The Aging Mouth: What is Normal, What is Not

 

The natural process of aging takes its toll on your teeth and mouth just as it does your body. Here are some common oral health changes you can anticipate as you age:
Enamel Wear — Chewing, cleaning and the normal aging process means your teeth will eventually wear down over time.
Darker Tooth Color — Aging dentin (the tooth’s middle layer) holds stains easier than younger dentin, making your teeth appear slightly darker.
Gum Changes — Aging gums naturally recede over time.
Cavities — Cavities around the root of the tooth are more common as you age. Any fillings you have are also aging and can weaken or crack.
Other changes to your teeth and gums aren’t normal and shouldn’t be overlooked. These symptoms could signal something more serious and are reason to see your dentist right away:
Tooth Loss — Dental cavities and gum disease are the leading culprits of tooth loss in seniors, but neither is a normal part of aging. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s no reason why your teeth should fall out.
Dry Mouth – As you age, you may notice a reduced flow of saliva, sometimes as a side effect of medical conditions, medications or medical treatment. Saliva is important because it lubricates the mouth and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque.
Bleeding Gums — Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. But gum disease is not an inevitable result of aging; it’s caused by the build up of plaque. Left untreated, gum disease is linked to other health concerns like arthritis and heart disease.

Braces Built for Busy Adults

 

If you needed braces as a child but didn’t get them, you can still benefit from an improved smile and better oral health by wearing dental braces in your adult years. However, because traditional braces can take longer the older you are, more and more adults are turning to speed braces. Unlike conventional metal braces – which take an average of 12-20 months – speed braces typically take just 6-9 months to straighten your teeth.
One of the best features of speed dental braces is the slide mechanism of the self-ligating brackets: The wire slides through the brackets as the teeth move, allowing your teeth to move more freely, quickly and comfortably. This slide technology also helps reduce the friction between the brackets and wire, which means that you’ll need fewer adjustments.
The self-ligating brackets on speed dental braces can also help promote better oral health than those of braces past: Because the brackets are smaller in size, it’s easier to brush and floss your teeth. And since speed dental braces are left on your teeth for a shorter period of time, you’re teeth are less likely to develop the yellow or brown spots that traditional metal braces can cause.
Invest in speed braces, and you’ll reap both tangible and intangible rewards. If smiling was never easy for you, it will be. Many patients say they felt a boost in self-esteem after treatment, which made it easier to smile and interact with others. Braces can also make it easier to digest food! If your teeth and jaws are misaligned, you may have problems chewing food properly, which can overtax your digestive system and cause stomachaches. With straight teeth, smiling and eating can be a pleasure again.

Deciduous Teeth

Deciduous teeth are baby teeth. We’re born with two full sets of teeth and this first set is also called primary, milk or lacteal dentition. These teeth begin to erupt anytime after 6 months of age, which is commonly referred to as “teething.” Teeth normally erupt in pairs and the first that normally come in are the lower central incisors. By the time your child is 2, he or she should have a full set of deciduous teeth.

Why Two Sets?

As an infant, our mouths are too small for a full set of permanent teeth, so we require deciduous teeth until our jaw is able to sustain the permanent set. Baby teeth are essential in the alignment, spacing and occlusion of primary teeth. They prepare the adult jaw for their permanent fellows.

As the adult teeth (seccedaneous teeth) form, special cells called odontoclasts absorb the roots of the baby teeth, so that when your adult teeth start to emerge from your gums the deciduous teeth have no roots, making them loose and able to easily fall out.

Caring for Deciduous Teeth

A gross misconception about baby teeth is that since they will eventually be replaced by primary teeth, there’s no reason to take care of them. But cavities are a very real cause for concern — even for deciduous teeth. Children who suffer from dental cavities in their baby teeth are more prone to cavities in their permanent teeth. And every dentist will agree that oral hygiene habits begin in childhood. So it is essential that you take excellent dental care of your little ones’ baby teeth, as they won’t be able to do so themselves for the first handful of years.

Good oral hygiene begins at teething. Simply rubbing your infant’s gums with a wet washcloth will begin to develop habits that he or she will require for life. Once the first teeth erupt, begin brushing them twice a day. Once more teeth fill in, you can begin flossing, too. And be sure to set up your child’s first dental visit when the first tooth appears or by age 1.

Deciduous Tooth Dental Cavities

Sometimes your toddler will get a dental cavity in one of the baby teeth. In that case, your regular pediatric dentist will take X-rays and fill any dental cavity so that tooth decay does not go unchecked and the primary tooth can emerge in the best condition possible.

Like all teeth, deciduous teeth must be cared for properly so that you have a healthy mouth and healthy body. It’s up to parents to ensure that their child develops healthy deciduous teeth and good oral hygiene. If you need help maintaining your child’s oral health, give us a call; we’re glad to help.

Keep Waking Up With Headaches?

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.

Should You Worry if Your Kids Are Grinding Their Teeth?

It’s estimated that up to 30% of kids age 4-10 develop bruxism, a condition commonly known as teeth grinding. But how can you tell if your little ones are grinding? Listen closely while they sleep; you’ll be able to hear a soft grinding noise. Or take note when your kids complain of jaw pain or headaches in the morning. Both could be a sign of teeth grinding.

Fortunately, most cases of childhood grinding resolve on their own before kids lose their baby teeth, so there’s little risk of permanent tooth damage. In other cases, though, teeth grinding can lead to enamel damage and chipped teeth. The best way to approach grinding symptoms is to err on the side of caution: If you see any signs, visit your dentist.

Relief for Teeth Grinders

The causes of childhood bruxism are not completely understood, but most experts believe that stress and/or dental problems may be at its roots. In cases where stress could be the problem, it could help to ask your child if there is anything he or she is worried or upset about and offer gentle reassurance. Also make sure that your child does not eat or engage in physical activity within an hour of bedtime. Generally, the fewer stimuli your child comes across the more relaxed bedtime will be.

Your child could also be a good candidate for a custom dental night guard, which can help prevent tooth damage and jaw stress. A complete dental exam may also be in order; if teeth grinding is due to misalignment or other dental problems, we can create the proper treatment for your little one.

Them Bones, Them Bones…

Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth! You’ve heard it before, but how much calcium are you actually getting?
An extremely important mineral for dental and overall health, calcium aids in preventing dental problems and osteoporosis. Actually, 99 percent of the calcium found in our bodies is located in our bones and teeth! But calcium does so much more — it also helps with blood clotting, sending nerve signals, releasing hormones and enzymes, as well as muscle and blood vessel contraction and relaxation.

Much like we change our hairstyles or clothes to resemble the latest fashions, our bones are constantly reinventing themselves. Our bones are continuously undergoing a process called resorption, which is the breakdown of bone tissue. When bone is lost, calcium is deposited to help new bone form. In order to best utilize new bone formation, calcium needs to be taken continuously, and over a long period of time.

As we age, we tend to lose more bone, and it becomes harder for calcium to keep up with our changing bodies. If there’s not a significant amount of calcium, our bones can become brittle and porous in old age. The weaker our skeletal systems, the greater our chances of ending up with bone fractures or jaw deterioration, which leads to tooth loss. And the more the jaw deteriorates, the harder it is for your mouth to support dental restorations, such as dental implants and dentures.

Calcium is equally important to your periodontal health! According to the American Academy of Periodontology, a diet low in calcium can increase your chances of getting gum disease. An infection caused by bacteria that attack your gums, periodontal disease will eventually break down your gum tissue and destroy the surrounding bone. As calcium supports your jawbone, it strengthens it against the bacteria that lead to gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Combined with gum disease treatment, a significant calcium intake can prevent gum disease from progressing. Consuming at least three servings of calcium-laden foods will help you meet your daily requirements.

Chipped Teeth Choices

 

If you have a chipped tooth, you’re not alone! In fact, chipped teeth are the most common dental injury today. But don’t let that little-known fact fool you into ignoring a chipped tooth; any type of dental trauma deserves immediate attention. A small chip may not cause you pain, but there could be damage underneath the surface of the tooth. Our dentist can rule out cracks or internal tooth problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye. And in many cases, your chipped tooth can be repaired in just one visit.
Options, Options
Chipped tooth treatments vary according to the amount of damage. Depending on your situation, any one of these chipped tooth treatments may be an option for you:
Dental Bonding — Most chips can be corrected with dental bonding. Dental bonding is an efficient, durable and cost-effective way to correct minor chips.
Enamel Shaping — Often used in conjunction with dental bonding, enamel shaping can also correct small chips or surface flaws. During enamel shaping, a small portion of the tooth’s surface is removed or recontoured to smooth out imperfections.
Dental Veneers – If the chip is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping can’t be used, you may need a veneer. These thin, porcelain wafers completely cover the surface of the tooth and are often used for front teeth.
Root Canal – Pain in the location of the chip can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that’s the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
Dental Crown — A dental crown is used to completely cover larger teeth or to cap a tooth after a root canal.
Tooth Extraction — If the tooth can’t be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is a dental bridge or dental implants can replace missing teeth.

Dental Care Checklist for Infants

 

See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.
Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.
Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.
Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).
Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.
Keep an Eye On:
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.
Signs of Teething — Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or “cut,” as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.
Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.

What Is Cementum?

What Is Cementum?

Cementum is a hard layer of tissue that helps the periodontal ligament attach firmly to a tooth. Made of cementoblasts, cementum slowly forms over a lifetime.

Cementum is a hard, calcified layer of tissue that covers the root of the tooth. On its outer side, cementum is attached to the periodontal ligament; on its inner side, the dentin. Along with the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingiva, cementum helps a tooth stay in its place. In fact, if it weren’t for cementum, the periodontal ligament wouldn’t be able to attach firmly to a tooth.

Slowly formed throughout life, cementum is created when the root of the tooth excretes cementoblasts. Though cementoblasts are somewhat of a mystery, it is known that cementum is yellow in color and softer than dentin. Its chemical makeup is similar to that of bone — but unlike bone, cementum is avascular (not supported by blood vessels).

Types of Cementum

There are three types of cementum: acellular cementum, cellular cementum and afibrillar cementum. Acellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the root and has little to no cellular components. Cellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the apex and is permeable. Afibrillar cementum sometimes extends onto the enamel of the tooth.

If you have periodontal disease, your acellular cementum, cellular cementum or afibrillar cementum may also be diseased. A gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing can be performed to remove the diseased cementum, as well as dental tartar and diseased dentin.

If it has been awhile since your last dental visit, make an appointment today.

regular dental check-ups

One of the most common reasons that people avoid the dentist is that they think that everything is ok. Their logic is simple; no pain means no problems. Unfortunately, most dental conditions including cavities, gum disease and oral cancer give little or no warning, because they may remain painless for months or even many years. By the time a person is in pain, the dental problem is usually so advanced that the treatment required may be much more involved, costly and may require more down time after the procedure.

Everyday, your dentist sees patients with untreated cavities that eventually cause infection to the nerves and blood supply within the tooth. A tooth that may have only needed a simple and inexpensive filling a few months ago will now require a root canal or surgical removal of the tooth.

The same is true for patients with gum disease. Gum disease can progress quietly for many years before it becomes advanced and teeth become loose or cause pain. While early gum disease can usually be treated with a deep cleaning under the gum, advanced gum disease may require gum surgery and antibiotics.

Oral cancer is also something that your dentist looks for on every dental examination. Tragically, those who avoid dental care are often the victims of aggressive forms of oral cancer that are difficult to treat. Those who wait for an unusual growth in the mouth to become painful may be taking a gamble. Oral cancer has a 50%, five-year fatality rate.

The moral of the story is very simple; visit your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and check-up examinations. You will save time and money by treating all dental problems as soon as they occur and greatly improve your oral health. In fact, some research suggests that those in good dental health will actually live longer than people who do not take care of their teeth. It is also important for people without teeth to see their dentist at least once a year. The dentist will need to check the fit of removable dentures and also look for any signs of oral cancer.