Setting Priorities For Good Dental Health

Many people have bleeding gums, and they don’t think twice about it. They view it as a minor inconvenience. If you were bleeding from any other part of your body, you wouldn’t hesitate to see a physician. If you lost a body part you wouldn’t hesitate to have it replaced. We have 32 teeth – they are all body parts.

While we may not need our teeth to live like one needs a heart, we need our mouth to be pain-free and functional to enjoy a good quality of life.

But like exercising, dieting or anything that requires a routine, many of us fall short of a sustained effort to accomplishing long-term results. Why do we run out of toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes vitamins, etc. when we know their importance? Why do we have problems maintaining an oral hygiene regimen? Perhaps, we don’t make the answers priorities.

We in this dental office believe in the philosophy espoused by Dr. F. Harold Wirth who said, “The mouth in its entirety is an important and even wondrous part of our anatomy, our emotion, our life; it is the site of our very being. When an animal loses teeth, it cannot survive unless it is domesticated; its very existence is terminated; it dies. In the human, the mouth is the means of speaking, of expressing love, happiness and joy, anger, ill temper, or sorrow. It is the primary sex contact; hence it is of initial import to our regeneration and survival by food and propagation. It deserves the greatest care it can receive at any sacrifice.”

This is our passion. Make it yours and the rest will fall into place. Call and ask us how we may help you achieve your oral hygiene and health goals and ensure a greater quality of life.

Dental Sealants Prevent Decay

The application of systemic or topical fluoride since the early 1970’s has lowered the incidence of tooth decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. However, about 90% of the decay found in children’s teeth occurs in tooth surfaces with pits and fissures. To solve this problem, dental sealants were developed to act as a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of back [posterior] teeth.

A sealant is a plastic resin material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This material is bonded into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces and acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from attack by plaque and/or acids.

Dental sealants are usually professionally applied. The dentist, hygieniest or assistant cleans and dries the teeth to be treated; then paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the pits and fissures of the tooth. A blue spectrum natural light is shined on the applied material for a few seconds to cure the plastic. Some brands of sealants cure chemically.

After curing, the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the incredible pressures placed on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants often remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and should be checked at regular intervals. If sealants wear or become damaged, they can be repaired or replaced simply by applying new sealant material to the worn or damaged portions.

Children should receive sealants shortly after the eruption of their first permanent molars, around age 6 and again at age 12 when their second molars appear.

During the child’s regular dental visits, we will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

Brushing And Flossing Especially Important During Orthodontic Treatment

As you are aware, plaque (the whitish build-up of food material, and bacteria) is the cause of cavities, tooth scarring (white lines as stains, also technically known as enamel decalcification) and gum disease, which may occur if teeth are not kept clean. In order to prevent the above problems from occurring, several techniques have been developed to reduce or eliminate plaque build-up on your teeth. You should brush your teeth immediately after every time you eat, even after snacks. We recommend a soft toothbrush and any brand of toothpaste which contains flouride. Tooth brushing and oral hygiene must be excellent at all times, especially next to the gumline. When oral hygiene is poor several things happen:

 

 Gum infection (gingivitis) is recognized by puffy, swollen, red gums which bleed easily. This can lead to more severe disease (periodontal disease), which eventually leads to tooth loss.

 Permanent white spots (decalcifications) may also be left on the teeth after appliances are removed if plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth during treatment. Extra care must be taken in the area between your gums and the braces. We call this “The Danger Zone”. Food and plaque that collects around your braces and wires can cause stains and cavities as well as unpleasant odors, so be sure to keep your teeth clean. Take time and do it right. If you have difficulty brushing, an electric toothbrush may be recommended. A “proxy brush” is a small pipe-cleaner type of toothbrush and is recommended for brushing under your wires and between brackets in addition to a regular toothbrush.

 Finally, cavities can occur before, during or after treatment if hygiene is poor. Fortunately, all of these are preventable simply by brushing and flossing. We reserve the right to remove braces and stop treatment if hygiene is repeatedly poor and we feel that high plaque levels are damaging teeth and/or gums. Remember, during your orthodontic treatment you must see your dentist every 4-6 months for your cleanings and dental check-ups.

 

Remember that although your braces and wires are metal, they are fragile and can be damaged by eating the wrong foods.

Bad Habits Your Oral Health Would Like You to Break

Did you know that a lot of little things you do (or don’t do) could be bad habits that are affecting your oral health? These include everything from not brushing or flossing enough, to eating too many sweets, to even using your teeth to open a bag of chips.

The Snowball Effect

Unfortunately, these bad oral habits (even the ones that seem harmless) can lead to bad oral hygiene over time — causing bad breath, tooth discoloration, red, swollen gums, cavities, gum disease and ultimately, tooth loss. It can affect not just your oral health, but also the following:

Chewing and speech. We need our teeth, all of our teeth. Not just for chewing food properly, but also for speaking properly. Just think how hard it would be to make a “TH” without your front teeth to use in the process.

Self-esteem. Swollen gums, bad breath and stained teeth – not to mention no teeth – can indeed put a damper on anyone’s confidence.

Finances. Delaying needed dental treatment by not visiting the dentist regularly can only cause more harm than good, even to your wallet. When treatment is necessary to save the teeth and bring the mouth back to optimum condition, a lot of dental procedures may have to be done and it can get costly.

Overall Health. Research has shown that gum disease is linked with health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and other systemic diseases. Bad oral health is also shown to increase the risk of pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight infants. Gum disease treatment not only improves your dental health, but can help improve your overall health as well.

Turn Your Bad Habits to Good Ones

Bad oral habits die hard, but they can be killed with better practices. Experts suggest the following tips:

*Floss at least once a day. It helps remove bits of food and dental plaque in places your toothbrush can’t find, helping to keep your gums healthy.

*Brush after every meal, or at least twice a day. If brushing is not an option, chew sugarless gum (make sure it’s sugarless!) for 20 minutes after a meal or snack to help wash away food and acid by increasing saliva production. This helps prevent tooth decay.

*Clean your tongue with every brushing, either with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Bacteria that settle on your tongue can cause bad breath, also known as halitosis.

*Replace your toothbrush regularly. Bristles in your toothbrush that are bent and broken don’t do a good job cleaning your teeth anymore and are clear signs to let your old toothbrush go.

*Eat a balanced diet. Snacking on sweets too often without brushing increases the acid in your mouth, giving you a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Munch on vegetables and fruit instead.

Regular Dental Visits. Your dentist is trained to do damage control in your mouth before it’s too late. You should visit the dentist regularly — every six months.

*Avoid using your teeth as tools. It has the same effect as chewing on hard objects like pencils and ice cubes – it can cause chipped or cracked teeth. You don’t live in the Stone Age, so there’s really no excuse to use your teeth to open a bottle of beer – the bottle opener was made for that. Tools are easier to replace than your teeth, which were really meant to last you a lifetime.

Adding these to your list one at a time is a good start to kick those bad oral habits. By doing a little self-check on your daily dental care habits, you can be on your way to making sure your teeth, your mouth’s health, and your overall health are at their best.

Mouthguards: Built to Protect and Preserve

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.

Pacifiers and Baby Bottles: Comforting or Concerning?

When it comes to sucking, babies are naturals — maybe because they practice even before they are born! Children begin sucking on their thumb while in the womb to develop the skills necessary for breastfeeding. And for many kids, this skill has an added bonus: Thumb-sucking can be very soothing. Many infants and toddlers will continue to suck their thumb or use a pacifier even after they start eating solid foods or stop taking a bottle.

Unfortunately, the use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Because children develop at different ages, it’s 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.

Pacifier Blues

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’s 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’s 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.

Bad Habits Your Oral Health Would Like You to Break

Did you know that a lot of little things you do (or don’t do) could be bad habits that are affecting your oral health? These include everything from not brushing or flossing enough, to eating too many sweets, to even using your teeth to open a bag of chips.

The Snowball Effect

Unfortunately, these bad oral habits (even the ones that seem harmless) can lead to bad oral hygiene over time — causing bad breath, tooth discoloration, red, swollen gums, cavities, gum disease and ultimately, tooth loss. It can affect not just your oral health, but also the following:

Chewing and speech. We need our teeth, all of our teeth. Not just for chewing food properly, but also for speaking properly. Just think how hard it would be to make a “TH” without your front teeth to use in the process.

Self-esteem. Swollen gums, bad breath and stained teeth – not to mention no teeth – can indeed put a damper on anyone’s confidence.

Finances. Delaying needed dental treatment by not visiting the dentist regularly can only cause more harm than good, even to your wallet. When treatment is necessary to save the teeth and bring the mouth back to optimum condition, a lot of dental procedures may have to be done and it can get costly.

Overall Health. Research has shown that gum disease is linked with health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and other systemic diseases. Bad oral health is also shown to increase the risk of pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight infants. Gum disease treatment not only improves your dental health, but can help improve your overall health as well.

Turn Your Bad Habits to Good Ones

Bad oral habits die hard, but they can be killed with better practices. Experts suggest the following tips:

*Floss at least once a day. It helps remove bits of food and dental plaque in places your toothbrush can’t find, helping to keep your gums healthy.

*Brush after every meal, or at least twice a day. If brushing is not an option, chew sugarless gum (make sure it’s sugarless!) for 20 minutes after a meal or snack to help wash away food and acid by increasing saliva production. This helps prevent tooth decay.

*Clean your tongue with every brushing, either with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Bacteria that settle on your tongue can cause bad breath, also known as halitosis.

*Replace your toothbrush regularly. Bristles in your toothbrush that are bent and broken don’t do a good job cleaning your teeth anymore and are clear signs to let your old toothbrush go.

*Eat a balanced diet. Snacking on sweets too often without brushing increases the acid in your mouth, giving you a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Munch on vegetables and fruit instead.

Regular Dental Visits. Your dentist is trained to do damage control in your mouth before it’s too late. You should visit the dentist regularly — every six months.

*Avoid using your teeth as tools. It has the same effect as chewing on hard objects like pencils and ice cubes – it can cause chipped or cracked teeth. You don’t live in the Stone Age, so there’s really no excuse to use your teeth to open a bottle of beer – the bottle opener was made for that. Tools are easier to replace than your teeth, which were really meant to last you a lifetime.

Adding these to your list one at a time is a good start to kick those bad oral habits. By doing a little self-check on your daily dental care habits, you can be on your way to making sure your teeth, your mouth’s health, and your overall health are at their best.

Mouthguards: Built to Protect and Preserve

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.

Pacifiers and Baby Bottles: Comforting or Concerning?

When it comes to sucking, babies are naturals — maybe because they practice even before they are born! Children begin sucking on their thumb while in the womb to develop the skills necessary for breastfeeding. And for many kids, this skill has an added bonus: Thumb-sucking can be very soothing. Many infants and toddlers will continue to suck their thumb or use a pacifier even after they start eating solid foods or stop taking a bottle.

Unfortunately, the use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Because children develop at different ages, it’s 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.

Pacifier Blues

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’s 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’s 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.

Is That Normal? Aging and Dental Health

If you’re like most seniors, you know that some changes to your body are a normal part of the aging process and others aren’t. The same applies to your dental health. That’s right, the health of your teeth matters as you age, too! So it’s easy to understand why you might be wondering what changes are normal and what might signal something more serious.

What’s Typical

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 seniors can anticipate:

Tooth Wear — Chewing, cleaning and the normal processes of aging mean your teeth wear down over time. The wear is more advanced in seniors who suffer from bruxism.

Darker Tooth Color — Aging dentin (the tooth’s middle layer) holds stains more easily than younger dentin, making your teeth appear slightly darker. Dental plaque, the sticky invisible film that accumulates on your teeth and traps stains, also builds up faster in seniors.

Gum Changes — Aging gums naturally recede over time. As gum tissue moves up and away from teeth, the roots are exposed. This makes your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay and more sensitive to hot and cold.

Cavities — Cavities around the root of the tooth are more common among seniors. Any tooth filling material you already have is also aging and can weaken or crack. Your tooth may also decay around the edges of the fillings, allowing bacteria to seep into your tooth and create new decay.

What Could Be Cause for Concern

Some 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 talk to 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. With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime.

Dry Mouth — Many seniors experience a reduced flow of saliva, sometimes as a side effect of medical conditions, medications or medical treatment. The problem is that saliva is needed to lubricate the mouth, wash foods away and neutralize the acids produced by plaque. Left untreated, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay.

Bleeding Gums — Experiencing bleeding gums when you brush is 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. If you think you have gingivitis or gum disease, see your dentist for gum disease treatment.

Mouth Pain — Any lesion found on the tongue or anywhere in the mouth should be examined by a dentist. Such sores can signal gum disease or oral cancer. Seniors are at higher risk for oral cancer, especially smokers, heavy drinkers and those who’ve had a lot of exposure to ultraviolet light.

Regular dental visits can help detect and treat dental problems in the early stages, and are just as important for seniors as for younger people. Simple self-help tips such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are also important in combatting the effects of aging. Talk to your dentist to find out how often you should come in for routine dental care.