Dental Care Checklist for Seniors

þ     Keep up your regular dental visits. Hopefully, you’ve had a lifetime of professional dental care. Don’t stop now! Just as these years might motivate you to take special care of your overall health, it’s a good idea to give your teeth some extra attention, too. That means visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene habits at home.
 
þ     Get professional denture care. Over time, your dentures may start to loosen and shift while you talk or eat. Rather than use an over-the-counter denture repair kit, which can damage your dentures, come in for a professional denture reline. We can reshape your dentures so that they look and feel great again.
 
þ     Switch to an electric toothbrush, if necessary. Arthritis or a limited mobility may make it difficult to brush your teeth. Using an electric toothbrush can help eliminate a lot of the physical movement required to brush manually, doing most of the work for you.
 
þ     Consider dental implants to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are one of the most revolutionary dental treatments around. Many patients prefer dental implants over dentures because of their natural look and feel. And with today’s technology, you can get dental implants in a single visit!

Dentin

Dentin is the technical name for your teeth — well, the substance that makes up your teeth, rather. Dentin is almost bone-like and it makes up most of the structure of your teeth. Dentin is made from cells called odontoblasts and is found under the enamel of the crown and under the cementum in the root.

Dentin is yellow in appearance; it’s the tooth’s enamel that gives teeth their bright white finish. Since enamel is relatively translucent, if not properly cared for by regular brushing, regular flossing and regular dental visits — your teeth can dull and become yellow as enamel starts to wear off. At that point, only the yellowish dentin is left.

Structure

“Dentin consists of microscopic channels, called dentinal tubules, which radiate outward through the dentin from the pulp to the exterior cementum or enamel border.” This is all very technical for the biology of dentin, which is a very detailed and complicated process that occurs in the tiniest square footage — our individual teeth!

The highly specialized connective tissue of dentin makes up most of the structure of your teeth. If the inside (pulp chamber) gets infected and is removed by your dentist, dentin will become brittle and can fracture far more easily than normal. This is why, after a root canal, you are generally fitted with a cap or a dental crown.

Facts of Dentin

Dentin is semi-reparable. It has reparative capabilities because the odontoblasts that create dentin remain viable after the teeth erupt. When excessive wear, cavities or other irritants start to degrade the dentin, reparative secondary dentin is laid down.

As helpful as this is, the enamel that covers dentin is NOT reparable, so again, your biyearly trip to the dentist is mandatory, as is daily brushing and flossing.

When you get dental cavities, you get them in dentin. Generally, if you get an infection, you get that in the pulp of the tooth. But enamel can wear away by chewing ice or other irritants, thereby making dentin more susceptible to dental cavities and tooth loss.

The most important thing you can do to protect your teeth’s dentin is to brush twice daily and floss every single night — not just when it occurs to you! And don’t forget to see your dentist at least twice a year to keep dentin in tip-top shape.

Birth Control Pills Trigger Pregnancy Gingivitis

Being with child can be an exciting transition, but as any mother will tell you, pregnancy is no walk in the park. In order for a women to carry a child to full term, hormonal levels will change in order to help a fetus grow and develop, but those fluctuations can also put her a greater risk for dental problems such as gingivitis, pregnancy tumors and periodontal disease. Women on birth control pills have the same oral health risks as their child carrying counterparts.

Oral contraceptives use various hormones to mimic pregnancy, suppress ovulation and will thicken a woman’s cervical mucus in order to block a sperm merging with an egg. Once a body is tricked into copying the indicators of pregnancy, the risks of dental problems including gum inflammation, oral infections, tooth loss will increase and pregnancy gingivitis can occur to women on the pill.

In addition to increased odds of developing pregnancy gingivitis, being on the pill can also make it difficult for women to recover from tooth extractions. Studies have indicated that women on birth control pills, that undergo tooth extractions while on the medication are two times more likely to have to endure dry socket at the tooth extraction site.

Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to combating the smile killing effects associated with birth control pills.

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Why So Sensitive? 5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt

Do your teeth hurt when you drink or eat something hot or cold? Most people think this is normal, but that’s not always the case. When your teeth hurt, they’re trying to tell you something: See your dentist.

More often than not, tooth sensitivity is a sign of a dental problem like tooth decay or gum disease. But there are other reasons why your teeth may be hurting:

  • You might have a cracked or broken tooth
  • One of your fillings could be broken or rotten
  • You might be grinding your teeth while you sleep
  • You could be brushing your teeth too hard
  • There might be dental plaque buildup on your tooth roots

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring sensitive teeth or trying to self-treat. If your sensitivity lasts longer than a couple of days or keeps recurring over a couple of weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse it can get and the more expensive treatment will be. A quick exam can reveal exactly what’s going on and get you back to living pain-free.

Preventive Dentistry Starts at Home

The main responsibility of preventive care falls on you! In order to reduce your chances of getting a dental disease, you have to take care of yourself. Consider the following points when it comes to your preventive dentistry program:

Oral Hygiene — Brushing and flossing removes dental plaque, a film-like substance that is constantly forming on your teeth. If not removed, dental plaque can build up over time and produce dental tartar, a hardened, sticky substance which harbors the acid-producing bacteria that generate tooth decay. Eventually, dental tartar will creep under the gum line, leading to gum disease as well.

Diet — A good diet is incredibly important to your dental health. Not only do foods that contain sugars and carbohydrates feed the bacteria that produce dental plaque, but studies also show a diet low in calcium can increase your chances of ending up with periodontal disease and jaw deterioration.

Smoking and Drinking — Smoking, chewing tobacco and consuming alcohol can wreak havoc on your mouth! If the dry mouth, tooth discoloration and buildup of dental plaque aren’t enough for you to want to quit smoking, consider this: Smoking causes gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.

Sippy Cup: Friend Or Foe?

The sippy cup is a spill proof, lid-covered drinking cup designed to help parents teach their toddlers how to drink without spilling. Children can toss it, drop it and turn it upside down, but they can’t spill its contents. That’s thanks to a valve in the top that releases liquid only when a child puts his lips around the tip and sucks. Day after day countless parents reach for that sippy cup their toddlers love so well, proud that the bottle is a thing of the past, and thrilled that their car seats and living room carpets will be spared! These parents though, should think twice before resorting to extended use of the sippy cup.

Many parents operate under the mistaken impression that the sippy cup is better than allowing the child to sleep with a bottle. The damage done by the bedtime bottle is fueled by the fact that no saliva flows during sleep to clear liquids from the mouth or dilute them. Liquids bathe the teeth all night. The sippy cup filled with sweetened liquids can cause the same damaging effects. The child’s teeth are immersed in the liquid during drinking and many parents allow unlimited access to the sippy cup.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age and be encouraged to drink from a cup. Parents are cautioned however that the repetitive consumption of liquids that contain fermentable carbohydrates (milk, juice, soft drinks etc.) from a bottle or sippy cup should be avoided.

 Be very selective about the liquids that you give your child from the sippy cup. Avoid milk, juice, and soft drinks. Try water or sugar free beverages instead.

 Use the sippy cup only as a transition to a regular cup or adult drinking glass with no lid.

 Consider cup design carefully. A pop-up straw reduces the amount of time the liquid is in contact with the teeth.

 Some speech pathologists have expressed concern about over use of the sippy cup and liken its use to a thumb-sucking habit, the effects of which are well documented.

Dental Care Checklist for Adults

Don’t let dental visits slide! Adult life can sometimes be a juggling act and it may feel like you just can’t find the time for a dental visit. But making time for regular dental visits now can help keep you out of the dental office in the future.

Brush and floss daily, even if it’s late. You’ve heard this a million times by now, but the importance of regular brushing and flossing can never be emphasized enough. Even if you’ve been good about your oral hygiene all your life, resist the temptation to let it slide for even one day; the longer plaque stays on your teeth, the more destructive it becomes.

Eat well-balanced meals. When you’re juggling work, home and kids, it can be tempting to turn to fast food, soda and sugary snacks as a way to save time and feel more energetic. But sugar is a tooth decay demon and can cause you to crash after that initial “sugar high.” Be sure to integrate plenty of fresh vegetables into your daily meals and eat fruit, nuts and celery or carrot sticks as snacks.

Exercise regularly — it’s good for your teeth! Studies show that people who maintain a healthy lifestyle — exercise and eating right — are 40 percent less likely to develop advanced gum disease.

Consider treating yourself to cosmetic dentistry. Whether you want a quick boost or a complete smile makeover, there are plenty of cosmetic dental treatments available to help you achieve your dream smile. One-hour laser teeth whitening treatments can make your teeth 8-10 shades whiter, and porcelain veneers can mask stained teeth, chipped teeth or crooked teeth.

Crossbite

The clinical definition for a crossbite is “an abnormal relation of one or more teeth of one arch to the opposing tooth or teeth of the other arch, caused by deviation of tooth position or abnormal jaw position.” But unless you’re a health professional, this definition probably makes you say, “Huh?”

In lay terms, a unilateral posterior crossbite is what occurs when your upper teeth fall inside your lower teeth on one side when you bite down. An anterior crossbite, which is similar to an underbite, is what occurs when your top front teeth fall behind your lower front teeth when you bite down.

Behind a Crossbite

Crossbites are caused by a variety of factors. If one or both of your parents has a crossbite, there’s a good chance you could inherit it. Another cause is jaw size — if your upper jaw is smaller than your lower jaw, or your jaws are mismatched in size, you could develop a crossbite.

Children can be prone to developing crossbites if their baby teeth don’t fall out in a timely manner. Here’s why: If the upper permanent teeth start to sprout while baby teeth are still present, they’ll have no room to grow in except behind the baby teeth. When a child bites down, this back row of teeth will fall behind the lower to teeth to create a crossbite.

Large adenoids and tonsils can also spur the development of a crossbite. If a child’s adenoids and tonsils are too large, it may force a child to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. The difference may seem innocuous, but it can actually affect proper jaw growth: When a child breathes through the nose, the tongue is positioned on the roof of the mouth, which helps the jaws to grow laterally. But if a child is forced to breathe through the mouth, the tongue shifts out of position and away from the roof of the mouth, causing the jaws to grow asymmetrically.

Crossbite Treatment and Correction

A crossbite is more than just a cosmetic imperfection. So if you suspect that you have a crossbite and wonder how important it is to see a dentist, the answer is “very.” Left untreated, a crossbite can cause conditions such as TMJ or TMD, loose teeth, receding gums, excessive wear of tooth enamel and assymetrical growth of your face and jaw.

Not every crossbite requires correction, but the only way to tell is through proper diagnosis. Questions? Give us a call today.

Toothpaste and Orange Juice – Not a Good Match

 Ever wonder why orange juice tastes so bad after you brush your teeth?

You can thank sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) for ruining your drink, depending on which toothpaste you use. Both of these chemicals are surfactants — wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid — that are added to toothpastes to create foam and make the paste easier to spread around your mouth. They’re also important ingredients in detergents, fabric softeners, paints, laxatives, surfboard waxes and insecticides.
While surfactants make brushing our teeth a lot easier, they do more than make foam. Both SLES and SLS mess with our taste buds in two ways. One, they suppress the receptors on our taste buds that perceive sweetness, inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they break up the phospholipids on our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for bitterness and keep bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they’re broken down by the surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.
So, anything you eat or drink after you brush is going to have less sweetness and more bitterness than it normally would. Is there any end to this torture? Yes. You don’t need foam for good toothpaste, and there are plenty out there that are SLES/SLS-free. You won’t get that rabid dog look that makes oral hygiene so much fun, but your breakfast won’t be ruined.