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Modern Family Dentistry

Always Accepting New and Emergency Patients!

At our office, we believe preventative dental care and maintenance is vital to your dental health. Through regular scheduled exams we check the overall health of your teeth and gums, perform oral cancer screenings, and perform x-rays to detect problems before they worsen. Routine dental cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments help prevent cavities and dental disease.

Schedule an Appointment

Scheduling an appointment is easy! You can call us at 405.943.0123 during office hours to schedule an appointment and to ask any questions regarding your initial visit, payment options and accepted insurance plans. Or you can click the link below to schedule!

Our Weekly Dental Blog

Do I Really Grind My Teeth?

Some of our patients are surprised when we inform them that we see evidence in their mouths of teeth grinding, or bruxism.  Many people have no idea that they are grinding their teeth.  And what happens very frequently is they come back in six months and say, “You know . . . I think I might be grinding my teeth.  Ever since you told me that six months ago, I’ve been noticing {insert symptom here}.”

Signs vs. Symptoms

In order to explain this phenomenon of a dentist telling the patient about something they are doing which they are unaware of, it is important to understand signs vs. symptoms.  Signs are objective, observable facts.  This means they are not swayed by opinions or feelings, and they can be shown by a photograph, an x-ray or other type of image, a lab result, etc…  Signs are noted by the dentist during an evaluation of your mouth.  Signs can exist without any symptoms, so it is possible that a dentist can inform you of the signs of a condition without your being aware of any issues.

Symptoms are subjective evidences of a condition or disease of which the patient is aware.  For instance, pain is a symptom because it cannot be observed, and the patient must describe it to their doctor for it to be properly documented and used to aid in diagnosis.  Other examples of symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, or muscle tension.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a very common condition in which a person closes the upper and lower jaws, creating high pressure on the teeth, gums, supporting jaw bones, facial muscles and jaw joints.  It can include hard squeezing called clenching, or a side-to-side or back-and-forth movement called grinding.  When bruxism occurs, it will manifest in one or more clinical signs and possibly some symptoms.

Signs of Bruxism

  • Attrition – the flattening of the biting surfaces of teeth and loss of enamel caused by clenching or grinding
  • Potholes – a specific type of attrition where the enamel has been worn through, and the underlying dentin is exposed and worn down into a concavity
  • Gum Recession – movement of the gum attachment away from stressful biting forces on the tooth to a position further toward the root, can cause exposure of the root and tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth Abfraction – a loss of tooth structure at the gumline causing a notch or concavity
  • Facial Muscle Enlargement – as with any other muscle in the body, when exercised frequently, they will enlarge
  • Linea Alba – Latin for “white line”, this is a visible line on the inside of your cheeks caused by friction against the grinding teeth, like a callous
  • Scalloped Tongue – the sides of your tongue can be pressed against the inner surfaces of the teeth when clenching or grinding, causing it to conform to the shape of the teeth and have a scalloped appearance

Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Facial pain, including headaches – constant clenching of muscles can create muscle soreness in the cheeks, temples, forehead, and the neck
  • Muscle tightness – a tight or tense feeling in the muscles of the cheeks and temples
  • Joint pain or sounds – the jaw joints, located in front of your ears, can be tender to touch, have sharp shooting pains, or make popping, clicking, or crunching sounds
  • Generalized tooth pain or sensitivity – the pressure of clenching or grinding can cause all of the teeth to be sore or sensitive to temperature

Not everyone who clenches or grinds his or her teeth will exhibit all of these signs or symptoms.  It is important for the dentist to get the whole picture and put together each patient’s specific signs and/or symptoms in order to accurately diagnose the condition of bruxism.

What Can I Do About It?

The most common treatment for bruxism is a hard, custom-made nightguard to protect the teeth, gums, bone, muscles and joints at night.  People who clench during the day can follow some habit-breaking techniques to prevent daytime damage.  If extensive damage is present, you will probably need some dental work to repair it before moving on to the preventive phase.

Will an Over-the-Counter Nightguard Work?

OTC nightguards are typically made of a soft, thermoplastic material that you can heat and shape to fit your teeth.  This material is not great at preventing the damage from bruxism because the soft, squishiness actually increases muscle action and deteriorates very quickly.  The best protection for your teeth, gums, bone, muscles and joints is a hard nightguard that is custom-made for you by your dentist.  These will actually reduce muscle force and provide real protection.

Need More Information?

If you think you may exhibit one or more of the listed signs and symptoms, please don’t hesitate to discuss it with Dr. McConnell or Dr. Nguyen.  You can also call the office at 405-943-0123 to set up a consultation.

Acid: A Lesser Known Cause of Cavities

How does the pH of your mouth affect your risk for cavities?

Most people know and understand that a diet high in sugar can be detrimental to their oral health.  What a lot of people are unaware of is the dangerous effects of acid to tooth structure.  In recent years, we have seen an increase in cavities among adults with good oral hygiene and diets low in sugar.  How does this happen?  It’s all about the pH!

Tooth decay starts with a process called demineralization, which is the softening of enamel or dentin surfaces caused by acid.  Just as acid can etch the surface of glass, it will damage and soften the surface of tooth enamel, making it much easier for bacteria to penetrate and cause decay.  In a healthy mouth with a neutral pH or 7.0 or higher, it takes a long time for bacteria to produce enough acid to cause a cavity.   Research has shown that demineralization of enamel occurs when the pH drops to 5.5.

Prolonged exposure of your teeth to any acid consistently weakens enamel, allowing cavities to form in an otherwise healthy mouth.  All carbonated drinks are very acidic, ranging from 2.5-4.0.

Is your water causing cavities?

If it is sparkling water, then it definitely could be.  If you’re using a reverse osmosis filtration system, even your tap water could become acidic and increase your risk for cavities!  And pH testing of various brands of bottled water shows that even some of those are acidic.  The pH of your water can vary.  The easiest way to find out your water’s pH is to buy some small pH test strips at the drug store or online.

It is important to remember that enamel begins demineralization (or dissolving) at a pH of 5.5 or lower, so anything that will be exposed to your teeth for a long period of time should be above pH 5.5 in order to prevent cavity formation.

pH of Popular Bottled Waters

Evian 8.10
Music Mountain 7.88
Fiji 7.50
Nestle “Pure Life” 6.2-7.60
Saliva 7.40
Dentin dissolves below 6.50
Spring by Dannon 6.40
Dasani 6.03
Sam’s Choice 5.90
AquaFina 5.67
Enamel dissolves below 5.50
Deja Blue 5.49
Ozarka 5.49
Dasani Lemon 3.48
Fruit ² O 3.10

What can you do about it?

Here are a few tips to improve the pH in your mouth and decrease your risk for cavities:

  1. Only enjoy acidic drinks (anything below pH of 5.5) with meals or snacks.  Do not sip on them between meals or overnight.
  2. Only drink neutral drinks (pH 7.0 or above) in between meals.
  3. Avoid adding lemon juice to your drinks. Lemon juice is extremely acidic and drastically lowers the pH of your drink.
  4. After an acidic drink, chew xylitol-containing gum. Our favorite brand is Ice Cubes gum.  It comes in a wide variety of flavors, is available in most grocery and convenience stores, and contains almost 2g of xylitol per piece.  Not only does xylitol kill cavity-causing bacteria, the chewing motion stimulates saliva production, which brings the pH in your mouth back to neutral.
  5. Know your drinks.  In our experience, most of our patients have no idea that their favorite drink is very acidic and damaging to enamel.  You can test your beverages yourself with a pH testing kit or search the internet for common drinks.  Most food and drinks have an MSDS sheet (Material Safety Data Sheet) that includes their pH levels.

Do you have more questions about how pH can be affecting your mouth?

Call our office today at 405-943-0123 to set up a consultation with Dr. McConnell and Dr. Nguyen.  They will discuss your specific dietary habits and how they could be affecting your teeth.

What is Gingivitis?

A lot of people hear this word from their dentist and are not really sure what it means.  Have you been told that you have gingivitis by your dentist or dental hygienist?  Do you sometimes see blood when you spit your toothpaste out in the sink?  This blog will describe what gingivitis is, what it is not, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Gingivitis Is

The word gingivitis is easy to break down into its two components: gingiva and the suffix “–itis”.  Gingiva is the scientific term for gum tissue.  The suffix “–itis” always indicates inflammation.  Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix.  Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin.  Inflammation will always exhibit at least one of four characteristics: redness, swelling, heat, and pain.

In gingivitis, the most common characteristics of inflammation are redness and swelling.  Any bleeding of the gums without injury indicates the presence of gingivitis (and, no, brushing, flossing and professional teeth cleanings do not count as injuries).  Gingivitis can be localized or generalized.  Localized gingivitis is isolated to a small area of the mouth, perhaps 1-2 teeth.  Generalized gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around all of the teeth.

What Gingivitis Is Not

While gingivitis is typically present at the same time as many of these other conditions, it is technically not the same thing.

Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is the loss of gum and bone attachment to teeth.  The jawbone and gums are the foundation on which our teeth function.  They support the teeth and hold them in place.  When periodontal disease is present, that support is compromised.  In severe periodontal disease, the teeth will become loose and, in extreme cases, can even fall out.  Periodontal disease often occurs in conjunction with gingivitis.  Gingivitis, if untreated, will advance to periodontal disease.  However, periodontal disease is called a “silent” disease because the inflammation can be hidden underneath the gums, not visible to an untrained eye.

Gum recession – Gum recession is the process of gum tissue receding down the root surface of a tooth.  Recession exposes the root and also compromises the support for a tooth because it is a loss of attachment.  Gum recession is often accompanied by gingivitis, but recession can be present without any inflammation.

What Causes Gingivitis

Plaque – The #1 cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque.  Plaque consists of bacteria, their by-products, and food debris.  Plaque is an irritant to gum tissue, so when it is not properly cleaned away, the gums respond with an inflammatory reaction.  Plaque is the easiest cause of gingivitis to treat.

Hormones – Many people experience changes in levels of inflammation due to changes in levels of hormones.  This can affect patients going through puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

Mouth breathing – Constant mouth breathing has a drying effect on all the tissue inside the mouth.  Saliva is instrumental in maintaining the pH of a mouth, moistening the tissue, and fighting bacteria.  Mouth breathing allows a greater accumulation of bacteria on the gum tissue, leading to inflammation.  This can affect people who have nasal obstruction, severe allergies, or sleep-disordered breathing.

Braces – Orthodontic treatment creates beautiful smiles.  Sometimes it also contributes to gingivitis.  All of the additional fixtures in the mouth during orthodontic treatment provide countless hiding places for bacteria to accumulate.  More bacteria means more gingivitis.

Some prescription medications – There are a few prescription medications that cause gingivitis as a common side effect.  Dr. McConnell and Dr. Nguyen are familiar with these drugs and their influence on gum tissue.  They will advise you in the event you are taking a medication that could cause changes in your gum tissue.

What You Can Do About Gingivitis

  • Improve your oral hygiene routine at home! Your routine should include brushing twice daily and flossing before bedtime.  Adding a pre-brush mouthrinse that contains hydrogen peroxide (like an over-the-counter whitening mouthrinse) will help reduce inflammation in your gum tissue.
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned! Patients who are prone to gingivitis should never miss a cleaning.  Many even need to have cleanings more frequently than ever 6 months.  The good news is that more frequent cleanings always mean more comfortable cleanings.  If you skip cleanings, the bacterial buildup that is causing the gingivitis will persist and can worsen into periodontal disease.
  • Talk it over with your dentist. You may have more than one risk factor for gingivitis, like mouth breathing or hormones.  McConnell and Dr. Nguyen will give you customized recommendations for your specific situation.

Worried about Gingivitis?

Call our office at 405-943-0123 to schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns with Dr. McConnell and Dr. Nguyen and get a plan to resolve your gingivitis.

Signature Dental, Inc.
Dr. Kesa McConnell
2620 NW Expressway
Suite E
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Our practice is conveniently located in Oklahoma City, OK
Our Hours Monday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Tuesday:7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Wednesday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Thursday:7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Friday:7:30 am - 3:00 pm

Directions to our office