Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Hygiene?

5 Reasons to See your Dental Hygienist

Everyone knows it is important to see your dental hygienist at least twice a year or, for some with more severe periodontal disease, every three months.  However, many people tend to put oral hygiene on the back burner, leaving their hygienists lonely and worried.  There are many reasons maintaining good oral hygiene is important, and Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman want to review a handful. 
1.       Detect Cancer:   Oral Cancer is a growing concern among Americans, including our Denver patients.  In 2010, about 5.1 billion dollars were spent on cancer research with growing figures each year.  This large budget shows the great concern to cure cancers like oral cancer.  Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman urge our patients in Aurora to stop in for their cleanings to detect cancer sooner and to treat and cure more easily.  At each dental cleaning our hygienist and doctors examine each patient for not only dental caries, gum disease, and other dental defects, but also for sign/symptoms of cancer.  The opportunity to save our patients’ life with a routine cancer screening is never missed. 

2.       Prevent and/or treat Periodontal Disease:  Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is caused by a build of tartar around the teeth.  As tartar and plaque congregate, teeth, gums, and bone become damaged.  Signs of gum disease are bleeding, swelling, and redness.  Dr. KenVersman, Dr. Doug Heller, and Dr. Eric Beckman are specialists in treating gum disease, and a big treatment for this disease is consistent and more frequent hygiene cleanings to clear away tartar and allow the gums to reattach to the teeth.  Although regular hygiene maintenance at home is suggested, home care is not sufficient enough to cure gum disease.  Periodontal disease is the #1 reason for tooth loss and the need for dental implants, but our hygienists at Periodontal Associates are the best way to help prevent the need for implants or help keep implants from failing. 

3.       Prevent bad breath:   Are you afraid of social events because you cannot get your breath under control?  Regular hygiene appointments are your answer, not gum or breath spray!  Chronic bad breath is caused by dehydration and bacteria in your mouth.  About 85% of those who suffer from unpleasant mouth odors are victims of dental problems and inadequate oral hygiene. Don’t let this be you!  Michelle and Carolyn not only help our Aurora patients stay healthy, but they clean deeper to clear away stubborn bacteria that are causing your halitosis (bad breath). 

4.       Live longer:  Research studies have shown that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory disease.  Bacteria in the gums have an easy route to the blood stream.  The blood stream is then able to transfer these harmful substances to main organs in the body.   Halting the progression of periodontal disease and maintaining excellent standards of oral hygiene will not only reduce the risk of gum disease and bone loss, but also reduce the chances of developing other serious illnesses. 

5.       Use dental insurance benefits:  So after reading all of these GREAT and lifesaving reasons to see Periodontal Associates for your next and probably over-due cleaning, it is great news to know that dental insurance will pay for it!  Many of those who are insured waste away their benefits at the end of every year, as many patients do not come in for their twice a year cleanings.  Missing the opportunity to have your teeth professionally cleaned is then a waste of money.  So be nice to your smile and bank account.  Come see Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman to enjoy fresh breath, healthy gums, and use your covered cleanings now to avoid more costly dental treatment in the future. 

Do yourself a favor and save your life and pocketbook by scheduling your hygiene appointment right now with Michelle or Carolyn at Periodontal Associates.   Our patients around the Denver metro area enjoy the benefits of regular hygiene cleanings every 3-6 months depending on the level of periodontitis.  If you have any more questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call us at (303) 755-4500, click here for an appointment, or visit our website at

Friday, April 19, 2013

Autism and Dentistry

Autism and Dentistry

Do you floss?  Do you brush 2-3 times per day?  Do you avoid sugary drinks and food?  These are questions Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman ask all of their Aurora patients, and although many of them answer ‘Yes’ to all three questions, we know the majority are fibbing.  The sad truth is only 50.5% of Americans floss daily and only about half Americans brush twice a day.  These statistics are retrieved from adults so imagine what kind of dental habits kids have!  There are many variables that can cause people, especially kids or those with special needs, difficulty in developing healthy routines.  Maintaining proper oral care for children is difficult with impromptu tantrums and the need for sugary food and drinks, but autistic children may require a little extra help and motivation in continuing proper oral hygiene. 

April is the month for Autism Awareness, and Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman want to share some good advice on how to care for not only your loved one with autism but these philosophies are applicable to all those who cannot answer ‘Yes’ to the previous questions.

 Autism is a brain disorder that affects in varying degrees.  Some autistic children have trouble engaging in social situations, have problems with communication and others can develop repetitive behavioral patterns.   Any one or combination of these symptoms can make an everyday task like brushing teeth a challenge. 

Luckily, those with autism are not necessary known for having complications with oral health, but certain medications or neglecting good routines can increase the chances for periodontal disease and dental caries (cavities).    One of the problems associated with autism is when repetitive behavior causing harm to the oral cavity occurs.  For example, grinding teeth (also known as bruxism), tongue thrusting, lip biting, picking at the gums (gingiva), or eating inedible objects (pica) are not uncommon in autistic children.  These habits are hard to break, and if not avoided, severe problems for oral health are of a concern.  

Grinding teeth and manually picking at the gum line are two sure-fire ways to visit Periodontal Associates’ Aurora office.  These habits, not just common to those with autism, create recession.  Recession can lead to bone loss and eventually the need for dental implants after tooth loss.  Gingival grafting is often performed to cure this problem and create a strong collar of gum tissue.  Usually the graft does not cover the exposed root surface, but creates a strong, protective gum tissue that prevents further recession and sensitivity. Also, Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman are specialists in providing functional grafts to preserve proper bone and gum health while still providing a cosmetically beautiful smile to be proud of.   

The need for dental implants or gum grafts due to physical damage like eating inedible objects or grinding is concerning, but another worry for parents of children with autism is dental caries.  It is important to start young with home hygiene care, and those with severe autism often struggle with this the most.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman suggest making the twice a day cleaning process well planned and consistent so your child can anticipate what to expect.   For example, it may be best to frame a guide on the steps to brushing to make the process easy to follow and place it by the bathroom sink.  Also, be sure to avoid giving too many sugary food or drinks as distractions or rewards for certain behaviors.  Those with autism can have picky dietary habits, but a well-balanced diet is crucial for life long oral health.  

The dental office and home care can be intimidating for most Americans, but those with autism or other mental challenges may find these places and activities frightening.  We encourage anyone with fears to take it step by step and come visit Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, and Dr. Eric Beckman to tour the office and meet the staff.  Introducing autistic patients slowly will better help them adapt to future treatment or cleanings.

For more information, please visit our website at or call us at (303) 755-4500 to get your questions or concerns answered.  Periodontal Associates loves all of our patients from Aurora and the Denver metro area, and we take pride in providing them with a calm environment to help soothe and treat those with even the most severe fears or anxiety. 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is a month for recognition and awareness of the ever growing concern of cancer, more specifically oral cancer.  Cancer is a word that can send shivers down anyone’s spine, but Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman will tell you that being proactive is the best way to keep this disease at bay.   

Approximately 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013, and many patients will be unaware until a periodontist like Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, or Dr. Eric Beckman diagnose it.  At Periodontal Associates we perform comprehensive periodontal exams on all of our Denver patients to detect not only gum disease but any abnormalities that may or may not be cancerous.  The ever growing concern of oral cancer is just one out many reasons why it important to keep up with bi-annual dental exams and cleanings.  Although proper cleanings alone cannot prevent oral cancer, as genetics, diet, and lifestyle are larger causes of cancers, the chances of early detection and treatment are more probable.   

One of the larger lifestyle risks for developing oral cancer is the use of tobacco products and smoking.  Some companies even claim ‘smokeless’ tobacco products like chewing tobacco are not as harmful as smoking; however it only less harmful in terms of lung cancer.  Smokeless tobacco is just as damaging in terms of periodontal (gum) disease, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, and chronic infections.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman stress to their patients the need to avoid ALL tobacco products as it not only causes cancer and disease, but it also slows down the body’s ability to heal. 
In conjunction with tobacco, the HPV virus is another lead into why oral cancer is increasing especially in young non-smokers.  The human papilloma virus, or better known as HPV, is a disease transmitted sexually between partners.  It is known that HPV16, 1 strain out of 130, is increasing the incidents of oral cancer. Most people in the U.S. will contract some version of HPV but only 1% of those who contract HPV16 will have a decreased immune system in response.  The decreased immune system can then lead to cancers such as oral or cervical.  

Oral cancer is very hard to detect, and the reason the death rate is increasing due to oral cancer is mainly based on the late detection as those who are suffering from it do not notice the signs/symptoms or they are not visiting their dentist regularly.   Oral cancer can be painless and have little physical marks.  The benefit of visiting our office in Aurora, CO is that Periodontal Associates are gum specialists, meaning Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman will be able to notice the slightest of changes in the look or feel of tissue to detect signs of cancer first.   However, some noticeable changes to be aware of are white or red patches of tissues or small ulcers.  The mouth goes through many benign changes as we eat, drink, and speak so an exam with our periodontal specialists is the best method versus relying on home detection.  If you have experienced a sore or discolored area for more than 14 days, do not hesitate to visit our Aurora office.

Currently about 8,000 deaths a year are attributed to oral cancer, equaling about 1 death every hour.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman are your fist line of defense so be sure to come to Periodontal Associates in Aurora, CO for an exam today and we may save your life.  For more information, please call us at (303) 755-4500 or visit our website  at to learn about other periodontal concerns or dental implants. We look forward to watching over you and your family while providing the highest quality of dental health care.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Piercing Problems!

Piercing Problems!

The idea of a piercings is often exciting, cool and wild as many teenagers and rock star hopefuls envision themselves looking like their celebrity idols.  However, the adrenaline rushed decision to jump into a chair and get a needle stuck though a body part is often done without the consideration of consequences.  In the dental field, doctors like Drs.Versman, Heller, and Beckman see one too many patients with severe dental pain and deconstruction due to their tongue or lip piercing, and here in Denver, CO there is not a shortage of pierced patients.  

Tongue piercings use a barbell like structure with balls protruding above and underneath the tongue.  During normal motions like eating and talking as well as individuals playing with the ornament in their mouths, the friction of this barbell causes rubbing and pressure again gums and teeth.  The top barbell about the tongue is often hit against the top teeth causing the teeth to shift.  The pressure from the jewelry acts as if another tooth is trying to grow in, spreading the upper teeth away from another to make room and causing a gapped tooth grin.  Even worse, the metal can fracture a tooth, and depending on the level of damage the tooth may even need to be replaced by a dental implant.  If you are so unlucky to experience that fate and live in Aurora, Colorado, you may be reading this article in Periodontal Associates’ waiting room.  

The barbell at the underside of the tongue is no better as the bottom cavity does not allow room for additional hardware.   Whenever the tongue is at rest, the barbell pushes against the teeth and gums causing recession behind the central incisors.   When gums are irritated with constant pressure and rubbing it wears the thin layers of healthy gum down.   As recession increases the chances for sensitivity, infection, and tooth loss increase significantly.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman often treat these patients with gum grafts trying to add more support and coverage for the tooth root to prevent further damage and pain.   Lip piercings also result in gingival recession due to the constant chafing.  

Piercings can do more damage than just physical and visible harm.  The oral cavity is a dangerous place to host an infection.  The mouth and gums are a gateway to the bloodstream and the rest of the body.  Blood infections, also called septicemia, cause drops in blood pressure which can collapse veins and cause necrosis.  In some cases, these oral infections can then lead to the amputations of fingers and toes due to the necrosis in those veins.  Which makes you think, would you rather have metal in your tongue to play with or would you rather have a functioning hand? 

Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman always stress to their patients to be wary of piercings as they can cause bleeding, pain, edema (swelling), tooth fractures as individuals bite the barbell and break off a piece of tooth, gingival trauma like recession, and difficulties eating and speaking.  Unfortunately, many times they do not have the chance to warn them about these consequences until it is too late and they come into to our Aurora office as a patient.   If you are having pain and having an oral piercing, please contact us today to schedule an appointment at Periodontal Associates.  Also, if you do not experience any discomfort but you doing have a piercing in your lip or tongue, I strongly advise you to visit Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, or Dr. EricBeckman for a consultation to evaluate possible risk or recession. 

Please visit our website at for more information or call Periodontal Associates at (303) 755-4500.  We look forward to helping you maintain your style while keeping your teeth and gums strong and healthy.