Bad breath can have a serious impact on a person's social and business life. Americans are well aware of this fact, and spend nearly $3 billion each year on gums, mints, and mouth rinses in order to make their breath “minty fresh.”
Bad breath or halitosis (from the Latin halitus, meaning exhalation, and the Greek osis, meaning a condition or disease-causing process) can originate from a number of causes; but oral bacteria are the most common source. About 600 types of bacteria grow in the average mouth. If bacteria act on materials that have been trapped in your mouth, many of them produce unpleasant odors.
Most often, bad breath starts on the back of the tongue, the largest place in the mouth for a build-up of bacteria. In this area bacteria can flourish on remnants of food, dead skin cells, and post-nasal drip. As they grow and multiply these bacteria produce chemical products called volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs. These compounds emit smells of decay reminiscent of rotten eggs.
In addition to bacteria on the tongue, halitosis may come from periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, or other dental problems. If you have halitosis, it is thus important to have a dental examination and assessment, and to treat any such problems that are found. Treating bacteria on the tongue without treating underlying periodontal disease will only temporarily cure bad breath.
The next step is to take control of tongue bacteria by brushing or scraping your tongue, with possible addition of antiseptic mouth rinses. People who have bad breath have more coating on their tongues than those who don't, and regularly cleaning the surface of the tongue has been demonstrated to reduce bad breath.
Implements have been designed specifically for the purpose of scraping or brushing the surface of the tongue. Using a toothbrush is not as effective because it is designed to clean the hard tooth surface, rather than the spongy surface of the tongue. To keep your breath fresh, you must regularly remove the coating from your tongue. This means acquiring a tongue scraper or brush and using it every day.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tongue cleaning and bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tongue Scraping” and “Bad Breath.”
You may have heard the term “veneer” with reference to woodworking, where it means a thin layer of attractive wood that covers and enhances the surface of a piece of furniture. Exactly the same principle applies to porcelain veneers used in dentistry: A thin layer of ceramic material is used to cover parts of a tooth in order to improve its structure and appearance.
Porcelain is a non-metallic ceramic material that is fired in an oven at a high temperature to make it hard and durable. Dental porcelain veneers are thin layers of ceramic that can be applied to the outside of the tooth so that the end result mimics the natural color and translucency of tooth enamel. The underlying tooth structure has to be prepared by removing a small amount of the enamel, about 1 mm, which the veneer replaces. The veneer is then bonded to the prepared surface using a light-sensitive resin.
In woodworking, a veneer may be used to match the grain between the left and right sides of a piece of furniture, creating a beautiful effect on a curve, or simply to bring the appearance of expensive wood to a backing that is less expensive.
Just as a wood veneer improves the appearance of a dresser or table, porcelain laminate veneers may be used to improve teeth that have a number of cosmetic and functional problems. These include staining that cannot be removed by tooth whitening, teeth that are too small, misshapen, chipped or spaced too far apart. After an assessment of your teeth and your smile, we can create a mock-up using temporary tooth-colored materials so you can decide whether the suggested changes will work for you, or you can make suggestions for further improvements.
Porcelain laminate veneers may not be the best solution for you if your teeth are severely stained or damaged. In cases where a large proportion of the original tooth must be replaced, porcelain crowns may be the best solution. The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line, and it can be covered with a porcelain crown that looks exactly like a tooth in shape and color. After studying your needs, together we can decide on the most satisfactory method to restore your most attractive smile.
The term “root canal” strikes fear into many dental patients. But rest assured that this procedure is the best solution to many severe dental problems. It can be pain-free and will actually relieve pain and suffering from infections and dental injuries.
Why would you need root canal treatment? This procedure becomes necessary when the pulp, the nerve tissue on the inside of a tooth's root, becomes inflamed or infected because of deep decay, or when it has suffered a severe injury as a result of an accident or blow to the mouth. The pulp is composed of living tissues including nerves and blood vessels.
Root canal treatment may be necessary if you have a wide variety of signs or symptoms. The pain can feel sharp or intense when biting down, or linger after eating hot or cold foods. Sometimes it can be a dull ache or there may be tenderness and swelling in your gums near the site of the infection.
After trauma, the pulp of a tooth can be exposed or damaged because a tooth has fractured or cracked, necessitating root canal treatment. And the procedure is often needed for permanent teeth that have been dislodged or knocked out.
What exactly is root canal treatment? Root canal treatment is also called endodontic treatment, from the Greek roots “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning “tooth.” During the procedure, the area is numbed to relieve pain. A small opening is created in the chewing surface of the tooth and very small instruments are used to remove dead and dying tissue from the inside. The pulp is needed during a tooth's growth and development, but a mature tooth can survive without it. The canal is disinfected and then sealed with filling materials. Sometimes root canal specialists use microscopes to work at an intricate level of detail on these tiny areas of the tooth's root.
By having root canal treatment, you prevent inflammation and infection from spreading from the root of a particular tooth to other nearby tissues. Infection can result in resorption, an eating away of the root and its anchoring bone, and you could lose your tooth or teeth. So please don't hesitate when we recommend this treatment. It's not as bad as you think, and you will feel significantly better afterwards.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”
If you are planning orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, you may have heard about different types of orthodontic appliances (braces) and you may be wondering which type is best for you.
Orthodontic treatment is the process used to improve the positioning of your teeth and bite so that you look better and your teeth function properly. Movement of the teeth is accomplished by harnessing the natural regenerative powers of the body to remodel living tissue, in this case, the bone, which adapts to the new position into which the teeth are moved. Orthodontic appliances accomplish the movement by placing small light and constant forces on the teeth to move them into new and better positions.
There are currently three main types of orthodontic appliances to move your teeth. After careful analysis of your bite and needs, we can help you select the best option for your particular situation.
Fixed appliances, commonly known as braces, so-called because they are fixed to the teeth thereby bracing them together, small brackets are bonded to the teeth and light flexible wires are threaded through them. Controlled tension on these wires pulls or pushes the teeth into position.
Clear brackets are a second, more aesthetic type of fixed appliance. While they are less visible, they tend to be more fragile.
Use of fixed appliances, whether brackets are metal or clear, is usually recommended in more complex cases because they enable the orthodontist to accomplish more complex three-dimensional tooth movements in the most efficient and predictable manner. Please note that, during treatment, you should avoid eating hard foods or participating in extreme contact sports so you will not damage your teeth or the appliances.
Clear aligners are a third, more recent option for repositioning teeth. They are removable appliances, generally used in situations that are milder in nature and easier to correct. After careful assessment, a series of computer-generated, custom made clear plastic trays are made to move the mal-aligned teeth. Tooth movement is progressive with each successive aligner or tray, moving the teeth minutely, until the new desired position(s) is achieved. Clear aligners are usually used for simpler or tipping movements of teeth.
With any of these options, simple movements of teeth may take a few months, and more complex movements take up to two or three years.
Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to accurately and precisely move teeth for improved aesthetic appearance and functional position. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
It used to be that when it came to treating tooth decay (cavities), your primary option was to have the tooth decay removed and filled with a metal amalgam (silver-colored filling). This treatment sometimes requires a special shape cut called an “undercut” to be drilled into the tooth to hold it in. Unfortunately, it can also involve removal of some healthy tooth structure. Silver amalgam fillings still have limited applications and are still used in back teeth where they don't show in the smile. This is because they are strong and resist biting well; however, over time they can fatigue and fracture.
Older restorative concepts were based upon the development of strong and stiff materials such as gold, which tends to be unyielding and therefore contributed to failures of the remaining tooth substance around restorations (e.g., decay or cracking). Newer concepts tend to get away from the “stronger and stiffer is better” concept and have moved towards safety principles using materials that involve mimicking the properties of natural tooth structure. In fact, it is now clearly established that a new “biomimetic approach” (“bio” – life; “mimetic” – mimicking) to dentistry is possible through the use of tooth-like materials such as composite resins and porcelains. And unlike metal alloys, these newer materials bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin of which the teeth themselves are made, which both stabilize and strengthen teeth.
These techniques are also suitable for children's teeth and can incorporate fluoride to reduce further decay. But perhaps best of all, using these materials and more modern technologies can restore proper tooth function and normal wear while producing results that appear indistinguishable from natural teeth.
To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions about replacing your metal fillings with tooth-colored ones.
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