Ask Dr. Furey: Dental checkups and cleanings

Q: I recently read a newspaper article which seemed to say that regular dental visits may not be necessary. What’s the truth?
I read that article, too. Actually, the researchers said that a person’s frequency of regular dental care should be based on individual needs and risk factors. While I agree with this assessment, I see some issues with how the researchers reached their conclusion. In particular, they didn’t consider two important risk factors, oral hygiene and diet. At Furey Dental Group, we consider your individual needs and several risk factors when
recommending the frequency of your dental care.

Q: What are those risk factors?
Besides oral hygiene and diet, other risk factors include history of dental disease, certain anatomic factors, the condition of existing restorative work, specific systemic conditions such as diabetes, whether you smoke and excessive tooth wear or erosion. Newer studies show a possible link between dental disease and the presence of Interleukin 1, a blood marker for inflammation.

Q: Whatever happened to the “every six months” interval?
Years ago, the dental insurance industry set the six-month standard by agreeing to pay for two teeth cleanings per year. Every six months may still be appropriate for many people. However, it’s more important to base our recommendations on your individual needs and
risk factors.

Q: Why are regular dental visits so important?
In a word, prevention. Through regular dental care, we can more effectively manage the causes of dental disease, such as plaque accumulation. We also can identify dental disease at an earlier stage, minimizing the amount of treatment needed.

Q: How often do I need X-rays?
As with other aspects of your preventive dental care, the frequency of dental X-rays should be based on your individual needs and risk factors. Generally, we take decay detecting images every 12 to 36 months.

Q: What should I do if my dentist recommends teeth cleaning every six months, but I think my risk factors are low?
Discuss it with your dentist. There should be a specific reason for this recommendation. Ultimately, it’s your teeth and your decision as to how often you visit the dentist. If you
decide to extend the interval, do so with the understanding of the risks involved. An
informed decision with input from your dentist is usually the best way to go.

Want to ask Dr. Furey a question about your oral health? Click here to send him an e-mail. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

Bruxism: a bad habit that can cause serious damage

by Dr. Michael Furey • Over the years, I’ve seen countless instances of oral health issues caused by bad habits. Certain habits, such as infrequent or improper tooth brushing, are entirely controllable, assuming the patient makes a commitment to change.

Other habits are not so easy to change. Often it’s because these habits occur involuntarily. Such is the case with bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding or teeth clenching.

Chronic bruxism affects an estimated 30% or more of the adult population. It can happen anytime during the day, but it is most prevalent during sleep. Unfortunately, bruxism comes with potentially serious consequences, including excessively worn or fractured teeth, jaw or facial pain (commonly called TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction), recession of the gums and deterioration of the root surfaces (known as abfraction). In extreme cases, the teeth can wear down to the gum line.

While the cause is often unknown, it is believed that many individuals develop bruxism
over time as a result of their response to stress. Some studies suggest that bruxism originates in the central nervous system, and newer research indicates a correlation with
sleep disorders.

Early intervention is crucial

Whatever the cause of bruxism, early intervention is crucial. If it’s diagnosed and treated early enough, there may be no need to restore or repair damaged teeth. The problem is,
many people simply do not realize they’re “bruxers” until they experience pain and/or
extensive damage to their teeth.

Besides any needed restoration or repair work, the treatment of bruxism usually involves the use of a protective bite guard to wear during sleep. For bruxism that occurs during waking hours, individuals usually can find relief through behavior modification therapy.

If you suspect clenching or grinding of the teeth, please talk to your dentist as soon as
possible. As I stated earlier, the sooner you get help, the less likely you are to suffer
damage to your teeth.Contact Furey Dental Group with your concerns about bruxism or any other condition affecting your oral health. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.