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Dental Tips & Information

One of the most important objectives of dentistry is education. At Montgomery Dental Arts, our dentists and team are dedicated to sharing information with our patients and our community about the benefits of oral health.

Following are common questions about dental procedures and updates on other dental topics to help you and your family keep your smiles in tip-top shape:

Oral cancer is on the rise in the U.S. This year, an estimated 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer, and it will cause nearly 10,000 deaths, which is roughly 1 person every hour, 24 hours per day.

Dr. Carl Shamburger and Dr. Dominique Askew Shamburger perform an oral cancer screening as part of each routine dental examination. During this screening, they look closely at the oral tissues to check for small bumps, lesions or tissue discolorations that should be evaluated for oral cancer; they follow up with dental specialists and medical professionals for testing and treatment as required.

Treatment for oral cancer, like other cancers, is generally more successful with an early diagnosis. The symptoms of oral cancer are subtle and generally do not hurt, so often it is quite advanced when noticeable symptoms finally appear. Regular screenings of the oral tissues, mouth, lips and tongue can be life-saving.

Research continues to uncover possible causes of oral cancer, which include tobacco and alcohol use, and in recent years, HPV16, (human papillomavirus), has been linked to oral cancer. While in the past the risk of oral cancer was greater in patients age 40 and older, HPV16 appears to be a contributor to the increasing oral cancer incidence and risk in young adults and teens.

Signs of oral cancer include:

  • Red or white patch of soft tissue in the mouth
  • A small mouth ulcer or tissue discoloration
  • Areas that look ‘chewed’ on the inside of the cheek
  • Lumps or masses inside the mouth or on the neck
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing, or persistent hoarseness
  • A chronic, continuous ear ache

If you have any of these symptoms and they persist for more than 14 days, please Contact Montgomery Dental Arts or your family physician to schedule an examination as soon as possible.

Did you ever wonder how dentists are able to find cavities? The old saying ‘seeing is believing’ holds true in dentistry too!

Usually if a cavity is large enough to see with the naked eye, it is somewhat advanced. Dentists are trained to find tooth decay as early as possible; they use hand instruments to ‘feel’ the tooth surfaces they can see, and dental xrays to ‘see’ the areas that are not visible, such as between the teeth and underneath the gums.

Dental xrays also help our doctors confirm the level of progression of small areas of decay that are found during examination. Other diagnostic benefits of xrays include the ability for our dentists to monitor orthodontic development and to assess bone loss related to trauma or periodontal disease.

Xrays are recommended at periodic intervals as necessary; there are different types of xrays that are taken based on the area being viewed. A ‘panoramic’ xray shows the jaw joints and orthodontic position of the teeth, and smaller xrays are used to show the teeth biting together or individual tooth roots.

We use digital dental xrays in our practice; these require minimal radiographic exposure and give us the ability to view images on a TV and share our findings with you.

We will be glad to give you a ‘tour’ of your xrays at your next appointment with us. You will be amazed at how much information they provide!

The pulp and nerve within a healthy tooth are protected by hard layers of dentin and enamel. If a tooth becomes damaged by trauma or deep decay, this soft tissue can become exposed allowing bacteria to penetrate. Eventually the exposed tissue will become infected, causing sensitivity or pain, and will require treatment.

Root canal therapy is the preferred treatment to save a tooth that has become infected, rather than extraction. During root canal treatment, an opening is made in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber. The infected tissue and nerve are removed, and the canal of the tooth is cleaned and permanently sealed.

Following root canal therapy, the remaining structure of the tooth will preserve that space in the mouth in support of adjacent teeth, however it will not be as strong due to lack of blood flow to the tooth. A tooth that has had root canal treatment is typically restored with a dental crown to add strength and prevent further damage.

It probably would not come as a surprise to learn that oral health has an impact on total body health. Sometimes called the ‘gateway to health’, the oral cavity can react to body conditions and vice versa.

Research has proven links between gum infections (periodontal disease) and systemic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

Periodontal disease is progressive; harmful bacteria cause the gum tissue to become inflamed and as it continues, gum tissue is destroyed and subsequently, bone. This eventually causes teeth to become loose and fall out.

This harmful cycle in the mouth makes a compromised immune and healing system even weaker. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease are believed to be the same type of bacteria that form arterial plaque in heart disease patients, thus heightening the risk of heart attacks and stroke. And, the continual struggle for diabetic and rheumatoid arthritis patients includes the challenges of fighting infection in the body - periodontal infection makes this even more difficult.

Interestingly, many medications interact with the mouth, causing excessive dryness (xerostomia) or difficulty in clotting or healing. Long term use of some osteoporosis medications can sometimes cause serious complications following dental procedures.

At Montgomery Dental Arts, our goal is to prevent oral health problems as well as maintain a current medical history on each patient. This helps us educate our patients on any risks or concerns that may arise from the connection between their oral health and physical well-being.

The American Dental Association® recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, two times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove cavity-causing plaque and bacteria. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle and gently brush the entire surface area of the teeth and around the gum line. Don't forget to brush your tongue to remove excess bacteria and prevent bad breath.

Look for a toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the ADA® seal of acceptance. Use any brand, form or flavor you prefer. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is typically enough to effectively clean the outer surfaces of all the teeth.

You should replace your toothbrush (or powered toothbrush head) every 3-4 months, or when the bristles begin to fray. If you have been sick or had a cold it is a good idea to replace your toothbrush to prevent harboring and spreading harmful bacteria.

Brushing alone is not enough to completely clean the teeth and gums. It is important to floss every day to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth. You should choose a floss that is comfortable to hold and glides easily between your teeth. Floss picks are a popular alternative because they make it easier to reach teeth in the back of the mouth. Gently maneuver the floss between the teeth and slide it vertically against the side of each tooth, stopping just below the gum line.

A good home care routine of brushing and flossing is your best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. It is also important to maintain a regular schedule of dental cleanings and check-ups to monitor your oral health and perform preventive treatments to keep your smile healthy.

Studies have shown that children who have a positive introduction to dental care develop good habits that last a lifetime. At Montgomery Dental Arts, we want your child to have a great experience that is interesting and interactive. Here are a few tips to try at home to make brushing and flossing easy and fun:

Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day. It takes about 2 minutes to thoroughly brush a child's teeth. For young children (age 6 or younger) parents should have the child brush first, and then go behind them to make sure all the teeth are squeaky clean. Brushing with plain water is just fine, children should not swallow toothpaste, so make sure they can swish and spit on their own before introducing a very small amount (pea-sized dab) of toothpaste.

A great web site to watch 2-minute brushing videos and play fun brushing games with children is

The American Dental Association® recommends that children see their dentist 2-3 times per year for preventive examinations and cleanings, with xrays as necessary to look for cavities between teeth and any orthodontic concerns.

If you have questions about your child's oral health, please do not hesitate to Contact Montgomery Dental Arts.

Check out these web sites for more information about dental health:

american dental association
mouth healthy
academy of general dentistry