March 28, 2012

How Are Lasers Used To Treat Gum Disease?

If you have gum disease you are not alone. It is estimated that over 80 percent of the adult population has gum disease to one degree or another.  Gum disease (periodontal disease) leads to destruction of the fibers that connect teeth to bone and can create a space that is called a periodontal pocket. You can keep 3mm or less pockets clean by yourself with routine brushing and flossing, but if you have pockets deeper than 3mm, it is impossible for you to clean and maintain them. As a result you have debris and bacteria living at the bottom of these pockets which leads to chronic gum infection. You may have noticed a bad taste or odor in your mouth at times from the gum disease.

Dr Vincent Tavormina may recommend a conservative non surgical treatment. First scaling and root planing removes the mechanical irritants to your gums and supporting bone and also removes a major part of the periodontal bacteria. After removing the tartar a laser is used to selectively remove diseased or infected tissues lining the pockets around the teeth. At the same time the laser will kill the bacteria that cause your gum disease and promote healing of your gums around your teeth. The FDA has approved the use of lasers for many dental procedures including the one just described.

Lasers are used because of the precise control they afford and the comfort they provide to the patient.  Lasers perform many functions at once. Not only can a laser remove tissue, but it can also be used to seal blood vessels and nerve endings, reducing bleeding and postoperative pain and swelling. One of the biggest advantages of laser therapy is the fact that many times procedures can be performed with much less discomfort and postoperative pain than with conventional methods.

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March 21, 2012

How Does ViziLite Plus Work?

The ViziLite Plus exam is a painless exam that we can perform in just a few minutes. ViziLite Plus uses a light source that helps to improve Dr. Vincent Tavormina’s ability to identify abnormalities that may have been missed under normal lighting. 

First Dr. Vincent examines your mouth and looks for any abnormalities.  Next, you will rinse with a solution that will help Dr. Vincent Tavormina conduct the ViziLite Plus exam. The solution dries the oral tissues and prepares the tissues for examination with the ViziLite light. You only have to rinse with the solution for 30 seconds. Then the ViziLite is used. If a suspicious lesion is detected, it will be marked with T-Blue, a blue dye, and documented. Then the doctor tries to wipe the dye away. If the dye can be removed, then there’s nothing wrong.

Most of the time everything looks completely normal. However, there may be times when something that looks abnormal is identified. At that point, Dr. Vincent will use his expertise and may ask you to come back in a few weeks to follow up, or may refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.

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March 13, 2012

Is Oral Cancer Screening Important?

One American dies every hour from oral cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates a 5.5% increase in new cases of oral cancer and a 1.5% increase in deaths associated with oral cancer. 

If you think you aren’t at risk for oral cancer, think again. Research has shown that 25% of oral cancers occur in people who don’t smoke and have no other lifestyle risk factors. Virtually everyone is at risk for oral cancer, that’s why we recommend a simple, potentially life-saving screening exam annually, called Vizilite Plus.

If you’re sexually active, here’s another reason to think about oral cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection and especially prevalent in young adults.  Few people even know they have it. HPV has long been known to cause cervical cancer and now studies suggest it also plays a role in more than 20% of oral cancer cases.

ViziLite Plus is a simple technology that assists us in the early detection of oral abnormalities including premalignant lesions and oral cancer. Quite simply, early detection can save lives. When oral cancer is found early, treatment is 90% successful. The ViziLite Plus exam improves our ability to identify, evaluate, and monitor abnormal areas that are difficult to see under conventional lighting.

Oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when it’s caught early. That’s why we perform an anual Vizilite Plus exam in combination with a conventional visual examination.

Cancer screening technologies have been saving lives for years. Early detection tools such as mammograms, Pap smear, and PSA tests have greatly reduced death rates for breast, cervical, and prostate cancers. Now dentistry has a screening technology to use in addition to visual/manual screening methods.

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March 6, 2012

Non-Surgical Treatment Of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects nearly 75-90 percent of the general population at one time or another. These chronic infections have been linked to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, ulcers, diabetes, respiratory diseases and pregnancy complications.

It does not have to be this way! Gum disease is easily prevented and gum treatment can be non-surgical, using a simple, antibacterial program pioneered in the 1970s by Dr. Paul Keyes (Keyes Technique).

Our approach often uses the phase contrast microscope to test for bone destroying infectious bacteria beneath the gums. With this microscope we can take a sample from under the gums and look at a slide that shows the live bacteria. The microscope is connected to a monitor so that the patient can see the live bacteria on the TV monitor with us. The microscopic information combined with the information we gather during the exam, enables us to determine how severe the infection is and work with the patient to get things under control.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that surround and support the teeth. There are two basic stages of gum disease- gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth called plaque. This causes red, swollen gums that typically bleed easily. Healthy gums don’t bleed. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis goes untreated and progresses to an advanced  form of gum disease. The bacteria cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating bone loss and pockets where the bone used to be. The bacteria can proliferate in the pockets and further damage the bone that supports the teeth. Teeth may become loose, fall out or have to be extracted.

To treat the disease non-surgically deep cleanings called scaling and root planing are performed to clean and smooth the root surfaces. We then treat the infection with antibacterial solutions flowed under the gums to help eliminate the infection. In some cases localized antibiotics must be placed under the gums in deep pockets. The patient is given thorough lessons in proper tooth brushing, flossing and home irrigation to ensure that the periodontal disease process is eliminated and doesn’t return.

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