While lasers were at one time just material for science fiction writers, they’ve become a common part of our everyday life. They zap through your groceries, they open garage doors … and now they can detect wear and tear on your tooth’s surface before it becomes a cavity.
Is it caries [cavity]? Or is it a healthy tooth? Dentists often experience anxiety when attempting to diagnose the phenomenon known as hidden caries. A suspicious-looking tooth presents a treatment dilemma for dentists. Should the tooth be opened up? What if no cavity is found? Should the tooth just be watched? Or does that give caries more time to destroy the tooth’s structure? In the case of hidden caries, traditional diagnostic methods all too frequently yield indeterminate results. If you can’t detect a sub-surface lesion, how can you treat it?
Diagnodent is a revolutionary new dental laser tool that safely and effectively detects changes on your tooth’s surface that might not be visible on a traditional x-ray. When this light source is directed at your tooth, anything unusual about the tooth’s surface, such as the beginnings of a surface breakdown, or the start of a cavity, causes a different type of light to be bounced back to the instrument. This light is transferred into an acoustic signal and the wavelength is then evaluated by the control unit. This lets us know what type of preventive treatment you might need. Diagnodent can even detect decay occurring under a crown, allowing us to quickly catch what could later become a problem.
Treatment decisions require a higher degree of certainty. The Diagnodent laser caries detection aid removes the doubt from treatment decisions regarding hidden caries or questionable stained grooves. The device’s ability to see into a tooth’s biting surface pits and fissures enables dentists to treat sub-surface caries lesions with confidence.
We want to ensure that every tooth remains yours for life, and that your visit to our office is comfortable and pleasant. Diagnodent is a unique development that will not only reduce your need for x-rays, it will catch problems before they even get started.
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are often confused with fever blisters (cold sores). However, they are quite different.
Canker sores only form inside the mouth on the gums, cheeks, tongue or floor of the mouth and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another. They begin as small red circular swellings that usually ulcerate [rupture] within a day, after which they become white, surrounded by reddish inflammation and last for 8-10 days.
As open sores, they can be very painful to the touch. Canker sores afflict about 20% of the population. Their cause has yet to be discovered, although they appear to breakout more in stressful situations, from getting a small “nick” in the skin [mucous membrane] or from foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
While they can occur in very young children, canker sores usually manifest themselves in people between the ages of 10-20. It’s not uncommon for them to erupt three to four times a year, but they occur less frequently, or stop all together, in adulthood.
If you have canker sores, avoid rough textured or spicy foods, which irritate them. Try not to touch them with eating utensils or your toothbrush. Apply ointment that contains a topical anesthetic or some other active ingredient that will relieve the irritation.
Cold sores form outside the mouth, usually on the lips, but they may appear on the chin, outside of the cheek or the nostrils. They begin as a red blister, burst and crust over and last for 7-14 days.
Cold sores – caused by the herpes simplex virus (type 1) – are contagious; they transmit by skin-to-skin contact. The virus, carried by almost everyone, is dormant most of the time. Fever blisters occur most often in young adults and adolescents and decline in people over 35 years of age. Certain factors activate its outbreak, particularly stress, colds, fevers and/or sunburn.
To reduce occurrences, avoid kissing when the blisters are visible. Also, don’t squeeze or scrape the blister. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching someone else and use UV sunscreen on your lips before spending time in the sun.
Treatment of cold sores includes avoiding spicy and hot foods that will irritate them, application of phenol-containing over-the-counter ointments and administration of some anti-viral antibiotics that will shorten their duration (but not prevent their outbreak).
If you’re worried about canker or cold sores, call our office. We’re here to help you deal with these common afflictions and will offer additional treatment recommendations, as necessary.
Unfortunately, the use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Since children develop at different ages, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist and pediatrician to make sure that your infant or toddler’s early oral habits don’t cause problems.
In a child’s first few years, pacifier use generally doesn’t cause problems. But constant, long-term pacifier use, especially once permanent teeth come in, can lead to dental complications. Constant sucking can cause top front teeth to slant out, and bottom front teeth to tilt in. It also can lead to jaw misalignment (such as an overbite) and a narrowing of the roof of the mouth.
It is generally advised that children stop or drastically reduce their pacifier use around age 3. If a child is dependent on the pacifier to be calmed and soothed, try giving it to him or her only when absolutely necessary and using positive reinforcement to wean them off the habit.
If possible, buy pacifiers labeled “orthodontically friendly” because they may limit the risk of dental complications. It is also a good idea to buy pacifiers constructed as one piece. And never attach a pacifier to a string around your child’s neck, this can cause them to choke.
The Big Bad Bottle
Many children use a bottle longer than necessary. Apart from the risks associated with the sucking motion, bottles also carry a heavy risk of promoting tooth decay if they contain anything other than water.
Frequently sucking or sipping on milk or juice from a bottle over an extended period of time will increase your child’s risk of tooth decay. When sugars and carbohydrates come in consistent contact with teeth they create an environment for decay-causing bacteria to thrive. Tooth decay can lead to painful infection and in extreme cases children may need to have a tooth extraction or dental treatment to extensively repair damaged teeth.
If you notice small white spots or lines on your child’s teeth, particularly near the gum line, it is a good idea to consult your dentist immediately as this may be an early sign of decay. As a way to cut back on children’s bottle use, your pediatrician or pediatric dentist may recommend using sippy cups. While these are very useful for transitioning your child from bottle to regular cups, they also pose their own threat to teeth and speech development.
For more help breaking baby away from the bottle or pacifier, talk to your dentist
An active lifestyle calls for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads have become standard equipment to protect our bodies, it’s important to remember to protect your teeth as well. Mouthguards offer an easy, reliable method to cushion your teeth during athletic and recreational activity.
Participating in any physical activity involves a risk of contact with the face and mouth. Although many sports teams require some protective gear, the delicate teeth are often overlooked. Considering that even minor direct force can cause teeth to chip, break or come loose, a mouthguard is a crucial piece of equipment for all active or athletic activities.
Mouthguards are especially crucial during contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing, where blows to the body and face are regular occurrences. But even non-contact sports such as gymnastics, and recreational pastimes such as skating or mountain biking, still pose a risk to the teeth.
When participating in any activity that may result in injury to the mouth, dentists recommend that the teeth be properly shielded with some form of dental mouthguard.
Your Guide to Guards
There are three basic categories of mouthguards. Your dentist can suggest which type is right for you:
1. Stock Mouthguards — These pre-made protectors can usually be bought wherever sporting equipment is sold. Most dentists do not recommend their use because they cannot be adjusted to your mouth and provide only limited protection.
2. Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards — Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your teeth. A somewhat customized fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods vendors.
3. Custom Mouthguards — Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specially for your teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.
Guard Your Whole Mouth
In addition to cushioning your teeth from unnecessary force, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. It can also prevent or lessen the effects of headaches and concussions. Patients who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity. Make sure to discuss your level of activity with your dentist and find out which type of dental mouthguard best fits your needs.
Quality dental care is essential for your child’s lifelong oral health. It’s important that your child’s first experiences with the dentist are positive. That’s why your dentist will make every effort to help your child feel comfortable and in control during each visit. Your own attitude and example also play an important role in setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Your child should visit a dentist as early as six months, when the baby’s first tooth appears. A first tooth’s appearance is an excellent time to schedule a dental evaluation. At that time, your dentist will diagnose and help prevent any future oral disorders. Your dentist can also answer any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth.
During your visit your attitude can convey the message that dental visits are pleasant adventures. Emphasize the attention that your child will get while in the chair. Try to schedule the appointment for the time of day when your child is most rested and cooperative. To prepare your child, read a story together about a trip to the dentist. You may want to play dentist and take turns looking into each other’s mouth with a flashlight. Have fun; this should be a pleasant experience!
While toothpaste [dentifrice] is a valuable adjunct to a toothbrush in oral hygiene, it is the correct brushing action that removes the plaque [sticky mixture of bacteria, food & debris] from your teeth.
• Fluoride Any brand toothpaste that contains fluoride and the ADA Seal of Approval, to attest that there is evidence of its safety, reliability and effectiveness through clinical trials, is acceptable. It makes no difference if the toothpaste is a gel, paste or powder or which flavoring agent is used. However, from an individual motivational standpoint, and assuring its use, these characteristics may be important. Other than fluoride, which strengthens the enamel and fights decay, toothpastes contain abrasives to remove stain and polish the teeth and ingredients to leave the mouth with a clean, fresh feeling.
• Sensitive Teeth If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, choose a desensitizing paste with either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate as an added ingredient. Expect about 4-6 weeks to see real improvement.
• Tartar Control There are brands of toothpaste that advertise “tartar control” and usually have the active ingredient pyrophosphate. While it will not remove tartar, studies have shown it will reduce tartar formation up to 36%. Tartar [calculus] can only be removed with a professional prophylaxis [cleaning].
• Abrasiveness Many toothpastes now contain baking soda, which is less abrasive. This is advantageous for reducing tooth sensitivity in people with gum recession or those who have eroded their teeth by rigorous brushing with an abrasive toothpaste.
• Whitening Bleaching teeth to make them lighter has become popular. If you desire a whitening toothpaste, look for the active whitening agents of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These toothpastes serve best to maintain the tooth shade after bleaching procedures. Call our office if you have bleaching questions.
• Dentures If you wear partial or full dentures, they will also stain and absorb odors. Ask your pharmacist to recommend an ADA Accepted denture cleaning paste and/or solution. When brushing, it is not necessary to overload your brush with toothpaste. Squeeze a “pea-sized” amount on the top of the bristles. Correct brushing techniques will cause the paste to foam and cover all of your teeth.
Getting your kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. But it’s important to encourage them to eat “smart” snacks to keep their teeth – and body – healthy.
Whether you’re transitioning your older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little ones, here are some tips for healthy snacking:
Set the tone. Your kids mimic what you do, so it’s important that you eat smart snacks too. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will too.
Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks can be fun! Prepare tasty combinations, such as apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, meat and cheese rollups, or yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.
Keep your kids involved. When you make your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they’d like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what’s good for their teeth and what’s not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.
We can help you come up with even more ideas for healthy snacks – come in for a visit, and we’ll work on a plan together.