Posts for: February, 2013
How good of a job are you doing with brushing and flossing your teeth? This is an important question, because a healthy mouth depends on regularly removing dental plaque (a whitish, sticky film of bacteria that grows near your gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth).
Daily Plaque Removal
Most people need to brush and floss at least once a day to remove plaque. Twice a day may be ideal, as plaque forms every 12 to 24 hours on your teeth, and it will also make your mouth feel fresher. Be thorough but gentle with your teeth — excessive brushing or flossing can cause damage.
The use of an antibacterial mouthrinse to help reduce the plaque you may have missed as well as to reduce bacteria that are clinging to soft tissues or membranes in your mouth, should be included in your daily hygiene routine.
When you run your tongue around your mouth after a professional dental cleaning, you sense a smooth, slippery feeling. This is the way your teeth should feel after you brush your own teeth every day. The tooth surfaces should feel smooth and slick throughout your mouth and at the gum line.
After running floss up and down a tooth surface, notice whether there is blood on the floss or whether the floss has an odor. If the floss squeaks when you run it up and down a tooth surface, that indicates that the tooth is squeaky clean.
Check for Bleeding
Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation, called gingivitis, in the gum tissue. Healthy gums do not bleed. If you have recently begun using more effective brushing and flossing methods, your gums may bleed at first but then stop as your gums become healthier.
Use Disclosing Solutions
Disclosing solutions are harmless dyes that can stain plaque and make it visible. Rinsing with these solutions may surprise you by revealing the plaque on your teeth you had no idea you missed.
Visit Our Office
We can check your mouth and tell you how well you are doing in your program of daily plaque removal. As a bonus, we will give you a toothbrush so that while you're here we can check your technique to make sure you are brushing correctly.
For years, lasers have revolutionized the medical industry and now they are beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry. However, anytime new technologies are introduced, people naturally will have questions. Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What is a laser?
Lasers are beams of light that are a single wavelength and color. Laser is an acronym derived from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”
How are they different from regular sunlight?
White light is made up of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum comprising the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Laser light consists of beams of a single color and hence a single wavelength of light, concentrated to a high energy level, which can penetrate living tissue.
How are they used in dentistry?
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. Examples of the most common hard tissue treatments include the diagnosis and removal of tooth decay, while the most common soft tissue treatments include the removal of gum tissue as it relates to cosmetic dentistry and the treatment of gum disease.
Are they safe?
Absolutely! Before blazing a trail in the field of dentistry, lasers have been used for years in the medical field with research evidence and the FDA approving both their safety and efficacy. In fact, they are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding and less discomfort for patients after surgery. And what could be better than that?
Want to learn more?
Damaging the crown of a tooth (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums) is the most common type of dental injury. The tooth may be broken or chipped. It is good to be prepared by knowing how such cases should be treated.
What is the first thing to do if my tooth is chipped or broken?
If fragments broke off the tooth, try to find and save them. They can probably be reattached to the tooth by bonding.
Does a chipped or broken tooth hurt?
The tooth may be sensitive to touch, hot and cold. Depending on the type of injury and how much of the tooth's inner surface is exposed, there may also be pain.
How long can I wait before getting treatment?
Get treatment right away, within 12 hours if possible. Teeth with crown fractures can be treated within 12 hours without affecting long-term outcomes.
What types of treatment may be used?
The treatment recommended depends on the tooth and the type and severity of the injury. Exposure of a tooth's inner pulp can be treated by a pulpotomy (partial pulp removal) technique. Front teeth can be temporarily restored with special cements, or the original tooth fragments may be reattached by bonding. Composite resin bonding may be used to restore the tooth's original appearance and function. Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colors and can match the original tooth almost exactly.
Is treatment different if the damaged tooth is a primary (baby) tooth?
Chipped or broken primary teeth are generally treated similarly to permanent teeth. The treatment depends on the extent of the injury and damage to the tooth. Treatment of fractured primary teeth also depends on the proximity of the injured tooth to the permanent tooth beneath it, which will ultimately replace it. If a fractured primary tooth cannot be saved, it may be removed.
What if my tooth is loosened but not broken?
If the tooth is loosened but not cracked, broken or chipped, no dental treatment may be required. However, we will collect baseline clinical and x-ray information and keep an eye on the tooth or teeth in the future. We will need to check the tooth during recall visits to see whether the dental pulp is still living or whether it has died as a result of its injury. The latter condition can lead to a variety of problems and will require treatment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”
Tooth decay is not trivial. It's a worldwide epidemic, one of the most common of all diseases — second only to the common cold. It affects more than one fourth of U.S. children of ages 2 to 5 and half of those 12 to 15. Among adults, tooth decay affects more than ninety percent of those over age 40.
Prevention of cavities starts with a healthy diet and effective brushing and flossing, but it is much more complex than that. Three strategies for reducing dental caries (tooth decay) include:
Protect with Fluoride and Sealants
This works best when fluoride is applied to the crystalline coating of your child's teeth just after they push through the gums (erupt). The fluoride becomes incorporated into the tooth's surface and acts as a barrier to decay. Studies have shown that low doses of fluoride are safe and effective.
Dental sealants are used as a companion to fluoride because they seal tiny pits and fissures in the tooth's structure, creating an even stronger barrier.
Modify Oral Bacteria
Every mouth contains bacteria, no matter how well you clean your teeth. Not all bacteria cause tooth decay. The problem bacteria are those that produce acid as a byproduct of their life processes. We can identify acid-producing bacteria in your mouth, you can reduce their concentrations using antibacterial mouthrinses such as chlorhexidine, and pH neutralizing agents (substances that reduce the amount of acid).
Reduce Sugars in Your Diet
Bacteria in your mouth ferment sugars and other carbohydrates, producing acids that eat into the mineralized outside structure of your teeth, the enamel. So eating fewer sugars — particularly added sugars such as those in juices, sodas, candy and other sweets — will help prevent decay. Your total sugar intake should be less than fifty grams, or about ten teaspoons, per day. If you begin to read labels showing sugar content of common foods, you may be surprised at the amount you consume without knowing it.
If you must snack between meals, non-sugary snacks like raw vegetables and fresh fruits create a better environment for your teeth.
Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, has been shown to reduce decay-producing bacteria.
Try these easy strategies to keep your teeth healthy and functional throughout your lifetime.