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When to See Your Dentist: Signs and Symptoms

Woman having teeth examined at dentists

The vast majority of patients know that visiting the dentist for regular checkups is a good idea. It helps detect oral issues and prevents more serious oral health issues from developing. But occasionally, something will go wrong in your mouth between visits to the clinic. And that may leave you wondering if you should visit your dentist or not? 

While your body can correct some issues, many require medical assistance. Here are the signs and symptoms that make an extra trip to the dentist a good idea. 

Loose Teeth

Adult teeth should last a lifetime (or many decades at the very least). So if you have a loose tooth, it’s usually a sign that you need urgent medical attention from your dentist. 

There are several causes of loose teeth. The most common in young adults is trauma or injury. If you’ve received a blow to the jaw, you may find that one or more of your teeth are loose and moving around more than usual. In many cases, the extra play is the result of a stretched periodontal ligament. 

tooth and periodontium anatomical structure. Sectional human central incisor showing the structures that form the dental tissue and the periodontal tissues.

In older adults, gingivitis – or gum disease – is the most common cause of loose teeth. It first develops at the interface between the gum and crown. If left untreated, it can slip below the gumline, infect the root, causing damage to the root bed, leading to looseness. 

Other common causes include changes in hormones during pregnancy and osteoporosis. 

Persistent Bad Breath

When your mouth is healthy, it shouldn’t smell awful.

In some cases, though, foul smells can develop. And if it doesn’t go away after brushing or flossing, it could indicate a more serious issue. 

There are many causes of bad breath. Food is the obvious one but usually subsides after a few hours. However, poor dental hygiene, tobacco smoking, dry mouth, and infections can all lead to persistent halitosis. 

If you have bad breath that won’t go away, schedule an appointment with us. Lexington Family Smiles provides treatments that resolve the root of the problem of bad breath. 

Jaw Pain

If you have jaw pain, it could be a sign that you have an abscess under a tooth. When the infection becomes established in your mouth, it damages not only your teeth but the surrounding bone, creating a kind of dull ache. If you have an abscess, you require medical attention from a dentist. 

Jaw pain can also result from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder where the joint stops working the way it should, or from the grinding of teeth, called bruxism. Our dentist, Dr. Michael Moulton, can provide treatment for this condition as well. 

Toothache

It can be tempting to do nothing about a toothache in the hope that it will go away. But, unfortunately, that rarely happens. In most cases, the throbbing continues to worsen to the point where over-the-counter painkillers are no longer sufficient. Don’t suffer the pain and don’t wait for the issue to become worse. Visit your dentist for toothaches.

A few forms of toothaches are purely nerve-related and don’t involve infection. For instance, you might have a toothache because a new tooth is coming through (not an issue for adults), or your teeth are shifting for some reason, perhaps because you’re wearing braces. Usually, these types of toothaches are not an issue, so long as the teeth are not loose. 

Most toothaches, however, are the result of infection. Bacteria get under the gumline or inside teeth, leading to swelling, inflammation, and intense pain. 

Toothaches at the back of the mouth tend to be the most severe because of the complexity and density of tissues in this region and the fact that the swelling doesn’t have many directions in which to expand.

A toothache may be treated by first eliminating the infection with antibiotics and then assessing whether extraction is necessary. If a gum pocket facilitates repeated infections, gum contouring may be needed to seal the gap and save the tooth.

Dry Mouth

In healthy patients, glands produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. The purpose of the moisture is to help remove food debris from the oral cavity and foster the growth of beneficial bacteria. When the mouth dries out, it can lead to yeast infections like thrush, mouth sores, increased plaque production, and sores in the corner of your mouth. 

If you notice that you have a dry mouth, dealing with it is a matter of priority and something you should speak with Dr. Moulton about as soon as you can. If we can address the issue early, it will prevent oral health problems in the future. 

There are several causes of dry mouth. Top of the list are medications, including pain meds, muscle relaxants, decongestants, and antihistamines. Other causes of dry mouth include tobacco and alcohol use, cancer therapy, and damage to nerves in your head. Aging is also a significant contributor, so you may notice that your mouth becomes less wet as you get older. 

White Spots On Your Teeth Or Gums

If you notice white spots on either your teeth or gums, visit Lexington Family Smiles for a dental evaluation. 

White spots on the teeth are usually the first sign of decay. These lesions indicate a softening of the enamel and usually means the start of a cavity. They are particularly common in patients who wear braces, so proper oral hygiene is so important.

White spots can also appear on soft tissue in the mouth, such as the gums, tongue, and bottom of the mouth. Dentists call these spots “leukoplakia.” Usually, they are benign and easy to scrape off, but sometimes they are precancerous. It’s always worth having a dentist evaluate it. 

Canker Sores

Cankers sores are small ulcers that appear on the lips, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and tongue. Some patients only get a couple of these in their lifetime, while it is a regular occurrence for others. 

The majority of sores we see heal within a week or two. However, you may find that sores never heal or recur more frequently. This may indicate abrasion issues in the mouth, hormone problems, or issues with your immune system. As your dentist, we can provide long-term solutions for dealing with these issues. 

Schedule a Dental Appointment

If you feel you need a dental checkup, schedule an appointment with Lexington Family Smiles today.

Dental Hygiene: The Proper Way to Brush and Floss

Mother, father and daughter brushing teeth in bathroom

Basic dental hygiene is the most important step in ensuring healthy teeth and gums. But it’s surprising how many people neglect their oral health

To help you keep your mouth healthy, you need to make sure you brush your teeth and gums the right way. This will help keep bacteria at bay and prevent the cavities and other problems that can cause toothache and damage your teeth’s appearance.

By learning the proper way to brush and floss, you can improve your dental hygiene and form better habits for life.

How to Brush Your Teeth

Learning the right technique for brushing your teeth will make brushing easier and help you get better results. More effective brushing results in having better dental hygiene. 

Let’s start with toothpaste. Using fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay by protecting the enamel of your teeth. Most kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride, but you can also find a toothpaste that’s tailored to your specific dental concerns, such as sensitive or discolored teeth. You should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste – there’s no need to cover the length of the brush. 

Your toothbrush should be aimed at a 45-degree angle. Use a gentle circular motion to brush your teeth, starting with the outside and then working on the inside. You shouldn’t need to brush for more than two minutes to do an effective job. 

How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Most people brush their teeth twice a day for good dental hygiene. You should brush your teeth in the evening before bed and one other occasion during the day. Most people choose to brush their teeth first thing in the morning. 

Some people brush their teeth after every meal, but this could be preventing your mouth from doing its natural job. Your mouth produces saliva, which hardens your enamel after eating, protecting your teeth. If you insist on brushing after eating, you should wait at least 30 minutes to allow your mouth’s saliva to do its job. 

Chewing on sugar-free gum can help you keep your mouth feeling fresh and eliminate odors after eating.

Which Toothbrush is Best: Soft, Medium, or Firm? 

With so many different types of toothbrushes available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. When it comes to choosing which toothbrush is best, it can come down to your personal preference, as well as the condition of your teeth. But generally, a soft bristle toothbrush is better for your teeth and gums and oral hygiene.

The first choice you’ll need to make is whether or not you want a manual or an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush can be more effective at removing plaque and can be gentler on your gums. As most feature a built-in timer, you won’t have to worry about overbrushing.

A manual toothbrush is by far the easiest and most affordable option, but then you’ll need to choose between a soft, medium or firm type of bristle. A soft-bristled toothbrush is ideal for your teeth, helping to remove plaque without being too harsh on your gums.

If you have sensitive teeth or problems with your gums, you should avoid a firm toothbrush to avoid causing further damage.

How to Floss Your Teeth 

Flossing is another important element of your dental hygiene. While most people brush their teeth twice a day, the same can’t be said for flossing. Flossing helps to dislodge food trapped between teeth, as well as remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas. It should be a daily part of your dental care.

There are various types of dental floss out there, including electric air flossers. While any type of floss can be effective, you may have a personal preference about which one to use. Waxed floss can glide between teeth easier, while there are toughened types of floss for those with braces, bridges or implants.

To use floss effectively:

  • Use around 18 inches of floss, ensuring you have an inch or two either side of your fingers. 
  • After pulling the floss taut, place the floss between two teeth. 
  • Gently glide the floss up down, ensuring you floss the sides of each tooth.
  • Avoid flossing into your gums, as this can cause damage. Instead, curve the floss at the bottom of your tooth to help you access the gap between your teeth and gums.
  • Repeat on each tooth, making sure you use a clean section of floss each time.

Avoid These Brushing and Flossing Mistakes

Brushing your teeth is part of your daily routine, a habit that you don’t give much thought to. But could you be making a mistake with your brushing that could have a negative impact on your dental hygiene? Some common brushing and flossing mistakes to avoid include:

  • Don’t use a toothbrush that’s too firm – the bristles need to be soft enough to reach tricky areas.
  • Don’t rush brushing – aim for two minutes.
  • Don’t brush too roughly, this can cause bleeding and damage to your teeth and gums.
  • Don’t forget to change your toothbrush regularly – you should aim to change it every three months.
  • Don’t neglect your gumline – this is where a lot of bacteria can live.
  • Don’t do half a job – the more effective your brushing, the healthier your teeth will be.

See Your Dentist Regularly 

Brushing and flossing the right way can help you take care of your teeth at home, but making a regular appointment with your dentist is important for keeping up with your overall oral hygiene and make sure that everything is ok. 

Your dentist will be able to advise you on the effectiveness of your brushing and give you advice on how to improve your oral care. Cavities and other problems can be difficult to see yourself, but your dentist will be able to help keep your teeth and gums in great shape.At Lexington Family Smiles, we know how important it is to take care of your teeth. When you pay us a visit, we’ll be more than happy to advise on the proper way to brush and floss to boost your dental hygiene. Contact us to request an appointment and let us help you enjoy great oral care for a winning smile you can’t help but show off.

Cosmetic Dentistry Smile Makeover: What Is It and Should I Get It?

Cosmetic dentistry treatment and whitening of teeth, dental crowns. Before and after. Dental close-up.

If you are not happy with your smile, you don’t have to simply accept this and keep your mouth closed every time you have a photograph taken! That’s no way to live, right? Instead of letting your smile get you down, why not get a smile makeover through cosmetic dentistry?

Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about getting a smile makeover with cosmetic dentistry and what to expect.

What Is a Smile Makeover?

Smile makeovers may be thought of as only cosmetic. While they do have cosmetic elements, they are so much more than that. A cosmetic smile makeover involves using a number of procedures to enhance both the health and the appearance of your gums and teeth.

During a consultation, the dentist will assess the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw, utilizing a combination of visual examinations and digital x-rays, and perhaps making models of your teeth. By doing this, the dentist will be able to make recommendations regarding the best cosmetic dental treatments for you. 

What Are the Benefits?

There are so many benefits associated with a smile makeover and cosmetic dentistry. They include the following.

Boost Your Confidence

One of the main reasons why people go down this route is because their confidence has been struggling because of their teeth. A smile is one of the first things that we tend to notice about another person. If you are not happy with your smile, it can be easy to feel self-conscious around other people. A smile makeover can help you feel confident about your smile.

Increase Oral Health

As mentioned, a smile makeover or cosmetic dentistry is not just about improving the aesthetics of your smile. It is also about improving your oral health.

For example, if you have a broken tooth, a gap, or crooked teeth this can negatively impact your other teeth. It can even affect how you eat and speak. If you experience pain from misaligned teeth, this can also be resolved through a cosmetic smile makeover. 

Achieve More

You may be shocked by how much of an impact your new smile will have on other areas of your life. After cosmetic dentistry you will smile more and have more confidence. This confidence will start to flood into other areas of your life. You may notice that you perform better in the workplace or that your social life improves. This is because you are a more confident version of yourself now.

What Procedures May Be Involved?

There are a lot of different cosmetic procedures that may benefit you with a smile makeover. Some of the most popular are as follows:

In-office Teeth Whitening

There is only one place to begin, and this is with teeth whitening. There is no denying that this is one of our most popular treatments. If your teeth currently have a yellow hue, teeth whitening can give you pearly whites! While there are teeth whitening products in stores today, they are nowhere near as effective as what you would get at the dentist.

Dental Veneers

A veneer is a custom-made, thin molding, often made from porcelain. It is bonded to the front surface of your tooth or teeth. This is an effective and quick way of dealing with crooked, misshapen, chipped, and stained teeth. 

Dental Crowns

Another cosmetic dental procedure that you may be interested in is dental crowns. A crown is a sort of cap that fully covers a real tooth. It can be made from various materials including metal alloys, porcelain, ceramics, or composite resin.

A crown is used to cover and repair a damaged tooth. The crown is fitted over the prepared tooth and permanently sealed in place below the gum line. The results are a natural and healthy looking tooth.

Composite Bonding

Composite bonding is another popular cosmetic dental treatment, also referred to as dental bonding or tooth bonding. Bonding provides a solution to gaps in teeth or minor damage. It is typically used for fixing discoloration, filling chips, and gaps or fractures between the teeth.  

Dental Implants

A very effective cosmetic solution to missing teeth or extensive decay is dental implants. Dental implants provide an effective and long-term solution for missing or severely damaged teeth.

Dental implants are a popular cosmetic dentistry solution because the ending result is a fully functional tooth or teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth.

An implant is placed into your jawbone, acting as an artificial replacement for the missing root. A crown or dentures are placed over the implant and fixed in place. The implant is able to support the crown or dentures in a similar manner as natural roots. The end result is a beautiful new smile. No one would know the difference.

How Long Does a Smile Makeover Take?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say in this post how long a smile makeover will take because every treatment is custom. The time it takes depends on the number of cosmetic treatments and the type of treatments you undergo.

For example, you may only decide to have one or two simple cosmetic dental treatments whereas someone else may have many or more extensive treatments.

The best way to answer the question of time is to schedule a consultation with your cosmetic dentist. Your dentist will be able to assess your teeth and gum health and make recommendations. They will be able to provide you with a realistic depiction of how long the treatment(s) will take.

So there you have it, an insight into smile makeovers and cosmetic dentistry and what you can expect from this sort of treatment.

Contact a Cosmetic Dentist

If you have any questions or you would like to find out more about cosmetic dentistry and how you can benefit from a smile makeover, please do not hesitate to contact Lexington Family Smiles in Lexington, SC. We would be more than happy to answer your questions and schedule a consultation.

General Dentistry and Periodontics: What’s the Difference?

Dentist showing patient a model of teeth in a dental office.
dentist and patient discussion about planned teeth treatment in dental clinic office

What is the difference between a general dentist and a periodontist? 

While both general dentists and periodontists perform work on your teeth, the nature of that work differs. General dentists are trained medical professionals who perform a broad range of oral-health related tasks, such as fillings, extractions, cleanings, and root canals. Periodontists, however, are more specialized, working mainly on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal disease as well as placing dental implants. 

Both dentists and periodontists must undergo general dentists training. However, the latter needs to complete several more years of dental school before conducting more specialist work. Once qualified, they can offer a broad range of treatments, including cosmetic and restorative dental procedures. 

What are general dental services?

General dental services are a catch-all term for anything non-specialist that a dentist might offer to improve or maintain your overall oral health. It includes fitting bridges and crowns, providing fillings, dental hygiene services, dentures, X-rays, mouth guards, full mouth reconstruction, veneers, teeth whitening, and even oral cancer screening. 

General dental services are for all the family. Practitioners see both children and adults, including those entering their senior years. They provide coaching on proper oral hygiene and work with patients of all ages to reduce oral health issues in the future. 

What are periodontal services?

The term periodontal means “around the tooth.” Thus, periodontal services refer to a specific range of techniques for dealing with periodontal disease and ensuring implants’ correct placement. 

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease where the bacteria penetrate the gum lining and begin making their way down the teeth’ roots. It is painful and leads to swelling and pus. If allowed to progress to its final stages, it destroys the structures that hold the teeth in place, leading to tooth loss. 

Periodontal services seek to arrest the progress of the disease and prevent it from returning. Periodontists offer a wide range of therapies, including root planing (which scrapes plaque off the surface of teeth below the gum line), surface debridement (to remove infected gum tissue), and a range of surgical procedures. A typical trip to the periodontist will involve checks for gum recession, bite tests to ensure proper arrangement of teeth, and tests to check the depth of periodontal pockets – openings between the gum and teeth. 

Should I see a dentist or a periodontist?

Whether you see a periodontist or general dentist depends very much on your circumstances. The vast majority of general dentists have the skills and tools available to control periodontitis and ensure implants’ correct placement. Often, patients do not need to go to a separate periodontist for specialist treatment. 

General dentists diagnose and treat the vast majority of dental issues. For instance, dentists can provide fillings, clean your teeth professionally, perform root canals and extractions, and offer cosmetic procedures, such as whitening. They can also provide veneers, some forms of teeth straightening, and implants. Thus, general dentists are the first port of call for most patients.

In some cases, a periodontist might be the better option, but usually only upon referral by a general dentist. Periodontists have training in specialist therapies that specifically target the bacteria causing infection and damage below the gumline. Many have training in laser therapies that kill harmful bacteria and prevent them from getting under the gumline in the future.

Reasons to visit a periodontist 

Here are some of the situations in which getting periodontal services makes sense: 

  • Your gums are red, swollen, or bleeding. A bit of blood when you spit toothpaste in the sink doesn’t necessarily mean you have periodontal disease. However, if you have swelling and redness around your teeth that don’t disappear with time, it could indicate a severe infection. In this case, you may wish to pay a visit to your periodontist. 
  • Your teeth feel loose. Periodontitis destroys the structures that support the teeth and hold them in their sockets, making the disease a common cause of loose teeth. As discussed, periodontists use special techniques to rescue your teeth and prevent further damage and tooth loss. 
  • Your bite is different. Periodontists also deal with the issue of “bite” or how your teeth close when you chew. Ideally, this shouldn’t change much throughout your life. However, some periodontal issues can cause teeth to move in their sockets, potentially leading to gum disease and tooth loss. 
  • You have pain that won’t go away. Periodontists can usually track general pain in your mouth down to a single tooth. Often a lone infection in, say, a wisdom tooth can transmit pain along the entire row of teeth on the affected side. Periodontists provide examinations that help you to diagnose and treat the issue correctly. 

Can the dentist give you something for anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a phenomenon dentists take very seriously. Surveys indicate that around 15 percent of Americans avoid the dentist entirely because of fear and anxiety related to various procedures. 

However, general dentists can provide several methods to help calm your anxiety, depending on how distressed you feel. Most of these techniques keep you conscious but make you feel more relaxed.

Inhaled minimal sedation is the mildest form of sedation. It involves administering nitrous oxide through the nose continually throughout treatment, which then absorbs into the body. You feel awake but relaxed. 

For more severe anxiety, general dentists will deliver moderate sedation in oral pill form. You’ll take Halcion, a drug closely related to valium, around an hour before the procedure, which will take away many of your concerns. 

For deep sedation, your dentist might prescribe a sedative drug intravenously. These get to work quickly, making you feel relaxed and calm almost immediately. All of a sudden, all your dental anxiety disappears, and you are often hardly aware of the work being done on your teeth. 

Finally, there is anesthesia, which makes you entirely unconscious. Most general dentists try to avoid this kind of treatment for anxiety since it carries risks that the others do not. 

If you feel that you are affected by any of the oral health issues raised in this article, book an appointment with us right away. Our expert team of general dentists and specialists can offer advice and give treatment where required.

Six Month Smiles® Clear Braces: The Alternative to Traditional Braces

Six Month Smiles® aligner
Close up of a person putting in a Six Month Smiles® aligner.

If you’ve been told that you need braces, but you’ve never wanted to wear them because of their appearance, Six Month Smiles® is the perfect solution! These clear braces or aligners are comfortable, convenient, and discreet, allowing you to achieve a stunning smile. 

Lexington Family Smiles has many years of experience improving smiles. We fit Six Month Smiles® aligners or clear braces to your specific needs to straighten your teeth comfortably and discreetly. Here is everything you need to know about Six Month Smiles® treatment. 

What Is Six Month Smiles®?

Six Month Smiles® is a modern dental treatment that focuses on the front six top and/or bottom teeth. The aligners are designed to re-align teeth, close gaps, and even fix some underbites and overbites. Six Month Smiles® performs in the same manner as conventional braces, but with some key differences. Six Month Smiles® clear braces are more discreet compared to traditional braces that use silver wires and brackets. Six Month Smiles® aligners are removable and comfortable. They work with the same properties as memory foam in that they mold to the shape of your teeth comfortably. 

How Does Six Month Smiles® Work?

There are two methods to achieve the results you want in just 6 months. There are clear aligners and clear braces.

Clear Aligners

Six Month Smiles® clear aligners use the latest modeling techniques and 3D technology. Dr. Moulton will work closely with you, as well as the Six Month Smiles® lab, to render a photo of how you want your teeth to look once you have finished your treatment. A set of aligners will be created, which will move your teeth gradually toward the desired position. Your teeth will be straight when you finish your last set of aligners.

Clear Braces

Dr. Moulton will assess your situation and discuss your options. If you have a more complex alignment issue, Six Month Smiles® clear braces may be suggested. We will focus on the teeth that show when you smile. The brackets and wires are clear or tooth colored so they are very discreet. Braces are always the most effective way to move teeth comfortably. And it’s only six months. You can do it!

How Long Does It Take?

The time it takes to straighten your teeth and improve your smile is in the name. Six Month Smiles® on average can improve your smile in six months. Most patients complete their treatment in six months, but treatment can range from 4 to 9 months. This is something we will discuss with you during your consultation.

Is Six Month Smiles® Suitable for Everyone?

Six Month Smiles® is suitable for patients 16+ years old. A large number of orthodontic issues can be corrected with Six Month Smiles®. However, not everyone is going to be a suitable patient. This is because it is not always the best option for more complicated problems. This is why the best thing to do is get in touch and book a consultation. Dr. Moulton will be able to assess the condition of your teeth and make his recommendation on the best treatment for you. 

Six Month Smiles® is not suitable for children. It is only suitable for patients who have fully grown teeth.

Contact Us Today for Six Month Smiles® 

If you are interested in Six Month Smiles® treatment, or you have any questions, all you need to do is pick up the phone and give us a call. The number you need is (803) 353-1945. You will speak to one of our friendly and professional team members who will be more than happy to help. They will answer your questions and schedule a consultation.

Gum Disease Treatment: What You Need to Know

Gum disease is a very common dental health issue and when left untreated, it can lead to a lot of serious problems. If it is caught early and the right gum disease treatment is applied, it will not have a long term impact on your dental health. However, if you do not seek treatment right away, gum disease leads to a lot of pain and eventually, you may lose your teeth. Our expert team helps patients to understand the cause of their gum disease and provides a range of different treatments to prevent serious dental health issues in the future. If you are concerned about your gum health, book an appointment today and we will advise you on the best gum disease treatment for you.

A woman holding her cheek in pain because of gum disease.
Gum disease can cause pain or discomfort. A woman stands outside holding her cheek in discomfort.

Unfortunately, gum disease often goes undiagnosed because people do not know how to spot the signs and they don’t realize that there is an issue until the gum disease is already very developed, making it much harder to treat. This page has all of the information that you need to know so you can spot the early signs of gum disease and prevent it. It also outlines the different gum disease treatments that we can offer our patients.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gum Disease?

Knowing how to spot gum disease is very important if you want to stay on top of your dental health and there are a few key signs and symptoms you should watch out for.

Common Signs

Healthy gums should fit tightly around your teeth and have a pale pink color. Differences in the way that your gums look and feel are one of the more common signs of gum disease. Some of the most common signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums.
  • Bright red or purple coloring on the gums.
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth.
  • Loose teeth or new gaps appearing between teeth.
  • Pus between teeth.
  • A change in the way that your bite feels.

Bleeding

These are all signs that the gums are inflamed and they are receding from the teeth. You should also look out for any signs of blood because diseased gums are very tender and prone to bleeding. If you notice a pinkish color on your toothbrush after brushing or you spit blood when you brush, that’s not a good sign. Bleeding when flossing is another common sign of gum disease as well.

Bad Breath

You may also notice that you have bad breath as a result of your gum disease because there is a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. There are other potential causes of bad breath but in many cases, it is down to gum disease.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important that you get in touch and book an appointment with us right away so Dr. Michael Moulton can examine you and implement the right gum disease treatment before the problem gets worse.

What Are The Risks Of Untreated Gum Disease?

If you do not seek treatment for your gum disease, you increase your risk of a wide range of health issues that extend beyond dental health problems.

Receding Gums

Severe gum disease will cause the gums to recede so the teeth become looser and looser until, eventually, they may fall out altogether. Regardless of your age, gum disease can potentially cause permanent tooth loss.

Gut Health

There is also evidence to suggest that gum disease can have a big impact on your gut health. Having the right balance of bacteria in your gut is very important because the gut microbiome has a role to play in many bodily processes. When you have severe gum disease, the bad bacteria in your mouth travels into the gut and leads to many potential health issues.

Risk of Certain Forms of Cancer

There have even been studies that link gum disease to certain forms of cancer and it is believed that a buildup of bad bacteria in the mouth may increase your chances of developing cancer in later life.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that gum disease just causes painful gums and some bleeding while brushing, but if left untreated, the effects can be much worse. It will cause an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, which leads to a whole range of health issues, and it may even increase your risk of developing cancer. However, you can avoid all of these serious health problems if you book an appointment with Dr. Michael Moulton and receive gum disease treatment as soon as you notice an issue.

How Can We Reverse Gum Disease?

If you think that you may have gum disease, book an appointment with us and our expert team will assess the problem. There are a number of treatments that we can administer to reverse the effects of gum disease and improve your dental health.

Non-surgical Treatments

When gum disease is in the early stages, there are a number of non-surgical treatments that we can offer. Scaling will remove tartar and bacteria from the teeth to stop any further infections. Root planing is an effective method for smoothing the root surfaces and removing bacteria and tartar, allowing the gums to heal more effectively. If there is a serious infection present, we can also prescribe antibiotics to clear it up.

Surgical Treatments

In more advanced cases, these simple gum disease treatments may not work and we may need to use surgical methods. Pocket reduction surgery involves cutting the gum and peeling it back so the roots can be cleaned effectively. The gum will then be sutured back together to close pockets where bacteria can gather, making it easier to keep your gums clean and healthy. In cases where gum disease has caused the gums to recede a lot, soft tissue grafts taken from the roof of your mouth can repair the gums. If the bones around the root have been damaged by gum disease, a bone graft may be required to repair it.

Schedule an Appointment

We have an experienced and talented dental team in Lexington, SC, and Dr. Michael Moulton has extensive experience dealing with gum disease. When you book an appointment with us, we will carry out an examination and diagnose the issue before recommending a gum disease treatment.

How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?

Although we offer a wide range of gum disease treatments to reverse the effects of gum disease, it is vital that you prevent it wherever possible. A good oral hygiene routine is the best way to prevent gum disease, so make sure that you are brushing and flossing twice a day and using an antibacterial mouthwash. If you have any questions or concerns about your oral hygiene routine, our expert team can give you some guidance.

Get Regular Dental Checkups

As well as a good hygiene routine, you need to make sure that you have regular checkups with your dentist so we can identify any potential issues and deal with them before they develop into advanced stage gum disease.

If you are concerned about gum disease and you have noticed some of the symptoms, book an appointment with Dr. Micheal Moulton right away and our expert team will be able to offer advice and, if necessary, administer the right gum disease treatment so you can protect your dental health.

Dental Cleanings: Why You Shouldn’t Miss Your Checkup

A woman getting a dental cleaning in Lexington, SC
Close-up partial view of beautiful middle aged woman at dental check up

Did you know that there are at least 700 different species of bacteria in the oral cavity? Many of these are harmful microorganisms that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. They can do so by forming plaque on the teeth and gum line.

What’s more, it takes as little as two to six hours for new plaque to colonize on the teeth.

That’s why regular flossing, brushing, and dental cleanings are essential to your health. These three can help you achieve optimal oral health and overall well-being.

However, dental check-ups and cleanings can do more than keep your teeth and gums healthy. We’ve compiled a list of all these benefits below, so please be sure to read on.

Removal of Dental Calculus

Dental calculus, also known as “tartar,” is a crusty, and sometimes even hard layer of deposits on the teeth. It forms from unremoved plaque, and it builds up above and below the gum line. It can make the section of the teeth nearest the gums appear darker (yellowish or even brownish) in color.

Tartar is terrible for you since it can give the bacteria in your mouth more places to hide and accumulate. Moreover, dental calculus can make it more difficult to remove new plaque. Also, since it’s harder than plaque, you’ll have a harder time brushing and flossing your teeth.

Tartar is also a primary cause of gum disease, which affects an estimated 47% of US adults aged 30 and above. Dental calculus, after all, contains plaque and bacteria. These substances produce acids that can irritate the gums.

You can remove most new plaque formations with optimal dental hygiene habits. However, even regular brushing and flossing aren’t enough to get rid of them entirely. That’s why tartar can still accumulate below and above the gum line.

Once tartar forms on the teeth, only a dentist, using specialized tools, can remove it.

As such, it’s best to schedule dental cleanings and check-ups every six months. This way, your dentist can remove all those plaque and tartar formations. In doing so, you can avoid tooth decay and also lower your risks for gum disease.

Early Discovery and Diagnosis of Dental Cavities

In their initial stages, some cases of dental cavities don’t exhibit any signs. As such, it’s possible to have them without you noticing right away. This may be one of the reasons behind one in four US adults having untreated dental decay.

The symptoms of tooth decay begin to show up as the disease progresses. These often include tooth sensitivity and toothaches. You may also feel pain whenever you eat something hot, cold, or sweet.

The longer the cavity remains untreated, the more enamel that the tooth loses. This, in turn, can result in visible symptoms like pits, holes, and stains on the tooth. The pain may also get worse as the disease progresses deeper into the affected tooth.

Routine visits to the dentist and dental cleanings in Lexington, SC can help you keep these issues at bay. That’s because your dentist, upon closer look at your teeth, can discover early signs of decay. From there, your dentist can administer restorative treatments, such as composite fillings.

Gum Disease Monitoring and Prompt Treatment

There are several stages of gum disease, with the earliest one being “gingivitis.” At this stage, it’s more of a treatable and reversible infection. If left untreated, however, it can progress to periodontal disease.

Keep in mind that gum disease is one of the leading causes of permanent tooth loss. As such, keeping your gums healthy can help you reduce your risks of losing your natural teeth.

Dental cleanings can help you maintain healthy gums as they remove plaque and tartar. As mentioned above, these harmful substances can cause gum irritation and inflammation. As such, removing them also helps reduce your risks for gum disease.

Dental check-ups also provide your dentist with the chance to monitor the state of your gums. This can then lead to the early discovery of gum disease. From here, your dentist can administer prompt treatment, such as periodontal therapy.

Oral Cancer Detection

At its earliest stages, oral cancer signs may take the form of white or red patches on the gums, tongue, or tonsils. It may also cause mouth sores that don’t go away, as well as lumps in and around the mouth.

These are symptoms that your dentist can detect during your routine dental cleanings. In the event of their discovery, you should consider undergoing oral cancer screening. This type of cancer is curable, so long as treated early.

Dental Cleanings and Check-Ups May Also Detect Other Health Conditions

Dentists may also play a vital role in the detection of systemic diseases. These include diabetes, osteoporosis, and pneumonia, to name a few.

For instance, in one study, dentists were able to identify 73% of cases of diabetes and prediabetes. That’s because the health of the gums can indicate the presence of this chronic disease.

Aside from diabetes, here are other systemic diseases that dentists can detect.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is another condition that your dentist in Lexington, SC, can discover. This disease can make the bones weak and brittle. As such, it may also affect the alveolar bone, which is the bone that holds and supports the teeth.

An increase in tooth mobility and tooth loss may indicate osteoporosis.

During routine dental cleanings, your dentist also notes these changes in your mouth. If you exhibit these signs, your oral healthcare provider may then advise you to take a digital X-ray.

The results of the imaging technology can then tell you if you’ve had bone loss. If so, your dentist can help you by referring you to a bone specialist.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a type of infection that affects the lungs. It causes fluid and even pus build-up in the lungs. As with all kinds of infections, it results from pathogens like bacteria and viruses.

The great news is, studies confirm that dental check-ups and cleanings can help keep it at bay. These treatments appear to help by reducing the number of bacteria in the mouth. The study also noted that patients who didn’t see a dentist had an 86% higher risk of getting the infection.

Regular Dental Cleanings and Check-Ups for a Healthier You

As you can see, dental cleanings and check-ups can do more than prevent tooth decay or gum disease. They can also help you stay on top of your overall health and well-being. This is why, as much as possible, you should visit the dentist every six months.

If you’re ready to visit a dentist in Lexington, SC, Dr. Michael Moulton will be happy to see you. Please feel free to get in touch with our team here at Lexington Family Smiles.

What Makes Lexington Family Smiles One of the Best Cosmetic Dentists?

A woman smiling - Dentist Lexington
A woman in a purple shirt smiles after receiving cosmetic dentistry.

If you’re searching for the best cosmetic dentist, look no further than Lexington Family Smiles. Our team of experienced professionals is passionate about delivering the highest standards of cosmetic dentistry in the industry.

Family man, Dr. Michael Moulton and the team care genuinely about the wellbeing of patients and work tirelessly to create a warm, welcoming environment for patients. Easing anxiety and offering personalized service are our top priorities at this dedicated family practice.

Why Lexington Family Smiles Is One of the Best Cosmetic Dentists

At Lexington Family Smiles, we’re one of the best cosmetic dentist practices in town. This is because we go out of our way to make sure every person who steps through the door feels pampered and cared for. Our clients deserve to feel safe, so we go the extra mile to provide services aimed at making you feel completely at ease. Some of the ways we do this include:

  • Warm cookies when you leave
  • Complimentary refreshments
  • Warm towels, pillows and blankets
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • TVs in all treatment rooms

What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry involves using a variety of treatments and techniques to give you a smile you’ve always wanted. It could be a minimal treatment to whiten teeth gently, or a more intensive procedure like a dental bridge, which can make broken teeth look new.

The best cosmetic dentists understand that teeth are deeply personal. A perfect smile makes you feel confident and self-assured, whereas being self-conscious about your teeth can lead to anxiety and low self-esteem.     

How Much Does Cosmetic Dentistry Cost?

The cost of cosmetic dentistry differs vastly depending on the procedure you get and the dentist you choose. Treatments are often highly specialized, so we wouldn’t recommend looking for a budget cosmetic dentist — they might compromise comfort or health and safety to offer low-cost services. 

At Lexington Family Smiles, you’ll be surprised by the fairness of our pricing considering the quality of care you receive. Although there’s a seemingly high upfront cost involved in some cosmetic dentistry procedures, you can’t place a value on your health and confidence. Another reason we’re one of the best cosmetic dentists in the area is our price to quality ratio. 

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers are delicate porcelain or resin shields that bond to the outer layer of your teeth. This protects the surface of the tooth against damage and improves the overall aesthetic of your smile. You can get them for as many teeth as you like, from one tooth to the entire set. 

Who Needs Veneers?

Veneers are ideal for patients who have a tooth or teeth that are dilapidated, decayed, or damaged. Dr. Moulton will sit down with you for a one-on-one consultation and let you know if you’re a strong candidate for veneers. If you are, you can discuss your cosmetic dentistry goals together and make a dental plan to suit your needs and budget.  

How Does the Dentist Attach Veneers?

Veneers are usually made in a laboratory by a dental technician based on a mold of your teeth sent over by the dentist. The process is surprisingly straightforward, considering the astounding results can last for your entire lifetime. To get veneers, you’ll:

  1. Firstly, the dentist shaves a fine layer from the elected teeth — the equivalent thickness to the veneers. This reshapes the surface of the tooth, so it’s ready to have the new cover fitted over the top.
  2. Then, Dr. Moulton takes an impression of the teeth to send to the lab. They’ll use this to create your very own set of veneers. 
  3. Once ready, they are cemented onto the surface of the tooth using a curing light. This light activates dental cement, so it bonds the veneer and the tooth permanently.  

Teeth Whitening

There are thousands of teeth whitening products on the market, which offer varying levels of success. Bleaching and laser whitening are popular methods of removing deeply ingrained stains. Non-bleaching methods are available to remove surface stains, too.

Whitening is one of the best cosmetic dentist options because it’s affordable and instantly makes your smile look youthful and radiant.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Some patients might experience mild tooth sensitivity after they undergo teeth whitening treatment at Lexington Family Smiles. This is usually only temporary and no cause for concern.

Dr. Moulton takes a detailed history and performs a thorough examination before recommending a teeth whitening treatment to make sure the procedure is safe for you. 

Can Teeth Whitening Harm the Teeth?

Most methods of teeth whitening don’t cause any long-term damage to the enamel or overall structure of the teeth. It’s usually better to see a dentist for whitening treatments as opposed to attempting it at home yourself. 

Dental Bridges

A bridge replaces one or more broken or missing teeth with realistic-looking teeth. They use the real teeth on either side of the gap to form the bridge — hence the name! You can get fixed and removable bridges.

What Are Dental Bridges Used For?

Bridges can fill in a gap of one or more teeth for cosmetic dentistry purposes or to enable you to chew. Tooth loss can cause bone decay if the affected area doesn’t receive pressure from chewing. 

Dental Crowns

Dr. Moulton might recommend a dental crown for patients who have a tooth with a large chip or significant decay. A tooth-shaped cap covers the top of the tooth and gives the appearance of a real tooth.

To insert a crown, the dentist removes any decay or rotten tooth and ensures the structure of the root can support the crown. As such, you might need to undergo a root canal procedure before the dental crown is placed.

Book With One of the Best Cosmetic Dentists in Lexington, SC, Today

If you think your confidence could benefit from getting treatment from one of the best cosmetic dentists in the area, call Lexington Family Smiles today at 803-832-0074 or send us a text message at 803-951-0991.

4 Signs You Need Emergency Dental Care

Young woman has a dental emergency
Experiencing a toothache. Exhausted young secretary sitting at the workplace while touching her cheek and suffering from a toothache.

Even if you visit us regularly for a dental checkup and cleaning, there are times when an urgent situation could require more immediate care. There are some telltale signs that an oral problem can’t wait weeks or months before receiving care from our trained dental team. It may not be causing you any discomfort yet, but left unchecked it can turn into a more serious issue. Here are 4 signs you need emergency dental care…

1. A Tooth Feels Loose

Adult teeth should be well-anchored, not moving around when you eat and speak. There are a few reasons you might end up with a tooth that’s loose: one of them could be a direct injury. It may be an injury that is caused by impact, or perhaps something you bit into that has caused damage. However, this can also point to signs of an infection. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is one possible cause, as it affects the gum tissues responsible for holding your teeth in place. Our dentist Dr. Michael Moulton can examine your teeth and gums using imaging to get a clear picture of what is causing the tooth to feel loose.

2. You Have a Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a painful condition that can be caused by an unchecked cavity or gum disease. It can also be the result of an injury (such as a chipped tooth) that allows harmful bacteria to accumulate. An abscess is not always localized to the affected tooth or gums. It can also cause a fever, noticeably swollen glands, and even a bad taste in your mouth from the infection.

Our dental team can quickly assess the issue and treat an abscess, which may require draining. A root canal is another possible solution.

3. You Have Jaw Pain or Recurring Headaches

Constant headaches that have no apparent cause may be signs you are grinding your teeth. This is a condition called bruxism, and it can put a strain on teeth that can wear them down. If this happens, a dental crown or another procedure may be needed to repair them. The grinding of teeth can also lead to a painful condition known either as TMJ or TMD, which affects the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. While emergency dental care may be necessary to address the symptoms, there are ways to help avoid issues from grinding including using a mouthguard that we can custom fit to your mouth.

4. You Have a Severe Toothache

If your tooth is hurting constantly, then it’s likely a sign you need to see us as soon as possible. Our team can provide relief as well as diagnosing the underlying cause for your severe toothache, whether it’s an infection or another problem. While some people may experience mild toothaches and sensitivity, prolonged or severe pain likely means there’s something more serious happening that needs a professional.

Don’t Put Off Emergency Dental Care

Pain, swelling, and loose teeth are all signs you should make an appointment with us as soon as possible. Left unchecked, these issues could increase in severity. Our dental team effectively assesses the problem and recommends the best course of action, as well as outlining prevention techniques for the future. To find out more or make an appointment for emergency dental care, contact us today.

Lexington SC Dentist | Can You Inherit Oral Health Issues?

Image of ancestors:dental health can be affected by genetics
A collage of old photos.

Most serious oral health issues can be prevented by maintaining an effective routine of dental hygiene and in-office care. However, you could be at higher risk for some oral illnesses due to hereditary factors. Awareness and proper treatment can help minimize these risks. Here are a few of the most common oral health concerns that are affected by genetics.

Tooth Decay

One of the most common oral issues, some tooth decay has been linked to a genetic deficiency of a protein called DEFB1. If your parents experienced an unusually high rate of tooth decay, then you may want to be more vigilant regarding your own dental care.

Oral Cancer

Certain genetic factors can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Our Lexington family dentist recommends annual oral cancer screening for early identification and treatment. In addition, certain lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, can help reduce your risk of oral cancer.

Periodontal Disease

Recent research has found that some forms of gum disease may be linked to mutations in genes that affect immunity and inflammatory response.

Misaligned or Supernumerary (extra) Teeth

Genetics can play a role in having misaligned or even extra teeth. The size of your jaw is determined mostly through heredity and is the most common reason for an overbite, underbite, or dental crowding.

Canker Sores

In most cases, canker sores are an isolated reaction to fatigue, stress, or menstrual cycles. However, there are certain inherited diseases that count canker sores among their symptoms. Crohn’s disease and Celiac sprue are two such conditions.

While you may not be able to avoid hereditary oral health issues entirely, we can help minimize or even reverse their effects with proper treatment and care. If you suffer from any of these inherited conditions, contact Lexington Family Smiles for an oral health evaluation. We can help.