April of each year marks Oral Cancer Awareness month as sponsored by various health organizations and the American Dental Association (ADA) in an effort to shed a brighter light on this often deadly disease affecting thousands each year.
Oral Cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers statistically because it is frequently diagnosed in the late stages of development. At this point, many patients are faced with less than a 50% survival rate.
Dr. Richard W. Van Gurp provides an oral cancer screening during your routine visits to our Charlotte, NC dentist office. This quick, painless exam lasts about two minutes, but could add years to your life if an oral cancer is spotted in the early stage when treatment is often successful. Many patients do not even realize that they are being screened for the signs of oral cancer as Dr. Van Gurp performs a routine examination of the teeth, gums and neck area during their hygiene visits.
Common Signs of Oral Cancer
Although many signs of oral cancer easily go unnoticed, understanding what Dr. Van Gurp is looking for during your screening can help you to monitor your own oral health between visits, especially if you are a smoker or use tobacco products which places you in the high risk category.
Sore throat or feeling of something caught in the throat
Thickening of soft oral tissues
Noticeable red or white patches in the mouth
Numbness of the tongue
Swelling in the jaw area
Change in the fit of dentures
Although some of these signs or symptoms can be an indication of a wide range of dental health concerns, it is important to come in for a visit if you notice any of these changes. Early treatment can often avoid more complex problems down the road and in the case of oral cancer, it could be lifesaving.
Oral cancer screening provides another good reason to visit with Dr. Van Gurp in Charlotte, NC twice a year. Routine dental care not only keeps your smile healthy but can also provide the opportunity to spot early signs of larger health concerns such as oral cancer. As your dentist, we consider ourselves a partner in your overall health care, helping you to enjoy the best quality of life every day.
Modern dentistry recommends that we strive to keep our natural teeth healthy for as long as possible for the best quality of life. With the advent of new technology in the dental field and improved standards of oral health in recent years, we are retaining our natural teeth longer than ever before.
This means that we must maintain consistent oral hygiene and schedule regular dental check ups throughout our lifetime. Dr. Richard Van Gurp understands that our oral health needs change as we age and would like to discuss some special concerns for adult and senior patients.
Later in life, our gums may recede, exposing the root surfaces of our teeth. Gum recession can be caused by a number of factors, including trauma, periodontal disease, vigorous brushing, and genetic predisposition. Root exposure is problematic mainly because root surfaces are covered by a material called cementum, which is much softer than enamel and more susceptible to decay. In addition, certain antibiotics can limit the flow of saliva, which is protective against cavities.
For this reason, older patients must take special care to brush and floss daily and visit the dentist regularly to ensure that root cavities do not occur. For elderly patients with dentures, regular dental visits are also important, as a dentist can ensure a properly fitting denture and can also examine your mouth for signs of periodontal disease and oral cancer, with of which are highly treatable when caught early.
Cosmetic Dentistry for A Lasting Smile
We understand that aesthetics are also important to our older adult patients and we would like to address certain cosmetic procedures that may benefit us as we age.
Throughout our lives, our teeth may begin to darken due to staining or may abrade due to parafunctional habits. Teeth whitening and porcelain veneers are both options for older patients who desire to improve the look of their smiles!
In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthy diet and exercise is important for older adults in maintaining the healthiest mouth possible. Certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are connected to oral health; living a healthier lifestyle can lessen our risks for these diseases.
If you have any questions about specific oral health concerns for older patients, please don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Van Gurp during your next visit!
Though it may feel like your child is too young for the dentist, experts agree that the earlier children begin a healthy relationship with oral hygiene and the dentist, the better. To celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month, Charlotte, NC Dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp reminds parents and caregivers that your child’s oral health is an important part to their overall health and well-being.
One of the most common chronic childhood disease is tooth decay. It affects approximately 50% of first graders and 80% of 17 year olds. Children should begin seeing a dentist by the age of 3 or when the all primary teeth have erupted- earlier if there are other concerns. Not only will this first visit help children get acclimated to the idea of the dentist, it will also help them and their parents learn how to maintain good oral health for the long run. At our Charlotte, NC family dentist office, Dr. Van Gurp and his staff take the time to teach children to learn how to properly brush and floss- and have fun taking care of their smile.
Dentists can help parents learn:
• How to care for an infant’s teeth
• If their child is getting enough fluoride
• If and when to wean children off thumb sucking
• Safety measures to prevent face and teeth damage
• What to expect when a child starts teething and losing baby teeth
• The relationship between a baby’s diet and oral health
• What to do and what to not to do surrounding sippy cups
• How babies can “catch” bacteria from utensils, fingers, and caregivers
Many people are under the impression that baby teeth don’t need to be cared for like adult teeth, but early preventive dental care serves several important purposes, including laying the foundation for a lifetime of good dental health. Children with cavities in their baby teeth are at a much higher risk for cavities later in life. Additionally, baby teeth form a path that permanent teeth will follow when they erupt. Untreated tooth decay can cause speech impediments, pain, and oral infections. Early detection of oral problems allows for conservative and inexpensive treatments.
Habits are formed when children are young. A healthy oral routine, including brushing and flossing, and twice a year visits to the dentist are extremely important to instill in a child. Professional cleanings are just as important in a 2 year old as they are in a 22 year old.
Though January 1 is a great time for resolving to eat better, exercise more, and make more time for the things we love, any date on the calendar is a great time to resolve to have better oral health. Whether you need to schedule your routine dental hygiene visit, need a new local dentist or have been away from the dentist and want to restore a healthy smile- Charlotte, NC Dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp can provide the services you need.
Oral health is dependent on routine dental care. It’s necessary to visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine cleanings and checkups. Many dental issues, including cavities and gum disease, are found only when dentists are able to perform thorough examinations in a dental office. Additionally, regular cleanings including tooth scaling, which removes tartar from your teeth. This can’t be done at home and is important for your teeth and gums. If oral health problems aren’t spotted as early as possible and effectively treated, they can spread and become more serious, potentially needing more in-depth and expensive care.
You should visit the dentist at least twice a year to:
• Save on future dental costs
• Maintain clean and healthy teeth
• Potentially diagnose gum disease or tooth decay
In addition to maintaining oral health, there are many dental treatments that improve the health as well as the aesthetics of your teeth and gums. Cosmetic dentistry procedures such as porcelain veneers, dental implants, and teeth whitening not only give you a more beautiful smile, but also contribute to the positive health of your mouth. Teeth that are straight and properly aligned function better and are even easier to brush and floss.
At home oral health is equally as important as routine dental visits. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing with mouthwash are the most important steps in taking care of your teeth and gums. Poor oral health can affect other parts of the body and studies have found correlations between oral health and cardiovascular disease, systemic disease, and prenatal health.
Making a resolution is a great way for both children and adults to kick off better oral health. A healthy and beautiful smile is always in season!
The holidays are full of busy days, parties, family memories- and lots of great sweets and goodies that can affect not only our waistline- but our oral health! Charlotte, NC Dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp offers holiday wishes to all patients- as well as a few quick tips for keeping your smile healthy while enjoying the best the season has to offer.
Enjoy those cakes, cookies and candies in moderation- good for the smile and the waistline!
Chew sugar free gum or rinse with water after a sweet snack or dark beverages such as red wine
Never use your teeth to crack a nut or open a package- keep the right tools handy for guests
Brush and floss daily, even when your routine is disrupted by fun and travel
Be sure to visit our office for ROUTINE DENTAL CARE as needed to keep your teeth and gums healthy
In case of the unexpected dental emergency, contact our Charlotte, NC dentist office as soon as possible for advice on how best to handle the situation and mitigate permanent damage.
Is holiday stress leading to teeth grinding or jaw clenching? If so, contact our dentist office to schedule a visit and learn more about how a custom mouth guard could protect your teeth and improve dental health. Left untreated, tooth grinding (also called bruxism) can lead to tooth damage and other dental problems.
Looking for a quick smile makeover for those holiday parties and events? Schedule a teeth whitening treatment after your routine dental cleaning for a bright, white smile you will be happy to share. It may also be the inspiration you need to practice the tips mentioned above and moderate those dark foods and beverages.
Suffering with frequent headaches? Jaw pain? Difficulty chewing?
You may have a Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), or bite disorder, commonly called TMJ.
TMJ, which means temporomandibular joint, is a dental health condition where the chewing muscles within the mouth are greatly affected in functionality. These are located near the joints between the base of the skull and the lower jaw. For most patients, TMJ is the result of an underlying dental problem that has led to an imbalance in the bite.
While in most cases, the signs and symptoms of the disorder are not severe, they can affect the quality of life and lead to more complex dental problems down the road. Charlotte, NC Dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp offers diagnosis and treatment for bite disorders such as TMJ to relieve symptoms and restore your quality of life.
Symptoms of the Disorder
Patients suffering from a TMJ disorder, experience the following troubling signs of TMJ,
• Limited or restricted jaw mobility
• Teeth clenching or grinding
• Signs of tooth wear
• Shoulder and neck pain
• Migraines or headaches
• Popping, grating or clicking noises while chewing or during mouth movement
• Muscle pain around the jaw area
• Feeling of a stuck jaw which makes eating difficult
All of these symptoms are clear signs that you might be suffering from a TMJ disorder.
Causes of TMJ
The disorder may be caused by a variety of underlying problems:
• Bruxism, that is grinding and clenching of teeth during sleep
• Any injury to the joint area caused by an accident or surgical procedure
• Any bite disorders, like an uneven bite due to fitted dentures, fillings and dental crowns
TMJ Therapy: Treatment Options
To ensure a good quality of life and lasting dental health, it is important to seek treatment in the early stages.
Dr. Van Gurp will assess your overall dental health, including the function of your jaw joints, to determine the underlying cause of TMJ. He will look for signs of teeth grinding, a common symptom of a bite disorder which can lead to damaged or lost teeth.
Dr. Van Gurp will create an individual treatment plan designed to help restore a healthy smile and lasting oral health.
Treatment options can include:
• Dental splint therapy
• Orthodontic treatment
• Occlusal equilibration
• Mouth guard
Left untreated, TMJ can have a dramatic impact on oral health over time, often damaging teeth and further affecting the alignment of the bite.
If you are suffering with any of the symptoms mentioned above, or have been avoiding the dentist for some time, call our Charlotte, NC dentist office and schedule an appointment. Dr. Van Gurp can help you get back a healthy, functional and happy smile.
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common complaint and can be caused by a variety of lifestyle habits or health concerns. Dr. Richard Van Gurp understands your personal concerns and will take the time during your visit to our Charlotte, NC office to determine the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
In many cases, a change in lifestyle habits or additional oral hygiene is sufficient to address chronic bad breath. Here are a few quick tips on how best to keep your breath fresh:
Brush and floss daily: brushing the teeth twice a day for two minutes (2X2) reduces bacteria in the mouth and removes food particles that become lodged and contribute to halitosis
Mouthwash: rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing will boost the effects of tooth brushing. Avoid those containing alcohol, which dries the mouth and actually contribute to bad breath
Reduce or eliminate the use of tobacco products
Eat a healthy and varied diet with fruits and vegetables which can often naturally eliminate harmful bacteria in the mouth
Drink plenty of water
Chew sugar free gum after a meal
Bad Breath and Your Health
There are several health concerns that can also be the underlying cause of halitosis and should be addressed by Dr. Van Gurp:
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, caused by a variety of factors
Respiratory infections, pneumonia
Halitosis can also signal systemic disease such as diabetes or liver and kidney problems.
When visiting with Dr. Van Gurp, it is important to discuss your concerns about persistent bad breath so that we may assist you in identifying the cause and ensuring that any health concerns are addressed.
As your dentist, Dr. Van Gurp is a partner in your overall health care and strives to help you maintain both a healthy smile and a healthy lifestyle!
As parents, the end of summer marks the beginning of back-to-school preparation. This includes school supply shopping, summer reading, and visits with your child’s doctor and dentist to ensure that he or she is healthy for the upcoming school year.
While a visit to the dentist may not seem as important as a physical examination at the doctor, your child’s oral health is in fact crucial to his or her overall health. Dr. Richard Van Gurp understands that back-to-school preparations can be stressful on both parents and children and would like to offer some tips on how to ace that dental checkup and stay cavity-free for the whole school year!
Cavity Prevention in Children
Diligent oral hygiene maintenance is the strongest foundation for a healthy mouth. As parents, it is your responsibility to instill positive oral health habits in your child from the very beginning. Did you know that over half of children aged 5-9 have at least one cavity?
You can prevent your child from becoming a part of this statistic simply by encouraging them to brush for 2 minutes twice daily (2 X 2) and floss once daily. During routine visits to our Charlotte, NC office, we take the time to show our young patients how to effectively brush and floss to maintain tooth enamel and oral health.
You can also improve your child’s oral health by preparing meals that are low in sugar and discouraging in-between meal snacking and sugary drinks- including ghettoes popular sports drinks! Snacking provides more opportunities for the bacteria in your mouth to feed on sugar and produce acids that destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Tooth decay is an infectious disease and is especially prevalent among school children; tooth-related illnesses account for the loss of 52 million school hours each year.
If your child is especially prone to cavities or if a low-sugar diet is not entirely realistic, you may want to talk to Dr. Van Gurp about preventative sealants. This dental procedure uses a resin to fill in the pits and grooves on your molar teeth and makes them a less favorable environment for bacterial invasion.
We hope that you found these suggestions helpful and Dr. Van Gurp and his staff would like to wish you a happy and healthy new school year!
Pregnancy brings with it many joys and surprises, but it also brings about some health changes. Among the other bodily changes that occur during pregnancy, some changes in your oral health status may occur as well. Hormonal gingivitis is common during pregnancy and can present suddenly with red, swollen gums that bleed. If you notice these changes or have any further questions about oral health during pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to schedule a visit with Charlotte, NC dentist, Dr. Richard Van Gurp.
For patients who suffer with morning- or anytime- sickness, the increased exposure of the teeth to acids from the stomach can pose a risk for tooth enamel erosion which can affect the strength of your teeth. It is also important to discuss this with Dr. Van Gurp if you have experienced significant morning sickness during your pregnancy.
In addition to brushing twice daily and flossing once daily, it is also recommended that you rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash once a day.
Fluoride is critical for strengthening your own and your baby’s teeth to prevent decay. All products with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval are safe for pregnant women, although if you are considering new products that are not ADA endorsed, it is important to speak with Dr. Van Gurp to ensure that they are safe for you and your baby.
It is important to maintain your preventive dental care during pregnancy to monitor for any oral health changes. Though x-rays and dental procedures are usually safe during pregnancy, dental treatment may be postponed in the event of a high-risk pregnancy. It is crucial to alert Dr. Van Gurp about your pregnancy during your visit so that we can take additional care to make sure you are as safe and comfortable as possible.
Your dental health is important, both during your pregnancy and after! Keep your smile looking and feeling its best with regular visits to our Charlotte, NC dentist office and be sure to come in if an oral health concern arises during your pregnancy.
Properly caring for your gums is essential for having strong teeth. Did you know that gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults? Charlotte, NC dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp and his staff keep this fact in mind with every visit and are committed to making sure that your gums stay as healthy as possible!
In order to avoid periodontal (gum) problems, it is important to know a little bit about gum disease and its presentations. Early stage gum disease is called gingivitis and is fairly common, especially in adolescents. Patients with gingivitis normally have red, swollen gums that are painful to brush and floss and often bleed during dental visits. The inflammation in gingivitis is caused by plaque and calculus that build up under the gums. Thankfully, early stage gum disease is reversible and can be treated through routine dental visits and diligent brushing and flossing at home. However, once gingivitis progresses into late-stage periodontitis, the effects are no longer reversible.
Late-stage gum disease, or periodontitis, occurs when plaque bacteria progress deep into the gums and cause resorption of bone in your jaws. This bone resorption, if left untreated, can cause loss of tooth attachment and thus, tooth loss. Periodontitis can occur in addition to red, swollen gums or can occur with seemingly healthy gums. Late-stage gum disease with attachment loss also occurs without pain; for this reason, it is important to follow up with your dentist regularly and be screened for periodontitis.
Periodontal screening is a simple procedure in which a dentist or hygienist uses a probing instrument to measure the distance between the bone of your jaw and your gums. A measurement of 3 mm or less is considered healthy, whereas a measurement greater than 4mm signifies bone loss and may require more rigorous treatment with a gum specialist, also known as a periodontist.
Tooth loss due to gum disease is a scary thought, but luckily, it can be completely avoided through proper dental hygiene. If you have any questions about periodontal disease and treatment, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Richard Van Gurp during your next visit!