South Park Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

Chomp! Fun Fact About Teeth

As children, we are obsessed with our teeth.  Counting them, watching them fall out and grow back in.  Waiting for the tooth fairy’s surprise.  And as adults, we are still obsessed with them, but maybe in a different way (as in “why do they always hurt and why aren’t they white anymore?”)  So just for fun, and to further indulge in this fascination with teeth (See?  It’s not just dentists that are obsessed with them), here are some fun facts about teeth.

This is a great article to share with your children!  How many of these facts did you already know?

Sharks don’t get cavities.  Why?  Because their teeth are coated in fluoride.  That combined with the fact that they have rows and rows of replacement teeth, ready to go at a moment’s notice, give them an unfair advantage over humans when it comes to oral health.

You are lucky!  You have three types of teeth:  (1) Incisors to bite pieces off, (2) Canines to hold and tear, and (3) molars to grind food.  This allows you to eat a wide variety of foods.  Some animals, like crocodiles, aren’t so lucky, they only have sharp teeth to grab and kill, which greatly reduces their restaurant choices.

Enamel is the hardest material in the human body.  It is considered the last line of defense for your tooth.  Normal wearing down of enamel does occur over time and is simply a part of aging.  But bacteria can cause this breakdown to accelerate, which is why we brush and floss regularly!

Taste buds only live for about 10 days, or 2 weeks if they are lucky.  They go through a life cycle just like every other cell renewal processes in the body.

Sharkskin is covered in teeth.  Don’t believe me?  Both sharks and their cousins, rays, are covered in what are called dermal denticles.  Although they look like scales they are actually just modified teeth, with an enamel coating and all!  These protect them and also help them swim faster, but enough about sharks.

The jaw muscle, called the “masseter”, is the strongest muscle in the body if we are talking about strength based by weight.  When all of these muscles work together, the jaw exerts 55 pounds of weight on the incisors and 200 pounds on the molars.  This is why we take jaw disorders like teeth grinding, TMJ and bruxism very seriously – that’s a lot of force!  Call us today if you suspect you might be a teeth grinder.

Did you know any of these fun facts about teeth already or did we surprise you?



What Good Oral Health Means When You Are Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your body during this exciting time.  A good, nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and adequate sleep help protect both your health and the health of your baby.  But what you may not already know is how important your oral health is during pregnancy also.

Recent research has suggested that women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of unwanted childbirth complications, such as pre-term labor and low birth weight of the baby.   However, luckily, the opposite is also true!  A thorough exam by your periodontist may decrease the chance that you will have these pregnancy and labor problems.

Now we may have you wondering, “What exactly is periodontal disease?”  Simply put, it is “gum disease”, a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums that is caused by the presence of bacteria.

So what can you do about it?  To ensure the best health outcome for you and your baby, in addition to receiving regular medical care from your obstetrician, be sure to see your dentist or periodontist on schedule during your pregnancy as well.  And, as always, practice good dental hygiene at home with routine brushing and flossing.

These simple steps that we all should be doing anyway might just save you and your baby from potentially serious complications when the birthday comes!

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Could Diamonds Be a Periodontist’s Best Friend?

Could Diamonds be a Periodontist's Best FriendDr. Offutt routinely replaces missing teeth with dental implants here in our office.  Dental implants are artificial tooth “roots” made of titanium, used to anchor dental prostheses, including crowns, and implant supported bridges and dentures. One of the largest factors in successful dental implant placement is adequate, healthy bone density to anchor the post.

Unfortunately, not all patients have the proper bone in their jaw to support a dental implant. Some patients suffer from Osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones. When there is not enough blood flow, bone can start to die and break down. This makes dental implants for these patients particularly susceptible to becoming loose or failing. Osteonecrosis can be a side effect of chemotherapy.

Scientists from the UCLA School of Dentistry have discovered that nanodiamonds could be used for stronger dental treatments. Nanodiamonds are much smaller than those traditionally used in jewelry.

Currently, standard bone repair operations include inserting a sponge surgically to administer proteins that promote bone growth.  This new study, led by Dr. Dean Ho, may have uncovered is an easier way to deliver these proteins. Nanodiamonds, which are invisible to the human eye, bind rapidly to the materials needed for bone growth. This process can be done through injection or an oral rinse, rather than surgery.

“This discovery serves as a foundation for the future of nanotechnology in dentistry, orthopedics and other domains in medicine,” said No-Hee Park, dean of the School of Dentistry. “Dr. Ho and his team have demonstrated the enormous potential of the nanodiamonds toward improving patient care. He is a pioneer in his field.”

Results from the study will most likely pave the way for more study. Either way, stay tuned to find out how diamonds are playing a role in oral health care.

Read the full article from UCLA’s newsroom here:

All Oral Bacteria Are Not Created Equal

All Oral Bacteria are Not Created EqualThe mouth harbors a diverse and plentiful and microbial community due to its hospitable environment. It is warm, nutrient-rich and maintains an ideal pH balance. This highly diverse microflora inhabits the various surfaces of the normal mouth- gums, teeth, tongue, cheeks. What many people don’t realize is that most of the bacteria are beneficial organisms and live in harmony with each other and the human body.

The “Bad Guys” of Dental Bacteria

Interestingly, a new born baby’s mouth does not contain bacteria, but becomes colonized rapidly in the early stages of life. Nobody knows for sure how many different bacteria species there are. Estimates in the oral cavity alone vary between 500 to 650 different species. Only a few specific species are believed to cause dental caries, including Steptococcus mutans, considered the most important bacteria involved with tooth decay. However, the type of bacteria varies according to the progress of tooth destruction.

This harmful bacteria collect around the teeth and gums forming a sticky, creamy-colored mass called plaque. Some areas of the mouth collect plaque more commonly due to less salivary flow, such as grooves in molars and between teeth. The oral cavity actually contains the only known part of the human body that does not have a regulated system of shedding surfaces: the teeth. This allows plaque to adhere to the surface of teeth for long periods of time. At first, plaque is soft enough to come off easily with a toothbrush. However, it starts to harden within 48 hours. After about 10 days, the plaque becomes dental calculus, called tarter, and is now difficult to remove.

Villains Love Carbohydrates

Sugars from candy, soft drinks, and fruit juice can play a significant role in tooth decay. When sucrose (table sugar), the most common of sugars, coats the surface of the mouth, some intraoral bacteria interact with it. The result is lactic acid, which decreases the pH in the mouth. This demineralization allows for greater bacterial invasion deep into the tooth.

Cariogenicity, or the extent to which tooth decay is likely, depends heavily on how long the sugar remains in the mouth. Surprisingly, it is not the amount of sugar ingested but the frequency of sugar ingestion that is the most important factor in tooth decay.

Bacteria’s Kryptonite

Oral hygiene is key to battling the bacteria “bad guys”. Brushing your teeth twice a day will reduce dental plaque and food particles collecting around your teeth. Additionally, it is imperative to floss daily to wipe all your enamel surfaces free of plaque to discourage bacterial growth. Good general oral-health habits can usually prevent enough bacterial growth to keep tooth decay from starting.

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Serving Patients with Special Needs

Serving-Patients-with-Special-NeedsDr. Offutt is committed to making dental care available for all patients who need it, regardless of special healthcare needs.

Patients with special needs include:

  • the elderly
  • those with limited mobility
  • mentally disabled individuals
  • immunocomprimised people
  • and those with mental illness.

Specific diseases that can frequently hinder proper dental care include autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Down syndrome.

Oftentimes, these individuals have higher rates of poor hygiene, which leads to a greater incidence of gingivitis, periodontitis, and dental caries. While treating a patient with special needs, we strive to ensure:

  • A friendly and comfortable environment
  • Sensitivity and compassion from team members
  • Predictable experiences at each appointment

Our team possesses the compassion and understanding that is imperative when caring for a special needs patient. Some cases involving severe disabilities may require specialized equipment and general anesthesia.

We realize that each individual with special needs is a unique case and will require different systems and skills to properly treat. We are confident we can provide competent care for the majority of patients who are labeled as special needs.

For patients who are specifically incapable of ideal hygiene, it is essential that the people in daily contact with them become involved in their oral healthcare requirements. If you are a caregiver for a patient with special needs, the best course of action to determine if we can offer treatment is to call our office with any questions and possibly reserve an appointment to tour our facilities.

If more complex oral care is required, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist who also works with the special needs population.


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The Intriguing Connection Between Arthritis and Gum Disease

The-Intriguing-Link-Between-Arthritis-and-Gum-DiseaseIt seems that evidence mounts daily identifying a link between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. In this blog article we will explore the specific connection between your gum health and Arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting about 1.5 million \ Americans that causes chronic inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body. The result is often debilitating pain, reduced flexibility and, in some cases, erosion of the surrounding bone.

Periodontal disease refers to advanced bacterial infection of the gums. It generally follows gingivitis that is left untreated for an extended period of time. If allowed to continue without professional treatment, severe gum disease can lead to dramatic recession of the gums, tooth loss and damage to the bones of the jaw.

The Inflammation Connection

The exact nature of the link between these two diseases is still being researched. Scientists originally pointed to bacteria as the leading factor; however, more recent research shows that inflammation is might likely responsible for the association. What is clear at this point, is that the connection does exist and treatment for periodontal disease is strongly recommended for patients with RA.

Preventing Periodontal Disease and Its Affects on RA

Due to the connection between diseases, proper oral hygiene has become a key component in treatment plans for arthritis sufferers. It is believed that reducing inflammation in the gums can help decrease their joint pain and fatigue related to RA. Unfortunately, oral health habits can be exceedingly difficult for arthritic joints in their hands. The American Dental Association has offered these recommendations for their hygiene routines:

  • Try an electric toothbrush. A quality electric brush with a large handle allows for a better grip and can clean teeth and gums effectively, without as much hand motion.
  • Consider floss holders. If traditional flossing methods are difficult, RA patients are encouraged to try angled floss holders. These plastic devices are affordable and easy-to-find.
  • Protect yourself with mouthwash. An RA patient generally needs extra oral protection than a healthy patient. A fluoridated mouthwash, used 2-3 times per day, can help keep bacteria at bay.
  • Avoid smoking. Besides putting themselves at risk of host of other medical conditions, smokers are much more likely to develop gum disease.

If you are patient suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for advice regarding your oral health routines.

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The Evolution of Dental Care: From Finger to Floss

Did you know that the toothbrush is one of the oldest tools that humans still use? In fact, in a survey conducted in 2003, Americans chose the toothbrush as the number one invention over the car, personal computer, cell phone, and microwave. This may come as a shock in a day and age obsessed with technology, but it just goes to show how much value we place on our pearly whites. But it makes you wonder… how have people kept their teeth clean throughout the centuries? How did the toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss come into existence and how have they evolved over time?

One would assume that the first toothbrush was surely the finger, but evidence has shown that as far back at 3500 BC to 3000 BC chewing sticks were used in Babylonia. These chewing sticks were essentially a stick from an astringent tree with a frayed end that acted as bristles to clean teeth. These chewing sticks have also been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Their predecessors are still commonly used in certain areas of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America and are known as miswak or mswaki sticks.The Evolution of Dental Care

When excavating Ur in Mesopotamia, ornately decorated toothpicks were found that dated back to 3000 BC. Other archaeological digs have recovered various tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones, and porcupine quills as the earliest toothbrushes and toothpicks. An ancient Sanskrit text on surgery dating back to the 6th century describes severe periodontal disease and stresses oral hygiene; “the stick for brushing the teeth should be either an astringent or pungent bitter. One of its ends should be chewed in the form of a brush. It should be used twice a day, taking care that the gums not be injured.” Pretty sound advice, even by current standards! Ancient Greek and Roman literature referenced the use of toothpicks to keep their mouths clean, and ancient Roman aristocrats kept special slaves for the sole purpose of cleaning their teeth. Imagine that job!

Ancient Chinese writings from around 1600 BC portray chewing sticks that were derived from aromatic trees and sharpened at one end to act as a toothpick. In the thirteenth century, the Chinese began to attach boar bristles to bamboo, essentially fashioning the first toothbrush. The optimal choice for bristles was taken from the back of the necks of cold climate boars, generally found in Siberia. Traders introduced these toothbrushes to the West and they quickly gained popularity. At that time Europeans were brushing their teeth by dipping a linen cloth or sponge in sulfur oils and salt solutions to rub away tooth grime. This was referred to as “The Greek Way”, as Aristotle had recommended this method to Alexander the Great. As these toothbrushes spread from East to West, in the West they preferred softer horse hairs over the coarse boar bristles, yet horses were deemed too valuable for the sake of toothbrushes, making boar bristles popular well into the early 1900’s.

Fast-forward to 1780 and we meet a man named William Addis of Clerkenwald, England. Addis was sitting in Newgate Prison for allegedly inciting a riot. The method for brushing teeth in jail was to take a rag and dip it in a solution of soot and salt and rub it onto the teeth. Addis believed there had to be a more efficient way, so while he passed his time in jail he began to think up solutions. Spying a broom, inspiration struck him and he took a small animal bone leftover from his meal and drilled holes into it. He then tied some swine fibers into bunches, strung them through the holes, and glued them into place. At this time in Georgian England, refined sugar was being shipped in from the West Indies in mass quantities. This caused a huge increase in the consumption of sugar for Londoners who then suffered from rotting teeth, the only treatment for which was to pull the infected teeth. When Addis was released from jail, he went on to market and sell his toothbrush under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes, which went on to become a very successful business that is still around today.

Toothbrushes continued to be made with animal bone handles and more often than not, boar bristles, although fancy toothbrushes were made with badger hair for those who could afford them. Celluloid handles were introduced in the 1900’s and quickly replaced bone handles. In the 1920’s a new method of attaching bristles to the handle was developed: holes were drilled into the brush head, bunches of bristles were then forced through the holes, and secured with a staple. This method is the same method that is commonly used today.

The next evolution in toothbrushes occurred when Wallace H. Carothers of Du Pont Laboratories invented nylon in 1937. Nylon bristles quickly overtook animal hair bristles for sanitation and cost-effective purposes. Although boar hair bristles often fall out, do not dry well, and are prone to bacterial growth, they strangely still account for 10% of the toothbrushes sold worldwide. The new nylon bristled toothbrushes were sold as “Doctor West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush” due to its more hygienic properties.

With World War II looming in the background, British and American housewives were instructed to waste nothing, which translated to no more bone handles for toothbrushes. Bone handles had long been popular for things like toothbrushes, knives, guns, and handles for many more items. The shift to celluloid was a natural progression as soup bones were needed more than ornate bone handles. World War II gave oral hygiene an unexpected boost. The soldiers in World War II were expected to brush twice daily, a habit they brought home with them, likely due to the fact that Trench Mouth had become so rampant during World War I.

And what about toothpaste? Well, ancient Egyptians were making a “tooth powder” as far back as 5000 B.C.E. It was made from ox hooves, myrrh, eggshell fragments, and pumice. No device was found with the remnants of the tooth powder, which is why it is assumed that the finger was the first actual toothbrush. Other early tooth powders contained mixtures of powdered salt, pepper, mint leaves, and iris flowers. In Roman times, urine was used as a base for toothpaste. And since urine contains ammonia it was likely an effective whitening agent. In later times, homemade tooth powder was made of chalk, pulverized brick and salt. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte regularly brushed his teeth with an opium-based toothpaste. In 1873, Colgate mass-produced the first toothpaste in a jar called Crème Dentifrice. By 1896, Colgate Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible tubes. Finally, by 1900, a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was developed, and by 1914 fluoride was introduced and added to the majority of toothpastes on the market at that time.

And what of floss? Researchers have found floss and toothpick grooves in the teeth of prehistoric humans. But it wasn’t until 1815 when a New Orleans dentist named Levi Spear Parmly promoted flossing with a piece of silk thread that floss really gained notoriety. Levi went on to be credited for inventing the first form of dental floss. By 1882 the Codman and Shurtleft Company of Randolph, Massachusetts began mass-producing unwaxed silk floss for commercial use. In 1898 Johnson & Johnson received the first patent for dental floss.  Dr. Charles C. Bass then developed nylon floss, which performed better than silk because of its elasticity. Today floss is still made of nylon.

Who would’ve thought that the history of dental care would be so fascinating? And who would’ve guessed that the toothbrush we use today evolved from a stick and was perfected by a convict? Today, there are over 3,000 patents worldwide for toothbrushes. Regardless of how they got here, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are a necessity in our daily lives.

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Gingivitis 101

Gingivitis-101We’ve all heard of Gingivitis, most likely on flashy television commercials proclaiming prevention and cures, or by receiving a warning from your dentist, but do you really know what Gingivitis is and how to prevent and treat it?

Gingivitis is a form of periodontal (gum) disease. It causes inflammation and infection in the tissues of your teeth and gums, as well as in the periodontal ligaments (which attach your teeth to bone) and the tooth sockets, which means bad news for your gums and teeth.

It’s the long-term effects of plaque deposits on your teeth that cause Gingivitis, which is why it’s so important to brush and floss daily. Plaque, a mixture of bacteria, mucus, and food debris, cultivates on the surface of your teeth, causing tooth decay. If plaque is not removed it turns into tartar (also called calculus) that gets trapped at the base of your teeth, causing swollen, tender, and infected gums. Left untreated, Gingivitis causes your gums to recede, spoiling that pretty smile of yours.

Brushing and flossing daily helps remove plaque before it turns into tartar, which, if left to its own devices, is more difficult to remove and can create a shield locking in bacteria. At this point, only your dentist can remove it, which is why it’s so important to maintain bi-yearly dental cleanings.

If left untreated, Gingivitis can turn into Periodontitis, (the progressive loss of the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth) which can lead to loosening teeth and subsequent tooth loss. By simply brushing and flossing daily, and seeing your dentist every six months, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in possible dental implant and denture costs, not to mention ensure the quality of your pearly whites.

Certain factors that increase your risk for Gingivitis:

Dental Factors

  • Bad oral health habits
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Ill-fitted dental restorations

Health Factors

  • Poor nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain viral and fungal infections
  • Older age – more common after age 35
  • Certain medications such as antidepressants, heart medications, and others (talk to your Periodontist about whether or not your medications put you at risk)
  • Smoking – we all know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that over time it breaks down your gums and your jawbone?
  • Decreased immunity from illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, and other conditions
  • Gender – women are more susceptible than men due to hormonal changes caused by monthly menstrual cycle, oral contraceptives, and pregnancy

Risks of Gingivitis

  • Diabetes (both type 1 and 2)
  • Heart disease
  • Women with periodontitis have an increased risk of birthing premature babies, or babies with low birth weight versus women with healthy gums.
  • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke and lung disease


  • Painful, tender, and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums, especially when flossing and/or brushing
  • Bright red to purple-pink gums (as opposed to healthy pink)
  • Shiny gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Receding gums
  • Puffy, soft gums
  • Bad breath

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible, and follow up with regular cleanings. The moral of the story is: all you need to prevent Gingivitis is good dental hygiene – brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Warm salt water and antibacterial rinses can also be used to help reduce gum swelling.

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Dentures – The End of An Era

Dentures---The-End-of-An-EraYou may have heard the term “edentulous”, a term that describes someone that has no teeth. Incredibly, more than 35 million Americans do not have any teeth. Despite advances in dentistry, this number is expected to grow in the next two decades along with an aging baby boomer generation. Tooth loss commonly results from decay and gum disease.

Up until now, the only option for edentulous patients has been dentures. Their history is a long one. Scientists have found evidence of early dentures, dating back to 700 BC in present-day northern Italy, made of human and animal teeth. Over the years, the materials changed, but the inconvenience of ill-fitting dentures did not.

While dentures are extremely common, most patients find them uncomfortable and awkward. They can make daily tasks most of us take for granted, like talking and eating, difficult.

Presently, dental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care. The biggest difference in the patient’s experience is that dental implants look and function just like their natural teeth. Most dental implant patients even report not being able to feel a difference! They do not slip or move inside the mouth as dentures are prone to do. Dental implants will generally last longer, as well. This is an important point to consider when comparing costs. While implants are more expensive, they usually last a lifetime. Dentures, on the other hand, can wear down and require replacement.

For patients looking for a more affordable replacement option, with the increased stability of implants, they may want to consider implant-supported dentures. Unlike traditional dentures, which rely on suction, implant-supported dentures are secured by dental implants. Regardless of which route an edentulous patient takes, it is clear that benefits of implants far outweigh those of dentures and will pave the way for a new era in tooth replacement.

If you are interested in exploring dental implants as a replacement for your own dentures, give our office a call to reserve a consultation today!

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