Our Blog

What is a water pick and do I need one?

August 14th, 2019

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Derek Scott and our team at Derek W. Scott, DDS & Associates want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Kingwood, TX office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Derek Scott during your next visit!

I have halitosis. What can I do?

August 7th, 2019

Halitosis is the fancy, scientific word for “bad breath.” Dr. Derek Scott and our team know there are several reasons why you may have halitosis; let’s look at a few:

  • Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) – There are five main types of gum disease, and each one can range from mild to severe. For example the most common one is gingivitis; it is caused by bacteria in the plaque that has been allowed to build up, usually as a result of poor oral hygiene. A more serious and uncommon type of gum disease is called necrotizing periodontal disease. It is most common in people who have a suppressed immune system.
  • Smoking
  • Dry Mouth – This can be caused by something as simple as a medication you take.
  • Food – Of course, if you eat something that is potent like garlic, it is going to give you bad breath.
  • Diseases of the Body – Some diseases such as sinus infections and diabetes, among a few other types of infections, can also cause you to have halitosis.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

The most obvious answer to how to get rid of halitosis is to practice good oral hygiene, although, depending on the cause of halitosis it may not be that simple. If you have an infection that is causing the halitosis then you may need an antibiotic to clear up the infection and then the bad breath will go away. Here are more tips:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and before bed.
  • Floss your teeth. The more plaque you get out of your teeth, the better chance you have of not getting cavities or bad breath.
  • Address any medical conditions that are not related to your teeth that can be causing the halitosis.
  • Ask Dr. Derek Scott for a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria.

Halitosis (bad breath) can be an embarrassing condition to live with, but there are plenty of ways to get rid of it permanently. Start by talking to a member of our team at our Kingwood, TX office.

Four Oral Health Issues Seniors Face

July 17th, 2019

Oral health is an important and often overlooked component of an older person’s general health and well-being. Dr. Derek Scott and our team know that for many of our older patients, oral health can become an issue when arthritis or other neurological problems render them unable to brush or floss their teeth as effectively as they once did. Today, we thought we would discuss four common oral health issues our older patients face and how they can avoid them:

Cavities: It’s not just children who get tooth decay—oral decay is a common disease in people 65 and older. Ninety-two percent of seniors 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The risk for tooth decay increases because many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to, thus cavities go undetected and untreated for longer than they should. Keeping regular appointments with Dr. Derek Scott is the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.

Difficulty eating: Oral health problems, whether from missing teeth, cavities, dentures that don’t fit, gum disease, or infection, can cause difficulty eating and can force people to adjust the quality, consistency, and balance of their diet.

Dry mouth: Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is a common issue for a lot of seniors. Our friends at the Oral Cancer Foundation estimate that 20 percent of elderly people suffer from dry mouth, which means the reduced flow of saliva (saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay). Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, pain pills, incontinence medications, antidepressants, diuretics, muscle relaxers, and Parkinson’s disease medications. To help counter this, we suggest drinking lots of fluids and limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol. We also encourage you to check with Dr. Derek Scott during your next visit if you think your medications are causing your mouth to feel dry.

Gum Disease: Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. While gum disease affects people of all ages, it typically becomes worse as people age. In its early stages, gum disease is painless, and most people have no idea that they have it. In more advanced cases, however, gum disease can cause sore gums and pain when chewing.

Gum disease, which can range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease, is usually caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow dental plaque to build up on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing simply does not clean. Only a professional cleaning at our office can remove tartar. The two forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and can bleed easily; in periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces that become infected.

Proper brushing, flossing, and visiting our office regularly can prevent gum disease. Seniors with limited dexterity who have trouble gripping a toothbrush should ask Dr. Derek Scott about modifying a handle for easier use or switching to a battery-powered toothbrush.

What is non-surgical periodontal treatment?

July 10th, 2019

Gum disease is about much more than pesky bleeding gums – it's a serious and progressive condition that, over time, can result in tooth loss, which in turn can have a significant bearing on your quality of life. Many people avoid being evaluated for gum disease because they worry that if they do have the condition, their only option will be to undergo surgery or let their teeth fall out. In fact, there are several non-surgical options to help treat gum disease (also called periodontal disease) and prevent eventual tooth loss. Wondering what they are? Here's a quick rundown of your options:

  • Regular dental cleaning: When your gum disease is in its earliest stages, regular cleanings at least twice a year may be enough to ward off further development, especially if you rigorously follow your dentist's recommendations for home care, including regular flossing. To get your periodontal disease under control, you may need to have cleanings more than twice a year, returning to twice-yearly cleanings once your gums are healthy again.
  • Scaling and root planing: These procedures involve deep cleaning above and below the gum line to remove plaque and tartar and to smooth rough spots on or near the root that can provide places for bacteria to lodge. Once the material below the gum line is removed, Dr. Derek Scott may apply an antibacterial gel to help kill any bacteria that remain. Because these procedures involve using special instruments to reach deep pockets of plaque and bacteria, most patients opt for a local anesthetic to help avoid discomfort. For more advanced cases of gum disease, you may need two sessions to complete the procedure. Afterward, you may experience some slight discomfort and bleeding from your gums which will resolve soon afterward. We can recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever to help relieve any discomfort.
  • Medication: Antibiotics can be used in some cases to help destroy bacteria beneath the gum line and help preserve the tooth's attachment and prevent loosening and eventual loss. Both over-the-counter and prescription mouthwashes are available, as well as oral antibiotics that can be used to destroy gum disease-causing bacteria. Toothpastes containing antibiotics are also available and are usually used in combination with other products or treatments.

If you're experiencing signs of periodontal disease – tender, bleeding or swollen gums, receding gums, gums that bleed after brushing, or loose teeth – delaying treatment is the worst thing you can do. Make an appointment at our Kingwood, TX office and learn about all the options that can help you keep your teeth and gums as healthy as can be.