A Closer Look at Bonding

It’s not unusual to feel shy about smiling if your teeth aren’t everything you would like them to be. Stained teeth might inhibit you from smiling as often or as big as you normally would. Chipped teeth and gapped teeth can have a similar effect. But with a little dental bonding, you can start smiling again with confidence.

Dental bonding is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make cosmetic improvements to your teeth.

During a bonding procedure, a tooth-colored resin, or plastic, is bonded to your tooth with an ultraviolet “curing” light. Unlike veneers and crowns, which are sometimes used to make similar improvements, a bonding procedure usually takes just 30-60 minutes per tooth and is often complete in just one dental visit. Another advantage of dental bonding: It requires less prep work than veneers or crowns, so more of your tooth enamel remains intact.

Bonding can even be used to replace existing amalgam (silver) fillings with natural-looking composites. It’s also ideal for treating cavities in the front teeth, where aesthetics are especially important.

Keep in mind that dental bonding isn’t the cure-all for every tooth defect. Bonding doesn’t work well on back teeth or larger cavities. But for the smaller changes, bonding can have a huge impact on the way you feel about your smile.


The Smoking Gun in Oral Cancer

Most people know smoking is hazardous to your health, especially concerning the lungs and heart. Unfortunately, less attention is placed upon smoking’s negative impact on oral health. Not only does smoking leave brown stains and sticky tar deposits on teeth or dentures, it also contributes to halitosis [bad breath]. But those are the least of the issues.

Smoking is a major risk factor in periodontal [gum] disease. For example, it’s common to see red inflammation on a smoker’s palate [roof of the mouth] from the high temperatures generated by cigarettes, cigars and pipes. This is actually the inflammation of the salivary gland openings and leads to a condition called sialadenitis (reduced saliva flow due to damage to the salivary duct).

Twenty years of research show that smokers are two to three times more likely to develop periodontitis [bone loss] and tooth loss is much more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers. Studies also show a higher rate of dental implant failure for smokers.

When it comes to the cause of most oral cancers, smoking is the “smoking gun.” Of the 9,000 deaths a year in the U.S. from oral cancer, tobacco use accounts for 75% of those tragic, preventable figures.

Even second-hand smoke poses a danger to oral healthcare, especially for children. For example, smoke breathed in by children can affect the development and eruption of their permanent teeth, a process that usually begins between three and six years of age.

The good news is that “kicking the habit” greatly reduces the risk of developing oral cancer. Studies show that, after 10 years of cessation, a former smoker’s risk or oral cancer is reduced to that of non-smokers.

While nicotine creates a formidable addiction to contend with, there are a number of ways to stop smoking without experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms. For example, nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine sprays or inhalers greatly ease the suffering associated with nicotine addiction.

If you some, or want to quit smoking, call our office and schedule an appointment. We are here to help you with the oral health issues associated with smoking.


Regular Checkups Can Save You Thousands

If you have dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease or even oral cancer, regular dental visits give your dentist a chance to catch it early on. That’s key. Because the earlier your dentist diagnoses a problem the easier it is to treat. For example, if you have gum disease and let it go unchecked (and untreated) for too long, you may need extensive — and expensive — gum disease treatment.

Regular dental checkups allow you and your dentist to stay ahead of problems, which can translate into thousands saved.

A professional dental cleaning is also a must because it’s the only way to effectively remove tartar (hardened plaque). Even if you brush and floss regularly, that’s not enough. Besides looking unsightly (tartar is a “stain magnet” and often has a brown or yellowish tint), tartar also contains cavity-causing bacteria. Preventing the need for a mouthful of fillings every year easily adds up to thousands saved in the long run.

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings is that it has a positive impact on your overall health. Recent studies have shown that there’s a link between periodontal disease and heart disease; when the former is present, the latter is twice as likely.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and attach to your heart’s blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart’s blood vessels to swell.

In this way, regular checkups and cleanings are not only money-saving but life-saving. And that’s priceless.


Extra Cavity Protection for Kids

You might think that cavities are inevitable for kids, but in truth, they’re not. A healthy diet mixed with good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) plus regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants can reduce the risk even more. In fact, studies show that dental sealants can reduce decay in school children by 70%.

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of back teeth, where tooth decay is usually a problem for kids and teens. Sealants act as a barrier between the chewing surfaces by blocking pieces of food and germs.

Sealants work best on permanent molars, which usually erupt at age 12. It’s best to have sealants applied soon after the permanent molars erupt so that decay doesn’t have a chance to develop.

Because they’re so thin, dental sealants won’t have an effect on your child’s speech or make chewing difficult. Sealants can be clear or slightly tinted; either way, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Though they don’t take much time to apply, sealants can last 5-10 years. Dental sealants are some of the most comfortable, cost- and tooth-saving solutions around!


Smile Safety for Active Kids

Active kids call for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads protect your kids’ bodies, it’s also important to protect their teeth. A mouthguard is an easy, reliable way to safeguard your child’s teeth during sports and play.
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 biking, pose a risk to the teeth.
In addition to cushioning your child’s teeth, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. Kids who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity.
A trip to the dentist can help you choose a mouthguard that’s right for your child. In general, there are three types of mouthguards to choose from:
– 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.
– Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards. Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your child’s teeth. This somewhat custom fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods stores.
– Custom Mouthguards. Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specifically for your child’s teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.

Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s development for several reasons. Not only do they encourage the development of the jaw bone – and reserve space required for the permanent teeth to follow – baby teeth also enable your child to chew solid food and assist in speech development. Moreover, they contribute to your child’s positive feelings about his or her appearance and help build confidence.

Therefore, it is important to begin a daily oral care routine for your child before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a warm, wet cloth or a small gauze pad to remove excess food and bacteria. As soon as the first teeth appear, brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush moistened with warm water. When teeth begin to touch each other, add daily flossing to the routine.

With adult supervision, most children are able to brush and floss their own teeth by about age four. However, we recommend assisting your child at least once a day to ensure a thorough job. You should continue to monitor your child’s oral care throughout childhood. Remember, with your own healthy oral care habits, you serve as an important role model for your child.


Sinusitis Got You Down?

During the winter months – in fact, any time when the air is very dry – it’s important to keep your nasal passages moist. A simple home remedy is to sniff salt solution into both nostrils 2-4 times a day.

To prepare an effective homemade solution, add ½ teaspoon of table salt and ½ a teaspoon if baking soda into one cup of distillated water. If using tap water, make sure to sterilize it through boiling and then allow it to cool. Stir the cool water until the salt and baking soda dissolves completely.

To apply, fill a squeeze bottle with the saline solution. Direct the saline solution stream toward the back of your head (not toward the top). The saline wash should go through the nose and out the mouth or other nostril. Repeat the process several times a day for best results.

Alternatively, you can buy ready-prepared nasal saline products – such as Ocean®, Simply Saline® or generic equivalents – from a drug store. As with the home solution, these products wash away mucus from the membranous lining of nasal passages.

They also help by shrinking any swollen parts of the nasal passage. If this is not done, mucus and the swollen membranes may block openings of the sinuses into the nasal passages. Sinusitis often ensues when nasal bacteria infect the mucus, which can no longer drain from the blocked sinus. Treatment of sinusitis (rather than prevention) often requires the use of antibiotics.

Some doctors are not enthusiastic about nasal saline irrigation since researchers found it does not significantly reduce the incidence of colds. However, do not confuse the common cold with sinusitis. Viruses cause colds, while sinusitis is a bacterial-induced complication of some colds.

Irrigation of the nasal passages with saline cannot kill viruses or bacteria. However, it does help to reduce the incidence of sinusitis in people with a tendency to develop this common complication.


Food For Serious Thought

Many different types of food can cause tooth decay in children, not just candy. Foods high in carbohydrates – as well as some fruits, juices and sodas, peanut butter, crackers and potato chips – also attack children’s teeth. It’s important to understand not only what foods children eat but also the frequency particular foods are eaten and how long they remain as particles in the mouth.

What About Soda?

In addition to serious ailments later in life (e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.), dentists believe kids who consume too much soda and not enough nutritional beverages are more prone to tooth decay. Even if children drink soda occasionally, any prolonged exposure to soda can cause damage. Sipping a soft drink all afternoon is more harmful to teeth than drinking a large soda with a meal and then not drinking any soda for the rest of the day.

Drinking carbonated soft drinks regularly – or over a long period of time – contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel and enamel breakdown leads to cavities. If erosion spreads beneath the enamel, pain and sensitivity may eventually result. This can cause nerve infection, in which case a root canal might even be necessary.

Prevent Damage

Children at school should rinse their mouths with water after meals, leaving their teeth free of sugar and acid. Children should also seek sources of fluoridation. One good source of fluoride is from fluoridated bottled water. Or, if the local water supply is fluoridated, encourage children to drink tap or fountain water.

Children should use a straw when drinking soda to keep sugar away from teeth. In fact, even bottled juices should be consumed with a straw, due to the high sugar content. Furthermore, consider sugary drinks from a can or box rather than a bottle with a replaceable cap to discourage prolonged exposure.

Preventive Care

Children should also be supervised as they brush. Generally, when children can dress themselves and tie their own shoes (4-5 years of age), then they are ready to brush unsupervised. However, children should be supervised in proper flossing techniques at least until the age of 10.
If you have any concerns about your child’s dental health, or want some additional tips on preventing tooth decay, give our office a call.


How to Floss

You probably know that brushing alone won’t take care of your oral hygiene — you hear it all the time from commercials, your dentist, probably even from your mother. You probably know they’re all right, too.

With regular dental cleanings, your dentist can help prevent the crevices between your teeth from becoming a playground for all kinds of dental diseases including cavities and bad breath. But you can also play an integral role in the health of your teeth and gums by making sure to floss at least once a day — especially before going to bed.

If it isn’t already, be sure to make dental floss part of your oral hygiene toolkit. Dental floss is great for cleaning the areas between your teeth because it can reach where your toothbrush can’t.

Floss is available waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, thin or wide. The kind of floss you want is entirely up to you, though you might want to consider that waxed floss slips in between teeth easier, and smooth, soft floss provides maximum comfort for your gums. Of course, flavor doesn’t hurt either.

How to Floss Teeth

Flossing seems easy enough, but you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it right to maximize the benefits of all your effort. Compare your flossing techniques to the steps below, and make adjustments to your routine wherever necessary.

– Break off just over an arm’s length of floss.

– Loosely wind about six inches of floss around your middle finger and use your thumb to hold it in place.

– Hold and straighten the floss with the thumb and pointer finger of your other hand.

– Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your teeth.

– Make sure to never “snap” the floss into your gums.

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it against your tooth and gently slide it under your gums and then away from your gum line.

Wind the used floss around your middle finger as you go.

Learning how to floss teeth properly can be the difference between a clean, healthy mouth and one riddled with tooth decay and gum disease. Keep in mind that while there are no guarantees when it comes to your dental health, solid oral hygiene habits, combined with regular dental visits, is the best insurance your teeth have.


Bridging The Gap

How we perceive our smile and appearance affects our self-esteem, our mood and how we function in social as well as work settings. And, since most people aren’t tough, hardened boxers or hockey players, missing teeth don’t serve as a badge of honor. Rather, it’s source of insecurity and embarrassment.

In fact, many people have spaces, or gaps, in their teeth. Either the teeth aligned that way naturally or the gaps were created (e.g. by extraction of teeth, injury, gum disease). For many patients, the treatment of choice is a fixed bridge – an attached group of crowns (caps) – to replace the missing teeth.

Traditional bridges are made with porcelain fused to metal for both strength and esthetics. To prepare for the bridge, the teeth are cut into a conical shape to serve as abutments to which the fixed bridge is attached so the pontics (i.e. crowns that replace the missing teeth) are held in position. This procedure usually takes two to four visits, depending on the situation, and is completed when the bridge is permanently cemented to the abutment teeth.

Of course, each patient presents specific circumstances that must be evaluated on their own merits. Factors such as occlusion (bite), oral habits, available space, health of the gum tissue, severity of the problem and patient expectations must be taken into consideration while planning a cosmetic makeover.

Please call our office to discuss your particular situation. We welcome the opportunity to restore your smile and confidence.