Chicago-based dentist Dr. Karen Fields-Lever has a private practice called 28 To Brush in Forest Park, Illinois.
Dr. Karen fields completed her undergraduate education at Spelman College, with honors, receiving her Bachelor of Science in biology pre-med. She attended dental school at Howard university college of dentistry, where she earned her doctorate of dental surgery.
Dr. Fields-Lever has practiced for the past nine years and recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of her dental practice.
THE TOP ORAL HEALTH CONCERNS AFFECTING AFRICAN AMERICANS IN BOTH CHILDREN AND ADULTS ARE:
- PERIODONTAL DISEASE,
- UNTREATED TOOTH DECAY
- ORAL CANCER
WHAT EXACTLY IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal Disease is an irreversible state where the gum pulls away from the teeth creating pockets that bacteria exists and lives. It can lead to bad breath, bone loss, and tooth mobility.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TOOTH DECAY AND HOW DO YOU TREAT IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE?
Typically the first signs of Tooth decay are noted by a dentist during an exam and review of x-rays. In certain instances you may experience pain or even sensitivity.
WHAT CAUSES ORAL CANCER AND WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
Anyone can be diagnosed with oral cancer, but there are a few factors that may predispose an individual more than others. Gender ( men are more likely to develop it), Age ( persons 62 and over are more at risk) and certainly lifestyle is a big factor. Individuals that use tobacco, and those that consume alcohol are more likely to develop the disease at a faster and higher rate.
WHAT HEALTH ISSUES CAN BE DETECTED AT THE DENTIST?
Diabetes, oral cancer, anemia, dry mouth, heart disease and Inadequate diet can all be detected by your dentist.
DOES TEETH WHITENING MAKE YOUR TEETH SENSITIVE?
It can make your teeth sensitive, but whitening in moderation with the use of a Sensitivity toothpaste will help.
WHAT CAUSES DARK GUMS?
Dark gums are commonly caused by pigment known as melanin that can be found in our skin but also our gums. It is completely normal and is not a major cause for concern.
WHAT CAUSES BLEEDING GUMS?
Bleeding gums are typically caused by gingivitis. Bacteria that sits along the gum line when not brushed away and excess plaque- will cause the gums to become irritated and bleed.
WHAT CAUSES REOCCURRING ABSCESSES?
Reoccurring abscesses can be caused by an infection that lies in an associated tooth that has not been treated. It can be from a failing root canal, a need for a deep cleaning or failing treatment.
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF TOOTHPASTE TO USE?
My personal favorite is Crest complete with Scope
IS USING BAKING SODA INSTEAD OF TOOTHPASTE GOOD FOR YOUR TEETH AND GUMS?
Toothpaste is ideal, as it contains fluoride to help prevent decay. Baking soda can be a bit too harsh for the enamel and does not contain fluoride. It is not intended as an oral health product.
WHAT CAUSES YOUR TEETH TO TURN BLACK AND START ROTTING?
Typically, decay can cause these elements to occur.
IS IT TRUE, IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING ORAL CHECKUPS REGULARLY IT CAN CAUSE HEART DISEASE?
Partly true and partly false. Getting regular checkups and cleanings can help to reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease. Heart disease is caused by numerous factors, but maintaining good oral health can help to eliminate the plaque that is often a common finding in heart disease. The same plaque found in our oral cavity is the same plaque found around the arteries in heart disease.
WHAT ARE THE EARLY SIGNS OF DENTAL ISSUES?
Early signs can be bad breath, pain in your teeth when eating certain foods, pus or even a burning/ itching sensation within your mouth.
WHAT CAUSES YOUR GUMS TO RECEDE?
Bone levels in our mouth typically indicate how healthy things are in the mouth. When bone levels drop, the gum tends to follow it in regressions, causing a recession effect. Other reasons why our gums recede is that we may be brushing too hard, brushing away important and protective layers of enamel away.
Dr. Fields-Lever answers your “Text Tom” questions on the next page.