When a woman learns she's pregnant, her first thought is often to do everything possible to protect the new life inside her. That may mean making lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol or quitting smoking.
Some women may also become concerned that their regular dental visits could pose a risk to their baby. But both the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association say it's safe for pregnant women to undergo dental exams and cleanings—in fact, they're particularly important during pregnancy.
That's because pregnant women are more susceptible to dental infections, particularly periodontal (gum) disease, because of hormonal changes during pregnancy. The most common, occurring in about 40% of expectant mothers, is a form of gum disease known as pregnancy gingivitis. Women usually encounter this infection that leaves the gums tender, swollen and easy to bleed between the second and eighth month of pregnancy.
Untreated, pregnancy gingivitis could potentially advance below the gum line and infect the roots. It could also have an unhealthy effect on the baby: some studies show women with severe gum disease are more prone to give birth to premature or underweight babies than women with healthy gums.
But it can be stopped effectively, especially if it's treated early. Regular dental checkups and cleanings (at least every six months or more frequently if your dentist recommends) can help an expectant mother stay ahead of a developing gum infection.
With that said, though, your dentist's approach to your care may change somewhat during pregnancy. While there's little concern over essential procedures like gum disease treatment or root canal therapy, elective restorations that are cosmetic in nature might best be postponed until after the baby's birth.
So, if you've just found out you're pregnant, let your dentist know so they can adjust your care depending on your condition and history. And don't be concerned about keeping up your regular dental visits—it's a great thing to do for both you and your baby.
If you would like more information on dental care during pregnancy, 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 “Dental Care During Pregnancy: Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene Is More Important Than Ever.”
One in 700 babies are born each year with a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both. Besides its devastating emotional and social impact, this common birth defect can also jeopardize a child's long-term health. Fortunately, incredible progress has occurred in the last half century repairing cleft defects. Today's children with these birth defects often enter adulthood with a normal appearance and better overall health.
A cleft is a gap in the mouth or face that typically forms during early pregnancy. It often affects the upper lip, the soft and hard palates, the nose or (rarely) the cheek and eye areas. Clefts can form in one or more structures, on one side of the face or on both. Why they form isn't fully understood, but they seem connected to a mother's vitamin deficiencies or to mother-fetus exposure to toxic substances or infections.
Before the 1950s there was little that could be done to repair clefts. That changed with a monumental discovery by Dr. Ralph Millard, a U.S. Navy surgeon stationed in Korea: Reviewing cleft photos, Dr. Millard realized the “missing” tissue wasn't missing—only misplaced. He developed the first technique to utilize this misplaced tissue to repair the cleft.
Today, skilled surgical teams have improved on Dr. Millard's efforts to not only repair the clefts but also restore balance and symmetry to the face. These teams are composed of various oral and dental specialties, including general dentists who care for the patient's teeth and prevent disease during the long repair process.
Cleft repairs are usually done in stages, beginning with initial lip repair around 3-6 months of age and, if necessary, palate repair around 6-12 months. Depending on the nature and degree of the cleft, subsequent surgeries might be needed throughout childhood to “polish” the original repairs, as well as cosmetic dental work like implants, crowns or bridgework.
In addition to the surgical team's skill and artistry, cleft repair also requires courage, strength and perseverance from patients and their parents, and support from extended family and friends. The end result, though, can be truly amazing and well worth the challenging road to get there.
If you would like more information on repairing cleft birth defects, 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 “Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate.”
How your dentist in Walnut Creek, CA, can help you with jaw pain
If you have jaw pain, you shouldn’t ignore it—after all, chronic jaw pain is often a symptom of inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. TMJ problems are complex, and often lead to a chronic condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Fortunately, here at our office in Walnut Creek, CA, your dentist, Dr. Frank R. Skiba, offers a wide range of services, including TMJ treatment, to help with jaw pain—read on to learn what he can do for you!
About TMJ and TMD Treatment
The TMJ is a complicated joint that slides like a hinge. Due to its unique movement, it can be easily dislocated, sliding in and out of place. Dislocation can lead to inflammation of the joint, and eventually, to permanent joint damage.
There are several noticeable signs and symptoms you may have TMJ issues. Let your dentist know if you are experiencing:
- Chronic aching pain in your face, especially around your ear
- Chronic tenderness and pain in your jaw
- Difficult or painful chewing or biting down on foods
- Popping, clicking, or locking in your jaw when you open and close your mouth
You can try some simple home remedies if you experience any of the signs or symptoms listed above. Consider:
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medication
- Switching to soft foods and avoiding chewing gum or sticky foods
- Trying a nightguard if you are grinding or clenching at night
- Gently massaging your jaw muscles and face
- Applying moist heat or ice to your jaw
If you continue to have symptoms and aren't finding relief from home therapies, it’s time to talk with Dr. Skiba. He may recommend:
- Corticosteroid medications to reduce swelling
- Flushing the TMJ, a process called lavage
- Muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, and pain medication
- Custom-fit nightguards or TMJ splints
- Physical therapy and massage
- Laser or TENS therapy
Need relief? Give us a call
Don’t suffer from TMJ pain when effective treatment is just a phone call away. To learn more about your TMD treatment options, call Dr. Frank R. Skiba in Walnut Creek, CA, today by dialing (925) 934-8149.
Learn more about the long-term oral health benefits of getting a root canal.
It’s so much easier and certainly more economical to save a patient’s natural tooth then it is to extract it and then replace it. If you are dealing with a dental infection, severe decay, or trauma that has affected the health of your tooth, then our Walnut Creek, CA, dentist, Dr. Frank Skiba, may have told you that you need a root canal.
The goal of root canal therapy is to,
- Remove the infected or inflamed dental pulp
- Get rid of your toothache
- Disinfect the inside of the tooth and remove bacteria
- Prevent the spread of infection to neighboring teeth and jawbone
- Preserve a natural tooth and prevent a tooth extraction
What are the warning signs that I might need root canal therapy?
Sometimes a person may have an infected or inflamed dental pulp and not even know it. This is why it’s important to visit your dentist in Walnut Creek, CA, every six months for checkups. After all, the absence of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is healthy. Of course, you should also come into our office right away if you notice any of these telltale signs of damaged dental pulp:
- A severe and persistent toothache
- Dental pain that gets worse when biting down or putting pressure on the tooth
- Sudden and prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Sudden darkening or discoloration of the tooth
- Tender, swollen, and reddened gums surrounding the tooth
- An abscess on the gums (a pimple-like growth or bump)
If you notice an abscess forming on the gums, this is a clear indicator that there is an infection. This is considered a dental emergency, so the sooner you come into our office, the better. It’s important not to ignore these warning signs and dental problems. Pain and other symptoms are trying to warn you that something is wrong—act quickly to get the care you need.
Concerned? Give us a call
If you are experiencing the symptoms of infected dental pulp, we can help. Call our Walnut Creek, CA, dental office right away at (925) 934-8149 for an immediate evaluation.
Chipped a tooth? Don't beat yourself up—this type of dental injury is quite common. In fact, you probably have a favorite celebrity who has chipped one or more of their teeth. The list is fairly long.
Some chipped a tooth away from the limelight, such as Tom Cruise (a hockey puck to the face as a teen), Jim Carrey (roughhousing on the playground) and Paul McCartney (a sudden stop with a moped). Others, though, chipped a tooth while “on the job.” Taylor Swift, Hillary Duff and Jennifer Lopez have all chipped a tooth on stage with a microphone. And chipped teeth seem to be an occupational hazard among professional athletes like former NFL star, Jerry Rice.
Since smiles are an indispensable asset to high-profile celebrities, you can be sure these stars have had those chipped teeth restored. The good news is the same procedures they've undergone are readily available for anyone. The two most common restorations for chipped teeth are dental bonding and veneers.
The least invasive way to fix a chipped tooth is bonding with a material known as composite resin. With this technique, resin is first mixed to match the tooth color and then applied to the chipped area or applied in layers of color to get just the right look. After a bit of shaping, curing and adjustment, we're done—you can walk out with a restored tooth in one visit.
Bonding works well with slight to moderate chips, but it could be less durable when there is more extensive damage. For that, you may want to consider porcelain veneers. Veneers are thin wafers of dental porcelain that are bonded to the front of teeth to mask blemishes like stains, slight gaps or, yes, chips. Veneers can be so lifelike that you won't be able to tell the veneered tooth from your other teeth. They are fashioned to match the color and shape of an individual's teeth. Because of the time and design detail involved, veneers are more expensive than bonding, yet still within an affordable range for many.
Teeth require some alteration before applying traditional veneers because otherwise the teeth can appear bulky when the veneer is bonded to the existing tooth. To compensate, we remove a little of the tooth enamel. Because this loss is permanent, you'll need to wear veneers or have some other form of restoration for the tooth from then on. For many people, though, that's a small price to pay for a smile without chips.
Your first step to repairing a chipped tooth is to come in for an examination. From there, we'll recommend the best option for your situation. And regardless of which, bonding or veneers, we can change your smile for the better.
If you would like more information about restoring injured teeth, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening” and “Porcelain Veneers: Strength and Beauty as Never Before.”
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