Managing Your Dental Anxiety

Many adults deal with dental anxiety at some point. Whether you experience minor anxiety or crippling fear before heading to the dentist – it is certainly no fun. Anxiety keeps many patients from seeing the dentist altogether, putting their health at risk. Anxiety management tips can help you overcome your fear and face the dental chair once again.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

The causes of dental anxiety range from person-to-person. If you recognize yourself in any of the following signs, you may indeed suffer from some level of dental anxiety:

  • Fear of pain: Dental patients often fear the pain they assume will come about during a dental procedure. Some patients also worry the anesthesia won’t work on them or fear the insertion of the needle used to administer anesthesia.
  • Worry over anesthetic side effects: Some people also face concerns that problems could come about due to the use of anesthesia.
  • Fear of losing control: Another reason many people fear a visit to the dentist is the perceived loss of control that goes along with a dental exam, cleaning, or procedure.

How Patients Can Overcome Dental Anxiety

Fortunately, there are several ways to swiftly begin reducing dental anxiety, starting with finding a dentist who understands dental anxiety and will work to make you comfortable throughout any visit. Ask your dentist to explain what is going on before and throughout any dental procedure if that helps calm your nerves.

Before a dental procedure begins, you can also come up with a signal – such as lifting the left hand — to be used to let the dentist know when you are feeling pain or want the dental procedure to stop. This will give you a sense of control and help ease your anxiety level.

Acquire a kind dentist with a caring staff. Patients should feel comfortable with the staff and the dentist when they go for a cleaning or other dental procedure. Also request the same hygienist each visit when getting a cleaning. This is especially helpful when anxiety stems from insecurity about being close to someone unfamiliar. Seeing the same staff members also helps you build a rapport, so you won’t have to explain your anxiety triggers all over again on each visit.

Dental anxiety can lead to debilitating fear. However, it should never prevent anyone from making regular trips to the dentist, because the negative effects of avoiding the dentist far outweigh the discomfort that is felt during the process. Work with your dentist to develop anxiety management tips so you never have to skip another appointment.

Sources:

Keating-Biltucci, Mary Therese, RDH, MA. “Fear and Anxiety in the Dental Environment.” Registered Dental Hygienist. RDH Magazine, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

McMullen, Laura. “Stop the Excuses! Go to the Dentist.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

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Dental Anxiety Can Lead to More Cavities

Avoiding the dentist due to anxiety can lead to more dental and health problems in the long run. Managing your anxiety and visiting your dentist often may prevent the need for extraction and more.

  • Regular dental appointments catch diseases in their early stages. Tooth decay and gum disease are slowly developing problems, better caught early through regular care.
  • Prevention is the key to dental success. Many dental issues can be avoided all together if patients see their dentist on a routine basis. Regular dental cleanings and examinations often prevent the need for serious procedures like root canals.

Call your dentist today to schedule an appointment, and don’t let fear keep you from great dental health.

Do You Have Congenitally Missing Teeth?

Individuals who have always had an inexplicable gap where a tooth should be may have a condition known as congenitally missing teeth. Depending on which teeth are missing, the condition can prove embarrassing and may affect the proper positioning of surrounding teeth, making dental consultations and treatment a good idea for sufferers.

Unlike teeth lost to disease or injury, congenitally missing teeth simply never develop within the jawbone. A national association of prosthodontists note that certain genetic defects may cause the condition. The problems associated with congenitally missing teeth are more than merely cosmetic. You may have trouble chewing or talking well, and without the stabilizing effect of the missing teeth, your other teeth may begin to drift out of place, creating an even more gap-toothed appearance as well as possible bite misalignments.

Fortunately, several functional and cosmetic dentistry options can provide removable or permanent replacements for congenitally missing teeth. The most beneficial method of tooth replacement is through permanent implants. The “roots” of these prosthetic teeth are surgically implanted into the jawbone, where they fuse with the bone to create a strong bond. A porcelain crown then fills the gap.

Implants have the advantage of requiring no special care beyond normal dental hygiene, while also helping to preserve jawbone density. Less costly alternatives include being fitted for removable partial dentures or bridges. Braces may also be able to help close the gap left by congenitally missing teeth.

Dental advances in the near future may even allow patients with congenitally missing teeth to grow their own replacements. According to dental research, the possibility of using stem cells to create permanent teeth may be possible in the near future. Since having one’s own natural teeth is obviously the ideal scenario, this method of tooth replacement may someday take the place of artificial implants as the state of the dental art. But whatever technique you choose, rest assured that modern dentistry can help you achieve a gap-free smile.

Sources:

“Missing Tooth/Teeth.” American College of Prosthodontists.

“Dental Implants.” American College of Cosmetic Dentistry.

“Stem Cells May Be Used to Grow Teeth.” Dentistry Today.

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Congenitally Missing Teeth in Children

If your child has lost a baby tooth with no sign of the expected permanent replacement, this does not necessarily mean that he has congenitally missing teeth. Many children experience a condition known as delayed eruption in which the permanent tooth simply takes an unusually long time to appear.

Parents cannot be certain teeth are permanently missing based on purely visual evidence. The best course of action is to schedule dental evaluations for your child, beginning around age one, so a missing tooth can be verified. Contact your dentist for additional information and to schedule an evaluation.

What Is Edentulism?

Tooth loss, or edentulism, can affect your ability to eat and speak clearly. Dentists use the term “edentulism” to describe total tooth loss and “partial edentulism” to describe the loss of one or more teeth.

What Causes Edentulism?

Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of edentulism. Fillings can help repair teeth, but if you do not see a dentist promptly, decay can spread. Although root canals can often help save badly decayed teeth, sometimes the damage is so extensive that removal of the tooth is the only option.

Periodontal, or gum, disease is another common cause of edentulism. Gum disease occurs when plaque forms on your teeth at the gum line and turns into a hard deposit called tartar, which can only be removed in your dentist’s office. When your gums are exposed to the bacteria in plaque and tartar, an infection can occur. The infection starts to break down the tissue and bone supporting your teeth and can cause tooth loss.

Tooth loss can also occur if you experience a blow to your mouth. If you seek prompt treatment, your dentist may be able to save the tooth. Unfortunately, in some cases, the tooth cannot be saved, even with emergency treatment.

Risk Factors for Edentulism

Smoking is not only bad for your overall health, but it can also lead to tooth loss. Smokers tend to have weakened immune systems, which makes it harder to fight off bacterial gum infections. Once gum disease occurs, healing takes longer if you smoke. Several other factors can increase your risk of developing complete or partial edentulism, including:

  • Dry mouth (Saliva helps wash away food particles and sugar.)
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Failure to receive regular dental care
  • Drug use
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or HIV
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • Some medications, including drugs that suppress the immune system
  • Fear of visiting the dentist

Why Is Edentulism a Problem?

Dentures were once an unavoidable fact of life for older people. However, thanks to fluoride in water and toothpastes, increased awareness about the importance of good oral hygiene and innovative dental treatments, losing all of your teeth is no longer considered a normal part of aging. In fact, dentists know that the loss of even one tooth can lead to serious problems.

After you lose a tooth, the bone underneath the gap begins to recede and shrink, which can eventually threaten the health of your remaining teeth. Those remaining teeth try to fill the gap left by the missing tooth or teeth. As they drift toward the opening, they may overlap adjacent teeth, making it difficult to remove plaque from every surface of those teeth.

Tooth loss can also affect your bite and make it difficult to eat a balanced diet. Without teeth to tear and chew food, many foods are off limits. Fortunately, tooth replacement options provide a simple solution to the problem.

Concerned about a missing tooth or teeth? Call us today to find out how we can help you find a replacement option that works for you.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

3 Reconstructive Treatment Options for Edentulism 

Unfortunately, natural teeth do not grow back, but tooth replacement options will improve your smile and restore your ability to chew and speak normally. Consider one of the following treatment options if you have lost one or more teeth:

  • Dental Bridge. Bridges are a good choice if you only need to replace one or two teeth. A bridge consists of two crowns attached to teeth on either side of the gap. In between the two crowns are artificial teeth called pontics. Bridges are custom-made to fit your mouth and are bonded to your anchor teeth.
  • Dentures. Full dentures consist of an entire row of artificial teeth that is attached to a gum-colored base that rests on your gums. If you only have a few missing teeth, partial dentures may be a good solution. These removable dentures hook over your existing teeth and provide a stable surface for chewing.
  • Dental Implants. Dental implants permanently replace lost teeth. Tiny titanium screws replace your teeth roots. The implant is placed in a small hole made in your jawbone. Over a few months, your jawbone grows around the screw, making it just as strong as your natural roots. A crown is added to the implant in the final stage of the process. Once healed, dental implants look and function like natural teeth.

When you choose a dental implant, you do not have to worry about bone loss because the implant will continue to stimulate the jaw bone just as your natural root did. You will also be able to eat anything you want without worry. You should care for dental implants and other dental reconstruction devices as you would your natural teeth: Brush them twice daily; floss once a day; and see your dentist for routine checkups and cleanings.

What Happens When You Have a Cavity?

Cavities start as tiny holes in your teeth. Initially, they are so small that you may not even know that they exist. Unfortunately, over time, cavities tend to increase in size and cause pain. Understanding the cause of cavities can help you avoid this common dental problem.

Plaque Is the Enemy

The enamel, the outer hard covering of your teeth, helps protect your teeth from damage. Although enamel is very tough, it’s no match for cavity-causing plaque. Plaque is a transparent, sticky bacterial film that forms on teeth. When you eat or drink, plaque combines with sugars in foods and beverages to produce acids that attack and destroy tooth enamel. If tooth decay is not detected immediately, it can eventually eat away at the dentin and pulp under the enamel.

What Are the Symptoms?

Cavity symptoms include toothaches, sensitivity and small holes or pits in tooth enamel. You may not experience any of these symptoms if the cavity is detected when it is small. If the decay reaches the dentin or pulp, symptoms will worsen and may be impossible to ignore.

Cavities can occur on any tooth surface, including in between teeth, but commonly appear on your molars, or back teeth. Because molars contain lots of little nooks and crannies, it is impossible to remove all of the plaque by brushing alone. A thorough cleaning at your dentist’s office can help you protect your teeth from the effects of plaque.

What Types of Foods and Beverages Increase My Cavity Risk?

Any sugary food or beverage can increase your risk, but some are worse than others. Tiny pieces of sticky candies, like caramels and gummy treats, tend to linger on the teeth long after you have finished eating the candy. Sour gummy treats are particularly damaging. Not only are these treats sticky, but they also contain acids that can destroy tooth enamel. The following foods and beverages either contain high amounts of sugar or tend to stick to the teeth:

  • Crackers
  • Dry cereal
  • Potato chips
  • Honey
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins
  • Hard candy
  • Breath mints
  • Soda
  • Milk
  • Cake
  • Cookies

How Are Cavities Treated?

If your dentist spots a small cavity during an examination, he or she may be able to treat it with fluoride. Fluoride strengthens enamel and can reverse tiny cavities. Larger cavities require fillings. If you need a filling, your dentist will drill into the tooth, remove the decayed area and then fill it with an amalgam, composite resin, gold or porcelain filling.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Preventing cavities can help you avoid a variety of problems that can occur if tooth decay is significant, helping you avoid having to undergo certain dental treatments such as root canals or even tooth extractions. You can help reduce your chance of getting a cavity by flossing and brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Brushing after every meal provides extra protection. Antiseptic mouthwashes can help kill bacteria in your mouth; although they must be used in addition to flossing and brushing—not as a replacement to these daily activities.

Regular dental visits are an essential step in preventing cavities. Cleanings not only make your smile sparkle, but they also remove plaque from hard-to-reach places. During your examination, your dentist will look for signs of cavities. Prompt treatment can help you avoid more painful, and more costly, problems in the future.

Has it been more than six months since we’ve seen you? Call us today and schedule an appointment for an exam and cleaning.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

What Are Sealants? 

Dental sealants offer a very effective way to prevent cavities. Although sealants are applied to your teeth as a liquid, they quickly harden into a durable plastic coating that prevents plaque and acids from attacking your enamel. Sealants are typically applied to your back teeth because these teeth contain ridges and pits that can trap plaque. They are often recommended for children; although adults can also benefit from sealants. If your dentist recommends sealants, here is what you can expect:

  1. Your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried.
  2. A solution will be applied that roughens the surface of the teeth, allowing the sealant to adhere better.
  3. The teeth will be rinsed and dried again.
  4. Your dentist will brush the sealant onto your molars. In just a few seconds, the sealants will harden and provide excellent protection from decay.

Sealants can last as long as 10 years in many cases. If you grind your teeth, you may wear away some of the coating and may need to have sealants reapplied more often.

Getting a Dental Impression? Here’s What to Expect

A dental impression serves as a mold of your mouth. Your dentist uses an impression when an exact replica of your mouth is needed to create dentures, crowns or dental appliances, such as Invisalign clear aligners (an alternative to traditional metal braces). It only takes a few minutes for your dentist to make an impression, but it is a very important step in your treatment plan.

Why Does My Dentist Need an Impression?

Impressions are used when you need:

  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Dental veneers
  • Braces and other types of orthodontia
  • Nightguards
  • Custom teeth-whitening trays
  • Mouthguards for sports

What Happens When I Get an Impression?

The first step of the impression process involves washing and drying the tooth or teeth. In some cases, such as if you are getting veneers on all your teeth, every single one of your teeth will be washed. If you are just getting a crown on one tooth, only that tooth will be washed; although the impression material will cover all your upper or lower teeth.

To create the material used to make an impression, your dentist will mix a special seaweed-based powder called alginate with water until it is the consistency of putty. He or she will place the putty in a u-shaped tray that follows the curve of your upper or lower teeth. If impressions of your upper and lower teeth are needed, an impression of your lower teeth is usually made first.

The tray is placed firmly against your teeth and gums, where it remains for two or three minutes. When the tray is removed, you will notice that the putty no longer looks liquid but is firm and rubbery.

Your dentist will pour plaster into the impression to create the mold that will be used to make an appliance, crown, dentures or veneers.

Worried About Gagging?

Some people worry about gagging when they get a dental impression, especially if they have a very active gag reflex. This is usually more of a problem when you receive an upper impression because it may feel as if the putty is running down your throat, even though it actually is not.

If you let your dentist know that you are concerned about gagging, he or she will help you feel more comfortable during the process. If you wish, a numbing spray can applied to the back of your throat to reduce your gag reflex. Nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, can also be helpful if you have a particularly strong gag reflex. The gas inhibits your gag reflex and makes it much easier to tolerate the impression process.

These tips can help you avoid gagging during a dental impression:

  • Breathe slowly through your nose.
  • Resist the urge to swallow. If saliva builds up in your mouth, drool into a napkin but do not swallow. Swallowing at this point can trigger the gag reflex.
  • Sit forward. When you tilt your head forward, the impression material will not be able to slide back toward your throat.
  • Think about something pleasant. Whether you focus on your favorite vacation spot or relive the highlights of the movie you watched the night before, thinking about other things can make the process easier.
  • Ask your dentist to talk to you. Listening to someone else share a story or even explain the next step in your dental treatment is a good way to take the focus off of your temporary discomfort.

Before you know it, it will be time to remove the impression tray from your mouth. You may just be surprised at how easy the process was, despite your fears.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Try One of These Alternative to Metal Braces 

Would you like to straighten your teeth but do not like the look or hassle of metal braces? Try one of these alternatives.

Invisalign

The Invisalign system involves the use of a series of clear, removable aligners to gently move teeth into position. No one will know you are wearing them, and you can remove them to eat and to clean them.

Clear Correct

The Clear Correct system is similar to Invisalign. Every few weeks, you will use a new set of aligners that will move your teeth into the proper alignment. Since you will remove the aligners to eat, you can eat popcorn and other foods that are off limits to people who wear metal braces.

Six Month Smiles

If you are not concerned about your bite and only want to straighten your teeth, Six Month Smiles is a good solution. As the name implies, straightening happens in just six months. The clear braces are attached to your teeth, and low pressure is used to move them into position.

If you are interested in learning more about the alternative treatment options to traditional metal braces, contact our office today. We can answer your questions and schedule an appointment for you to learn more.

What to Expect During Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Your child’s first trip to the dentist should fall sometime between the ages of one and two years old. Since many children need braces or other forms of dental care throughout their young life, establishing a good relationship with your dentist sets your family up for success from an early age.

Treating or preventing dental problems in children (and in adults) is also much easier if you catch issues when they first appear. Approximately 25 percent of children will have a cavity by the age of four, so a trip to the dentist is never too early, once teeth start to appear.

Your child’s first visit to the dentist is usually short and sweet, so rest easy.

Getting to Know You

During the first part of the exam, your dentist may spend time introducing himself or herself to your child and gauging their personality. Let your child interact naturally with the dentist. It’s important not to rush right into business, so your child has time to get acclimated to the new situation and environment.

Oral Habits

Next, your dentist will talk to you and your child about your oral hygiene habits and routine. He or she might ask questions about thumb sucking, diet, brushing and any concerns you have. The dentist will examine your child’s bite and existing teeth and likely use a dental model to show your child how to properly brush his or her teeth.

Getting to Know the Dentist’s Chair

Your dentist will use this opportunity to reduce any fear or anxiety over future visits by introducing your child to the dentist’s chair and to the tools and machinery around the office. Letting your child see the suction and cleaning devices will make cleanings and maintenance less stressful because he or she will already know what to expect.

Cleaning

If necessary, the dentist may use an electric tooth polisher or manual brush to clean your child’s teeth. If there are any visible stains or decay, the doctor will take care of those at this time. Depending on your child’s teeth and habits, the dentist may prescribe a fluoride treatment to strengthen your child’s enamel and protect against decay.

Additional Treatment

At the end of your visit, the dentist will schedule your child’s next visit (usually every six months for young patients). If additional treatment is necessary, he or she may schedule a follow-up visit sooner. Traditionally, children get their first dental X-rays between the ages of five and six, so you shouldn’t expect to do that on your first visit unless there is cause for concern.

Treat Time

After your child’s first dental appointment, you may want to reward your child for the visit. Seeing the dentist can seem scary, so ending your exam with some positive reinforcement makes the experience memorable in a good way. Whether you buy your child a new toothbrush that has his or her favorite cartoon character on it, take him or her out for a healthy treat or take your child to see a new movie, celebrating a successful visit makes the next trip much easier.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

3 Ways to Make Oral Hygiene Fun for Kids

To help keep your kids’ teeth healthy, make oral hygiene fun, with the following tips.

1. Accessorize. Make brushing fun by letting your kids pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. A little sparkle or color goes a long way in making brushing feel like a special occasion.

2. All in the Family. Brush together! Your children learn good habits by watching you. Make brushing and flossing a family affair to keep your kids coming back for more.

3. Reward System. Motivate your kids to take care of their teeth and do other chores by establishing a reward system. You can use a star chart, stickers or other system to illustrate how many points your child has accumulated for each job well done. Once they have accumulated a certain number of points, the children get a reward. You might be surprised at how easy it will be to get your children to brush their teeth and floss regularly!

How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

Proper brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist are important to protect your teeth from general decay and staining over time. However, maintaining proper oral hygiene affects far more than your pearly whites — good oral hygiene can also help protect your gum health and even your overall health.

How Good Oral Hygiene Practices Protect Your Gums

Taking proper care of your teeth helps prevent bacteria from building up in your mouth. Bacteria buildup on your teeth can make your gums prone to serious infection. Such infection can lead to inflammation of the gums and, if not treated correctly, can cause severe periodontal (gum) disease.

More About Periodontal Disease

The root cause of periodontal disease is plaque buildup around the teeth that gradually spreads under the gum line. Periodontal disease ranges from early-stage gingivitis, which is characterized by gum inflammation, to advanced-stage periodontitis, which often occurs when gingivitis is left untreated.

Advanced periodontal disease, or periodontitis, causes the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets. These pockets can become infected with collected debris and encourage plaque to settle in and grow beneath the gum line. As it progresses, periodontal disease damages the supporting tissue around the tooth, which can lead to loose teeth that eventually fall out. Furthermore, certain chemicals released by the body’s own immune system actually accelerate this process.

Why Does it Matter?

Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your teeth. If left untreated, oral bacteria can enter the blood stream and cause serious harm to your general health. These bacteria, along with certain chemicals released by the immune system in an attempt to fight off infection, circulate through the blood stream and can cause conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

In fact, up to 91 percent of patients with heart disease have been shown to also have periodontitis. Gum inflammation can cause inflammation of the blood vessels as well. This restricts blood flowing through the heart and the rest of the body, which raises blood pressure and often causes heart disease.

Periodontitis and oral inflammation have also been shown to weaken the body’s natural ability to control blood sugar. For people with diabetes, this greatly complicates management of the condition.  Inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. Thankfully, managing one condition can help bring the other under control.

Want to Know More?

If you have any further questions regarding how to maintain proper oral hygiene, contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Protecting Your Pearly Whites 

Brushing your teeth correctly is an instrumental part of your oral health. Proper care can help prevent tooth decay, cavities, yellowing, gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) and more. Ensure you are brushing your teeth correctly and protecting your pearly whites by using the following steps.

  1. Gently brush theouter surfaces of your upper teeth with soft, short strokes. Repeat this action on your lower teeth.
  2. Gently brush theinner surfaces of you upper teeth with soft, short strokes. Repeat this action on your lower teeth.
  3. Pay special attention to your gum line, harder-to-reach back teeth and any areas where you’ve had tooth decay in the past.
  4. Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and prevent bad breath.

Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth for a total of two minutes each time you brush, and, as always, remember to floss! 

Save Your Smile From Soda

According to recent studies, nearly half the people in America consume soda on any given day. In fact, although soda is associated with numerous health problems, it is still one of the most widely consumed beverages on the planet. Diseases including kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension and an increased risk of type-two diabetes have long been associated with regular soda consumption, but your oral health is at risk too.

How Soda Consumption Affects Your Teeth

The high quantities of sugar and artificial sweeteners in most sodas weaken and dissolve tooth enamel and damage your teeth. However, sugar is only one part of the dynamic duo that makes soda so dangerous for your teeth. Most sodas are also highly acidic. Consuming highly acidic foods and drinks can also weaken tooth enamel and lead to cavities, tooth decay and, eventually, tooth loss.

Teeth are often covered by a layer of bacteria. These bacteria, commonly known as plaque, feed on the sugar you eat and drink. Bacteria metabolize the sugar and create acids as byproducts. This acid attacks your teeth and weakens the structure of your tooth. In fact, these acids continue to attack and weaken tooth enamel for nearly 20 minutes after the initial sip of soda. In addition, the bacteria can also irritate the gums, leading to gum disease. Over time, and especially when left untreated, gum disease weakens teeth and eventually causes them to fall out.

Many people believe that they can avoid the negative effects of consuming the sugar in regular soda by drinking diet soda, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Although diet soda does not contain the same types of sugars that can damage your teeth as regular soda does, most of them contain phosphoric and citric acid. This acid is still highly damaging to your teeth. The damage done to your teeth by regularly drinking diet soda is in fact very similar to the enamel erosion and decay caused by drinking regular soda.

Preventing Tooth Decay

The best way to protect your teeth from excessive decay is to avoid consuming sugary food and drinks. However, if you choose to indulge in an occasional glass of soda, there are some important things you should know about protecting your teeth.

  1. Use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in soda.
  2. Drink water after drinking or eating sugary substances to help dilute the sugars and rinse them out of your mouth.
  3. Avoid drinking sugary or acidic drinks right before you go to bed. Drinking soda before bed causes the liquid to pool in your mouth and coat your teeth with sugar and acid.
  4. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Overall, this is the best strategy for protecting your pearly whites.

Want to Know More?

If you have any questions about proper oral health or protecting your teeth, schedule an appointment with us today.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Protecting Tooth Enamel

Enamel is the hard coating that covers the outer layer of your teeth. It protects your teeth from being damaged while you eat and drink and is thought to be the hardest mineral substance in the human body. Although it is incredibly strong, it can be worn down over time. Consuming foods that are acidic or contain high quantities of sugar can weaken and dissolve tooth enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to cavities and decay.

To protect your enamel, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Fluoride toothpaste has also been shown to strengthen enamel and protect against daily acid attacks on your teeth.

Eat Your Way to a Brighter Smile

Do you ever feel like your smile is stained, yellow or dull? While many people feel this way, most are not aware that some of the foods they eat are what’s causing tooth discoloration. To combat general staining and yellowing over time, many people choose at-home or in-office whitening treatments. Both can help brighten your pearly whites, but avoiding certain foods can help protect your smile as well.

In addition, there are actually several foods that can be good for your smile. Certain foods are known to strengthen your enamel, stimulate your gums and even brighten your smile naturally. Try some of the following foods to help keep your smile brilliant.

Strawberries 

Don’t let these brightly colored berries fool you! Strawberries are great for your teeth. They contain malic acid and vitamin C, both nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Malic acid helps naturally remove discoloration from your teeth. Vitamin C promotes healthy gums, helping to stave off gingivitis (early-stage gum disease).  You can include strawberries in your diet by adding them to salads or yogurt or by enjoying them as a snack by themselves. Your teeth will sparkle in no time.

Broccoli

In general, vegetables are great for your oral health. Broccoli just happens to offer extra oral health benefits.

Broccoli is packed with fiber and iron. Eating a lot of fiber can help reduce inflammation, both in your mouth and in your body in general. The iron in broccoli helps protect your teeth against enamel-wearing acid that can be caused by bacteria in your mouth. While you still need your actual toothbrush to do the heavy lifting, fresh broccoli has also been shown to help clean and polish your teeth.

Onions

While it’s true that onions are notorious for causing bad breath, it’s also true that they can be beneficial for your teeth. Also, onions contain antibacterial compounds found to help protect against certain oral health problems.  Eating onions reduces the bacteria in your mouth that can cause tooth decay, and their pale color means that they will not cause tooth stains. Raw onions are best for you and your oral health, but cooked onions will do the trick if raw ones are not your thing.

Cheese

Studies show that cheese protects your teeth from acid erosion. While our saliva does its best to protect our teeth against this erosion by acting as neutralizing agent, research shows that eating even a 1/3-ounce serving of cheese can protect your teeth even more. Cheese also contains casein phosphate that strengthens your teeth. Try eating a small slice of cheese midway through your meal and again at the end to protect your mouth from stains and enamel erosion — especially if you are drinking red wine with your meal.

Water

It’s no secret that dark sodas and bright fruit juices are bad for your teeth. Not only do they contain plenty of sugar that can wear on enamel and cause cavities, but their dark color stains teeth as well. Water does just the opposite. Water will never stain your teeth, and drinking water regularly throughout the day encourages saliva production, which helps clean and protect your teeth. Drinking water also helps rinse your mouth of any plaque or food remnants after a big meal.

If you need help brightening your smile, contact us for an appointment today!

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Foods to Avoid

In addition to eating certain foods to boost oral health and keep tooth stains at bay, it is helpful to protect your teeth by limiting your intake of certain other foods and liquids.

Coffee and red wine are both major staining culprits. Your teeth are porous and absorb liquids into their surface easily. If you are not quite ready to give up your morning caffeine kick, you can dilute your coffee with milk to help minimize discoloration. 

Unlike their cousin the strawberry, most berries are not great for your smile. Their deep color pigment stains your teeth; although flushing your mouth with water after eating can be a big help.

Lastly, indulging in sugary drinks and candy can considerably wear down your enamel over time and cause tooth decay or cavities. Most dentists recommend that you avoid food and drinks like these, but, if you do eat them, it is best to brush your teeth as soon as possible after you eat them. Regular brushing and flossing, along with topical fluoride treatments, are imperative in protecting your teeth from sugar-related decay.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth may be the sign of a nerve problem, but in most cases they are just a nuisance.  Tooth sensitivity can be caused by two factors: the erosion of enamel and receding gum lines.  The enamel on your teeth and the gums that surround your teeth act to shied dentin, which is the layer of your tooth beneath the enamel.  Tubules in the dentin lead to root nerves, which can erupt in pain when exposed to heat or cold.

Tooth sensitivity most commonly affects people between the ages of 25 and 30, but can appear at any age.  With time and the proper treatment, tooth sensitivity can most likely be cured.  Here are six easy ways to combat tooth sensitivity at home.  If you try these at-home cures for tooth sensitivity for one month and get no relief, it’s time to consult your dentist.

  1. Visit your dentist.  Your dentist has access to treatments that are more intensive than any home remedy.  In some cases, your dentist may recommend an “oxalate” root rub to coat the root and can stop or greatly reduce sensitivity.  A dentist can also use a bonding agent to seal and protect the roots of sensitive teeth.In some cases, tooth sensitivity may be the result of an old silver filling, which your dentist can replace with new, tooth-colored fillings for a more comfortable and aesthetic fix.  During your twice-annual dental cleaning, your dentist can also catch potential causes of sensitivity like the build-up of plaque.
  2. Brush away sugar, starch and acid.  Acid causes enamel erosion, so the sooner you remove acids from your teeth, the better.  Sugars and starches work to start the process of acid production in the mouth, so it’s a good idea to brush after eating foods high in sugar and starch, as well.  To prevent sugary drinks like soda from affecting your enamel, try using a straw.Many over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids, as well.  If you have sensitive teeth, ask your dentist to recommend an acid-free mouthwash.
  3. Drink lots of water.  Water can help rinse away any sugars, starches, or acid that may contribute to your tooth sensitivity.  And this may be hard to believe, but tap water is actually better for your teeth than bottled water, since it contains fluoride.
  4. Chew sugarless gum.  This is an easy way to care for and cleanse your teeth when you aren’t able to brush.  Chewing gum triggers the production of saliva, which can replenish decay-preventing minerals on the teeth.  Also, gum may help remove food particles which can lead to plaque and gum disease, a common source of gum recession.
  5. Use a special toothbrush and toothpaste.  There are some toothpastes that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth.  Usually these toothpastes contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which plug the tubules in dentin that lead to the nerves.  They can also trigger minerals in the saliva that can harden over the tubules, offering another level of protection.Use a soft-bristled toothbrush which won’t scratch enamel, and always brush gently.  To really give the pain-preventing chemicals a chance to interact, wait a bit before spitting and before rinsing.
  6. Use fluoride varnish or fluoride rinse.  Fluoride restores tooth enamel, repairing light damage to the teeth.  Using an over-the-counter fluoride rinse just once a day can help stop tooth pain and sensitivity.  You can also ask your dentist for a stronger formula, and he or she can coat your teeth with a fluoride varnish in just a few minutes.

 

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With time and the proper treatment, tooth sensitivity can most likely be cured.