cosmetic dentist

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.

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.

Toothpicks

Why Toothpicks Shouldn’t Be Your Pick for a Dental Tool

Toothpicks. You see them everywhere: minty-fresh and plastic wrapped next to the cash register at your neighborhood diner, spearing a bite-size cheese cube and sporting colorful plastic frills at a cocktail party, swimming in a martini and wearing nothing but an olive at the bar, or simply resting in a box of 100 at your local grocery store. In fact, toothpicks are so readily available, it may seem hard to believe that they could be bad for you in any way. The truth is, however, frequently using toothpicks can damage your teeth and gums, and lead to swallowing splinters and worse.

Toothpicks are old news
Toothpicks are primitive devices that are the oldest dental cleaning tool around. Fossils of 7,500-year-old teeth suggest that humans were using wooden sticks to clean their teeth a long time before toothbrushes were even thought about. But again, this is because these ancient people didn’t have any alternative. Here are a few reasons why jabbing a stick around in your mouth in hopes of dislodging food, today, may not be such a great idea:

  • Lacerating gums. If you use toothpicks frequently and roughly, you could risk damaging your gums, causing bleeding and tearing.
  • Damaging tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the covering that makes up the outer layer of each tooth. Although it’s pretty tough stuff, it’s still vulnerable to the type of damage chewing on a toothpick can easily cause.
  • Damaging tooth roots. If your gums have pulled away from your tooth roots, they could be especially prone to damage by a toothpick. Not to mention the fact that touching exposed tooth roots with anything at all can also be very painful.
  • Chipping veneers or crowns. Vigorous toothpick use can cause both to become damaged or even fall out altogether.
  • Splinters. Toothpicks can fall apart and leave splinters in your gums, tongue and throat, which are not only painful and hard to remove, but could also result in a dangerous infection.
  • Swallowing. Toothpicks could kill you. In fact, on average, there are about 9000 choking incidents reported each year from someone either swallowing or inhaling a toothpick.

So what should I use?
Sure, toothpicks can remove food debris from between teeth, but dentists recommend other cleaning alternatives that are much less damaging to your teeth and gums, including:

  • Dental floss. Dental floss or tape can quickly and effectively remove food particles without damaging teeth or gums. Flossing also removes plaque, which can lead to cavities, and promotes healthy gums, protecting you from gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Interdental brush. Interdental brushes have small bristled heads that are designed specifically to fit between your teeth. Like floss, they can dislodge bits of food and clean plaque from surfaces that can’t be reached just by brushing.

So should I ever use a toothpick?
The best answer to this question is simple: only when you’ve got no other choice. As discussed above, there are many things that make toothpicks bad for teeth. And perhaps the only thing they have going for them is that they are portable and convenient to carry. If you have a bit of food stuck in your teeth that is painful or irritating and a toothpick is your only option, then it’s better to remove it for your own comfort.

But even then, it’s important to ask yourself just how frequently you are having to use that toothpick. We’ve all experienced a niggling bit of food getting stuck between your teeth every now and then. No big deal, right? Well, if it happens on a regular basis and (most importantly) in the same place each time, then that is reason enough to visit the dentist. That’s because food can become stuck due to fillings that haven’t been properly finished, teeth that have shifted or teeth that have developed a hole due to decay. And if you’re just relying on toothpicks to try to remedy these problems, you’re probably going to be seeing much bigger problems down the line.

So, are toothpicks bad? No, toothpicks are great … glued together to create memorable fourth-grade art projects, stuck in a birthday cake to see if it is ready to take out of the oven, and for hundreds of other uses. But are toothpicks bad for you? Yes, especially if they’re used frequently or without sufficient care for your teeth and gums. And because there are other ways that are so much better at getting bits of food free from your teeth, there is really no reason to resort to some crude tool that was invented by primitive man.

Adult Braces

Brace Yourself. You’re Not Too Old to Straighten Your Teeth.
Think braces are just for angsty teens and awkward pre-pubescents? Think again.The number of adults undergoing treatment for crooked teeth using braces or other teeth straightening treatment has been rising steadily.
Sure, crooked teeth can be a cosmetic embarrassment, but more importantly, correcting them can benefit you more than just making you look better. For example, fixing a less-than-perfect bite will ensure that you chew your food properly.  And overlapping teeth can cause bacteria to get trapped, leading to difficulty with cleaning and, ultimately, tooth decay. Fortunately there are a number of ways to get teeth (of any age) on the straight and narrow.
Am I Doomed to Be a “Brace Face”?
The upside to waiting until adulthood to correct your teeth is you can avoid all those playground bullies and their hurtful name-calling. The other benefit is that trends are changing. After assessing your particular issues, your orthodontist can tell you more about all the options that are available to you today, including:
Visible braces. This type of brace is perhaps the closest to what you may envision when you think “braces.” But it’s pretty safe to say that even visible braces have improved over the years. Usually suggested to fix severe alignment problems, the brace is fixed directly onto the front of the tooth using either traditional stainless-steel brackets with metal wires, clear plastic brackets with metal wires, or ceramic brackets with metal wires. Braces must be kept clean, since food that gathers around the brackets or wires can lead to staining or decay.
Invisible braces. Invisible braces are called lingual braces and are placed on the back of the teeth. If you’re concerned about the aesthetics of having braces, these can be a great option. However, adjusting to this method can be a little tough. Often times lingual braces can cause you to speak with a lisp, and having the brackets sit between your teeth and the tongue can cause irritation.
Nearly invisible braces. This is actually a clear plastic tray that’s worn over the teeth. Every two weeks the trays are exchanged for new ones that are become closer and closer to the teeth’s ideal alignment. This method is popular because they are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can be easily removed for cleaning and eating. However, you have to be strict about wearing the trays, as anything less than 22 hours a day will result in a longer treatment time.
Retainers. Removable retainers are made from metal wires and acrylic formed to the shape of your mouth. They can be made for both the upper and lower arches of the mouth to brace and align teeth. Retainers like this are popular because they can be easily removed for special events or occasional relief, but they are prone to getting lost, so you have to make sure to keep track of them.
Porcelain veneers. Veneers are a cheaper and less time-consuming way to change the look of your teeth by simply covering up minor imperfections. As well as covering crooked teeth, they can mask chips, gaps and stains and — once they are applied —  don’t need to be replaced for five to ten years.
So, instead of just hoping that your teeth decide to straighten on their own (which they won’t), put on your grown-up pants, and talk to your dentist. Because today, there are more options than ever for giving you the healthy, attractive smile you’ve always wanted.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Prevention: Let It Shine

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.

Tough Brushing Tortures Teeth

Most dentists don’t go a day without seeing patients who are damaging their teeth and gums by brushing too hard. Some report that as many as two out of three patients brush their teeth too hard. This is a problem. A stiff-bristled toothbrush combined with overzealous brushing teeth can cause serious dental problems over time, including gum disease and tooth sensitivity.
People think that if they brush twice as hard, they will do twice as much good, In fact, overzealous brushing can cause significant damage to the periodontal tissues and bones that support the teeth. If you used the same amount of force and brush the side of your arm, you could take your skin off.
One way to avoid damaging your teeth and gums is to purchase a “soft” toothbrush featuring rounded bristles which are less abrasive to teeth. You should hold the brush between the thumb and forefinger, not with the fist. When brushing, do not `scrub’ the teeth with a horizontal, back-and-forth motion.
Instead, start at the gum line and angle the brush at a 45-degree angle. Brush both the teeth and the gums at the same time. Push hard enough to get the bristles under the gumline but not so hard that the bristles flare out. It’s also a wise move to limit the amount of toothpaste because it is abrasive.
The irony is that dentists want people to brush longer, not harder. Children and adults tend to spend less than one minute at a time brushing their teeth, even though removing plaque from the mouth requires at least two to five minutes of brushing at least twice a day. Remember: brush longer, not harder.