prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away and left on the teeth for more than 24 hours will harden and become tartar. Once the plaque hardens only your dental professional can remove it. Left unattended, the bacteria grows and the bone around the teeth disappears. When the pockets deepen they compromise the tooth. A deep cleaning to remove these bacterial deposits is needed to help you get your smile back on track. Suggestions for additional homecare protocol will also be discussed to keep periodontal disease under control.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes we will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth. This is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention. We can use anesthetic and treat smaller sections of your mouth making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A ultrasonic instrument removes plaque and tartar from the deeper root surface of your teeth. This is below the gum line and not visible but very important in treating the cause of the gum infection. Without getting to the bottom of the pocket, periodontal disease progresses and tooth loss is inevitable. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately the treatment is typically straightforward and the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels. Your gums will heal and lose any signs of redness of bleeding. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call Stumpf Dental at 262-­970-­0111. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you.  We would be happy to evaluate your oral health and get you back on. Remember that preventive dentistry is far less expensive than dental neglect. Take care of your teeth or they will be FALSE to you.

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

Easter and Hard Candy

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Easter means many things to different families everywhere, but one thing that remains consistent is the appearance of candy! Whether it’s hidden in eggs or just passed around, it is definitely part of the celebration.  Sweets make for some excellent treats, and there is no reason not to indulge (in moderation of course)! However, all candies are not created equal, and it may be worth knowing which ones you can have relatively guilt free, and which could spell trouble for your wonderful smile.

When it comes to Easter indulgences, chocolate may make it onto the nice list – we know, this is great news to many of you. The less forgiving candies are the ones that make that all-too-familiar CRUNCH! Hard candies, like lollipops or jolly ranchers, can be a tempting treat to bite.  At best, they pack pieces of sugar into hard to reach grooves of your teeth. Saliva can have a difficult time breaking down those sugars and they remain there for long periods of time. Worst case scenario is that crunch sound includes a sharp pain followed by a broken tooth, and sends you straight from your Sunday activities into our office. We do love seeing our patients, but not at the expense of their healthy smile! This happens more often than you think. Some who are prone to absentmindedly crunching on ice have discovered the dangers of biting down on those crunchy munchies.  Teeth that have fillings in them are at even greater risk of fracture. They are weakened by the restoration. The larger the filling, the greater the fracture risk. Your teeth are durable for normal eating and chewing, but anything that causes too much stress runs the risk of chipping, cracking or breaking one of your pearly whites. Before you try to impress your friends with breaking that jaw breaker in half, remember that it earned that name for a good reason.

Even if you resist that satisfying crunch, there are still a few other points of concern for hard candies that you don’t run into with other options (like chocolate!). Hard candies that you suck on tend to spend a long period of time in your mouth. During this time, plaque on your teeth will turn that sugar into acid. This acid can be very concentrated and build up quickly while that candy slowly dissolves. This can be a quick way to damage the enamel. Consider this next time you find yourself unwrapping that tootsie pop, an after-meal mint or even one of those little Altoid mints.  Perhaps you (or your child) might enjoy a stick of sugar free gum instead. It’s not often that the solution for a sweet treat is yet another sweet treat, but you’re in luck. This time it is! The increased saliva produced while chewing gum can actually help dislodge and break down the remaining sugar in your mouth.  Saliva is nature’s way of buffering and neutralizing those nasty acids that plaque produces.   It does NOT replace your toothbrush and floss, but it is still helpful.

Overall, we don’t want to take the enjoyment out of candy-filled holidays. Enjoy your time with your friends and family, and definitely don’t be afraid to pop open that plastic egg and see what treats hide inside. If you do find yourself going crazy for the crunchy candies, we hope this information will help you make smart choices.  If things do go wrong, you always have your friends at Stumpf Dental to repair the damages.   Happy Easter everyone.

 

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

A Time To Give Thanks

As Thanksgiving swiftly approaches, here is a little insight as to how to not over indulge when turkey day hits! We all know the famous expression “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” or “You eat with your eyes first!” This is usually the case with most of us when it comes to sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s just put this out there… Gorging yourself on snacks, cakes, pies, and starches just means a really big stomach-ache and a miserable rest of the night, not to mention the potential for damage that it can have on your teeth and gums!

This year, why not give your smile the attention that it deserves?

-Instead of the incessant snacking on all of the empty calories, head over to the veggie tray! A variety of veggies can do wonders for you! Not only for your oral health, but also for your health in general. Reaching for a nice healthy snack is a great decision!

-When you are loading up your plate with all those delicious foods, try and plan out your plate. Be mindful of the items you are scooping on as well as how much of what, you are dishing. Instead of piling on mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing and marshmallow covered yams, try this combination instead; A bigger scoop of green beans, some turkey, yams (minus the marshmallow), a smaller portion of the potatoes (minus that extra butter) and a little fruit salad on the side without the whipped topping. Your plate will be well balanced with more appropriate portions and without all of the sticky, bad-for-your-teeth toppings.

– Thanksgiving desserts are a must for most! After you have yourself a small slice, if you are able to excuse yourself and go rinse your mouth and (if at all possible) brush and floss your teeth, you will be well on your way to a happier and healthier smile! If you brush those teeth and gums after eating the sweets and dinner, they are not able to sit on your teeth allowing time for bacteria build-up and all that comes along with the damaging sugar ingredients that cause harm.

With proper oral health care and limited portion control when eating, you CAN quite literally “Have your cake, and eat it too!”

Aside from eating, here’s something fun to do. Sit down with a friend or loved one and think about a couple of specific moments when someone’s smile impacted you, or when your smile meant something to someone else; even as little as holding a door open for a stranger and the exchange of smiles that was made at that point in time. This will open up a conversation about smiles and positivity! And really, what could be better than that?!

All-in-all, we hope you have a wonderful and love-filled Thanksgiving!

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

 

This is How to Help Your Kids Create Good Oral Hygiene Habits Now

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and we’re dedicated to raising awareness!

In America, 51 million hours of school is missed every year due to oral health issues. Although every month should be important when it comes to a child’s dental health, February is the one dedicated to it. Here are things to keep in mind when helping children become conscious of just how important dental hygiene is and exactly how to start creating good habits right away:

  1. Keep the sugar intake to a minimum
  2. Floss, floss, floss
  3. Brush twice a day
  4. When you brush, make sure you hit the 2 minute mark
  5. Visit your dentist regularly

Have you ever seen that amazing “magic trick” when you ask your child “Did you brush your teeth?”  And they respond with a “yes” only because their toothbrush is wet?  Then come to find out, there was no brushing going on, they merely stuck their toothbrush under the faucet and wiped their front teeth once, maybe twice. Now is the perfect time to kick this bad habit!  Dental health can fun for kids (and adults)!

Here are 5 ways to incorporate some fun and giggles into
children’s daily oral care:


Toothpaste – a plethora of choices

Let’s start off with toothpaste.  There are gels, pastes, and so many different flavors; such as cinnamon, vanilla, bubble gum, and variety of different mint flavors.  Let your child choose which one they would prefer.

Flossing – 40% of cleaning your teeth comes from flossing*

Floss comes in different flavors as well and also had a variety of textures.  There are waxed, woven, and even the hand held pick form to name a few.

Toothbrush – the master tool

Choosing a toothbrush will probably be your child’s favorite.  Not only are there options as far as handheld or battery operated, but there are TONS of different designs now!  Your child can pick their favorite cartoon character or stick to the basics like their favorite color.

Brushing Timer – brush 2min 2x a day

While the tiny sand timers you flip upside down are always fun for kids to watch, there are now toothbrushes with built in timers. The brush will alert timer markers with a beep or a vibration for 2 minute duration, some even play a popular song.

Giving Kids Something to Look Forward To

This is the perfect way to create a morning and nighttime routine to get your child excited about developing healthy habits.  Getting your child involved in the decision making of choosing some cool and fun dental products makes them more apt to look forward to brushing and flossing daily.

Starting off good oral hygiene practice at a young age will propel your kids into the future for a lifetime of healthy pink gums and bright shining smiles!  A healthy smile is a smile you can be proud of!

Dr. Janelle Stumpf
Stumpf Dental
N28 W23000 Roundy Drive
Pewaukee, WI 53072
Phone: (262) 955-8970

References

http://www.ncohf.org/resources/tooth-decay-facts

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/still-not-flossing-more-reasons-why-you-should