Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.
Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.
Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.
To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
- Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
- Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
- Do you floss daily?
Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!
Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:
- Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
- Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
- Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
- Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
- Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!
Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!
Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!
To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
Describing Vanna White, co-host of the hit television game show Wheel of Fortune as friendly is an understatement. Yes, a good portion of the credit goes to her bubbly personality; however, you can't look at her without noticing her world-famous smile.
During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna shared some of the secrets to her trademark smile. Secrets that she is instilling in her children.
“I floss every day and I brush my teeth at least twice a day — morning and night — and sometimes after lunch.” She added, “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot, as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.” And when asked about how often she has her teeth professionally cleaned she replied, “...every four to five months because I get a lot of plaque buildup.”
A typical dental hygiene visit is one that involves prophylaxis, a dental (and insurance) term for scaling and or polishing procedures to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from the crown or portion of the tooth that you can see. Scaling is a procedure where we use special hand-held instruments and/or ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque, bacteria and tartar that can coat your teeth causing them to feel rough or fuzzy. To polish your teeth, we use a rubber polishing cup, prophy paste and a motorized instrument that removes bacterial plaque and surface stains. This is usually the last portion of a routine cleaning because it leaves your teeth feeling smooth and shiny.
However, if you have been seeing blood when you brush your teeth or while flossing, you have the telltale signs of periodontal (gum) disease. During your cleaning appointment, we will clean below the gum line to treat and manage your periodontal disease (an infection of the gum and jaw bones). We may also discover that additional, deep-cleaning treatments (such as root planing) may be needed to treat and manage your periodontal disease.
To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Polishing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and cleaning. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Vanna White, continue reading “Vanna White.”
Even with all the medical know-how we possess at the dawn of the 21st century, complete tooth loss is still a big problem. In this country, more than a quarter of all adults between ages 65 and 74 have lost all of their teeth. For these individuals, removable full dentures are often still used as an affordable and effective way to replace missing teeth.
Success with dentures originates from a collaboration among dentist, laboratory technician, and, of course, the denture-wearer. Creating false teeth that look natural is as much an art as it is a science. We take a number of steps to make sure you will get the best results. These include:
- Positioning the teeth. Using facial landmarks and photographs of how you used to look before your teeth were lost helps us determine where to place each tooth and how the upper and lower teeth should line up in relation to each other. For example, we will consider what size the teeth should be; how close to the lip they should be; and how much space should exist between the upper and lower teeth when they are at rest.
- Simulating natural gums. If you are someone with a “high lip dynamic” (a lot of gum shows when you smile), it is particularly important to simulate real gum tissue in a set of full dentures. Fortunately, there are many colors and textures available to create a realistic effect. Again, photographs can be helpful in achieving this.
- Balancing the bite. We must make sure that your upper and lower dentures come together in a way that facilitates normal biting, chewing, and speech.
As a denture wearer, you will need to visit our office regularly to make sure the gum tissue and bone upon which your dentures rest stay healthy. It's common to see a gradual loss of bone in people who wear dentures at a rate that varies from person to person. This bone loss can affect the fit of your dentures and lead to other health problems, which we can address if we are monitoring you on an ongoing basis.
If you have any questions about dentures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removable Full Dentures.”
Athletic activity can boost your health, but many sports also carry some risk — especially to the teeth. This is something NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice well knows.
“Football can be brutal — injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player,” Rice noted in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. In fact, Rice himself chipped a couple of teeth, which were repaired with crowns. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” Rice recalled.
You don't have to be a legend of the NFL to benefit from the type of high-quality mouthguard a dentist can make for you or your child. Consider that:
- An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.
- Mouthguards prevent an estimated 200,000 or more injuries each year.
- Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits annually.
- Each knocked-out tooth that is not properly preserved or replanted can cause lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000.
You and/or your child should wear a mouthguard if you participate in sports involving a ball, stick, puck, or physical contact with another player. Mouthguards should be used for practice as well as actual games.
It's also important to be aware that all mouthguards are not created equal. To get the highest level of protection and comfort, you'll want to have one custom-fitted and professionally made. This will involve a visit to our office so that we can make a precise model of your teeth that is used to create a custom guard. A properly fitted mouthguard is protective, comfortable, resilient, tear-resistant, odorless, tasteless and not bulky. It has excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
If you are concerned about dental injuries or interested in learning more about mouthguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Jerry Rice, please see “Jerry Rice.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Athletic Mouthguards.” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”
According to NFL football legend Jerry Rice, “Football can be brutalÃ¢Â€Â”injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player.” And if anyone should know, it would be Jerry.
During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the retired NFL pro discussed his good fortune to have had just a few minor dental injuries during his pro playing days. He credits this success to the trainers and protective equipment professional football teams have to keep the players off the injured list. However, this was not the case during his earlier years in football. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” he said. “You had to buy your own mouthguard.” He continued, “Things changed, though, when I went to college.”
Unfortunately, not much has changed since Jerry's high school days for young athletes. This is why we feel it is so important that parents and caregivers understand the risks and take proactive steps towards protecting the teeth, gums, bone and soft tissues of their children with a mouthguard. This is especially true for anyone — adults included — participating in high-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, hockey (field and ice), football, soccer, wrestling, martial arts, boxing and activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating and skydiving.
But all mouthguards are not the same. The best mouthguard, based upon evidence-based research, is one that is custom-designed and made by a dental professional, with the athlete's individual needs taken into account.
We make our custom mouthguards from precise and exact molds of your teeth, and we use resilient and tear-resistant materials. Once completed, it should be comfortable yet fit snugly so that you are able to talk and breathe easily with it in place. It should also be odorless, tasteless, not bulky and have excellent retention, fit and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
And while mouthguards may seem indestructible, they do require proper care. You should clean it before and after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste, transport and store the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents, make sure not to leave it in the sun or in hot water and rinse it with cold, soapy water or mouthwash after each use. And last but not least, you should periodically check it for wear and tear so that you will know when replacement is needed.
To learn more about mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and make molds of your teeth for your custom mouthguard. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Jerry Rice continue reading “Jerry Rice — An Unbelievable Rise To NFL Stardom.”
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