top of page
Oral Cancer Screening
At every one of your hygiene visits with Willis & Associates Family Dentistry Ivy - Charlottesville, we examine all the tissues of your mouth including gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, and jaw. Many patients are surprised at the large amount of surface area that we examine during an oral exam. It is just as important to have regular soft tissue screenings as it is to have a professional dental cleaning.
Did you know that oral cancer can affect anyone (although tobacco users put themselves at significantly higher risk than non-users)? Chewing tobacco contains over 3,000 different chemicals ( including the same compounds used in pesticides and embalming fluid!). Cellular damage below the surface isn’t always detectable until it's too late!
Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can significantly increase your chances of a quick and complete recovery.
The American Cancer Society reports that about 7,000 deaths result from oral cancer out of 30,000 cases diagnosed annually. If we suspect any unusual changes in your mouth tissue, we may suggest a biopsy and microscopic analysis by a qualified lab.
Many other non-cancerous changes can occur in your mouth's tissue, from oral warts to autoimmune lesions. Our team has extensive training in oral pathology to identify cancerous tissue. Your dental team will evaluate any abnormalities and determine if they should be monitored or removed.
Form Your Own Dental Routine!
Maintaining a healthy smile depends on what happens between your visits with us. Good home care habits can be established by anyone committed to carving out a few minutes each day. Like regular exercise, consistency is the key to building a healthy habit. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing once a day are the standard for ideal home care.
With so many products on the market today, it can be confusing to sort it out alone. Dr. Akriti can help you narrow down the endless options and form a plan with the hygiene tools that fit you and your dental needs. Will an electric toothbrush help you keep your mouth cleaner between professional visits? Would a prescription toothpaste help reduce plaque based on your unique chemistry? Many factors that fit into a plan to maximize the time and effort you put into keeping your smile healthy.
Some patients considered high-risk for dental problems benefit from even more individualized routines. Simple, inexpensive substitutions can transform the environment of your mouth and dramatically reduce disease activity.
For example, Xylitol is a naturally-derived sweetener that can minimize cavities in children and adults when used in the right dosages.
At Willis & Associates Family Dentistry Ivy - Charlottesville, we want to help you maintain a healthy smile. If you have any questions on how to keep your smile healthy at home, don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have at your next appointment.
While dental emergencies can strike anyone, anytime, our patients who commit to regular preventive care appointments usually experience fewer problems over time. Professional cleanings with a registered dental hygienist allow us to take a proactive approach to your dental health, addressing issues while they are small and potentially avoiding issues altogether. Despite your best efforts, deposits of mineralized plaque, known as tartar, adhere to areas of the teeth. These deposits create a nice home for millions of harmful bacteria. Left unchecked, they flood toxins into the gums resulting in devastating chronic problems, even resulting in the loss of teeth.
When tartar is removed at your professional hygiene appointment, it doesn’t have the opportunity to produce irreversible damage. We use professional instruments and prescription strength polishing paste that gently buffs away stain and plaque, leaving your teeth ultra-smooth and shiny. Since discoloration settles into the enamel of your teeth over time, this helps slow yellowing while maintaining a glassy surface for better cleaning.
A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue, either above or below the gum line. These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body. As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out. The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.
Prophylaxis is an excellent procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.
Here are some of the benefits of prophylaxis:
Tartar removal – Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated. Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets. The experienced eye of a dentist using specialized dental equipment is needed in order to spot and treat problems such as tartar and plaque buildup.
Aesthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth. Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains and return the smile to its former glory.
Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, and periodontal problems. The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.
Identification of health issues – Many health problems first present themselves to the dentist. Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the dentist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontitis and often spot signs of medical problems like diabetes and kidney problems. Recommendations can also be provided for altering the home care regimen.
What does prophylaxis treatment involve?
Prophylaxis can either be performed in the course of a regular dental visit or, if necessary, under general anesthetic. The latter is particularly common where severe periodontal disease is suspected or has been diagnosed by the dentist. An endotracheal tube is sometimes placed in the throat to protect the lungs from harmful bacteria which will be removed from the mouth.
Prophylaxis is generally performed in several stages:
Supragingival cleaning – The dentist will thoroughly clean the area above the gum line with scaling tools to rid them of plaque and calculus.
Subgingival cleaning – This is the most important step for patients with periodontal disease because the dentist is able to remove calculus from the gum pockets and beneath the gum line.
Root planing - This is the smoothing of the tooth root by the dentist to eliminate any remaining bacteria. These bacteria are extremely dangerous to periodontitis sufferers, so eliminating them is one of the top priorities of the dentist.
Medication - Following scaling and root planing, an antibiotic or antimicrobial cream is often placed in the gum pockets. These creams promote fast and healthy healing in the pockets and help ease discomfort.
X-ray and examination – Routine X-rays can be extremely revealing when it comes to periodontal disease. X-rays show the extent of bone and gum recession, and also aid the dentist in identifying areas which may need future attention.
Prophylaxis is recommended twice annually as a preventative measure, but should be performed every 3-4 months on periodontitis sufferers. Though gum disease cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools the dentist can use to effectively halt its destructive progress.
If you have questions or concerns about prophylaxis or periodontal disease, please ask your dental staff!
Don't Let Disease Get the Best of You
Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is the most common adult dental affliction. About 30% of the population experiences gum disease, and it's the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Many denture cases begin as a result of the ravages of this condition. While not curable, it is controllable. But it requires a focused strategy, similar to managing other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Gum disease can advance in stealth mode with few signs or symptoms in early stages. Many patients diagnosed with this condition find themselves surprised at the quiet damage progressing in their mouths. In simple terms, consider the gums and bone around your teeth as the foundation where they sit. Just like a house, the foundation must be sound regardless of the beauty of the house. When the foundation crumbles, the rest of it goes too.
Regular dental exams, professional cleanings, and good oral hygiene practices at home are essential to detecting and strategically managing periodontitis.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths provide a home to millions of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. Bacteria form a sticky substance, plaque, that adheres to the teeth. Brushing and flossing aim at removing plaque before it mineralizes into tartar. Tartar becomes a colony for more bacteria and adds to their population, pumping out toxins into the gums.
Gums react to this bacterial invasion with an inflammatory response under the direction of the immune system. Around the base of each tooth, a small collar of gum tissue exists that forms a small crevice or pocket. This warm, dark environment provides a perfect habitat for deeper tartar and bacterial penetration, with their toxins seeping into the base of the collar.
Early inflammation results in bleeding gums, known as gingivitis. Bacteria left untreated and undisturbed successfully create a chronic infection in the gum collar. In many cases, the bone begins to deteriorate around the teeth as the bacteria burrow deeper into the gums. While gums may be slightly tender at this stage, there's generally minimal discomfort as the bone dissolves.
More than 50% of the bone around your teeth can disappear before any signs of looseness or pain begin to appear. The bone around teeth never regenerates, so this loss becomes permanent and harder to control as the bacteria hide deeper into the gums. Untreated gum disease leads to abscess and generalized tooth loss in many advanced cases.
We draw on objective clinical data to form a gum disease diagnosis and to grade the condition. The small collar of gum around each tooth usually sits 2-3 millimeters deep, a small crevice easily cleaned by floss or toothpicks. Dr. Akriti or our hygiene team can measure and chart multiple areas using a small measuring device. If these measurements register beyond 3 millimeters and include bleeding areas, the disease is present. Deeper findings indicate more advanced disease than shallower readings.
Dr. Akriti will also consider the texture and shape of your gums, and any movement detectable in each tooth. It's also vital to examine the levels, shape, and density of the bone around your teeth on digital x-rays. By drawing together numerous findings, a clear picture forms about your gum condition.
After establishing a diagnosis defining the severity of gum disease, a personalized treatment plan can be developed with you. In milder forms with little or no bone loss, one or two visits with our hygiene team may bring the condition under control. When you leave our office with a strategy for daily home care and an established schedule for maintenance, little additional treatment may be needed.
If the inflammation has advanced with measurable bone loss, a proactive approach halting the destruction should be strongly considered. Often we will suggest gentle numbing of your gums for your comfort during the deeper cleaning process. One area at a time undergoes meticulous cleaning above and below the gum line, usually over several visits. The infected collar or pocket around each tooth, including the mineralized tartar, must be carefully cleaned out with hand and ultrasonic instruments. Polishing the teeth will establish glassy surfaces that help repel stain and plaque accumulation usually finishes this initial therapy.
Dr. Akriti may suggest a medicated rinse, an electric toothbrush, a Waterpik, or other specific strategies to help you with your ongoing efforts. Remember, gum disease can be controlled but not cured. Dedicated daily efforts must be consistent to control the disease.
Regular home care is critical to arrest the progression of gum disease. Within a few hours of a careful cleaning, the bacteria begin to repopulate and adhere to the teeth. Plaque left undisturbed will start to harden and mineralize within 24 hours. And deeper gum pockets require even more diligence to prevent the bacteria from burrowing further into the foundation of your teeth.
Since the deepest sections of gum pockets previously damaged by bacteria can be difficult to reach at home, a particular maintenance schedule with us proves essential. We can customize your plan to include 2, 3 or 4 visits a year depending on the severity of disease and its response to treatment and home care.
If our combined efforts don't halt your gum disease, we will suggest referral to a trusted specialist, known as a periodontist. With specialized training in many gum conditions, further treatment may be recommended.
Current research continues to establish clear links between bacterial disease in your mouth and ailments in other parts of the body. Studies show a link between oral bacteria and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer's, and certain types of cancers. The integration of oral and general health has never been better understood than it is currently.
Bleeding gums provide a direct pathway into the bloodstream, a journey that toxic oral bacteria can quickly take. In fact, if bleeding gums connected into one single patch, it would create a 2 x 2-inch square. If an open wound of this size existed on your skin, infection would be a concern. Bleeding, infected gums offer this open door to your body and sit saturated in colonies of bacteria. This helps explain why researchers continue to identify oral bacteria deposits in various areas of our bodies.
Diabetes and other auto-immune disorders lower the body's ability to fight infection, allowing uncontrolled gum disease to advance faster and with more destruction. Research also confirms that the inflammation in the mouth can aggravate diabetes, making it harder to control. This two-way relationship between two chronic conditions emphasizes the importance of optimal oral health.
At Willis & Associates Family Dentistry Ivy - Charlottesville. we want to help maintain a healthy smile. We will create a customized treatment plan to get your gums healthy and stop gum disease in its tracks.
Gum Disease Antibiotic Treatment
You may have heard about gum disease, also known as "periodontitis" or "periodontal disease." Maybe a dental professional or hygienist recently told you that you have this infection.
But do you really know the difference between periodontal disease and other types of complications that can affect your mouth, such as gingivitis?
Do you know why it's so important to treat periodontal disease-and why brushing and flossing alone won't do the trick?
Most importantly, did you know that periodontal disease is today's #1 cause of tooth loss among American adults? Or that, although a causal relationship between periodontal disease and an elevated risk for systemic events has not been established, recent data suggest a possible association between periodontal disease and other health issues including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and preterm low birth-weight babies?
Fight infection right where it starts
ARESTIN® (minocycline hydrochloride) Microspheres, 1 mg is an effective antibiotic treatment that comes in powder form. This powder is placed inside infected periodontal pockets just after the dental professional finishes the scaling and root-planing (SRP) procedure.
Please call our office if you have any questions or wish to discuss if Arestin® is right for you.
bottom of page