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Monthly Archives: July 2015
Children with damaged, discolored or missing teeth sometimes have problems with self-esteem that can be improved through aesthetic dentistry.
When a child has lost one or more front teeth, the dentist can replace these teeth with an aesthetic maintainer. The artificial teeth can be placed onto a removable or cemented dental appliance. Also, dentists can apply aesthetic veneers, or plastic facings, on discolored primary front teeth.
For mildly or moderately decayed front and back teeth, dentists now are able to place tooth-colored dental fillings. These materials have been dramatically improved and eventually, dentists no longer will need to place silver fillings. These tooth-colored fillings are bonded to the tooth surface and they not only are beautiful but strong as well.
For severely decayed front and back teeth, silver-colored dental crowns no longer are the norm. Dentists now have tooth-colored plastic and porcelain materials that can be used to cover the entire surface of the tooth to restore both function and aesthetics. Some of these crowns have metal linings but still have tooth-colored facings that allow for beautiful aesthetic restorations.
Many children benefit dramatically from aesthetic dental care on their primary teeth. Be sure to consult with your dentist if you have questions about whether aesthetic dentistry is right for your child.
Dentists can usually spot a soda drinker. These patients are often prone to dental cavities and white spots on their teeth known as decalcifications, which are actually the start of new cavities.
A cavity is an infection caused by a combination of carbohydrate-containing foods or beverages and bacteria that live in our mouths. Sweetened soda contains a high amount of sugar, a carbohydrate that can promote cavities. Soda may be even more damaging to the teeth than other sugar containing beverages because it is acidic as well.
Before we drink a sugar-sweetened soda, the pH in our mouth is about 7.0, which is slightly more acidic than water. When the bacteria in our mouths are exposed to sugar, they metabolize it and produce acid. The acid causes the pH on the tooth surface to drop. At a pH of 5.2 or below, the acid begins to dissolve the hard enamel that forms the outer coating of our teeth. Over time this leads to erosion that causes cavities and painful toothaches!
A study examined the effect of several types of sweetened soda and mineral water on the teeth. Teeth exposed to cola, orange and lime soda had significantly more decalcification than those exposed to mineral water. Of all of the sodas tested, cola caused the most decalcification. Sweetened soda seems to damage teeth in two ways. The soda has a low PH and makes the mouth acidic, and the sugar content promotes tooth decay when it comes into contact with bacteria in the mouth.
The easiest way to prevent cavities is by brushing your teeth at least three times a day, especially after eating or drinking and before bed. Reducing the amount and frequency of eating sugary foods and beverages can decrease the risk of forming cavities.
If you have to have sweetened soda, it is better to drink it at one sitting than sip it throughout the day. Better yet, drink it through a straw in one sitting, to bypass the teeth altogether.
How Medications Affect Your Dental Health
If you’re taking medications for certain health conditions, it may not have crossed your mind that they can also impact your oral health. After all, medications are supposed to bring equilibrium back to your system, not stir things up, right? Truth is a variety of prescribed medications can affect your teeth.
Antihistamines may cause dry mouth syndrome, which can lead to sore gums, making the mouth more prone to infection. Contraceptives and blood pressure medications may cause mouth sores, gum inflammation and discoloration. Blood thinners can interfere with your ability to form blood clots or cause heavy bleeding after a tooth extraction. Anti-seizure medications can cause an overgrowth of gum tissue (gingival hyperplasia) and make it difficult to practice good oral hygiene.
When you’re taking medications and start taking other medications — whether prescribed, over-the-counter or illegal – it can change the effects of both the original and the new medications. Simply put, when certain drugs interact, they may increase or decrease the effects or produce another, unintended effect. This is why it’s so important to keep your dentist informed about all the medications you take; any teeth medications you are prescribed will take this into consideration.
What to Do in a Dental Emergency
Accidents happen all the time and not all of them require immediate care. But if you’ve had an injury to your teeth, mouth or jaw, you should see a dentist right away. If you’re not sure your problem is an emergency, here’s a list of the most common ones — plus a few things you can do to minimize pain and damage before seeing your dentist:
Broken Tooth — Save any pieces of the broken tooth and rinse your mouth out with warm water. Apply a cold compress to the area to decrease swelling and pain until you can be seen by the dentist.
Broken Jaw — Apply a cold compress to limit swelling and see your dentist right away.
Knocked-Out Tooth — Gently rinse off the knocked out tooth without removing any attached tissue. If possible, hold the tooth in place in the socket. Otherwise, put the tooth in a glass of milk and get to your dentist right away.
Something Stuck in Your Teeth — Carefully try to remove the object with dental floss. (Don’t try using a sharp instrument!) If you’re unable to dislodge the object with dental floss, contact your dentist.
Toothache — Rinse your mouth out with warm water. Then use dental floss to make sure there isn’t any food or other debris causing the pain. If the pain persists, call the dentist.
Lost Dental Filling or Dental Crown — For dental fillings, seal the area with a piece of sugarless gum or over-the-counter dental cement. If a dental crown has come loose, try to put it back in place with dental cement. If that doesn’t work, bring it with you to the dentist.
Dental Abscess — If you notice a painful, pimple-like swelling on your gums, rinse with salt water and immediately contact your dentist. Dental abscesses can lead to more serious infections if not promptly treated.
Extra Cavity Protection for Kids
You might think that cavities are inevitable for kids, but in truth, they’re not. A healthy diet mixed with good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) plus regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants can reduce the risk even more. In fact, studies show that dental sealants can reduce decay in school children by 70%.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of back teeth, where tooth decay is usually a problem for kids and teens. Sealants act as a barrier between the chewing surfaces by blocking pieces of food and germs.
Sealants work best on permanent molars, which usually erupt at age 12. It’s best to have sealants applied soon after the permanent molars erupt so that decay doesn’t have a chance to develop.
Because they’re so thin, dental sealants won’t have an effect on your child’s speech or make chewing difficult. Sealants can be clear or slightly tinted; either way, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.
Though they don’t take much time to apply, sealants can last 5-10 years. Dental sealants are some of the most comfortable, cost- and tooth-saving solutions around!
If the first thing you feel in the morning is a headache or pain behind your eyes or pain in your neck and shoulders, come in for a visit. What you’re experiencing could be the result of problems in your mouth. These are common symptoms of a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which basically means that your jaws don’t align properly. This misalignment stresses the jaw joints, putting pressure on nerves and muscles – which can result in morning headaches, migraines or facial and neck pain.
Not everyone with TMJ disorder shows symptoms. And not everyone has headaches or pain; TMJ disorder can also lead to broken teeth or fillings, loose teeth and toothaches. What is certain is that if you do display any of these symptoms, they won’t get better without professional help.
Many people find that resting the jaw helps ease the pain. You can do this by eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and hard candies. We can also show you jaw exercises to stretch the jaw joints and relieve stress. For most people, the most effective treatment is a custom dental splint that fits over your upper and lower teeth. This reduces the damage done from repeated clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding.
If these conservative methods don’t work, you still have other options. The temporomandibular joints can be flushed out, or an injection of cortisone can help relieve inflammation and pain. Worse-case scenario, you might need surgery. Come in for a visit and we’ll help you find the right solution.