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.


Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Toothpaste and Orange Juice – Not a Good Match

Ever wonder why orange juice tastes so bad after you brush your teeth?

You can thank sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) for ruining your drink, depending on which toothpaste you use. Both of these chemicals are surfactants — wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid — that are added to toothpastes to create foam and make the paste easier to spread around your mouth. They’re also important ingredients in detergents, fabric softeners, paints, laxatives, surfboard waxes and insecticides.
While surfactants make brushing our teeth a lot easier, they do more than make foam. Both SLES and SLS mess with our taste buds in two ways. One, they suppress the receptors on our taste buds that perceive sweetness, inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they break up the phospholipids on our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for bitterness and keep bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they’re broken down by the surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.
So, anything you eat or drink after you brush is going to have less sweetness and more bitterness than it normally would. Is there any end to this torture? Yes. You don’t need foam for good toothpaste, and there are plenty out there that are SLES/SLS-free. You won’t get that rabid dog look that makes oral hygiene so much fun, but your breakfast won’t be ruined.

Is Oral Piercing Safe?

Oral piercing is a form of body art and self-expression that’s all the rage among teenagers and young adults. While piercings of the tongue, lip or cheek might seem safe because “everyone has them,” that’s not entirely true. The mouth is a moist place, which means it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. And the primary danger of oral piercing is increased risk of infection. There are other risks, too. Oral piercings can also chip or crack teeth, cause nerve damage and produce an allergic reaction to metal. Some people also notice that it’s more difficult to speak, chew and swallow after piercings.
Do the smart thing and have your teenager see a dentist before piercing. Learning about the potential risks will make for a happier, healthier loved one.
And if your teen decides to go ahead with a piercing, make sure he or she keeps it clean! This is the single most effective way to fight off infection. And if your teen notices any of the following symptoms, schedule a dentist appointment right away:
  • Pain, soreness or swelling
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Damage to fillings
  • Sensitivity to metals
  • Numbness

Hot Beverages Contribute to Tooth Staining

Hot Beverages

Science has shown that heat will cause molecules and atoms to vibrate faster, increase space between atoms and cause expansion. Tooth enamel is one such substance that will expand under heat and during that stage, the tannins in coffee and tea can lodge into the void and as the teeth cool down again, tooth staining can be the result.

Proper oral hygiene can help teeth stay clean and lower the level of dental plaque, and brushing with a whitening toothpaste may help alleviate some of the discoloration. Patients may also choose to get professional teeth whitening from a dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry.


How to Ease Dry Mouth Syndrome

Most people would rather not talk about saliva. Too much saliva can be unsightly and embarrassing; too little can cause dry mouth syndrome. And without an active supply of saliva to help defend your mouth from bacteria, fungi and viruses, you can become especially vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.

The good news is there are many dry mouth home remedies that can provide you with some much-needed relief. However, if you suspect that you have dry mouth syndrome but haven’t been examined by a dentist or physician, it’s important to talk to them first — they’re the experts and can help you get the dental treatment you need to feel happier and healthier again!

Combating Dehydration

Aging plays a major role in dry mouth syndrome. Over time, the salivary glands secrete less saliva and the brain becomes less responsive to thirst cues, leaving your mouth and body feeling dehydrated. Although the following dry mouth remedies aren’t exactly a “fountain of youth,” they can certainly help counteract the effects of dehydration.

Drink plenty of water. The Institute of Medicine recommends drinking three liters of water per day for men and two liters for women. Keep in mind that the amount of water you need depends on how much exercise you get, the climate of your environment, and whether you have health conditions such as heart, liver or kidney disease, which can limit your intake of water.

Eat water-rich foods. Ideally, the foods you eat should provide about 20 percent of your fluid intake. Eat foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, peaches, nectarines and even popsicles, to ensure that you’re getting the fluids you need.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol are dehydrating and can exacerbate dry mouth. Instead of reaching for soda, coffee or tea throughout the day, drink water or juice. When drinking alcohol, be sure to have at least one glass of water after every cocktail, beer or glass of wine.

Use a humidifier. Living in a hot, dry climate can leave you feeling more dehydrated than if you lived in a temperate environment. Use a humidifier while you sleep to help boost moisture in your mouth and on your skin.

Pleasing Your Palate

Your eating habits can either help or harm dry mouth syndrome. But don’t worry — you don’t have to sacrifice taste for dry mouth relief. Some simple changes to your diet can help bring back the taste of sweet and savory to your dry mouth.

Drink papaya juice. Papain, an enzyme found in papayas, can help thin the thick oral secretions associated with dry mouth. Drinking 100% papaya juice is an easy way to get your daily dose of papain.

Add broth or sauce to your meals. Dry mouth can inhibit your ability to eat and swallow easily. Get moisture back into your mouth by adding milk, sauce, broth or gravy to your meals.

Avoid dry, salty foods. Snacking on crackers, toast and pastries can exacerbate dry mouth syndrome — nosh on healthy snacks such as fruit or smoothies instead.

Load up on lemonade. Lemonade is the perfect drink to quench your thirst on a hot, summer day. And it’s also great for stimulating saliva activity and relieving dry mouth.

These dry mouth home remedies are safe for everyone, but remember that your dentist and physician are the experts, so be sure to get professional advice about your specific symptoms.


The Importance of Regular Dental Visits

You probably already know how important regular dental visits are for keeping your teeth and gums in good shape — besides brushing and flossing, a biannual checkup might be the best thing you can do for your oral health. But what you might not know is that there’s a strong relationship between your oral health and your overall health, so taking good care of your mouth is a big part of taking care of your whole body.

Thinking Outside the Mouth

The benefits of maintaining that wholesome smile are plain to see, boosting confidence and improving your overall sense of well-being. But a healthy mouth is good for you in other ways, too.

Bacteria from untreated gum disease can actually spread infection to other parts of your body. Pregnant women may be at particular risk. If necessary, your dentist may ask you to return more frequently for gum disease treatment.

Also, some non-dental conditions have symptoms that appear in the mouth. A dental examination can reveal signs of vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis or more serious conditions such as diabetes or oral cancer.

Finally, a regular checkup can even be good for your pocketbook. Identifying and treating minor problems like cavities early on can spare you the time and expense of more complicated dentistry procedures such as a tooth extraction or root canal.


Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Making the Connection

Just as calcium and vitamin D are needed for healthy bones, they are also necessary for your baby’s oral health. Teeth start to form in utero, so dental problems can start before they even erupt. It’s long been known that calcium helps strengthen a fetus’ teeth during the development process, but now scientists have discovered a link between prenatal vitamin D and tooth decay.

A recent study indicates that children born to mothers with inadequate vitamin D levels had a greater chance of developing early childhood dental caries. During the study, the vitamin D levels of 206 pregnant women were analyzed during their second trimester. Only 10.5 percent of the women had adequate levels of vitamin D. Researchers then followed up on 135 of these infants at 16 months of age. Of the children born to women with lower levels of vitamin D, 21.6 percent of them had enamel defects, which leave teeth more susceptible to dental cavities. Tooth decay was found in 33.6 percent of the children born to women with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

The results of this study raise concerns in the dental health community, and although further research is needed, it may mean expectant mothers need to increase their vitamin D intake to help prevent childhood dental problems.

An Excellent Indication

As the research indicates, vitamin D may affect children’s dental health long before they’re born! If you’re expecting, speak with your dentist about your diet and nutritional supplements, and visit your dentist regularly for a dental checkup. Taking the time to care for yourself could increase your baby’s chances for a longer, healthier life!


Dental Care Checklist for Infants

Dental Care Checklist for Infants
See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.
Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.
Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.
Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).
Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.
Keep an Eye On:
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.
Signs of Teething — Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or “cut,” as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.
Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.

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.