Craig S. Karriker, DMD, P.A.- 400 South Granard Street, Gaffney, SC 29341, (864) 487-0710

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Posts for: December, 2012

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 29, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dry mouth  
UnderstandingDryMouth

The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 19, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
HowDoClearOrthodonticAlignersWork

For adults with a reasonably well fitting bite, but mild to moderate crowding or spaces between your teeth, clear orthodontic aligners can be an ideal solution for straightening your teeth. This is why we offer this treatment option to our patients experiencing these issues. However, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what they are or how they work, this will give you a brief understanding.

Clear orthodontic aligners consist of a series of clear “trays” that fit snuggly over all teeth to slowly shift them into alignment. Patients are typically required to wear them 20 hours per day for about 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray. With each new tray, you are one step closer to achieving your goal of perfectly aligned teeth. The entire process usually lasts 6-18 months depending on how much movement is required to achieve the goals.

Each aligner is individually made from very precise molds of the patient's teeth to ensure proper fit. And we map out the entire alignment process using computer generation from each patient's initial molds so that we can identify the number of trays required. But best of all, clear orthodontic aligners are perfectly smooth with no rough edges like traditional braces, and you can remove them for eating, brushing, and flossing teeth as well as for brief social events.

To learn more about this topic, read the article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.” Or you can contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 14, 2012
Category: Oral Health
AreYouatAdvancedRiskforGumDisease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease (from the roots for “around” and “tooth”) starts with redness and inflammation, progresses to infection, and can lead to progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to your teeth, ultimately causing loss of teeth. Here are some ways to assess your risk for gum disease.

Your risk for developing periodontal disease is higher if:

  1. You are over 40.
    Studies have shown that periodontal disease and tooth loss correlate with aging. The longer plaque (a film of bacteria that collects on your teeth and gums) is allowed to stay in contact with your gums, the more you are at risk for periodontal disease. This means that brushing and flossing to remove plaque is important throughout your lifetime. To make sure you are removing plaque effectively, come into our office for an evaluation of your brushing and flossing techniques.
  2. You have a family history of gum disease.
    If gum disease seems to “run in your family,” you may be genetically predisposed to having this disease. Your vulnerability or resistance to gum disease is influenced by genetics. The problem with this assessment is that if your parents were never treated for gum disease or lacked proper instruction in preventative strategies and care, their susceptibility to the disease is difficult to accurately quantify.
  3. You smoke or chew tobacco.
    Here's more bad news for smokers. If you smoke or chew tobacco you are at much greater risk for the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers' teeth tend to have more plaque and tartar while also having them form more quickly.
  4. You are a woman.
    Hormonal fluctuations during a woman's lifetime tend to make her more susceptible to gum disease than men, even if she takes good care of her teeth.
  5. You have ongoing health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, high stress, or diabetes.
    Research has shown a connection between these conditions and periodontal disease. The bacteria can pass into the blood stream and move to other parts of the body. Gum disease has also been connected with premature birth and low birth weight in babies.
  6. Your gums bleed when you brush or floss.
    Healthy gums do not bleed. If yours do, you may already have the beginnings of gum disease.
  7. You are getting “long in the tooth.”
    If your teeth appear longer, you may have advancing gum disease. This means that infection has caused your gum tissue to recede away from your teeth.
  8. Your teeth have been getting loose.
    Advancing gum disease results in greater bone loss that is needed to support and hold your teeth in place. Loose teeth are a sign that you have a serious problem with periodontal disease.

Even with indications of serious periodontal disease, it can still be stopped. Make an appointment with us today to assess your risks. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Assessing Risk for Gum Disease.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 05, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   bridgework  
TestingyourKnowledgeDentalImplantsvsBridgework

When it comes to replacing missing teeth, we have numerous options. However, two of the most common treatment options include bridgework and dental implants. See how much you really know about dental implants and bridgework by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. When it comes to costs, dental implants may initially cost more than bridgework but are less expensive than bridgework over a lifetime.
    True or False
  2. Both bridgework and dental implants can last a lifetime when properly maintained.
    True or False
  3. Prior to placing a three-unit fixed bridge, if the surrounding teeth have crowns, they must be redone so that the bridge fits and wears properly.
    True or False
  4. Replacing a single tooth with a three-unit bridge, requires removing the enamel on the adjacent teeth even if these teeth are disease-free.
    True or False
  5. In addition to being permanent tooth replacements, another advantage of dental implants is that they don't decay like teeth supporting bridgework.
    True or False
  6. It is not uncommon for root canal treatment to be required to save teeth that support bridgework if they have been subjected to severe decay and their nerves become infected.
    True or False
  7. Placing a dental implant requires more time when compared to placing a three-unit bridge.
    True or False
  8. Both bridgework and dental implants require minor surgery to replace a missing tooth.
    True or False
  9. Dental implants are more desirable than bridgework because placing them does not affect the adjacent teeth.
    True or False
  10. Studies indicate that bridges are only 67% successful at 15 years whereas dental implants have success rates into the 90s.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. This fact shocks many people. 2) False. This is more commonly true for dental implants. 3) True. 4) True. This is one of the disadvantages of bridgework. 5) True. This is just one of the advantages of a dental implant. 6) True. 7) True. 8) False. Dental implants require surgery to be placed. 9) True. This fact is a significant advantage for dental implants. 10) True. Your results may vary; however, this statistic represents what you might expect.

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implants vs. Bridgework.” Or, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions.