The Beginner’s Guide to Gingivitis

Gingivitis, also commonly known as “Gum Disease” is a condition where bacteria form in your mouth and that bacteria is called plaque. The reason we are told to brush at least twice a day is so that plaque doesn’t build up in your teeth. If plaque is left alone, it can harden and turn into what is called “tartar”. Tartar, just like plaque, attracts bacteria that can irritate your gum line and cause inflammation and redness, when that happens the gums tend to bleed. Over time, if left untreated, gingivitis can start to eat away at not only the gum line, but your teeth as well, which can cause your teeth to become increasingly exposed, leading them to loosen up and fall out.


Gingivitis really is a nasty disease. If you want to know if you might have Gum Disease, here are some common symptoms:
  • Bad breath that just won’t go away
  • Redness of the gums
  • Inflamed gums
  • Gums that bleed whenever they are brushed or flossed
  • Exposed teeth at the gum line
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive gums and/or teeth
  • Bite is offset
If you have any of these problems you should contact your dentist as soon as possible just to get a quick check up.


rgerber / Pixabay
You are probably wanting to go brush your teeth right now, but hang on, this part is important. If you think you might have gingivitis or maybe just want clean, nice teeth, there are a few very simple things you can do to insure this disease doesn’t get the best of you.
  • Just like your parents would always say, BRUSH YOUR TEETH.
  • Ideally, you should floss once a day. At the very least it should be 3 times a week.
  • If you are a smoker, quitting will definitely make it easier on your mouth.
  • If all else fails, you can get your teeth deep cleaned by your dentist.
  • If gingivitis case is very serious, there is a procedure called a “Flap Surgery” where the gums are folded back so the doctors can scrape the tartar from deep inside (gross, I know).
Long story short, if you keep your teeth in good shape, you should never have to worry about getting gingivitis. If you do have gingivitis, start brushin’!

5 Ways Smoking Can Leave You in the Dentists Chair

We all know the nasty little cancer sticks known as cigarettes will kill you. This article’s not about that. Today we’re talking about the other nasties that come along with that puff you love so much. Our focus is on the mouth, teeth, gums and the toll smoking leaves on your dental health. I present to you the five things smoking does, that will have you laying back and looking at that bright light, while your dentists asks questions you can’t answer.
  1. Makes Your Breath Stink This one’s a given. It just puts that stank your mouth and lungs that non smokers don’t want to be near.
  2.  Do You Enjoy Yellow or Brown Teeth Stains on your teeth from nicotine and tar in the tobacco can make your teeth yellow — quickly, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth turn brown after many years of smoking. (Make a Teeth Whitening appointment)
  3. Inflammation of the salivary gland openings anyone Your salivary glands produce saliva and the saliva protects your mouth from tooth decay. Smoking helps build bacteria, in turn leading to a condition known as sialadenitis
  4. Increases build up of plaque and tartar Once plaque and tartar are entrenched — only your dentist can forge them out. (Schedule a Teeth Cleaning)
  5. Do You Enjoy Teeth In Your Mouth Keep puffing away and slowly watch those teeth decay and rot right out of your head. That’s right, smoking increases risk of developing gum disease.
Not only can you end up in your dentists chair, smoking also:
  • Delays the healing process after a tooth is pulled or any oral surgery
  • Lowers the success rate of dental implant procedures
  • Increases the risk of developing oral cancer
And cigarettes aren’t the lone culprit here either. Smokeless tobacco can also cause harm to your mouth, and not just because of the nicotine. Some brands of chewing tobacco use sugar as an ingredient. When you hold the tobacco in your mouth for long periods, you’re exposing your teeth to damaging sugar that can cause tooth decay. If you’re a smoker, make an appointment to have your teeth looked at before it’s too late.
smiling woman holding magnifying glass to teeth

The Insider’s Guide to Preventative Dental Health

Aside from preventing icky cavities, sore gums, and worse yet... rotten breath, what other benefits is there to promoting good dental habits?

You know this is coming… IT STARTS AT HOME 😉

You take care of your car maintenance on a regular basis right? Tires need air — you run to Sheetz and fill them up. You’ve been driving thousands of miles — time for that $45 oil change. If you didn’t take care of these little things, the bigger things will start to break down.

You see where this is heading… take care of your body and teeth the same with preventive oral health measures. What might be these measures be? Glad you asked!

First: What Causes Tooth Decay (in a nutshell)

Teeth begin to decay when foods containing sugary/starchy carbs, like your favorite bread, late night cereal snacks, colas, etc. sit on your teeth for a bit. The bacteria being hosted in your mouth begin to digest the food, breaking them down into acids, which then begins the plaque building.
oral health diagram
The plaque breaks down the enamel, causing cavities — you know, those annoying holes that appear in your teeth, making you scream like a sissy when that sweet Southern Tea washes over it… yeah… you know what I’m talking about.

Well that doesn’t have to be the case. Obviously keep up with your dental exams, you should have the dentist doing those teeth cleanings and watching for signs of gum disease. On top of that, be sure you are properly taking care of your teeth and gums on your own.

A Few Tips on Home Dental Care

  • Brush for at least 2 minutes at a minimum of twice a day. Get the gum line but don’t overdo it.
  • Floss, floss, floss — it removes the plaque we spoke of above. You didn’t forget already did you? Can’t fit the floss in your hands?! Try a floss holder or the little sticks you can floss and toss 😉
  • Not the same as brushing and flossing, but mouth rinse can reduce plaque up to 20%. Be sure you’re not just buying one that makes your breath fresh only!
  • What you eat directly affects your dental health. Eat healthy! Look for foods high in vitamins A & C to help keep gum disease at bay.
  • If you have some bad fillings, teeth are too close together, or you have the fun habit of grinding your teeth — ask your dentist for help.
  • Don’t smoke. Stank breath, oral cancer, gum disease… need I say more?!?

Why You Want to Take Care of Your Teeth

Infections. They’re not fun when your mouth is inflamed and have a chance of affecting your body’s immune system.

When your mouth is inflamed, you are:

  • 168% more likely to develop heart disease
  • 200% more likely to develop osteoporosis
  • 250% more likely to have a stroke
  • 300% more likely to develop diabetes
  • 500% more likely to develop a respiratory disease

If you notice any signs of gum disease like bleeding while brushing or flossing, tender gums that are red or swollen, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth or habitual stinky breath… ask your dentist to discuss your gum health during your regular visit.

In Raleigh? Schedule Your Appointment Today

3 Ways Coconut Oil Can Improve Your Oral Health

coconut oil If you haven’t already explored the wonders of coconut oil, we’re excited to introduce you to the variety of health benefits it can provide to your overall oral health. By swishing a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth every day for 15 minutes, also known as “oil pulling”, you can expect long-term benefits.

Breath Freshener Back more than 3,000 years ago, people in India used coconut oil to clean their mouths and absorb bacteria. Today, many opt to swap out the Listerine for a spoonful of coconut oil to fight off morning breath and inhibit the growth of harmful substances throughout the day.

Teeth Whitener The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil contribute to teeth whitening when used daily. Instead of whitening the surface of the enamel, its lauric acid removes plaque and bacteria, which causes discoloration. Some even combine baking soda to make a daily paste to use after their regular brushing.

Fight Gum Disease We’ve mentioned that coconut oil removes bacteria that causes bad breath and discoloration, but it also helps eliminate your chances of developing gum disease. In addition, coconut oil is an anti inflammatory, and helps bleeding or sore gums.

Using coconut oil should not replace your daily recommended oral hygiene routine, but can be used in conjunction to proper brushing and flossing. After your 15 minutes is up, be sure to dispose of the oil into a trashcan to avoid clogging up your sink. Never swallow the oil after swishing, as it will be full of bacteria and microbes that have been pulled from your mouth. Results will vary depending on person and usage, so we’re interested to hear your results should you choose to give it a try.

7 Reasons to Think Twice about Missing a Regular Dental Checkup

Can you find at least 7 Reasons to Think Twice about Missing a Regular Dental Checkup?
“To go or not to go, that is the question!” It’s time for your regular dental checkup. Regular Dental Checkup.  Do you look at your schedule and contemplate the decision?. Do you think your schedule is too preoccupied with meetings?  Are you nervous or just busy enough to skip the appointment? Think again! That decision may cost you dearly. Here is a list of reasons which will make you think twice before skipping out on your regularly scheduled dentist appointment.
1.    Zero-in on Problems before they Worsen
Tooth problems like tooth decay can be avoided. After cleaning your teeth, dentists will look for any signs of cavities developing which may lead to tooth decay down the road. Cavities can make their way through the tooth enamel and inflame the tooth’s internal soft tissue, spread to the roots and cause bacterial infections if left untreated.
2.    Lead by example and Use Your Dental Insurance Coverage
When you go to the dentists’ regularly, it sets a precedent that your kids will follow suit. They will get their checkups regularly as well. Kids eat sugary foods which can make them more prone to dental issues. The family will be educated about healthy dental habits so all members know how to cope with dental issues. Communicating with your dentist during your dental checkup can help you use the dental insurance you paid for and see just how much it covers. This way you will not be surprised by the amount on your dental bills.
3.    Tartar leads to Cavities, Remove It!
Tartar develops in your mouth with infrequent cleaning and in hard to reach areas. This can lead to cavities over time. Dentists use specialized equipment for cleaning those hard to reach areas.
4.    See problems affecting your jaw with X-Rays
You may not know what’s happening and only when the damage has been done, do wisdom teeth cause pain and discomfort. Dentists can use X-rays to determine whether your wisdom teeth are causing over or underbite and how to treat it.
5.    Oral health provides an insight into body health
Studies have shown time and again that your oral health can give a sneak peek at your body health. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS can lead to bad oral hygiene. So visit a trusted and reliable dentist’s office to know if you have these diseases.
6.    Oral Cancer Screening
Having oral cancer screening during your checkup is a routine task. Most oral cancers are discovered in later stages: if you are diagnosed early, it gives you a better fighting and survival chance.
7.    Better Communication between You and your Dentist
People are often nervous about dentist visits, mostly because of poor communication. If you and your dentist work together, your treatment is more likely to address your top concerns – like sleep apnea, which causes shortness of breath while sleeping and is a risk factor for strokes, increased blood pressure and heart disease – thus leading to better body health.
A qualified dentist at Colson Dental Group, like the founder Dr. James H. Colson II, DDS offer a range of dental services for the whole family. Schedule your next appointment with them for improved oral health and a million dollar smile.

Which Type of Filling is Best for YOU?

Has your dentist recently told you that you have a cavity that needs to be filled? Or maybe you have an old filling that needs to be replaced? You and your dentist have choices for what to fill into your tooth. The two most common choices are composite and amalgam materials. Composite fillings are white, or tooth-colored, and are the preferred choice for many patients who are concerned with the aesthetics of a filling. Amalgam fillings are silver, or a dark metallic color. This type of filling material has been used for over 150 years. Because of it’s color, it is highly visible in the mouth. Let’s look at some of the top questions patients have about filling materials:

What are they made of?

Amalgam fillings are a mixture of several metals. About half is liquid mercury and half is a combination of silver, tin, and copper. This combination of materials is strong, very durable, and safe. According to the FDA, use of “dental amalgam fillings (is) safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.” In it’s studies, the FDA “found no link between dental amalgam fillings and health problems.” Composite fillings are made from a mixture of plastic and glass, and can very closely match natural tooth color. The plastic component is made from acrylic resin. These materials are considered very safe by the FDA. The composite material can be discolored by coffee and tea.

How long do they last?

At some point, all fillings (tooth restorations) will need to be replaced. Filling materials are not indestructible and do wear out. A good rule of thumb is that composite fillings will last 7 to 10 years and amalgam fillings will last 10 to 15 years. Good dental hygiene, including regular dental checkups, may prolong the life of any dental work. Also, wearing a night guard to protect your teeth and fillings from grinding will prevent fracturing your dental work.

What are the advantages of each?

Composite filling materials are preferred by many patients for aesthetic reasons. Once the tooth is repaired, the filling is nearly invisible. However, amalgam fillings are well known to be much more durable than composite fillings. Amalgam fillings are less expensive, and are generally covered by insurance. Not all dental insurance will pay the increased cost of a composite filling, and the patient must pay the difference.

Are there any other options?

Yes, there are other filling materials available. Gold and porcelain are used in dental work. However, both gold and porcelain cost much more than amalgam or composite fillings and are rarely covered by dental insurance. Also, these materials take longer to apply to the tooth, making dental work longer and more complicated. Both materials are safe and durable. Are you concerned you may have a cavity? Or are you concerned about any of your dental work options? Please call the offices of Dr. James Colson of Colson Dental Group in Raleigh, at 919-231-6053. Dr. Colson will gladly discuss all your options for fillings and other dental needs.

Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Each year, oral cancers affect 40,000 to 50,000 Americans, according to the American Cancer Society.  About 9,000 deaths annually occur due to oral cancers. In most dental practices, an oral cancer screening in included in each dental examination. How can you know if you are at risk for this type of cancer?

Risk Factors:

  • Tobacco use
  • Heavy Alcohol use
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Males are more likely than females to develop oral cancers, though the reason is unclear. The age group at highest risk is 41-60, though it can affect nearly any age person. It is rare in children. There are some symptoms of oral cancer that can be detected at home. If you notice any of the following symptoms, bring them to the attention of your dentist right away.


  • A sore spot in the mouth that does not heal within a few days
  • A sore with white patches that is not a canker sore
  • Lumps anywhere in the mouth
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • Difficulty chewing and/or swallowing
  • Loose teeth
  • Lump in neck
The most common site for symptoms is on or under the tongue. Photos of different oral cancers may be found at Healthline. If your dentist finds an area in your mouth that is suspicious, he may take a tissue sample for a biopsy or may refer you to a specialist, such as an oncologist. If an oral cancer diagnosis is confirmed, medical treatment is required to maintain your health. Treatment of oral cancer will depend upon the stage of the cancer. Traditional cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy may be recommended.   The prognosis for most oral cancer patients is good, especially when it is found in its early stages. However, continuing to smoke or use other tobacco products increases your chances for a recurrence.   When caught and treated early, most patients go on to live long, healthy lives. Like most cancers, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become more serious if not treated. At Colson Dental Group, Dr. Colson takes each patient’s health seriously and welcomes you to share any concerns you have about oral cancer. If you are in Raleigh or the Triangle area, please call his office today for an appointment at 919-231-6053 .

How Important is Flossing?

In  August, the Associated Press published an article stating that flossing is no longer recommended by the Federal Government for Americans. If you missed the original article, read it here. While we were all grateful for the brief reprieve from political reporting, many of us in the dental industry wondered how and why our government would turn its back on such a universally accepted health guideline? In an effort to keep our patients fully up-to-date on the best practices for dental health, we decided to take a closer look at how this story developed.

How did this story get started?

A national journalist for the AP, Jeff Dunn, got a tip from an orthodontist. The orthodontist claimed that there was little research to back up the efficacy of daily flossing. Noticing that flossing has been recommended to Americans for decades, Mr. Dunn decided to request documentation supporting the flossing recommendations in the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” which is published by the Federal Government. The law says that all guidelines must be backed up by solid scientific evidence. When the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Department of Agriculture, failed to produce any documentation, the AP reporter filed an official request under the Freedom of Information Act. Six months later, in January 2016, the flossing guideline was gone from the newest version of the Dietary Guidelines.

There’s no documentation supporting flossing?

There have been studies to examine the efficacy of flossing. Most dentists believe that the cited flossing studies are flawed. The problem is that many of them were very short, only 3-6 months in duration. Also cited is the lack of studies done in patients vulnerable to gum disease, such as diabetics. “Gum disease is a slow disease,” says dentist and periodontist Wayne Aldredge. The ADA estimates that about 50% of adult Americans currently have some level of gum disease.

Our recommendation:

Dr. Colson and the staff at Colson Dental Group definitely recommend daily flossing be included in every patient’s oral care routine. Most dentists and the ADA still advise patients to floss daily. Dentists point out that flossing definitely reduces plaque between teeth and removes food debris. It is a relatively inexpensive thing to do and risks are extremely low. Ultimately, the only thing the AP article did was to uncover the lack of well-documented research into flossing. We care for our patients’ complete oral health at Colson Dental Group. If you have questions about flossing or any other dental health issue, please call our office today at 919-231-6053 for an appointment.

Back to School Dental Tips

Education doodles against little girl gesturing thumbs up in classroom
Student with a healthy smile 
Parents, whether you rejoice or mourn the passing of summer, back-to-school time is upon us. We know how important it is to prepare our children with the correct school supplies and booster immunizations, but do you remember to schedule a dental checkup for them? The American Dental Association recommends a thorough dental exam for every child returning to school.   Tooth decay is the most common health complaint among American children. Cavities and other oral problems can cause pain, inhibit concentration and learning, and cause missed hours of school. For younger children, tooth problems can affect emerging speech patterns.
Here are some tips to help your kids keep their healthy smile strong!
  1. Morning schedules are tight when a new school year begins. Kids may be accustomed to a more laid-back schedule. Parents, it’s very important to wake your children up early enough to have a healthy breakfast at home, followed by brushing teeth. Don’t send them out the door with a toaster pastry and let all that sugar sit on their teeth all day!
  2. Teach your child healthy eating habits at home. Healthy eating, including getting plenty of calcium-rich foods plus fruits and vegetables, is one of the greatest contributors to dental health and overall health.
  3. Many schools have gardens and encourage children to help maintain them. This is a great way to reinforce healthy eating choices. Parents are usually welcomed to get involved too!
  4. Be sure to get a well-fitting mouth guard for all students who play sports during or after school.
  5. If your child packs a lunch, you have a lot of control over what your child consumes (and doesn’t consume). If sweet treats aren’t stocked at your house, they can’t go into the lunch box. Have plenty of fruit, cheese, and yogurt available to pack. Crunchy, raw cut vegetables are another great addition to the lunch box. Remember an ice pack so that foods stay fresh.
  6. If your child eats foods prepared by the cafeteria, instruction from parents about choices is important. Review the lunch menu with your child each morning and help them choose the best low-sugar foods. Also, limit the number of times per week your child can buy dessert after lunch.
  7. Remind your child to choose milk or water at lunch rather than juice or soda. Even the natural sugars in 100% fruit juice can cause tooth decay.
  8. Bottled water contains no fluoride. Many municipal sources of tap water do provide fluoride. If bottled water is the main water source for your child, speak to your child’s pediatrician or dentist about the need for a fluoride supplement.
  9. Even though schedules are more rushed in the evening, continue to model good oral care habits after dinner and make sure your children brush and floss before going to bed each night.
At Colson Dental Group, we wish all our young patients success in the coming school year! As always, don’t hesitate to call us at 919-231-6053  with any questions or concerns about your children’s oral health.

5 Tips for Maintaining Dental Health on Vacation!

We all love a good summer vacation. It’s a fantastic way to unwind and reconnect with our family members, while visiting a fun location. But there’s never a good time to slack off on your oral care routine. Who wants to return home with a cavity, a cracked tooth, or painful gums? Follow these tips to help you and your loved ones maintain good dental health on vacation!
  1. Have cold water available at all times, for all members of the family. Avoid drinking soda, juice, or sports drinks, all of which have lots of sugar. Sugar that remains on teeth forms acids that lead to decay. Diet soda also harms teeth by staining and breaking down enamel. Water is really the best choice for your teeth and overall health.
  2. Don’t chew ice. On hot summer days ice is so enjoyable, but chewing it will cause cracks in your teeth. This is true for children as well. Sometimes the cracks are tiny, but over time, the cracks can spread and deepen, causing pain and allowing bacteria to invade the tooth.
  3. Snacking is going to happen on vacation. Plan ahead and have some low-sugar, low-carb options available. Everyone likes raw veggies and a healthy dip, like hummus. Cheese cubes or nuts are also convenient and filling, with no added sugar.
  4. It’s ok to say yes to an occasional summer treat like a popsicle, slushie, or ice cream. Treats are part of the fun of a vacation, especially for kids. If you are away from your toothbrush, protect teeth after a treat by rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water. Chew sugar-free gum if it won’t interfere with your dental work. Only offer gum to children old enough to chew without swallowing gum.
  5. Remember to keep up with your vitamin C and calcium intake on vacation. This is especially important for growing children! Not only will you help maintain your overall health, but calcium helps keep bones (including teeth) strong and vitamin C helps repair tissues and keeps gums healthy.
As always, call your dentist if you or a family member has a dental emergency while on vacation. Your dentist can help determine if emergency treatment is needed or if the problem can wait until you return home. In Raleigh, call the office or Dr. James Colson at 919-231-6053  for all your dental care needs. Have a great vacation!